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    Birds

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    chris c
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Fri May 12 2017, 00:23

    Unless they spread. Recently there were 58 Hobbies at Lakenheath, when I was young you'd be lucky to get that many in the entire country, and certainly never out of the south.

    I suspect Nightingales are actually declining though slowly. According to one of the wardens at Minsmere Willow Warblers are in decline in the south in general, and retreating towards the north and west like the Wood Warblers before them. Having said which, a Wood Warbler was reported singing, but had stopped by the time I got there. At the same time Buzzards, Kites and now Ravens are encroaching from the west and north. Someone from Essex said Red Kites have now made it through London as far as Rainham Marshes to the east.

    Went back to the bluebell wood yesterday, it was less crowded and the bluebells were just past their absolute best, though still gorgeous and scenting the air, and accompanied by several early purple orchids. Yet again no Willows, and no Nightingale either. I returned to the Hen Reedbeds but only the one Hobby, which I failed to see. Plenty of Martins and Swifts, though not yet flying around the roofs where they nest in town.

    I ate half a massive steak with asparagus, and later a hunk of salmon with toasted almonds and spinach.

    Whitethroat now back in the hedge, and Lesser Whitethroat back just up the road.

    I'd been told there were seven Hobbies at Minsmere so went there today. Eventually saw one in the far distance, though three or four had been reported. I sat on one seat with a tame peacock at my feet - the butterfly not the bird, and there was a dragonfly and a demoiselle fly, first of either I'd seen this year. Masses of Sedge and Reed Warblers, the former much easier to see as well as hear, along with the regulation Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs and increasing numbers of Whitethroats looking very dapper. The Nightingale that was singing last time I was there was silent or gone. Someone spotted what might have been the Savi's Warbler, which mainly only sings in the early morning, but what I saw might equally have been a Reed Warbler, it was that quick, as was a Kingfisher.

    I tried to make a Stonechat into something more interesting as Whinchats Redstarts and Wheatears have been passing through, but actually it was a female Chaffinch. Oh well. There was a Swallow singing its little heart out perched on a signpost and accompanied by a female for a while, before they flew off and chased some Sand Martins around. Racists! Masses of Swallows and Martins, accompanied by loads of mainly Black Headed Gulls catching the Hawthorn/St Marks/Black Flies over the reedbeds but the Hobbies weren't joining in.

    Loads of Blackheads and Mediterranean Gulls, now accompanied by masses of Common and Sandwich Terns, and a few Little Terns which have now mostly become rare. I thought I'd spotted a Caspian Gull but according to an expert the Caspian was actually next to it, the one I spotted was just a rather lanky Herring Gull. Oh well, still a fair few Common Gulls around and many Kittiwakes but not so many waders, I tried and failed to turn a Redshank into a Spotted Redshank but did see about half a dozen Knot, not as common here as in north Norfolk, we tend to get more Dunlin.

    Everything suddenly hurtled into the air. We were looking for a Peregrine or maybe even the Sea Eagle which has been hanging around, but actually it was an engineer checking the electric fence.

    A pair of (escaped) Bar Headed Geese are breeding, and the Mandarin has taken up with a female Mallard. The offspring might be interesting, duck a l'orange with no added ingredients

    http://mikeatkinson.net/images/MandarinDuck05.jpg

    The second warm and sunny day in succession, I did about five miles and finished off the Hereford rump steak with more asparagus. Presently I'll eat something else, haven't decided yet, either the other half of the salmon or the other half of the smoked haddock. I was tempted by the fluffy and delightfully casserole-sized Greylag goslings.
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    Derek
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Thu May 18 2017, 16:03

    Hi Chris,
    The winds have been wrong this year but we usually get a Skua passage through the Solway in spring as they come off the Atlantic through St Georges Channel into the Irish Sea and cross over land when they pass through the Solway.

    Wednesday was a better day and the winds were right. The local birders saw 5 Arctic, 12 Pomarine, several Great and also a flock of 7 Long-tailed Skuas.  Unfortunately the Long-tails came through just after I went home for my evening meal! Gannets, Kittiwakes, Scoter, Fulmar, Arctic Terns, Red-throated Diver and Eider also coming into the inner estuary and nice to see.
    regards
    Derek
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    chris c
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Fri May 19 2017, 00:07

    Sounds good, mostly rarities on the east coast though we get Kittiwakes on the "rigs" where the outflow from the old Sizewell nuclear plant used to be, and they come onto Minsmere to collect food and nesting material, and Scoters and Eiders (St Cuthbert's Chickens) in winter. I used to love watching the Fulmars up in the north east and down in the West Country, and there are some on the south coast at Seaford.

    First baby Starlings in the garden today.

    I've been on several commons and other places and not seen or heard any more Willow Warblers, but gazillions of Blackcaps, Whitethroats and Chiffchaffs and quite a few Lesser Whitethroats. On the marshes every other bush has a Sedge Warbler or Whitethroat, and Reed Warblers in the reedbeds. Nightingales in most of their traditional spots but not singing much. Several of the ponds have become puddles. I've seen more Reed Buntings than I've heard, though there was one in a rape field - like the Woodlarks and Nightingales they aren't singing as much as usual.

    A few Song Thrushes, and a Mistle Thrush which has become even rarer. When I was young there were masses of Song Thrushes, and a Mistle sang from a cedar in a nearby garden, often living up to its old name of Stormcock.

    I did finally hear a pretty decent Cuckoo on the heath behind the marshes. The watermeadows are flooded in winter and collect masses of geese and ducks, along with the likes of Egrets and Spoonbills, then the water level is lowered and a nice herd of Suffolk Red Polls is brought in to graze around the nesting Lapwings and other waders, and not a few Greylags and some Canada Geese. They were very entertaining when a fox strolled nonchalantly past and they made themselves as tall as possible. It's supposed to be a good site for Hobbies but actually one of the few places I've never seen one. I have seen Sparrowhawks and Kestrels and March Harriers quite regularly, and Peregrines occasionally, but yesterday only a distant Buzzard.

    There was a Painted Lady, may have been more than one as they fly very fast. Usually they are a late summer butterfly but I remember a year back in the nineties (may have been eighties) where they were about in large numbers in spring, and presumably overwintered in the UK or Europe.

    Today I saw another Painted Lady somewhere quite different, and heard (and saw briefly) a couple of Turtle Doves, something else that has become rare.
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    chris c
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Wed May 24 2017, 23:55

    Hit Minsmere early morning and finally got to hear the Savi's Wabler, churring in short bursts then stopping and flying to a different bush.

    Absolutely masses of the Usual Suspects, some Reed Warblers making themselves as visible as the Sedge Warblers for a change, Bearded Tits flitting in and out of view, Blackcaps and Whitethroats galore, and a couple of Garden Warblers. A Water Rail crept gradually up a channel, making a series of bizarre groaning, wheezing and plopping noises, sounding like the morning after a really bad curry but remaining resolutely invisible.

    I stuffed my face with a truly massive Hereford steak and buttered asparagus, and a couple of glasses of Malbec, and went for a lie down, then got up and visited a nearby common as dusk was falling. I heard at least four Nightjars churring and saw a couple of them in flight, along with at least half a dozen distant Nightingales and a late Dartford Warbler and Stonechat. I heard a Peacock back in the village, and a Little Owl, but no sound from the Stone Curlews. I first heard them a couple of years before the RSPB admitted they were there, making a weird caterwauling, a bit like an ordinary Curlew being strangled.

    Elsewhere I revisited the quarry with the only decently singing Willow Warbler of the year which was still there, the Hen Reedbeds with booming Bitterns and soaring Marsh Harriers, and Little Egrets and Grey Herons flying to and from the heronry, some farmland which is now bereft of Turtle Doves but still plenty of other things, including a pair of soaring Buzzards being harassed by Crows, and a pair of Hobbies flying in formation.

    I've also been to Ramsholt which has bittersweet memories. There's a decent pub which overlooks the estuary but no longer stays open or serves food all day like it used to. We used to walk along the top of the sea wall until the path was blocked by a landslip, you now have to walk along the back of the beach and onto the wall further along. There used to be a grassy knoll backed by pine trees where we would sit and listen to the Nightingale in the scrub, but the trees were blown down in the hurricane, ye gods nearly thirty years ago, and a load of sycamores and other trees have grown up and obscured the knoll. There was one solitary Nightingale further along, the other ones among the lilacs now seem to have gone too, and a bunch of the usual warblers except Willows. The beautiful - and tasty - Suffolk Red Poll cattle are still on the marshes though. At least it's quiet and peaceful - there used to be originally F-somethings, and later A10 tankbusters and Herky Birds from the local USAF bases which have now gone.

    Most of my walks are 2 - 5 miles and are largely fuelled by stored energy from the previous day/night's food. A far cry from when we'd have to take sandwiches, chocolate, coffee with sugar etc. or visit the pub for a meal.
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    Jan1
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Fri May 26 2017, 20:43

    I really do enjoy this thread and it is so good to read through all the posts.

    This last post of your Chris was a brilliant read, and I suspect many others think so too ...
    They are appreciated.

    We actually saw some hawks today ... Eddie spotted them. They were up so high but it looked as if it was a pair with their baby ... the way they so quickly zoom down it's just amazing.

    Sitting here typing I can actually hear some coo, coo, coos ... from a nearby tree  Smile

    All the best Jan
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    chris c
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c Yesterday at 21:12

    Could have been Peregrines, in London and many other cities they use office blocks and church towers to substitute for rock faces. Big things, and very fast especially when they stoop - dive on prey.

    I had a blast from the past the other morning - a Cuckoo from my back window! First for about a decade.

    When I was young they were a constant part of the soundtrack to spring, along with the silvery cascades of Willow Warblers and the soporific purring of Turtle Doves. As recently as the eighties I saw two males getting jiggy with a female who was laughing maniacally (story of much of my life).

    Then they started dying out mainly on the farmland and in the woods. I remember taking mother up to vote for Tony Blair, and the sole remaining Cuckoo in the area flew overheard from one wood to another, cuckooing ironically. Another few years and that one was gone too, we mainly only heard them near water.

    When we moved here twelve years back, there was one over the farmland which we could hear every morning for several years, then they diminished here too, again except for the marshes and reedbeds. Earlier I visited my most reliable spot and failed to hear one, though other people told me they had heard it: probably it was having a tea break while I was there. However I have now heard about four in different places so don't know if they are making a comeback.

    Among many other places this week I drove down to near Orford and walked into town and back along a farm track and the sea wall, buying a nice smelly bloater which I haven't had yet, and some smoked cods roe from the smokehouse. Peaceful and sunny with just a touch of breeze, not the usual coastal hoolie. Lots of Reed Warblers and several Reed Buntings in the ditches but not much else. A USAF chopper flying around, and also an Osprey - not the bird, one of these



    Weird things, look like the result of an illicit liason between a Bell Huey and a Hercules and sound like nothing else.

    Currently I'm on lockdown after last week's activities, I am significantly suntanned which hopefully will help with vitamin D and nitric oxide, maybe while the holiday hordes are here I'll sneak out onto the farmland and some other lesser known places but I'm keeping away from the seaside and main roads.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 Today at 12:08

    Yes, they may have been Peregrines ...

    "Currently I'm on lockdown after last week's activities, I am significantly suntanned which hopefully will help with vitamin D and nitric oxide, maybe while the holiday hordes are here I'll sneak out onto the farmland and some other lesser known places but I'm keeping away from the seaside and main roads."

    Yes the roads are so busy and the poor people flying with British Airways have certainly not had a good start to their holiday breaks !!!

    Back to birds when very young my parents used to have a budgerigar - in fact over the years they had two or three, usually green ones.
    I wonder if many people do still have them ... I've not come across anyone in recent years.

    http://www.budgerigar.com/

    All the best Jan

      Current date/time is Sun May 28 2017, 13:26