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    Birds

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    chris c
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Thu Nov 03 2016, 22:09

    Ring-Necked Parakeets! I first saw one when I lived in Ealing, there were hundreds of them in West London and even more in Surrey when I moved back there. They make the most godawful screeching and roost in huge numbers.

    A pretty good day yesterday, I went to Minsmere where I hadn't been for a long time, I put my RSPB membership card in a safe place and, well you know the rest . . . this year's card arrived and went straight in my wallet.

    Not so many waders, they're mostly on the estuaries. A few of the Usual Suspects, plus a Grey Plover and a Spotted Redshank. Quite a lot of ducks, Teal, many more Wigeon, Gadwall and a few dozen Shovelers. I walked the big circuit without too much difficulty, though I stopped at every hide.

    Down on the beach there were three Snow Buntings. They'd buggered off to the south by the time I got there so I stumbled over the dunes covered in tussocks, trying not to go down a rabbit hole into an alternative reality.

    By the time I got to where they'd gone they'd flown back again. Eventually I watched them for a while scuttling and flittering about. They look very like shingle. You can tell when it's actually shingle because it doesn't move. After they'd entertained us for a while they flew off further north, they don't hang around for long.

    I got to the other end of the reserve just in time to see the Starling roost build up. First one flew over going WTF? Then a few small flocks turned up and merged together and swirled about the sky throwing some shapes. At one stage they plunged into the trees, then flew back out again. Eventually the rest of the flock arrived in the form of a massive horizontal sheet, and the whole murmuration did some spectacular aerobatics before suddenly dropping into the reeds and vanishing.

    They were quite a long way off but no bad thing as we could watch the entire performance.

    A few hundred gulls went over, and a few dozen Greylag Geese. By then the sun had nearly gone down and the arctic breeze was getting to me. I was fooled by the bright sun into thinking it was as warm as Monday and went out without my winter woollie.

    So I drove home and stuffed my face with bacon, mushrooms, multicoloured peppers, chillies, garlic, paprika, oregano, thyme and some toasted sesame oil, all fried in EVOO, with a large handful of purple sprouting broccoli and a couple of glasses of Chilean Malbec, followed by a couple of squares of 85% chocolate and a cup of coffee, then crashed out for a couple of hours. By then I hadn't eaten for about eight hours, completely impossible during my low fat years.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Eddie on Sat Nov 05 2016, 14:35

    "Ring-Necked Parakeets! I first saw one when I lived in Ealing, there were hundreds of them in West London and even more in Surrey when I moved back there. They make the most godawful screeching and roost in huge numbers."

    Thanks for the info Chris, I thought I was going batshit. affraid


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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Sat Nov 05 2016, 19:40

    Introduced species can be a real pest especially if they displace native birds.  The parakeets do not get up here they probably do not like the damp.
    However we had a very dry October with a third of normal rainfall, today we had the first snow on the high tops with the tops of Skiddaw and Blencathra having a light covering.

    Hundreds of the Svalbard race of Barnacle Geese were very close to a lay-by on the RSPB Campfield reserve and some birdwatchers were taking the opportunity to photograph them. That very streamlined non diving duck the Pintail were feeding on the adjacent mud in small numbers.

    Spent some time checking through 1000's of Golden Plover but all were Eurasians.

    Not a window down scope out the window day!!
    Derek
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sat Nov 05 2016, 21:03

    Allegedly there were Pintail at Minsmere but I didn't see them. They build up to decent numbers later in the winter, I know a good place where they collect. Absolutely gorgeous.

    Still haven't seen many Golden Plover of any race. Until the two hard winters of 2009 and 2010 we used to get a massive flock of about 500 Lapwing and 200 Golden Plover which moved through the farmland in a fairly regular pattern, turning up here around February. Now they seem to be split into a number of smaller flocks and less regular.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Sun Nov 06 2016, 14:29

    Hi Chris,
    I see there was an American swallow near you the other day. I bet that got the twitchers twitching!

    The guy who does the birds of the esturies counts for southern Cumbria had a very large count of Pintail yesterday on the Duddon estuary of 1600 birds.

    I have been checking on specie diversity in my garden today and i am up to 25 species using the garden today not counting fly over gulls etc.
    D.


    Last edited by Derek on Thu Nov 10 2016, 21:49; edited 1 time in total
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Mon Nov 07 2016, 20:55

    Yes a Cliff Swallow. I used to know him. Also a few ordinary Swallows who haven't flown off yet.

    My garden is a bit of a wasteland, mainly because it backs onto fields. The "garden birds" tend to stay the other side of the road where the gardens back onto more gardens.

    One winter day I flushed something from near the compost bins. "What a strange looking pigeon and why is it carrying a twig?" was my first thought, then I realised it was a Woodcock. Mainly the best birds are out over the fields - Tawny, Little and especially Barn Owls, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Hobby, Peregrine, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard. Not seen a Merlin yet but I saw a photo of one sitting on a friend's relative's bird table once.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Thu Nov 10 2016, 21:58

    Buzzards are one of the most common raptors round here, they are seen every time one goes out. Sparrow Hawks next common but Kestrels have gone down in numbers and I don't see Peregrine as much as I used to do.

    Went to see a Great Grey Shrike a few days ago that a birder found near Cockermouth, this pm I nipped into Carlisle to see a sizeable flock of Waxwings that were feeding on Rowan near Plumb Centre. c.50 birds.

    If I manage it I will try to post a picture or two.
    D..
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Fri Nov 11 2016, 22:04

    WAXWINGS DON'T EXIST! Everywhere I ever went to see them they flew off just before I got there. We had them here, a neighbour photographed one on his hedge. All I saw was a flock of something that probably wasn't Starlings in the distance.

    When I was young almost the only raptor was Kestrels. Sparrowhawks are probably the commonest here now and outnumber the Kestrels, Buzzards probably second. Back in the nineties they got as far east as Surrey and Sussex. when we first moved here twelve years back there were a few mainly in Norfolk, now they are widespread and there are a few Kites, some have actually bred but most are still singles. There was a Black Kite too, probably an escape though someone believed it might have been wild.

    There used to be Peregrines nesting in a quarry behind a friend's house in Cumbria, and I used to see them over the sea from the West Welsh cliffs. They moved into the Avon Gorge shortly after I left Bristol. Pigeon racers were threatening to kill them until someone had the brainwave of breeding non-racing pigeons there as Peregrine food. They moved into the city (tall buildings look just like cliffs to Peregrines) and I've heard they used to fly up at night in the city lights and pluck migrants out of the sky. Some pieces of rarities and their rings turned up in the Peregrine nest.

    Back in the nineties I thought I'd found a twofer on the downs near Worthing - a Quail killed by a Peregrine - but actually it was a juvenile Partridge, partly plucked and eaten. Probably walkers drove the bird away and it would come back later to finish its dinner. Again they were nesting on buildings in Brighton.

    I think the first ones here were on the Orwell bridge at Ipswich - not entirely successful as the young tended to get killed by traffic - and Norwich Cathedral. Now they are at Lowestoft, Sizewell, Bungay, and several pairs in both Ipswich and Norwich.

    They used to be winter visitors to the estuaries, there's a magnificently poetic book - The Peregrine by J A Baker - he used to follow them obsessively on the Essex estuaries back in the sixties.

    Just the other day I saw one flash past the kitchen window - too big to be a Kestrel or Hobby and stunningly fast. This happens most years, once only in winter but now in almost any season.

    Went to the other end of Minsmere today but the Starling hordes failed to materialise, only a few hundred turned up.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Fri Nov 11 2016, 23:42

    It's always good to read about the birds others see ... however, I sometimes wish I could come up with some more exotic birds ...
    Alas the only bird I saw today was a pigeon sitting quietly in one of the trees.

    I'm sure there were other bird varieties around but I didn't see them.

    Perhaps I'll have better luck tomorrow

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Mon Nov 14 2016, 23:29

    I went for a walk the other day and for a long time the smallest thing I saw was a cow. Then a Blue Tit and a Magpie and eventually a small group of Long-Tailed Tits - what my mother used to call "bum-barrels".

    Not that much more today - I walked a track up the hill and there weren't even any pigeons in the rape. Eventually a small flock of Fieldfares - about twenty - and finally with a wonderful fluting like a Mistle Thrush with a megaphone, a flock of about eight Golden Plover came overhead, dropped onto the wheat field, then kept getting up and whizzing around just above the ground.

    I'd heard that the Starling hordes were "on the Alde" which is a bit of a long river, so I went and sat on my favourite rock at Iken again, watching and listening to the vast quantities of waders, ducks and gulls while keeping watch in both directions.

    Eventually the Starlings turned up right in the distance to the west where there is a new reserve not yet open to the public. I know a back lane that should give good views.

    Walking back to the car, the clouds parted to reveal quite the biggest moon I ever saw outside of a science fiction film, hanging low in the sky above the trees surrounding the church tower. It had a wonderful benign expression in exactly the way Donald Trump doesn't.

    I saw someone photographing it - with flash! Duh! Later I saw some proper photographers lining it up between the pylons and power lines that cross the country from Sizewell.

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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Wed Nov 16 2016, 21:50

    Went to another reserve today, where they dug out some scrapes in a watermeadow which have filled up with water. Finally found where all the Wigeon were, everywhere else so far they've been outnumbered by Teal. Nothing rare but masses of common stuff.

    Came home via a back lane and stopped to look for the starlings.

    A Hercules flew over low and flushed about 20 Curlews out of a field where they were feeding, and over a hundred Barnacle geese from the marsh.

    There were hundreds of Jackdaws and dozens of Rooks gathering to go to roost. Then the first Starlings arrived and swirled overhead. They broke up into two flocks and one lot went and landed on some pylons and the top powerlines. I though that would be a bit draughty. Eventually they flew off and joined in with the main flock which was roughly where I expected but quite distant. They did some pretty good aerobatics and attracted a Marsh Harrier, but then it suddenly pissed down with rain, so they dropped into the reeds and I legged it back to the car.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Eddie on Sat Nov 19 2016, 17:49


    Sometimes when fishing in cold weather on a lake or river, a cheeky Robin comes along looking for a free meal. They love maggots and chopped pork luncheon meat I use as bait. They come very close, I can get them to land and take bait off the toe of my boot, but have never been able to hand feed them. Clever buggers, they know I can't resist trying to get them through the winter. It's amazing how a tiny creature, can cheer me up, and give me a reason to be freezing my nuts off on a day the fish aren't biting.


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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sun Nov 20 2016, 23:12

    Try mealworms, I've had robins come to my hand for them. Start by putting your hand on the ground or patio near to some mealies, then put them nearer to your hand, then actually on your hand.

    I was thinking about your parakeets the other day. Friends in Bristol had a parrot that escaped. After flying around in the wild for a while it went home and let itself back in. Stupid they ain't.

    When I saw my first parakeet in Ealing I assumed someone else had had an escape. When I saw a flock of four I thought they weren't very careful with their parrots around those parts. When I saw thirty I went and looked in my books.

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    Re: Birds

    Post by graham64 on Mon Nov 21 2016, 22:24

    Very quiet on the bird front here just a few bluetits a thrush a couple of wrens and a robin not forgetting the fat bastard woodpigeons coo! coo! poo! poo! SPLAT


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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Thu Nov 24 2016, 21:27

    http://www.food.com/recipe/pigeon-casserole-in-red-wine-sauce-158908

    Strange, I just went for a long walk across some farmland in the middle of nowhere and there were only a few pigeons eating ivy berries in a wood. This time of year there are usually hordes of them on the rape fields, in previous years they actually blacken the sky when they take off. I saw more pheasants than pigeons, something I'm trying hard to rectify <evil grin>

    Yesterday I walked on a common and saw a Barn Owl quartering the ground, then suddenly flop onto a vole or similar, and carry it off back to the barn as if it still had young. Not many of anything around those parts either, a flock of Fieldfares turned into one bird making a hell of a lot of noise, and a solitary Redwing. I did see a few on the way home but only small flocks.

    The garden is almost totally birdless except I saw a couple of Robins heading to roost. They didn't even come over to see if I had mealworms. I'm still not putting out seed because I saw another sodding rat on the back step the other day after not seeing any for a long time.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sat Nov 26 2016, 23:10

    Walked up the beach from Dunwich yesterday, into the teeth of an arctic blast, the sun was gorgeous though and the sky totally blue with just a touch of sea fret near the ground.

    People told me the Twites were much further south than when I went before, and so it turned out. I saw several of them scuttling about at the back of the beach in among the weeds, and suddenly I was surrounded by a delightfully twittering flock fluttering around and over my head. They put down a short distance away, and several more times I saw small flocks of 10 - 20 flying up, circling and dropping down again. By the time I'd gotten a couple of miles up the beach they had amalgamated back into a big flock of 50 - 60 over the reedbeds.

    The light was a bit strange and gave them a rather lemony cast which made the pink bits harder to spot. I spent some time watching a very friendly pipit. A Richard's Pipit had been reported, but this wasn't lanky enough although it had a yellowish cast and very well defined feather edges, I'm pretty sure just a common old Meadow Pip.

    What else? Oh I saw one of the two Great White Egrets, a Greenshank and a couple of Green Sandpipers, and a small flock of waders going very fast back and forth just above the ground, almost certainly Redshanks. On the sea there were hundreds of Common Scoters, allegedly with a bunch of Velvet Scoters mixed in, but due to the extreme blast of the wind and the sea so rough the the lifeboat would have needed rescuing all I saw was black things, some with white cheeks, popping into view briefly on the crests of the waves. Subsequently there have been a load of Eiders and a few Long Tailed Ducks. The Snow Buntings were further north than I was prepared to walk, I was relieved to finally turn my back on the wind and face into the sun as it went down, and got back to the car in half the time it took to walk north.

    On the way home I called in at the farm shop for more Gloucester Old Spot sausages, and there went the last of the PSB.

    Today I was going to go to Walberswick and south down the rest of the beach, but I took a wrong turn and decided to walk where I ended up instead, about a mile uphill with a steep bit at the end. I could probably have done the whole distance non-stop, but stopped before the steep bit to watch and listen to a flock of Goldfinches with some Siskins and Redpolls, and to let some enormous horses past before I got to the narrow bit. Some Marsh Harriers in the distance and about a hundred or more Lapwings in a field, the first I've seen on the farmland this winter, albeit not far from the estuary.

    I polished off a Bolognese type sauce with a small portion of rice and a large portion of sprouts, about seven hours after breakfast. Who needs carbs?
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Mon Nov 28 2016, 17:07

    Well Chris, I actually got to see some of the birds you, and Derek, talk about because we watched an excellent documentary last night

    "Documentary which follows presenters Dick Strawbridge and Alice Roberts as they explore the spectacular British landscapes that inspired children's author Arthur Ransome to write his series Swallows and Amazons.

    The landscapes he depicted are based on three iconic British waterlands. The beauty and drama of the Lake District shaped by ancient glaciers and rich in wildlife and natural resources, the shallow man-made waterways of the Norfolk broads so crucial to farming and reed production, and the coastal estuaries and deep-water harbours of the Suffolk coastline shaped by ferocious tides and crucial to trade.

    Engineer and keen sailor Dick uses vintage boats to explore the landscapes and meet people whose lives are shaped by the water, while wildlife enthusiast Alice explores the rich shorelines, interrogating the underlying geography and meeting the wildlife. Together they evoke the nostalgia of Ransome's writing and a bygone era of childhood freedom and adventure, but they also explore the economic significance of these special locations and the ways in which water was harnessed to change the course of British history."

    'Britain's Lost Waterlands : Escape To Swallows and Amazons Country'

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07k18jf

    ... and yes, Graham we too have quite a few pigeons around!

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Mon Nov 28 2016, 23:44

    Oh damn, I missed that one! Always interesting to see other people's take on the same reality. I'll see if I can watch it on the computer later. Thanks!
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Wed Nov 30 2016, 22:26

    Yesterday was a bit nippy, I did the supermarket and the town shops then walked through the park and along the river through the nature reserve rather briskly, pausing only to talk to some dogs and their people. Part of the river was still frozen in the afternoon.

    Today was even colder and I decided not to go out but look at the blue sky and sunshine through the window with the central heating on. OK I watched the programme, excellent! Alice Roberts still looks neat but Dick Strawbridge could use a touch of low carb I think.

    The Norfolk Broads are a bit of a disappointment from the land, I think the reedbeds watermeadows and marshes this side of the border are more accessible without a boat. The coast they covered is a bit south of my usual stamping grounds but similar. My aunts and uncle used to go to the Butt and Oyster at Pin Mill which is a bit of a gastro pub, and we'd go down to Shotley Gate and look across the estuaries to Felixstowe and Harwich.

    While I was watching I thought of Four Sea Interludes by Ben Britten, our local lad. Sacrilege around these parts, but I never liked his music much, I find it cold compared to Vaughan Williams, Holst, Elgar, Walton or Tippett but this comes into its own here as a depiction of the North Sea which is bloody cold. I think this is the version I saw on the Proms a few years back, the fog horn and bell buoy in the second movement (Sunday Morning) is brilliant.

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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Thu Dec 01 2016, 10:15

    Hi,
    Waxwings showing well in Carlisle area. We made a trip to Asda the other day and came down into one of the main town car parks to see them. My better half had not seen them this year yet. They were still in the area with at least 30 feeding on Rowan berries. Yesterday there were considerable numbers in a large village a few miles away with c.500 claimed. How they count them because they are very mobile is rather interesting! Someone said with birds in a flock you count the legs and dived by 2! Smile
    Had a Stoat in the garden recently..it will sort out the mice ok.
    Goldcrests hawking midge in our fir tree this am..it is a lot milder up here than last week when it was bitterly cold.
    D.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sat Dec 03 2016, 19:49

    Mostly I've been watching birds on TV, got a gum abscess for the first time in many years, and just after visiting the dentist - though it may have been a nut that started it.

    I saw Sara Martins on Death In Paradise, Hannah Spearitt also appeared. Normally I'm not fond of blue-eyed blondes but for her I'd make an exception. Simone Biles, incredibly cute and bouncy and one of the best gymnasts of all time. And Winnie Harlow, a spectacular plumage variant.

    My favourite though was the other half of the pheasant which went into a stir-fry, the only type of large breasted bird I'm fond of.

    Sorry folks, this post was brought to you following a memory of the classic quiz question and answer

    "Name a bird with a long neck"

    "Naomi Campbell!"

    Another classic "What is the capital of France?"

    "F"
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Tue Dec 06 2016, 17:18

    Hi Chris,
    Hope you soon feel better.

    Nuts are a problem, I broke my plate when I was away in Northumberland in september and accidentally swallowed the piece of plate!

    Also eating too many walnuts they seem to give me the trots!

    How do you identify Irish ladders? They are the ones with a stop sign at the top!


    Had a Woodcock near my septic tank in the hard weather and a Tawny Owl is singing near the house at night.
    regards
    Derek
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    Re: Birds

    Post by graham64 on Tue Dec 06 2016, 21:24

    Groan wrote:"Name a bird with a long neck"

    "Naomi Campbell!"

    Another classic "What is the capital of France?"

    "F"

    How do you identify Irish ladders? They are the ones with a stop sign at the top!


    Oh come on guys there worse than my grand kids corny jokes  facepalm


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    Re: Birds

    Post by Eddie on Tue Dec 06 2016, 21:58

    Chris said "got a gum abscess" sorry to hear that Chris bloody painful. Hope you are on top form over the Yuletide season.


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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Wed Dec 07 2016, 21:40

    @Derek wrote:Hi Chris,
    Hope  you soon feel better.

    Nuts are a problem, I broke my plate when I was away in Northumberland in september and accidentally swallowed the piece of plate!

    Also eating too many walnuts they seem to give me the trots!

    How do you identify Irish ladders?    They are the ones with a stop sign at the top!


    Had a Woodcock near my septic tank in the hard weather and a Tawny Owl is singing near the house at night.
    regards
    Derek

    Yeah the reason I went to the dentist in the first place in that a nut cracked off the corner of a tooth and its filling. That was on the opposite side of my mouth though.

    I don't get the trots but I do blow off a bit when I eat too many so they are self-limiting.

    I had a Woodcock the other morning, and at my age that's worth boasting about!

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