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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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    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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    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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    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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    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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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sat May 27 2017, 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 on Sun May 28 2017, 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
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Mon May 29 2017, 20:18

    OMG that takes me back! Yes lots of folks had budgies when I was young - with varying talking skills. Someone down the road from my Gran used to breed them and had a huge wood and wire netting cage in their back garden, full of multicoloured budgies and other types of pet bird.

    In more recent years I've seen more cockatoos and other parrots.

    "I've seen a cockatoo in my time!" - the inimitable Dame Edna Everage.

    Next batch of baby Blackbirds are now turned out, and the Whitethroat is poking about in my shrubbery. Haven't heard the Cuckoo again though, but there are still quite a few rarities passing through on migration, none of which I've seen either.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Wed Jun 07 2017, 23:56

    Been out and about but mainly only seen common things.

    Today I went out to the Hen Reedbeds again and watched the Marsh Harriers soaring in the breeze. Some females were up, recently it has only been males displaying as I assume the females have been sitting on eggs. There was a Hobby hanging around in the distance, then a Bittern flew right in front of me and landed by the edge of a pool, and promptly vanished. Later I saw another one fly up and down again from further away (it might have been the same one of it had walked very fast in between, but since there was yet another booming in the distance I suspect probably two different birds from two different nests. From now on is probably the best time to see them as they are feeding young and often fly some distance with food.)

    Yet another Cuckoo singing in the distance, it's been a bumper year for them compared to much of the recent decade. Maybe they've been breeding well on the continent and spreading back to the UK, several have been on the farmland and in woodlands which is where they mostly disappeared from.

    Came home to feed the baby Starlings and Blackbirds with mealworms, they've had a good season so far, and recently the female Sparrow has returned after a short absence, I wonder if it had lost its first brood and re-nested.

    After a while I felt my right tit itching. Shortly afterwards I got more itching over my stomach. Thinking I was developing some kind of rash I pulled up my shirt - and a mealworm dropped out. The wind must have blown it in there when I was throwing them.

    Not seen any Wailing Heath Chickens - local name for Stone Curlews - yet this year but loads of Dartford Warblers. Also failed to see the Red Footed Falcon which has been hanging out in the area, or the Purple Heron at Minsmere, something I haven't seen since the eighties or so, or the latest Glossy Ibis though I saw one a couple of years back.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Sat Jun 10 2017, 18:51

    According to the RSPB "Mealworms are a great natural food for birds and can be used to feed them throughout the year. It can become quite expensive to constantly buy mealworms, so you might want to grow your own. This page explains how to culture your own mealworms.

    https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/read-and-learn/helping-birds/feeding/whatfood/mealworms.aspx


    Having looked at the suggestion, I think I would stick to buying them ...

    It's always good to look after our birds and wildlife

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sat Jun 10 2017, 21:49

    Oh thanks for reminding me, I used to breed them when I was young. They pupate and then become beetles, some of which fly away but some remain in the box. Unfortunately after a while they seem to become overwhelmed with tiny mites. I buy them from a birdfood store a few villages away, they aren't cheap but due to the rats I can no longer put out seed, and they are all eaten before they get around to pupating. Dried ones are available but the birdies prefer them live and wriggling.

    I used to leave the back door open, and a Robin, Blue Tit and the bravest baby Blackbird used to let themselves in and feed themselves. Then I started finding the Robin in the sunroom when the door was closed. I discovered he (?) was flying in via the kitchen window and through the house but initially hadn't twigged how to make the return journey.

    Sad news, the parrot in the newsagent's died. He was only five and I was told a heart attack. Poor guy isn't having much luck, he just lost his mother, followed by a uncle, and now his parrot. On the positive side I haven't lost any more neighbours.

    Did half of Minsmere yesterday, the Savi's Warbler is still there and was singing better. Loads of Marsh Harriers soaring, both sexes, and about four Hobbies catching small insects and not a few dragonflies - spectacular aerobatics - and eating them in flight, as they do. Only a brief glimpse of a Bittern in the distance, and something sneaking about under the side of the hide which I first identified as a baby Moorhen, then probably a baby Water Rail, and eventually decided it was probably a Moorhen after all.

    Masses of the usual warblers singing, and a distant Cuckoo. Someone claimed they could hear a second one even further away but it was drowned out by my tinnitus. That's at least half a dozen this year alone, at least five more than I heard last year. Only a few Bearded Tits pinging and mostly not visible.

    I started to do the other half of the reserve but was hit by a sudden cold drenching rainstorm, so aborted the mission in favour of lamb's liver, bacon, mushroom and half a tree of broccoli with Malbec and a thickly buttered oatcake, and a square of 85% chocolate for pudding. I went for a brief lie down but ended up sleeping about seven hours. My thyroid went off on one again and I bumped up the meds to control it, now I think I have overcontrolled it a bit.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Tue Jun 13 2017, 23:38

    World mealworm shortage! Well a British one anyway, apparently one of the two mealworm breeders in the UK went out of business and the sole remaining one has yet to ramp up production sufficiently so they are being rationed.

    I walked in the woods yesterday, the rhododendrons are going over already though the remaining flowers were buzzing with bumbles, as were the foxgloves. Just the expected birds, plus a very loquacious Garden Warbler. Too soon to tell but I suspect they are becoming commoner as the Willow Warblers die out.

    Went back to the shop for the mealies which had arrived today, then drove in vain down the coast hoping to refind the sun which had gone behind clouds. Some stunning Skylark song, Meadow Pipits, Linnets and a few Ringed Plovers, and out at sea a container ship that looked like the Manhattan skyline. Any swell and the stacks of containers looked like they would go down like dominoes. Quite bizarre.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Fri Jun 16 2017, 22:31

    The garden has been full of baby Whitethroats and Dunnocks.

    Walked on some farmland again without seeing anything untoward though at last the late sown peas are germinating, and it looks like elsewhere they are being harvested already.

    Walked on another common, well I sat for a long time on a log in the sun, then walked up the hill and sat on another log. Heard a Nightjar churr and make some flight calls, I suppose in the middle of the day that's the Nightjar equivalent of getting up for a midnight pee and a snack. On the way back down the hill there was an epic song battle between two Dartford Warblers, each accompanied by a female, and closer inspection showed there were actually two entire families both vying for possession of the same gorse bush. Meanwhile a cock Stonechat sat silent and unmoving, the only example of strong and stable I've seen for a while.

    Went back to the Hen Reedbed - no bitterns to be seen or heard, but a few pairs of Marsh Harriers flying, and a bunch of Herons and Little Egrets standing on the treetops. Then a pair of Hobbies arrived and put on a spectacular display of swooping down into a channel below the tops of the reeds at immense speed, then floating up eating presumably dragonflies on the wing before dropping down for another one.

    I had a kipper with samphire (I forgot to write that that has been back for a week or more now, just as the asparagus season is ending) a lovely fatty lamb chop with broccoli, sausages and asparagus, and started to make a bolognese with halloumi but the ground beef smelled a bit off so had a kind of bacon, peppers, chillies, garlic and olives stir fry with said halloumi mixed in and fried in EVOO. That worked.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Sat Jun 17 2017, 17:53

    Well, I'd read about butter shortage in Australia but had not heard about the British Meal Worm shortage!

    I love to see the rhododendrons. I also like peonies and actually saw bunches of them for sale recently, which I thought was unusual.

    Your meals sound delicious Chris, eating low carb is so tough LOL!
    It's salad for us tonight ...

    So far I don't think I've mentioned any birds and this is the birds thread, although I did hear some quite early this morning tweeting and chirping away Smile  

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sun Jun 18 2017, 22:10

    Overheard in a garden centre

    "I'm looking for a big white peony"

    My thoughts: aren't we all, dear

    A couple of neighbours have spectacular pink ones. When I was young we had a white one, a maroon one - the buds always attracted red ants - and a rare yellow one. Yeah now you mention it I've also seen them in the flower shop but only recently.

    Went round the Big Circuit at Minsmere yesterday, in the brilliant sunshine. Scorchio! There had been a Marsh Warbler singing, but true to form it vanished about ten minutes before I arrived. I carried on round: must have been more than a hundred Mediterranean Gulls among all the Black Headeds, with lots of fluffy young. The Common and Sandwich Terns have also bred, and there were hordes of baby ducks and geese, from tiny fluffballs to near adult sized ones.

    Black Tailed Godwits weren't so fortunate though, loads of them are returning already having failed to breed somewhere further north and already moulting out of their summer plumage. More were arriving even while I sat in the hide.

    Masses of all the usual suspects around, surprisingly few baby Avocets though, probably the gulls are eating their chicks to feed their own.

    I tried to sneak up on where the Marsh Warbler had been and was told it had reappeared but gone again about half an hour earlier.

    Since I was pretty sunburned by then, and also bitten by a few more midges and some mosquitoes, I came home for a late lunch/early dinner and a lie down. More sausages and broccoli, and later a pheasant breast stir fry.

    I went back early this morning but the Marsh Warbler appears to have gone permanently. Since there was one further inland at Lakenheath for quite a long time this may have been the same one returning to Europe early. I did the other half of the reserve and there was not one but TWO Savi's Warblers reeling alternately, like one of those old set-up-your-stereo records "this is the left channel, this is the right"

    Lots of obligingly visible Reed Warblers and Sedgies, and I actually saw a Cetti's Warbler twice as he escorted me off the premises - presumably defending his nesting bush - usually you only hear them. A few Bearded Tits coming into view, and a Bittern finally flew past the hide at a surprising height. This is the season when they are most visible usually as they make food flights back and foth to the young in their nests but despite sitting watching in several places I saw no others.

    Masses of Black Headed Gulls catching insects on the wing, and eventually a pair of Hobbies joined in for a while, probably after the dragonfly hordes.

    Spotted numerous butterflies including a huge Fritillary - which I'm not certain - and a couple of Cinnabar Moths fresh out of the paintshop and totally glowing in carmine and dark grey, plus not a few of their caterpillars in yellow and black stripes, and a whole mass of assorted burrowing wasps and bees.

    Now I'm even more sunburned and even more bitten. Had more sausages and broccoli, with a lamb chop and asparagus planned for later.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Tue Jun 27 2017, 00:29

    Nothing out of the ordinary to report for a while now, but a bumper crop of baby birds of all kinds.

    So far this year I've walked on the farmland several times, and driven through the area, all without seeing the Kites which have been resident for several years now - well there was originally one but the farmer told me he has now become a pair. Which is good, they have started breeding elsewhere in the area too.

    The other day I spotted one for the first time out of my back window, drifting lazily over the field. First time ever! Well OK I'm pretty sure I saw one once years back from the end of the road, back before they moved into the area. I had just turned the corner and saw what I first assumed was a Marsh Harrier through the sunroof and back window. As I was driving up the road I though "that looks a bit wrong!" and backed down the hill again, but it had vanished. Later I was told there had been one spotted not far away, and it was a couple of years later the first one moved in a few miles away, I saw it several times in various places over a pretty large territory but never before from the house.

    Now the only birds of prey I haven't seen from the house are Merlins (around in small numbers in winter usually nearer the coast), Hen Harrier (ditto but less often and in smaller numbers), Osprey (too far from the estuary where they have now become regular on autumn passage) and the Sea Eagle which was hanging around earlier in the year.

    Always a good thing when there are plenty of predators because it means there is plenty of prey.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Wed Jul 05 2017, 21:16

    Pretty sure I saw the Peregrine the other morning, as the Rooks and Jackdaws were tumbling out of their roost it flashed over the field between them at crazy speed, flying like Biggles on amphetamine. It was gone in a couple of seconds but I think it was too big and too fast to be a Hobby.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Mon Jul 10 2017, 20:39

    Wish I could record the bird that has been singing away in a nearby tree these past few mornings ...
    Even Eddie commented on how lovely the sound was.
    It seems a sweeter song than the one I heard back on the 17th June -

    I have heard others, but somehow this one seems to stand out more ...
    I'm just not a bird expert  Sad , but enjoy seeing and listening to them.

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Mon Jul 10 2017, 23:37

    Most likely suspects - Blackbird, Song Thrush, Robin, Dunnock

    http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/

    has some sound clips.

    THE site for bird sings and calls is

    http://www.xeno-canto.org/europe/

    but you have to look species by species.

    Yes they can be very variable, for the first few years here we had an especially tuneful Blackbird but none of his successors have come close. Where we used to live there was the world's most tuneless Song Thrush for a couple of years, he just didn't seem to have picked up how to sing at all, just made a succession of repeated tuneless whistles.

    Sometimes they imitate different species, a Goldfinch probably fledged on one of the commons had picked up a lot of Woodlark song phrases, and one Great Tit at Minsmere was an excellent mimic of the Marsh Tits which actually lived a few trees away.

    Some of our wintering Starlings mimic things they probably heard in Scandinavia or wherever they originated. When I was young one could imitate a neighbour trying and failing to kick-start his lawnmower, but without the swearing, and a Song Thrush that could imitate a Trimphone. I've heard several species imitate car alarms too.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Thu Jul 13 2017, 17:43

    Thanks Chris.
    The RSPB site is brilliant ...

    I'm going to try and keep my eyes open to see if I can spot the bird, but it does tend to hide in the branches - I may just get lucky!

    We shall see

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sat Jul 15 2017, 23:01

    Thinking further, might be a Goldfinch, they have a very pretty tinkling song, and Greenfinches and Chaffinches are pretty urban as well as everywhere else. Blackcaps are quite widespread also, maybe Linnets too.

    There can be comparative rarities too, we had a Lesser Whitethroat in the garden in Ealing which is more a farmland species, and I can remember Redstarts in Epping Forest long ago though I doubt they are still there.

    Apocryphal story - a non-birdwatcher was trying to get an identity for "a bird with a red face" which was feeding on her bird table. All the usual suggestions like Goldfinches met with a negative response. Eventually she let on the missing clue, that it was feeding off the table while standing on the ground. It turned out to be a Crane that had escaped from a wildlife park.

    I saw a flock of Cranes quite while ago, in a field in Norfolk. At the time they were trying to keep this a secret, a bit hard to do with a flock of tall loudly honking birds flapping around . . .
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c Yesterday at 23:57

    Young Marsh Harriers now in the air along with their parents, taking slow-flying lessons. I never actually saw one stall but I suppose they must occasionally until they learn to control it. I once watched a glider pilot "stall it down" he put the nose up a bit and came down sort of wheels first and almost vertically and landed flump! just barely had time to push it into the hangar before we were hit by a thunderstorm.

    Which reminds me of another story of a fighter pilot who had to bale out in a storm. Instead of parachuting down he actually parachuted up and came out of the top of the storm encased in ice. He was lucky to live.

    Meanwhile as the back field and its neighbours were cultivated there was the mandatory flock of gulls following the machinery, aided and abetted by a load of Rooks and Jackdaws. Since then the field has been left rough and not sown yet: it has been covered with gulls and the flock of Rooks and Jackdaws has grown hugely, almost as many as last winter. They cover the field presumably devouring worms and soil insects, then have started flying off to their mass roost already, away from the rookery. When the wind blows they do some pretty spectacular low speed aerobatics.

      Current date/time is Sun Jul 23 2017, 21:42