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    Birds

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    Jan1
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Tue Aug 01 2017, 22:23

    @Long birder wrote:Hi Chris and Jan, I've eventually got on under another name.  I kept being told I was not a member nor would the site accept a new password. Very odd. Then it kept throwing at me repeated tests to show I was not a bot and suspected my attempts as hacking! I had to use a different email address and name to be accepted as a new member.
    atb
    Derek

    Great to see you Derek, so pleased you were successful in re-joining  cheers

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by graham64 on Tue Aug 01 2017, 22:35

    @Jan1 wrote:
    @Long birder wrote:Hi Chris and Jan, I've eventually got on under another name.  I kept being told I was not a member nor would the site accept a new password. Very odd. Then it kept throwing at me repeated tests to show I was not a bot and suspected my attempts as hacking! I had to use a different email address and name to be accepted as a new member.
    atb
    Derek

    Great to see you Derek, so pleased you were successful in re-joining  cheers

    All the best Jan

    Hi Derek welcome back  Very Happy Can't figure out why your having so much trouble with your login I know Chris has had problems similar to yours on other sites but not on this forum


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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Fri Aug 04 2017, 01:42

    Welcome back!

    Blackballed by a dietician probably.

    Yes I am mostly back to being allowed to post on blogs again, but there are still a few sites that won't even permit me to read them.

    Haven't been out and about much recently while my thyroid has been having a funny turn, it went higher and higher until I had more than doubled my Carbimazole, then I went through a strange state where I seemed to be getting symptoms of both high and low thyroid simultaneously, then it suddenly crashed and I'm only now getting back to normal. Add in the unpredictable weather and when I've been out it has mostly been on the farmland and heaths where I'm not far from the car but where there is nothing much out of the ordinary to see.

    Someone who lives on he farmland said he hadn't seen the Kites for a couple of years, and he hadn't seen the Buzzards recently either, which was strange because one had just flown right over my head and I was pretty sure I could hear youngsters mewing in the distance, but he HAD heard the Turtle Doves, only early in the morning. Nice to know I'm not the only one who misses things.

    Mealworm shortage is still ongoing, I'm nearly out of stock and since the shop has mostly been getting its supplies on wednesdays and I needed to go to a nearby town I called in for some today. Nope, this week the supply isn't arriving until tomorrow, but since the manager only lives a couple of villages away he very kindly suggested that if I paid for them he would deliver them on his way home tomorrow. I just about have enough left for the few remaining Blackbirds and Starlings and the Sparrows who have restarted visiting so presumably have another brood of nestlings.

    Masses of Swifts over the back field today, I wish I could get them into the kitchen to deal with some of the damn flies which have inundated the place since some manure piles were delivered to some nearby fields. I aborted my plans for a walk due to the cold blustery wind and the looks-like-rain clouds, which didn't just for a change. If it's as sunny as they threatened I might do Minsmere tomorrow and catch up with the waders and Little Gulls now passing through in some numbers.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Mon Aug 07 2017, 23:58

    Mealworms arrived but so far a dearth of birdies to feed them to. I suspect since the fields have been cultivated there's plenty of food out the other side of the fence.

    Looked out the kitchen window the other morning and spotted three Buzzards wheeling over the field. Then I did a double take when I realised it was actually a pair of Buzzards escorting a Red Kite off the premises. Then I did a double double take when I realised it was a Buzzard escorting a pair of Red Kites off the premises! My bins were in the car and by the time I'd run out to fetch them and got back they had buggered off.

    Anyway I have a pretty good idea where they emanated from - like the one I saw recently also coming from the north - so next time I have enough energy I might walk some different farmland where there is a suitable wood with no public access behind the farm and see if they are around those parts, since they paired up they may have relocated from their previous wood and the farmland where I haven't seen them for a couple of years now - or they might be a new pair.

    There's been a Black Kite, apparently an escape from captivity judging by its ring, around another village for some years now, although I've never seen it. I'm told that has now paired up with a Red Kite, don't know if they can interbreed, and currently there's been another Black Kite hanging around elsewhere and believed to be wild.


    Last edited by chris c on Mon Aug 07 2017, 23:59; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Wed Aug 23 2017, 00:00

    Sat in the sun in a couple of places on a common, totally failing to see or hear any Dartford Warblers, or anything much else really, and chatted to a few people who hadn't seen anything much either. But it was a nice day for a gentle stroll anyway.

    Not much on the local nature reserve/cow fields down by the river the previous day either, until a pair of Hobbies started wheeling around overhead. After they had gone, suddenly a load of Swallows arrived, accompanied by several Swifts, most of which seem to have left the country already. It seems like yesterday I was watching the migrants coming in and now they're going out again Sad
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Thu Aug 24 2017, 23:39

    OK I went over the other fields, and sat on a grassy bank for a while at the top of the hill. No sign of the Kites but a couple of Buzzards wheeling around, and the Red Arrows flew past, probably on the way to Clacton for the air show. Supposedly the Spitfire from the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight is also making an appearance, but the Hurricane and Lancaster are (temporarily?) grounded. Over seventy years old and still flying so they had a good innings. The Vulcan we also used to see occasionally has flown its last too. Sad

    Not much else around, just the usual Pigeons, Rooks and Gulls, and a couple of Skylarks, and something small and nondescript, almost certainly a Meadow Pipit, and a mixed flock of tits down by the stream on the way back, and a few Swallows and House Martins.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Fri Aug 25 2017, 11:29

    Just enjoyed seeing these birds on Kilchoan ...


    http://kilchoan.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/small-bird-news.html

    Aren't they all fabulous, my favourite is the robin, or perhaps the chaffinch! Well maybe it's the house sparrow! No, the yellow hammer looks great and siskins are cute too!

    I could go on  Smile

    Or you could just use the link and see what I mean  sunny
    The other photographs are just fabulous!
    http://kilchoan.blogspot.co.uk/2017/08/small-bird-news.html

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Tue Aug 29 2017, 12:38



    One of these spotted in a tree close-by this morning, thankfully it wasn't in a noisy/chattering mode !

    https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/m/magpie/

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sun Sep 03 2017, 00:39

    Not hardly naff all in the garden, but lots of assorted finches, largely Linnets, on the farmland in several places, and not a few baby Chiffchaffs collecting on the hedges, starting off on their migrations. Always a chance of spotting various (relative) rarities passing through, if you can see them or recognise their calls. Masses of Rooks and Jackdaws collecting on the fields and flying to roost already, and yes a couple of Magpies. Also some Jays which are probably collecting acorns already.

    It's rained pretty much every time I've been out, except for when I didn't go out because it was already raining.

    I was talking to someone who lives the other end of the road, he has actually spotted the Kites more often than me, but I've looked in various places and not seen them recently. Quite a few Buzzards, some soaring really high. He still has some Goldfinches in the nest, and I did see some House Martins still in a nest on a cottage the other day. Swifts seem to have gone until next year now.

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    Re: Birds

    Post by Long birder on Sun Sep 03 2017, 14:38

    Hi all,
    We gain some birds but we have lost others.
    Spotted Flycatchers still around and one pair bred locally but there used to be several pairs in our hamlet.
    Marsh Harriers bred for the first time in Cumbria in 150 years. In the same area as where Osprey breeds.
    Saw 4 Avocets on the Solway in the week, they will be the next to breed.
    30 Little Egrets roosting on the harbour island at Port Carlisle when thirty years ago it was a red letter day to see one.
    Curlews, Lapwing and Skylark all but disappeared in the low lands due to change over from hay meadow to silage and the old and failing birds eventually died
    We lost the Corn Bunting 20 odd years ago when they were relatively comming when we came here 50 years ago.
    Now Buzzards are common at low levesl when they were just seen in the mountains, its all change and much not for best.
    regards
    Derek
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sun Sep 03 2017, 21:18

    I sent you the Marsh Harriers and Avocets, see the postmarks! Both exceedingly rare when I was young. Perhaps you would care to return some Ospreys, so far not breeding here but regular on passage now, there's at least one on the estuary where I didn't go yet.

    Yes Spotted Flycatchers were regulars in the garden when I was young, and were still in at least one garden and the churchyard yew trees until less than a decade ago, now they're the sort of thing birders queue to see when they pass through on passage.

    Maybe I'm less pessimistic than you, we get a lot of stuff from the east, including the Great White Egrets, Spoonbills, Glossy Ibis etc. and things from the west like the Buzzards and now the Kites, and Ravens have become annual visitors. Poised in the wings, Savi's Warblers, Penduline Tits and other potential invaders. Less good news, also the green parrots have been spotted in Lowestoft (Ring-Necked or Rose-Ringed Parakeets). Lots of things have increased their populations at the same time others have died out, so overall it's pretty much a wash around these parts.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Wed Sep 20 2017, 22:55

    Heard a Barn Owl screech from my bedroom window last night. They live in the second farm down the valley and also over the hill, and used to be seen and heard patrolling the edges of the back field regularly up until this year. Probably they are finding enough food on the watermeadows and don't need to come this far.

    Also a couple of times I've heard Tawny Owls, almost certainly young, kewicking and making bizarre wailing noises rather than grown-up hoots. Haven't heard them much this year either, just Little Owls and then mostly in the distance. I must try to visit my friends the other side of the fields who have owl boxes where the Tawnys and Littles usually live, and see if the guy who has a single Barn Owl in his box knows if it partnered up this year.

    Various rarities around at Minsmere and other places I didn't go for a while.

    I found this entertaining piece of history

    http://northdownsandbeyond.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/seven-go-mad-in-suffolk_5.html

    Yes I remember Major (or was it Colonel?) Denney. In 76 I was in the West Country/Wales and didn't make it back here until 1980.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Thu Sep 21 2017, 21:10

    " I found this entertaining piece of history

    http://northdownsandbeyond.blogspot.co.uk/2017/09/seven-go-mad-in-suffolk_5.html "

    Thanks for the link Chris, I enjoyed the read.

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sun Sep 24 2017, 23:26

    I got myself back there today after something of a hiatus. Apart from the common stuff (well for Minsmere) there were a few Little Stints among the Dunlins, and the return of the Red-Necked Phalarope from last year. Plus some migrants on the way out, including but not limited to Wheatears and a Redstart. I managed to walk the long circuit but didn't go the rest of the way. A few Brent Geese flying south, and something I just remembered I didn't look up yet.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Mon Oct 09 2017, 01:55

    I had a quick march up a hill, first time for ages I didn't see or hear any Chiffchaffs, but there was something lurking in the hedge, almost certainly a Whitethroat but might have been a Lesser Whitethroat.

    Then a loose straggling flock of Skylarks flew low overhead, heading west from a freshly sown field to one where the rape was emerging from the wheat stubbles. About fifty, later followed by a second flock (I don't think they doubled back) of twenty or thirty more. They are still common as pairs here, and smaller flocks in autumn and winter, but I can't remember when I last saw that many together.

    I got most of the way back down before the rain started.

    Next sunny day I did Minsmere again but due to shopping and other things I left it a bit late and the light was beginning to dazzle from the only hide I bothered going in. I caught some more rays though, some reflected off the water

    Eight Little Stints had been reported, and I saw four of them, two conveniently close to a Dunlin so you could clearly see the smaller size and bright whiteness, a bit like Dunlins washed in Persil until they shrank.

    We spent a while trying to identify a Curlew Sandpiper before deciding it was a slightly portly and slow moving Dunlin. Something was calling a lot and it took a while to remember it was a Ringed Plover, something else whose numbers fell a lot since the eighties but which have made something of a comeback in the last few years.

    Otherwise mostly common things for the place and time of year, Black Tailed Godwits, Teal, Wigeon and Gadwall numbers building up nicely.

    There were reports of a Yellow Browed Warbler further down the coast, and a Dartford Warbler further up the coast, but by then the liver and bacon was starting to call my name so I started to head back to the car. A female Whinchat popped briefly into view on top of a bush, then flew to a neighbouring bush, then reappeared close to a pair of Stonechats for a nice comparison. The only one I've seen all year, which reminded me I hadn't seen a single Pied Flycatcher all year - they usually pass though in spring and more in autumn and often turn up in odd places like small woods on the farmland and trees overhanging the roads. Also the first year I can't recall seeing Hobbies from the house, or on the farmland except for a pair briefly in spring which I suspect the Kestrels moved on as I saw them regularly around the same spot.

    Plenty of Hobbies over the reedbeds and adjacent woods though.

    Also on the way back were numerous Bearded Tits, pinging away and flying up, as they tend to do post-breeding.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Tue Oct 10 2017, 13:21

    Enjoyed your above post Chris, thanks.
    ... seems you saw quite a few birds Smile

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sat Oct 14 2017, 23:47

    I walked down from the Co-Op around the town and back, and met the people we bought this house from over twelve years ago. They moved round the corner, and then to the other end of the road, and then I thought they said they were moving to Holton, just down the road, so I wondered why I didn't see them again for a long time. My bad! - that was someone else, they actually moved to Harleston, over the border in Nelson's County. He is a carpenter and painter and she is an interior designer and decorator and they used to buy up houses and live in them for a few years while doing them up and then selling them on. Now they finally decided to grow up and settle down.

    We reminisced for a while about all the neighbours who had died, and then moved on to the birds in our gardens. Bullfinches are widespread here but mainly in pairs and family parties - I sometimes get them mainly in winter - but they had THIRTY which is a number I don't think I have ever seen.

    After that I went on to the estuary at Iken where I hadn't been for a while. I was supposed to be getting a long walk but I ended up sitting on my favourite rocks, watching and listening to the huge numbers of Black Tailed Godwits, Dunlins, Redshanks and Curlews, that latter two making wonderful wild calls, and smaller numbers of all kinds of other things. I was told the Avocets had adjourned to the back channel, out of sight, then suddenly a couple of hundred of them wheeled into the air. I looked for a Peregrine but only saw a Crow flying high and fast.

    Some weird looking things turned out to be a pair of seals, sat on a submerged island with only their heads and tails sticking out of the water. While pointing them out to a couple walking past, a third seal had swum from way upstream unnoticed and suddenly stuck its head out of the water and peered at us, as they do.

    I sat on the rocks for a couple of hours, as the tide slowly came in and the sun slowly went down, and the birds gradually moved onto the islands to roost. I was hoping for one of those low flying displays where they swirl back and forth flashing alternately silver and dark, but not so much, except for when another pair of cheeky Crows snuck up on the Godwits and put them up.

    By then my bum had pretty much gone to sleep, so I hobbled back to the car and headed home for a giant rump steak and broccoli, followed several hours later by a herring, with a hard roe, and spinach. On the way I did see a Peregrine briefly over the farmland, but I was sandwiched between a tractor with a set of clanking discs about to turn left, and an Audi which I expected to rush past just before a blind bend, as they do, and was prepared to hit the brakes and swerve if there was oncoming traffic, but the Audi also turned left, and by then the Peregrine was long gone.

    Next day I did the entire circuit at Minsmere (two successive sunny days was a miracle!) still a couple of Stints, only a few Dunlin and masses of assorted ducks. Something flashed past in the distance, too small to be a Hobby, which I thought was probably a Merlin, something I hadn't seen for a couple of years, but it was gone in a couple of seconds.

    There was a lot of pinging from Bearded Tits but they mostly remained invisible. Couldn't see any rarities in the dunes, just a load of Stonechats, and while chatting to someone who was photographing them, something flashed past to seaward.

    "Was that a Merlin?" he said. Someone else reported there had been one up the road at Southwold, not far away at Merlin speed, so I was quite pleased I had remembered something right. On a previous visit I'd seen an obvious Ruff with a pure white head and "shawl" and several other rather nondescript birds I had to look up, which I'm pretty sure were more Ruffs and Reeves. As someone said, if you aren't sure what they are they are Ruffs - to which I would add Grey Plovers, or Knot - all things that are fairly undistinguished, and not as common here as up in Norfolk.

    On the way back I met a sweet old lady toddling along with a stick, looking for Beardies and maybe the Starling roost which had been starting to build up. She had quite a beard herself, otherwise she reminded me so much of my mother - who was over ninety before she decided the distance had beaten her - that I was tempted to adopt her.

    Just the right kind of day for the chilli beef, and I even had a little rice to soak up all the olive oil and juices.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Sun Oct 15 2017, 11:33

    @chris c wrote:I walked down from the Co-Op around the town and back, and met the people we bought this house from over twelve years ago. They moved round the corner, and then to the other end of the road, and then I thought they said they were moving to Holton, just down the road, so I wondered why I didn't see them again for a long time. My bad! - that was someone else, they actually moved to Harleston, over the border in Nelson's County. He is a carpenter and painter and she is an interior designer and decorator and they used to buy up houses and live in them for a few years while doing them up and then selling them on. Now they finally decided to grow up and settle down.

    We reminisced for a while about all the neighbours who had died, and then moved on to the birds in our gardens. Bullfinches are widespread here but mainly in pairs and family parties - I sometimes get them mainly in winter - but they had THIRTY which is a number I don't think I have ever seen.

    After that I went on to the estuary at Iken where I hadn't been for a while. I was supposed to be getting a long walk but I ended up sitting on my favourite rocks, watching and listening to the huge numbers of Black Tailed Godwits, Dunlins, Redshanks and Curlews, that latter two making wonderful wild calls, and smaller numbers of all kinds of other things. I was told the Avocets had adjourned to the back channel, out of sight, then suddenly a couple of hundred of them wheeled into the air. I looked for a Peregrine but only saw a Crow flying high and fast.

    Some weird looking things turned out to be a pair of seals, sat on a submerged island with only their heads and tails sticking out of the water. While pointing them out to a couple walking past, a third seal had swum from way upstream unnoticed and suddenly stuck its head out of the water and peered at us, as they do.

    I sat on the rocks for a couple of hours, as the tide slowly came in and the sun slowly went down, and the birds gradually moved onto the islands to roost. I was hoping for one of those low flying displays where they swirl back and forth flashing alternately silver and dark, but not so much, except for when another pair of cheeky Crows snuck up on the Godwits and put them up.

    By then my bum had pretty much gone to sleep, so I hobbled back to the car and headed home for a giant rump steak and broccoli, followed several hours later by a herring, with a hard roe, and spinach. On the way I did see a Peregrine briefly over the farmland, but I was sandwiched between a tractor with a set of clanking discs about to turn left, and an Audi which I expected to rush past just before a blind bend, as they do, and was prepared to hit the brakes and swerve if there was oncoming traffic, but the Audi also turned left, and by then the Peregrine was long gone.

    Next day I did the entire circuit at Minsmere (two successive sunny days was a miracle!) still a couple of Stints, only a few Dunlin and masses of assorted ducks. Something flashed past in the distance, too small to be a Hobby, which I thought was probably a Merlin, something I hadn't seen for a couple of years, but it was gone in a couple of seconds.

    There was a lot of pinging from Bearded Tits but they mostly remained invisible. Couldn't see any rarities in the dunes, just a load of Stonechats, and while chatting to someone who was photographing them, something flashed past to seaward.

    "Was that a Merlin?" he said. Someone else reported there had been one up the road at Southwold, not far away at Merlin speed, so I was quite pleased I had remembered something right. On a previous visit I'd seen an obvious Ruff with a pure white head and "shawl" and several other rather nondescript birds I had to look up, which I'm pretty sure were more Ruffs and Reeves. As someone said, if you aren't sure what they are they are Ruffs - to which I would add Grey Plovers, or Knot - all things that are fairly undistinguished, and not as common here as up in Norfolk.

    On the way back I met a sweet old lady toddling along with a stick, looking for Beardies and maybe the Starling roost which had been starting to build up. She had quite a beard herself, otherwise she reminded me so much of my mother - who was over ninety before she decided the distance had beaten her - that I was tempted to adopt her.

    Just the right kind of day for the chilli beef, and I even had a little rice to soak up all the olive oil and juices.

    These read as good days ... Smile
    I enjoyed your post very much Chris, thanks.

    Chilli Beef in Autumn goes down well, especially with (cauliflower) rice  thumb-up

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Wed Oct 18 2017, 00:07

    Chilli beef goes pretty well with runner beans too, I had some on Sunday following a good walk on the beach at Covehithe, along with about half the population if the county and their dogs - never ever seen it so full.

    Yet another sunny day, and the sea breeze was keen but not enough to leave me sandblasted which has happened in the past there. Probably because of all the people there weren't many birds though, some small skeins of Brent Geese flying south, and only a handful of Mallard on the broad, some Meadow Pipits on the beach and relatively few gulls on the pig fields.

    Again I spent some time just sat in the sun soaking up the rays, after I finally found my favourite tree stump. As the land falls into the sea it drops tree stumps on the beach, and the tides and winter storms move them around a bit. Actually I think the tree was in the same place as last time I went but my legs have grown shorter. It previously got washed quite a long way south from where it started out, and the storms last winter did a number on the sandy bank and the shingle, and completely altered the exit from the broad.

    When I got home I was surprised to hear so much Skylark song over the back field. One was just singing in the usual way, but two were pouring their little hearts out at full volume while chasing each other in zigzags all across the sky. Migrants settling in, probably some from the flocks I saw the other day further down the valley.

    I walked over the local farmland again after today's shopping expedition, a few more Skylarks, some doing the same thing, not much else. A surprising lack of Redwings and Fieldfares so far this autumn though, in other years they've been much earlier. They were flying over above the hospital while mother was dying, that was a week earlier seven years ago, and that year I'm pretty sure we saw the first flocks while she was still alive.

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    Re: Birds

    Post by Long birder on Sun Oct 22 2017, 13:21

    Hi, Redwing pouring in to north of England for a week or so.
    Had at least 3 Green Sandpipers and a Ruff on flooded farmland not far from home today.
    123 Whoopers on stubble near Silloth yesterday. Winter comes on, it was very chilly out birding this am.
    Lots of Crests about but dipped on YBW's up to now.
    regards
    Derek
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sun Oct 22 2017, 21:55

    Oh nice!

    We get a few Whoopers but more Bewicks here. I spent a while trying to make a couple of Goldcrests into a YBW but failed, there have been/are a few dozen up and down the coast so far. Green Sand is yet another thing I expect to see but haven't this season. I've seen Brent Geese in dozens or so heading south, someone I was chatting with had seen hundreds passing Southwold.

    I assume you kept your roof and didn't get flooded in the latest storm. Here we mainly had a load of blustery winds. I watched a Black Headed Gull trying to do its nonchalantly soaring over the rooftops thing but it kept bumping into lumps of air and having to put its feet out like a kid learning to ride a bike.

    Then I went into the dining room for my sausages and Brussels sprouts, and spotted a flock of things too small to be Skylarks heading north. Almost certainly Meadow Pipits but the wind totally destroyed their characteristic flight.

    Still no Fieldfares or Redwings but I know they are around, and the same guy who told me about the geese has a couple of Black-billed Blackbirds in his garden already.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Sat Oct 28 2017, 15:21


    What a cheeky chappie this Woodpecker is
    Photographed by K Dao

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Mon Oct 30 2017, 00:10

    Oh bless! We used to get Green Woodpeckers in the garden regularly, digging into the ants' nests, but they haven't been around for a while. Still get Great Spotteds in the oak trees but not sure where they nest, probably further up or down the road where there are several more oaks which are probably what remains from a hedge that was at the field edge before the houses were built.

    I went back to Minsmere in the lovely morning sunshine, but within half an hour it had clouded over. I started off to Island Mere, the big new hide overlooking the lake. On the way there I heard but didn't see a couple of Crossbills in some pines, the Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a flock of assorted tits with a couple of Goldcrests that I tried and failed again to make into Yellow Browed Warblers, and another flock of Long tailed Tits.

    Everyone coming the other way was telling me about the Bittern sitting right out in the open after catching a huge fish, but predictably just before I arrived it vanished. There was an Otter though, swimming about just in front of the hide, and once it popped up looking at us just like a seal would, and after it went down again there was a lot of rippling as it swum about without re-emerging. A Little Grebe popped up briefly, like a fluffy bath toy, then the Bittern flew up and around in a giant circle until it was mobbed by three Marsh Harriers and flopped into the water, sitting there with its beak pointing straight up until they gave up and returned to floating back and forth over the reedbeds. A Kingfisher zapped past, and in the distance were five Whooper Swans, a couple of Mutes, some Brent Geese along with the usual Greylags and Barnacles, a couple of Grey Herons and Little Egrets and a small flock of Cormorants, and quite a lot of non-rare Gulls and Ducks.

    I snuck out onto the walkway, and after hearing some pinging eventually a pair of Bearded Tits flew up quite high, over some willows and back down again. I could also hear some Water Rails in the distance, as invisible as usual.

    On the way back were even more tits, Goldfinches with a few Redpolls, and the usual Cetti's Warblers. Someone showed me a photo of a juvenile Merlin which had just arrived and was parked on the ground, seemingly exhausted. A different one from the adult we saw briefly the previous week.

    I fell in with a delightful Yummy Mummy, with an adorable little daughter, and her mother who wasn't quite a GILF. In fact, being half term, there were a lot of families with kids, and while some of them were being dragged resentfully around it was great to see so many of them so enthusiastic about nature, climbing trees and finding fungi just like I used to do sixty years ago. I pointed out a few birds for them, much as people used to do for me.

    They went down onto the beach and I went into the big hide where there were increasing numbers of Black Tailed Godwits and most of the expected ducks and gulls, including a lot more Wigeon and Shovelers than before, but nothing unexpected. A couple of gull experts were picking out a couple of Caspian and Yellow Legged Gulls among the Herrings, Lesser Blackbacks and increasing numbers of Great Blackbacks, and not a few Black Headeds, but I didn't see any Mediterranean or Common Gulls. A flock of Linnets which didn't appear to contain any Twites, and several Pied Wagtails. In the bushes were the usual Stonechats but no rarities or migrants, and several Meadow Pipits. On the way I met the family coming back, having spotted a seal just off the beach.

    I walked on round to the next hide but the Merlin had moved on. The sun finally broke through from under the clouds and there was a solitary Redshank looking incredibly knock-kneed, which turned out to be an optical illusion from its reflection in the mirror-smooth water. I got chatting with some more people, some of whom I'd met previously as we went round in opposite directions, and we compared notes, including on various farm shops and butchers with their specialist local sausages.

    I'd been to the farm shop on the way out, where my delighful Thai friend made me wait while she packed EIGHT Gloucester Old Spots especially for me, and sold me another hunk of Red Storm cheese. She takes such good care of me that if I'd married her instead I'd probably not have needed to get divorced, though she might. Despite that I decided to finish the other half of the rump steak with some more perfectly cooked sprouts, and this time I didn't overcook the steak.

    Next day was a lot less excellent, it was back to being cold and blowy. I did the Co-Op, drove around looking at the autumn colours, and walked on the funky common which is marshy, covered in Early Purple Orchids in spring, and huge spectacular piebald horses which like to stand in the middle of the roads, and have been known to eat windscreen wipers, probably for the road salt, but they'd been put away. I was expecting to see and hear Fieldfares and Redwings but didn't, just the usual Pigeons, Pheasants, Partridges and Gulls and a couple of Blackbirds, Robins, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits, so I turned for home and yet another Chilli Beef with broccoli.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Sun Nov 05 2017, 18:09

    Lovely to read that there were quite a few families around enjoying the outdoors ...
    I may be wrong but sometimes I think this is becoming less popular with families, which is such a shame.
    Years ago we used to be given the I Spy books, I can't remember if we ever completed a whole book, I'm sure there were gaps but it did encourage us once we were out and about.
    ( https://collins.co.uk/page/i-SPY )

    The grandchildren love being outside, which is great. Of course once they hit the teen years will it still be so - time will tell - and they'll certainly get a lot of encouragement.

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sun Nov 05 2017, 22:50

    Oh yes I had no end of those I Spy books too. I wonder if nowadays there's a phone app.

    Sometimes on Countryfile they show various kids' activities in various parts of the country so this isn't the only place they can still be found doing the sort of things we used to do.

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