Sunday, 28 April 2013

Yet more catching up and introducing a grandson to birding ... he loves it!

28 April 2013

I knew I hadn't added anything here for some time But I hadn't thought it was eight months ago!  Anyway, I'm doing it now, so here goes ...
We moved home in June last year so that took up a goodly amount of time getting settled in to our flat.  Right outside the living room window and stretching behind the block is an open green space, a smallish space where a number of the flats all look out on.  When the sun is out and there's little wind it's a nice place to sit out in with nice glass of whatever does you good ;-)))  There's a tree on the lawn in front of our rear door so Jan straight away got lots of feeders up and we've had a steady stream of birds coming to feed.  Since the new year we've had ...

Goldcreast; blackcap; wren; sparrow hawk; goldfinch (I counted 18 at one time); blue, great and coal tits; blackbird; wood pigeon; collared dove; starling; house sparrow and dunnock.  In addition we seen a number of gulls flying over but weren't able to see the clear enough to ID them properly.  At various times we've been out shopping and so on we've also seen peregrine; red legged partridge and pheasants by the hundreds.

Our first trip out this year was to Slimbridge on 8 February.  The normal Slimbridge set was there of course but seeing as it was our first trip of 2013 they were all year ticks for us.  Here's our list - which includes what saw on the way dawn and the return run ...

Wood Pigeon; Blackbird; goldfinch; blue tit; house sparrow; kestrel; magpie; jackdaw; black headed gull; herring gull; starling; collared dove; grey heron; rook; robin; little egret; lapwing; Berwick swan; greylag goose; shellduck; buzzard; moorhen; mute swan; teal; wigeon; shoveller; pochard; black tailed godwits; chaffinch; great tit; green finch; reed bunting; dunnock; coot; Canada goose; cormorant; oystercatcher; pintail; redshank; golden plover; been goose; white fronted goose; dunlin, giving us a year list of only 53.

After that we've both been caught up in various health problems so that is why we are so far behind, even on our own scores.  Anyway, we were OK for a week early April, which was a relief seeing as Jan had booked a week away at Spring Harvest, a church teaching event held at Minehead.  She came back with her own little list which included osprey and cirl bunting!  Honestly now, I wasn't in the least bit jealous of her ... muttermuttermutter ... ... ...

The same week I shot off up to Edinburgh and had a nice week up there.  I didn't get a lot of birding done up with the one birding trip I did do a near off wash out.  I went to Vane Farm in the hopes of getting down to the loch in the hope of a Slavonian grebe.  But there are only steps down to the loch, so all of the hides are out for anyone needing to use wheel chairs or scooters!  There is a short section of pathway not far away but I was told it was muddy so I might not get my scooter along there.  Ah well ... over the week I added ...

Raven; lapwing; house sparrow; mallard; moorhen; black headed gull; buzzard; crow; rook; lesser great black backed gull; herring gull; blue tit; great tit; dunnock; wigeon; teal; mute swan; red shank; grey heron; pink footed goose; greater black backed gull; oystercatcher; curlew; wood pigeon; magpie; shags; starling; pochard; shell ducks; jackdaws; stock dove; elder duck; red breasted merganser; golden eye; Canada goose; pheasant; kestrel; swallows to the list bringing me up to 70.

On the 24th we set out for North Norfolk starting at Cley.  Again we are limited because of our scooters but did get a marsh harrier there, always a nice spot.  From there we headed for Titchwell where we only added seven more to the days list ... + two ijits, a pair of photographers in long waders who headed straight for the water's edge.  There wasn't a lot there mind and what there was soon scared off with those two getting their shots before the birds flew off.  the day's list then was ...

Starling; woodpigeon; house sparrow; collard dove; magpie; crow; pheasant; red kite; jackdaw; rook;  bh gull; h gull; mallard; lbb gull; mute swan; raven; gbb gull; oystercatcher; cormorant; hobby; coot; gray partridge; kestrel; blackbird; skylark; stonechat; graylag goose; lapwing; shell duck; avocet; Canada goose; teal; marsh harrier; curlew; swallow; goldfinch; red legged partridge; shoveller; little grebe; black tailed godwits; bar tailed godwits; redshank; little egret ; brent goose; gadwall; ringed plover; tufted duck; pied wagtail; moorhen; wigeon; green shanks; little ringed plover; sandwich tern; robin; sanderling; ruff; bearded tit; blue tit; dunlin; chaffinch, giving us 88 now.  The best stighting for us was this one ...
A male ruff in breeding plumage.  Yes, we have seen lots of ruff in the past but this si the first one we've seen like this.

This week end we have our grandson with us, so yesterday  we went off to Attenborough reserve at Nottingham.  We hadn't done that one before so it was new for us too as well as for Kile (and yes, the spelling is correct - or it's how his mum wanted it spelt!).  Best spot of the day is a tossup for the osprey or the whitethroat.  Here's the list ...

Blackbird; crow; pigeon; magpie; pheasant; jackdaw; lapwing; mallard; mute swan; tufted duck; coot; moorhen; tree sparrow; great tit; blue tit; great created grebe; gadwall; chaffinch; graylag goose; black headed gull; cormorant; wigeon; osprey; common tern; common whitethroat; Egyptian goose; house martin; buzzard.  In addition we see what we hope is a Red crested pochard but I'm going to look into that a bit more before I claim it.  As it stands now, we are on 94 for the year.

No more trips are planned just yet but Jan is off to church thing again later in May so we have booked into a hotel in Brighton for a long weekend and whole is doing her bit during the day I'll be having fun doing local birding - and taking lots of photos too.      

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Catch up and gold finches

22 September 2012

This morning post included our copy of Bird Watching.  Normally everything stop when the arrives.  The column from the BTO is about wigeon, and very interesting it is too.  It seems that the number of wigeons wintering here in the UK has fallen from the normal 400,000.  The reason is that due to climate change the birds are settling more in areas well away for the UK instead of continuing to here.  I don't know anything about that but it's something to think about.

Something else I have been thinking of is the general fall in bird numbers.  I'm no scientist so please be patient with me while I struggle on here.  I've read or heard that raptors lay less or more eggs dependant on the amount of food available.  Could that also be a reason why the other species numbers have dropped also?  The other question I wondered about is perhaps more complicated; "do birds have in-built sense that tells them that their species numbers are too high and some of the fall in bird numbers is due to this?"  Yes, 
I know that farm bird number have dropped because of the intensive use of inspect sprays, but what about other species.  My mind is muddled here and I can see the wood for the trees really.

Early this month I posted a photo of a sparrow hawk out the back of the flats where we live.  As I said before we have always fed the local birds.  However, we've never had a lot of gold finches visit our feeders, even when our back garden was alongside a wood.  So imagine our pleasure at seeing one gold finch on our feeders tucking into the sunflower hearts.  It's got better now though!  On Thursday Jan counted 13 gold finches on the feeders and the table with an unknown number in the trees as well.  Blue and great tits have been fairly scarce around here too, so we were pleased to see both on our feeders for the first time this morning.

The weather forecast for tomorrow in the south is pretty dire.  I was hoping for a run down to London and perhaps going to have a look at TUB's Scrubs patch.  Now I suppose I shall have to go north instead.  I have a fancy for Marsh Side at Southport and then maybe Martin Mere Wetland Trust.  We'll see.  Hopefully I will have something to report tomorrow or Monday.   

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Porkers and bird visitors

6 September 2012

It's been ages yet again since I posted in here.  The simple reason for it is that we haven't been out birding.  Jan had was in hospital for an operation and just after that we moved home.  Now we are in a ground floor flat and felling very happy about it.  We're hoping that now we are properly settled in we can get out and do some real birding. 

On Sunday we had a day out to London Zoo and then into town to have a look at the South Bank.  Bird-wise it was a so-so trip.  We had around 10 birds on the drive down but none on the drive back seeing as it was fully dark as we came back we didn't see anything at all.  We were rather pleased though to see a small flock of ring neck parakeets flying around the zoo grounds.  There was also a fair number of grey herons on the zoo grounds too.

Back here in Dorktown now then ... for many years we have fed the local birds.  That hasn't changed since we moved here.  At the rear of the block is a self contained little community of mainly disabled or elderly residents.  It's a very friendly little area indeed and one we are really happy to be part of and accepted by.  Bird wise it's not quite so good however. 

Right from the first day Jan has been feeding the birds.  Mainly we just get collared doves, wood pigeons, magpies, dunnocks, blackbirds and house sparrows.  But one day last week was a very good day.  Look what Jan snapped ... 

a sparrow hawk!  She did a lot better than I did.  I kept shaking as I tried.  It was sitting about 20 feet away from our back door and stayed there while Jan was shooting for about 10 minutes.  What a treat that was!  On Monday I looked out of the kitchen window and saw two goldfinch on the feeder.  Jan saw them again yesterday.  OK, not a spectacular sighting but a first for us here in our new home.  What we haven't seen though are any of the tit species.  I know they've had a rough breeding year this year but I would have expected to see a few of them, at least great and blue tits.

Oh would you look at that!!!  I've been telling porkies - oh horror.  We did get out one day last month.  We went to Newport Wetlands; not that it was a particularly bird filled day mind.   pleasant day out though, which is always a good thing in itself.  The main problem at the site was that the tide was well out while we were there and we couldn't really hang about waiting for it to come back in.  Next time I will check the tide times before we set out - which reminds me ... I must check them for our next planned trip to - well, I was going to say the RSPB site not far from Southend-on-Sea.  But looking at the RSPB website it's not there now.  It's not even listed in Where to Watch Birds in Britain, strange that.  I remember going there one time some time ago.  Now we will have to look for somewhere else.  Good job I checked!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Quiet day all around

18 May 2012

Jan and I went off to Leighton Moss on Wednesday and got back home feeling a bit mixed in as far as the day went.  Bird-wise we got 42 species and only tree for the year list.  If it hadn’t been for the black headed gulls Leighton Moss would have been just about empty.  By the time we got round to Bolton-Le-Sands the tide was well out and there was only dunnock and tree sparrows to be seen.  From there were headed off again and we called into Blackpool for a couple of hours. 

Our list for the day then reads thus …

To Leighton Moss

Wood pigeon, buzzard, jackdaw, magpie, lapwing, crow, black headed gull, rook, greater black backed gull, oystercatcher,.

Leighton Moss           

House sparrow, greylag geese, mallard, bullfinch, chaffinch, coal tit, great tit, nuthatch, black headed gull, tufted duck, hen harrier, coot, Canada geese, lapwing, shell duck, black tailed  godwits, shovelor, swift, swallow, grey heron, gadwall, mute swan, pheasant, blackbird, blackbird, starling, magpie, lesser black backed gull, goldfinch, stock dove, herring gull, dunnock, tree sparrow.

You will notice that I list hen harrier; I do that because when we saw it weren’t sure to start with and Jan claimed it as such.  None of the others in the hide said differently and I saw one man nodding his head. Yesterday I got an email from someone who posts daily lists for East Anglia and even North Norfolk was very quiet too.  Looks like it was just one of those birding days that we all get every so often.