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    Birds

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    chris c
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Thu Feb 16 2017, 00:17

    Pied Wagtails are fond of car parks, and roofs. They often roost in large numbers, sometimes in town centre trees. They nest on a neighbour's roof, under the solar panels. We get them on the farmland especially in winter, and on the marshes too, and along the coast where in spring and sometimes autumn they are often joined by White Wagtails, the continental equivalent which is paler with a paler rump.

    Did the long circuit at Minsmere today, and guess what? The Smew have gone already. Usually we get redheads - females - and when one appears it may hang around for a while in the same place. I dunno if they'll be back or have crossed the North Sea or found somewhere else more to their liking.

    There was a Great White Egret standing confidently right out in the open, along with a Little Egret not far away for comparison purposes, and the mandatory heron, but no Bitterns where I was.

    The sun went in about ten minutes after I arrived, and later it reemerged from underneath the cloud making a spectacular reflection over the Scrape which was alive with various ducks, gulls, numerous waders and several hundred Lapwings - up to 8000 have been counted.

    While I was in the last hide listening to the amazing sound effects it began to rain, which gave rise to a completely semicircular rainbow from the back window.

    Then I legged it back to the car and drove home to polish off the other two Gloucester Old Spot sausages with purple sprouting and have a lie down. OK the Argentinian Malbec helped with the latter just a bit. It's going to be a two meal day today, my usual breakfast around 10, dinner at 6, something I haven't decided yet after midnight.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Thu Feb 16 2017, 21:36

    We had a very noisy robin, in a tree, close to where the car was parked today ... he (could have been a she) was really making himself heard.
    Perhaps he was warning the other birds about something, or just singing at the top of his voice because the sun was shining ... I don't know, but he was a great looking bird.

    Anyway, I'm doing better at bird spotting or sighting yesterday a wagtail, today a robin ... I wonder what I may see tomorrow?

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sat Feb 18 2017, 23:54

    Outstanding day yesterday.

    It rained early, then the sun came out and it not only looked warm, it WAS warm.

    Had an early trip to the dentist, he looked around in between my gum and cheek where the abscess still is - although much improved - then took an X-ray from a different angle, and decided the abscess was actually in the tooth rather than the gum. He suggested a root canal and a crown but I said sod that, I'm not going to live long enough to justify it, pull the damn thing and have done with it. So I go back at the end of the month.

    Then I drove out to the Hen Reedbed and first stood on the viewing platform, and as the seat dried in the sun I sat down. Last few times I'd been there were disappointing, naff all around. I was joined by someone else and several Marsh Harriers were flying around. There was one we could hear but not see, until he spotted it way up high. Right on cue, it tumbled all the way down to the ground in a spectacular display of barrel rolls, loops and actually flying upside down. Then they all joined in, at one stage there were at least eight all in the air at once and all displaying - "sky dancing". It was impossible to watch them all at once, and they were playing with our heads - a female came parachuting down to the ground and a male took off from exactly the same spot.

    There were a couple of Buzzards wheeling above the woods at the back and the side of the reedbed too, and once of them intruded into harrier territory which caused the harrier to go into attack mode including turning upside down under the buzzard and attempting to grab it by the feet. We almost ignored the Bittern that flew down at the back of the reedbed into a water channel, and the Mute Swans that posed right in front of us begging to be photographed, and only glanced at the Bearded Tits that were flitting in and out of view occasionally.

    Suddenly all the harriers landed at once and it was as if they had never been. The next people to turn up I don't think believed our description of the displaying, so I suggested they hang around until the harriers had finished their teabreak and went back into the air.

    Harriers are the true masters of slow flying, so graceful, and interesting to see close up the contrast with the Buzzard - much broader wings and more soaring and circling than doing aerobatics.

    This is pretty much the nearest manmade equivalent



    I had to abort my mission and go diesel up as the low fuel warning light came on in the car. While I was there I did the supermarket shopping early and came home for a second breakfast and a second dump. Well I missed one yesterday, a rare occurrence but soon remedied, then I drove around through a bunch of villages looking at the snowdrop hordes which are now out in most of the churchyards, roadsides and not a few gardens, and went for a walk on another piece of farmland.

    I walked along a track about a couple of kilometers and mostly on the level. There were more snowdrops in a wood which probably used to be the garden of a now demolished house. There must have been at least half a dozen Song Thrushes actually singing. This guy really takes care of his land, as well as the barn owl box in a tree he has now put up a couple more on poles, and until last year or so he still had Turtle Doves. I spotted at least a dozen Yellowhammers in the hedges and trees, and despite my best efforts to get them down my neck and friends' best efforts to shoot them there were still Pheasants and Partridges aplenty. Even a few Woodpigeons, but a total lack of Lapwings, Goldies, Fieldfares, Redwings and other winter bird flocks.

    I'd hoped I might spot the gamekeeper or the farmer, or one of the tractormen for a catch-up, but one tractor was about three fields away and pulling a sprayer which might have had noxious contents but was more likely to be liquid fertiliser, and another one was about two fields away trimming a hedge. I was half tempted to walk down to the farm but it's a pretty steep hill which would have meant walking back up it again on the way home, so turned back at the top.

    On the way back the tractor and sprayer came past but I didn't recognise the driver, he was a young guy, which is good because many farmers and workers are now retiring or past retirement age and really need some young blood coming up to replace them. It set me thinking just how much things have changed even in my lifetime, tractors used to be 20 - 35hp and big tractors 50 - 65 hp. The first 100hp tractors were made by bolting two 50hp tractors together

    https://i.ytimg.com/vi/_AmMeixh_LQ/maxresdefault.jpg

    then there were Dutras from Hungary

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/ed/88/39/ed8839a289ecb54b1df1f656c330a288.jpg

    They used to have three to six gears, now they are largely automatic and fly-by-wire with computerised everything and GPS, and up to 600 or more hp.

    At the same time there have been massive changes to the bird populations - but not all bad, especially birds of prey which are no longer persecuted.

    There was a huge flock of gulls which turned out to be mostly Common Gulls, far from common around these parts usually, seen in dozens at most, but this winter several thousand have been reported and I saw several hundred of them, mainly on the coast, Minsmere and estuaries. Most inland gulls are Black-Headed, Herring and Lesser Black-Backed. These were jumpy, I don't know if it was me walking past that disturbed them, or if they were just moving around anyway, but they all took to the air when a whole bunch of bird-scarers went off in all directions at once. It sounded like a bad day in Beirut.

    The sun shone pretty much all day, accompanied by increasing amounts of birdsong of all kinds.

    Earlier in the day I was commiserating with a friend I hadn't seen for a while and who has also been missing out on a lot of the usual common winter birds. He'd been to the Hebrides spotting Sea Eagles among many other things so wasn't too disappointed by the current local scarcities.

    When I got home and checked on the internet, the Smews were back at Minsmere. I might go and see if they're still there next week.

    Then I polished off the other half of the most delectable rump steak, lightly grilled until it had nearly stopped mooing, with Brussels sprouts (I had the first half the previous day with PSB).

    Currently probably because of the cold and the walking I've been more hungry and mostly eating two meals, the first simple stuff like the above, or sausages, or lamb chops, or liver and bacon, with mushrooms and greens, or salmon with toasted almonds and spinach, then a more complicated meal like salmon (tinned) or crab and prawns stir fried with my usual mix of multicoloured peppers, garlic, chillies etc.
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    chris c
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Mon Feb 20 2017, 23:33

    Red letter day!

    I went back to Minsmere and both the Smews were posing in a pool, even doing some displaying

    http://www.arkive.org/smew/mergellus-albellus/video-09.html

    Someone told me they'd actually been copulating earlier, I very much doubt they'd stay here to breed though.

    I've seen redheads (females) rarely but never before a male, quite spectacular.

    Walked on to the big lake and there were the Goosanders which had been eluding me previously, six of them swimming around in a group. They are obviously anticlockwise Goosanders as they swam slowly around the entire pool. Just before they got back to the hide there must have been a shoal of fish as they went into a feeding frenzy, diving down all at once and popping up with fish in their beaks, then immediately diving again.

    While they had been out of sight round the corner, an otter suddenly appeared in a side channel - something else which had eluded me on previous visits. There were signs of it swimming underwater then it suddenly pooped up its head and looked directly at us, like a tiny inquisitive seal.

    Only a couple of Marsh Harriers flying to and fro and doing a bit of desultory displaying and calling.

    I walked back and went up the track to another hide, listening on the way to the Siskin hordes twittering in the treetops along with Goldfinches, and a few assorted tits, a couple of Song Thrushes and several Robins.

    Opposite the hide in a different pool there were the Smew again, but quite distant and this time as intent on feeding as the Goosanders, spending most of their time underwater.

    I went in the hide and was joined by a bunch of guys from Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire who were on a birdwatching holiday, so I was able to point them to some other good locations. There were Gadwall looking incredibly dapper, and a load of the usual species, including dozens of Shoveler who were displaying and making a noise exactly like a vintage Asahi Pentax with a motor drive.

    While we were watching the activity and chewing the fat, the Smews suddenly flew over the hide and landed right in front of us, the closest yet. They did some posing and displaying and got quite jiggy again.

    By the time the sun started to go down, I turned for home, nearly running over a Little Owl which was parked in the road. Once again I failed to see any Barn Owls at all.

    I went out via the farm shop which left me with an agonising decision - more rump steak (Angus) or more Gloucester Old Spot sausages. The sausages won, with a load of purple sprouting and a glass of finest Chilean Carmenere, a couple of thickly buttered oatcakes and a square of 85% chocolate for pudding. Also in the fridge, more salmon and a big fat bloater from the fish van which called earlier. I still have a fine collection of other veggies but am getting low on sprouts so a trip to the veg shop will get me out of the house tomorrow, and who knows what else I might see?
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Fri Feb 24 2017, 16:23

    H Chris, Drew a blank on the drake Smew on south end of Derwentwater last friday but it is a nice place to visit also caught up with the elusive Great Grey Shrike today on Soddy gap this pm. A red admiral was sunning itself near the path as we got out car.
    Derek
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    Andy12345
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Andy12345 on Fri Feb 24 2017, 17:53





    Funny we were talking about this and this article about a photographer who's been doing a project on my golf course, turned up in our newsletter this week

    This is obviously his pic not mine
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    Andy12345
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Andy12345 on Fri Feb 24 2017, 17:53

    Oh dam I can't do who photos

    Unless you guys can see its head, it's chopped off for me

    Yep I suck, you'll have to believe me, it has a head
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Fri Feb 24 2017, 19:26

    Long-tailed tit, Andy.It can't do without its head but Chris and I can! Smile D.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Andy12345 on Fri Feb 24 2017, 20:10

    Lol
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    chris c
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Fri Feb 24 2017, 23:15

    Try right-clicking the picture and "Open in new tab/window"

    I went out to one of the estuaries intending to sit on my favourite rocks in the sunshine as the tide went out but the sun went in, the temperature dropped several degrees and the wind was like a knife through the ribcage so I didn't stay for long. Walked up and down a bit though and saw a Great Crested Grebe (not common around these parts) which spent most of its time underwater, and a Black-Necked Grebe, even rarer and spending even more time submerged.

    Three and a half gazillion Avocets, two gazillion Black Tailed Godwits, a gazillion Redshank and half a gazillion each of Curlew and Lapwing. As you can see I counted them quite carefully! Also hundreds of Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck.

    I didn't bother with this year's Shrike, it's down the road and not in such a good position as last year's (or the year before's, I forget). Too much opportunity for it to be "here ten minutes ago, honest!"

    I polished off another giant piece of Angus rump steak with Brussels sprouts, and later I shall finish the pheasant as a stir-fry, it was huge and this will be the third meal I got out of it.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Mon Mar 06 2017, 23:23

    Woke up this morning between 5 and 6 am and heard the start of a dawn chorus, led by Blackbirds and also featuring Robins, Dunnocks and a Wren.

    Not much else to report of late, except for the continuing hordes of Common Gulls on the farmland, I've heard estimates of over 8 000 and the ringed birds and corpses found suggest they are from Holland.

    Haven't heard any sneezing yet but you never know.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Thu Mar 09 2017, 14:09

    I watched a dog fox in the middle of a field the other day, it had crows and magpies round it...perhaps it was eating some delicacy after a sheep gave birth? A crow got very close but they cant taste all that good cos the fox only made an half-hearted attempt at grabbing it!
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Tue Mar 14 2017, 00:35

    That's a point, haven't seen or heard any foxes for a while now. Nor any hares in the back field but plenty elsewhere. Loads of rabbits further east on the sand, we don't get them so much here on the clay.

    The pair of Smews at Minsmere were accompanied by a SECOND pair for a while but they were all hiding when I went back the other day (lots of the reserve has no public access and the staff can't be everywhere). It was a beautiful sunny warm day though and I didn't mind at all only seeing and hearing common stuff. Two pairs of Stonechats on the back of the beach flying up and picking insects out of the air just as they arrived from across the North Sea. Masses of noise from all the Black Headed Gulls now returning to their nest sites on the Scrape.

    Yesterday I walked on one of the commons and heard my first Chiffchaff in rather desultory song, along with Robins, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Siskins and more Tits than in Parliament. Eventually spotted a Woodlark, then a pair, and heard the briefest snatch of song. Then I saw a second pair, which flew straight towards me and had a slightly less brief sing, then circled the treetops calling.

    Today I went to a different common and immediately spotted another Woodlark, but just the one and only a few calls. More of the Usual Suspects though, then I found myself in the middle of a song battle between THREE Dartford Warblers, all popping up onto the tops of the heather, gorse, and little oak trees chattering away at one another. One was only a few metres away, a second was not much further off the other side of the path, and the third was slightly more distant. Obviously a corner between their territories and I walked into the middle of a dispute. #2 flew up into a looping song flight which eventually shut the other two up so I declared him the winner.

    Meanwhile a female Blackbird is busy nestbuilding in the garden.
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    Andy12345
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Andy12345 on Tue Mar 14 2017, 07:17

    is it just me taking more notice or has there been an explosion in hawkish type bird of prey birds? i seem to see them all the time now while driving through the surrey countryside
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Tue Mar 14 2017, 17:14

    Chris was talking blackbird nests ...
    Obviously from afar I always used to like watching the birds as they busily build their nests, they really do an amazing job.

    Andy mentioned hawks ...
    next time I'm down near Surrey I'll have to keep my eyes open and see what birds are around.
    But how about this "Bird of prey sighted in a garden in NE Surrey yesterday. Identification please."

    See more here http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/wildlife/f/902/t/89336.aspx

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Tue Mar 14 2017, 23:53

    I once saw a large and really weird bird of prey in Surrey that I couldn't identify. Later on I saw it sat on someone's arm - it was a Harris Hawk. Other things escape from captivity from time to time, we've had a Black Kite several villages away for a few years now which is almost certainly an escape.

    I think the increase and spread is pretty universal. When I was young about all you'd see was Kestrels. In the New Forest and West Surrey commons there were Hobbies but they were rare.

    When I went back in the eighties there were more Sparrowhawks, and there were Peregrines in Brighton.

    When I went back again in the nineties Buzzards were just moving into Surrey and Sussex, mainly in woods without public access. Hobbies were much more widespread in the farmland and there were far more Sparrowhawks, we used to get them in the garden. They had plucking posts on our roof and a couple of neighbours' trees.

    For the last decade or more here (Suffolk) Spars have outnumbered Kestrels. Originally we saw the occasional Buzzard in Norfolk, and then this side of the border. Now they probably outnumber the Kestrels, although Kestrels are making a comeback of late. Hobbies are widespread in small numbers. There are probably about half a dozen breeding pairs of Peregrines - previously only winter visitors - and our local speciality is Marsh Harriers which I no longer think of as rare. A few Red Kites have moved in and some are breeding - they were introduced in many places but have spread here on their own.

    There used to be a famous map by the BTO showing the distribution of Buzzards mostly to the north and west - where I used to see them a lot - and gamekeepers to the south and east, with little crossover. The one downside of the Buzzards here is that we regularly used to see Marsh Harriers way inland hunting over the farmland and now the Buzzards seem to keep them away.

    It's a good sign really that there is enough prey to maintain healthy populations of predators.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Fri Mar 17 2017, 23:30

    Good day on Wednesday, fine bright and sunny and actually quite warm so I went back to Minsmere and did the other half. Sat in the big hide with comfy chairs overlooking the big lake for some time but not much happening. One of the wardens was telling me where the Marsh Harriers had already started nestbuilding but they weren't showing much. Brief glimpse of a Bittern but no public displays

    http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/placestovisit/minsmere/f/12440/t/193810.aspx

    never even heard a single Bearded Tit, but a couple of Water Rails squealing like the fat guy in Deliverance, and a couple of pairs of Little Grebes whinnying, and a few Great Crested Grebes but not yet displaying.

    A few woodland type birds and songbirds and many tits choosing their nestboxes.

    I was told of a Jack Snipe in exactly the same place I failed to see it a couple of years back, so walked over to another hide expecting to not see it again.

    On the way I saw a Marsh Harrier that looked a bit off, but before I could check in case it was the Hen Harrier that has been around it had vanished.

    Sat in the hide with someone else who hadn't seen the Jack Snipe either, when suddenly all the gulls and waders took to the air. At first I saw a Black Tailed Godwit whizz overhead and thought this had given them a panic attack, then a magnificent female Peregrine appeared whirling through the tumult, and actually landed dead in front of the hide. I was hoping it might be going to have a bath but a couple of crows and some Lapwings started mobbing it and it departed at speed.

    After everything had calmed down again another birdwatcher arrived and turned his scope on exactly the right spot for the Jack Snipe - he'd been there several hours earlier and the thing was still in exactly the same place.

    I couldn't see it at first. "Keep watching!" he said, and then this little head emerged from the side of a clod of earth much like Graham's avatar except that it was bobbing gently up and down, then retreated again. It popped back into view a few more times, just the top of its head, enough to see it was more ginger and gold than a Common Snipe, and still bobbing up and down.

    The light was superb, even things like Moorhens were in showroom condition with their red beaks gleaming. The Great White Egret put in an appearance, with a Little Egret not far away which made for a good contrast.

    Then the weird Harrier reappeared, this time not in silhouette, and was obviously a male Harsh Harrier but very skinny and rakish, and quite light but well marked. Apparently several French males had arrived and this was probably one, and they were wooing the females with considerable success.

    We were discussing all the things we hadn't seen and should have, and the like, and I mentioned not seeing any Barn Owls for a long time. On the way home one soared over the hedge from a field and damn near landed on my roof.

    Returned home almost sunburnt, demolished a succulent lamb chop with a bunch of PSB and a couple of glasses of Argentinian Malbec, and retired to bed for a while.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Sat Mar 18 2017, 12:11

    My Chris looking back to Wednesday, what a glorious day you had, and you did brilliantly with your sightings - even the barn owl on your roof!

    I love the way you describe the sighting of the Jack Snipe being similar to Graham's avatar ...

    Lovely to read your post and glad you enjoyed a lamb chop with a bunch of PSB - great LCHF food.
    Of course the couple of glasses of Argentinian Malbec sound good too!

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sun Mar 19 2017, 19:43

    Owls aren't as wise as people claim. A friend has them on his farm, and though he has several unused barns, they insist on nesting in his one working barn. Since part of his income stream is making high quality hay in small bales for the horsy set, and since Barn Owls are protected and must not be disturbed while breeding, this is a bit of a setback. He loves them anyway.

    I suppose they are a bit wise though, I've often had them fly over when I've been walking around dusk and they will beat the ditch the other side of the hedge, presumably hoping I will scare some small mammal into view. They NEVER come close when they see my camera though!

    They will do the same with cars, or vans, and sometimes get hit.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Tue Mar 21 2017, 22:57

    Another excellent day, I walked the other half of Minsmere in the brilliant sunshine although the wind was cold and sharp, probably about three miles all in.

    I started at the hide where I saw the Jack Snipe, of which there was no sign, but there were a couple of Common Snipe concealed among the tufts and tussocks. A pair of Garganey had turned up, pretty little ducks which are regular here in small numbers, so I decided a pair of Garganey beat a Jack of Snipes and wandered on round, chatting to various folks on the way and spotting various mostly common things.

    There were masses of Black Headed Gulls on the Scrape, and probably as many as 30 Mediterranean Gulls, in showroom condition with extra brightly polished beaks and legs and repainted black heads mixed in among them. Loads of other things, and the light was so good that even Moorhens and Teal looked extra special. I chatted to some of the wardens and others, and general consensus was that I had probably missed the Smews, but that if they were anywhere they would be on a specific pool, and that other than the Garganey (there was a second pair I didn't see) there weren't any other rarities. Well a couple of early Sand Martins and an even earlier couple of House Martins might be around, also an early Stone Curlew up the road, not actually at Minsmere (yet). Lots of reminiscing about how things had changed over our lifetimes both on and off the reserve, and about very early and late dates for migrants suggesting they were actually staying in the country over winter.

    Saw and heard most of the Usual Suspects on my walk round, and from the other hides, plus I heard my first Bittern booming. One of the wardens hadn't heard any yet either.

    I had a good nose around several other pools in case the Smew put in an appearance, saw and heard most of the usual ducks, several Water Rails and a few pairs of Little Grebe whinnying.

    Went into the last hide and had a good look around the pool where the Smew were last sighted with no luck. Spotted a few more waders including Turnstones and a couple of Black Tailed Godwits changing into summer plumage.

    I was chatting with some other folks about what we had and hadn't seen during the day, and mentioned I'd failed to see the Smew, when this photographer tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the corner of another pool which was behind the window frame from where I was sat - and there they were looking totally elegant.

    By then the wind and general cold was getting to me, so I called it a day and returned home to a huge chunk of Angus rump steak and PSB, a couple of celebratory glasses of Chilean Carmenere, pudding of a square of 85% chocolate (OK TWO squares) and a thickly buttered oatcake with an even thicker layer of Vacherin Mont d'Or, and brought in the laundry which like me was nicely blow-dried.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by graham64 on Wed Mar 22 2017, 22:11

    I reckon all the birds here have migrated south due to the inclement weather, all I've seen over the last two days are a couple of woodpigeons  and a magpie  Evil or Very Mad very strange wonder if the apocalypse is nigh bitenails  and the birds have sensed it   Shocked


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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Fri Mar 24 2017, 00:14

    A lot of usually common winter birds never arrived here, probably couldn't be arsed to cross the North Sea. It'll be interesting to see what summer migrants don't arrive - last year there was a severe lack of Willow Warblers and not many Nightingales - and the ones that did arrive mostly turned up late.

    Global Warming. Even if not man-made there's definitely something going on.

    Went back to the Hen Reedbed again today and sat in the sun watching about half a dozen Marsh Harriers doing their display flights. Also a couple of Little Egrets checking out the treetops where they and Grey Herons usually nest, they should be starting soon.

    I was chatting with a couple of women - sisters or cousins, I didn't ask - one from up the road and the other visiting from Western Ireland, and was regaled with stories about Sea Eagles, Corncrakes and American migrants which we don't get this far east or south.

    Despite the global warming the wind was dire though, I aborted my plans for a walk and ate more Cumberland sausages and PSB instead.

    Blackbird is sitting on her eggs and Long Tailed Tits - like in Andy's photo - are building.
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    Derek
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Fri Mar 24 2017, 13:35

    Hi Chris,
    Chiffchaff singing near house for most of last week. Three Bullfinches in garden this am, one of them a cracking male.

    Plenty of snow on the fells above 1500 feet, it looks brilliant in the spring sunshine.
    Dipper in stream in middle of local town this am, perhaps breeding within factory environs.
    regards
    Derek
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sun Mar 26 2017, 00:47

    Oh aren't Bullfinches just gorgeous? We have them well distributed in small numbers around these parts. They've been in the garden in winter back before the rat invasion when I was putting seed out. Dippers, not so much. I remember watching one with a nest beside High Force, and we had them in the stream by the disused railway yard in Somerset.

    Went for a prolonged drive around the villages between a couple of short walks yesterday and spotted my first Swallow on power/phone lines. Normally Sand Martins arrive first, Swallows not until the first or second week of April and House Martins a week or two later. This year the first House Martins turned up about a month early, beating all the others.

    The churchyards and gardens are a daffodil riot.

    Today I did Minsmere again, about six Marsh Harriers but not really sky-dancing, just flying around. Close flyby by a Bittern but no booming (I went over to where I previously heard the boom when I was on t'other side). Again not a sound of Bearded Tits, nor for once any Water Rails, but a couple of Little Grebe (powder puffs) swimming up right in front of the hide, carefully swallowing sticklebacks. Eight of the Goosanders still around but mostly sleeping/loafing.

    It was such a beautiful day I did the entire walk, about five miles round. Heard a Treecreeper briefly in song but couldn't see it, no sign of the Marsh Tits and neither the Long Tailed Tits which had been busy nestbuilding, but a great closeup view of a Green Woodpecker laughing like a mad thing. Plenty of Chiffchaffs but not a single Blackcap. The Smews were said to be in a pool off the reserve and some Garganeys still around, and some Jack Snipes, but I didn't spot them this time. My ears are still ringing from the gulls.

    Polished off the last of the Cumberland sausages with PSB and crashed out for a while, hence why I'm still up.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Sun Mar 26 2017, 11:58

    Sounds a brilliant day Chris ... and you have had some great sightings.

    Gulls can be so noisy (I think magpies can be too) ... but no matter the bird it is just so good to be able to hear them chattering away.
    Unless it's early in the morning and you are trying to sleep Exclamation

    You may be able to get another good drive or walk in today.

    Are any other readers hoping to be out and about today  Question

    All the best Jan

      Current date/time is Fri Oct 20 2017, 05:53