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    Post by Long birder on Fri Oct 26 2018, 20:54

    Not seen a Lesser Yellowlegs this side of the Pond but seen plenty in Florida and Texas.
    They was a Greater Yellowlegs on the Eden estuary some twenty years ago which stayed for several weeks.

    Yellow legged gulls not regular up here. It is definitely a special interest for these guys who spend hours at rubbish tips and know intimately all the plumages and ages. Gulls are something to get into in big way.
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    Post by chris c on Sun Oct 28 2018, 21:34

    I suggested to one of the wardens at Minsmere that they should bar-code the gulls so we'd know what we were looking at (he is one of the experts especially on picking Caspian Gulls out of the flocks of ordinary Herrings). Our local pig fields are where the specialists go.

    Today I spotted a small flock of Lapwings on the farmland, strangely among Woodpigeons rather than the usual gulls. Not many yet, and so far no Golden Plovers.

    I managed a brief scurry in between the rain showers, the sun was out but the wind was biting. There was a delightfully musical flock of about 50 Linnets perching in and circling around the treetops and plunging down to the ground, and I think I heard but failed to see a Chiffchaff lurking in a hedge. Not a lot else, some Goldfinches, Dunnocks and Robins, and a fair flock of House Sparrows on the roadside, probably where a truck had spilled grain.

    Oh well, the temperature sensor in the car has been down to single figures for the first time in ages - 8 C before the wind chill - so a good excuse to get myself outside of some Gloucester Old Spot sausages, broccoli, thickly buttered oatcakes and Cab Sauv. I just spotted a turkey, but it was cooked so I had some of that too.
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    Post by Long birder on Mon Oct 29 2018, 19:56

    You remind me of the geologist Richard Fortey, Chris!
    He would talk about creatures that existed in the last five hundred million years on Tele and then would dine on it nearest living relative.

    The RSPB reserve on the Solway has a terrible problem with rats at its feeders and they can't do anything unless they get permission from their ecologist first!

    Barmy, I would do what I did with the rat coming to my feeders.  
    I borrowed my neighbours .22 air rifle with a telescopic sight and got it in one, by resting the rifle on the top of a tripod and shot it from inside the patio with door about a foot open.
    I borrowed six pellets and took him five back.

    What next, vegans will be saying we can't kill rats.
    D.
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    Post by chris c on Tue Oct 30 2018, 23:47

    Only if you eat them!

    Don't talk to me about rats! They used to come into the gardens during the harvest and cultivations in the back field, then go out again. When a neighbour had chickens they became semi-permanent. My neighbour, who is actually a pest controller, was convinced they were actually living under my decking, so I took it out. What he didn't know was that there was a layer of fabric (I can't remember the proper name for it) over the soil, and the rats were staying on top of the fabric and eating the birdseed but not going under it. Worse, I discovered that the buggers were coming through the fence from under his patio but he wouldn't have it.

    One year they dug out the mole runs and were popping up under my seed feeder from what used to be a molehill. After the mild winters a few years back I had to stop feeding the birds altogether.

    People used to take their kids down what was popularly known as Duck Lane but the rats got so bad in town that the council put up notices asking us not to feed the ducks because of the rats eating the bread and grain.

    At Minsmere a few years back there were not only foxes but badgers going on the "scrape" and eating the eggs and chicks. They surrounded it with an electric fence, so far so good. The other culprits which especially affect the Avocets are the numerous gulls. We used to have some decent breeding colonies of Little Terns on the beaches but it was mainly dogs and disturbance that did for them.

    Once people get involved changing things over here, other things change over there.

    No birds were damaged today, a rump steak with purple sprouting broccoli and some cods roe with spinach. Not so many birds seen either, just the usual gull species on the fields along with Rooks and Jackdaws, and of course the Woodpigeons. Fat bastards, they seem to have had a disappointingly good breeding season.

    I am reliably informed Pheasants and maybe Red Legged Partridges should be available from next week, there are masses of them too.
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    Post by Jan1 on Sun Nov 04 2018, 18:47

    Yes, I definitely have a soft spot for robins LOL!

    Sitting having a mid-morning cuppa, I spotted a robin sitting quite high up on a nearby tree.
    Would have made a lovely photograph - alas no camera handy.

    All the best Jan
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    Post by chris c on Sun Nov 04 2018, 22:19

    Seen a few Robins about, mostly lurking. Seen and heard a few more Fieldfares and Redwings, but not as many yet as in some previous years. Also some small flocks of Starlings, presumably continental or Scandinavian. A few Black-Billed Blackbirds too - the genuine article, matt black rather than glossy, relatively paranoid of people and with an extra flourish when they land. Mostly in berry trees and bushes which used to be occupied and defended by Mistle Thrushes, but not so many of them nowadays.

    I had a British Black-Billed Blackbird a few years back - it was a youngster from one of the garden nests and kept its black bill into the following spring after it moulted, but it was standard glossy black and very tame, almost came to land on me for mealworms. Someone I was talking to reckoned they have become more widespread, I don't know if they are a cross between the British and continental ones.

    Lovely description of a Blackbird from an amazing book - The Peregrine by J A Baker, who used to follow them obsessively on the Essex estuaries in winter - "like a mad puritan with a banana in his mouth"
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    Post by graham64 on Tue Nov 06 2018, 21:19

    It's been a strange year seen very few blackbirds in the spring and summer unlike previous years but now they are back, the hawthorn hedge has been alive with them today just hope they stick around for spring next year


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    Post by chris c on Tue Nov 06 2018, 22:26

    Ours bred OK but quickly vanished, I suspect into the Sparrowhawks. Yes it's a good berry season, lots of Woodpigeons in the Hawthorns and Ivy eating the berries, and when a train went past it scared out a Pheasant which was also up in a hawthorn bush.

    Blackbirds are starting to make more noise before going to roost and some of the Robins have restarted singing. The Rooks and Jackdaws put on a good display over the back field as the sun went down, before adjourning to the wood where they roost.
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    Post by Long birder on Thu Nov 08 2018, 15:46

    We have a very active and able Sparrow Hawk taking our feeding birds ATM. There are quite a lot of House Sparrows feeding as well as over 20 Tree Sparrows. The four Great Spotted woodpeckers are a pain, I hope the Sparrow Hawk thins them out a bit.
    D.
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    Post by chris c on Thu Nov 08 2018, 23:45

    Haven't seen many Spars this year, especially not the local one, in fact I think I saw more Hobbies. They seem to have dropped from #1 spot a few years back and are now outnumbered by the Kestrels and Buzzards.

    Earlier I went for a rather disappointing walk over some different fields. There are lots of gnarly old oak trees, some of which are usually inhabited by Little Owls, but I saw and heard none, or the Barn Owls even though I stayed out until dusk. They were our commonest owl, Barn Owls second, Tawnies third but come to think I haven't seen or heard many of any of them since the Beast From The East. Short Eared Owls are coming in along the coast, mostly in winter but in the past I've seen them in most months. Long Eared Owls are occasionally reported but as masters of concealment not by me.

    No Lapwings let alone Golden Plovers, not even any Fieldfares or Redwings, or even Linnets. A small flock of about 8 Yellowhammers and about the same number of Bullfinches, and some tits mostly Long Tailed and Blue and a couple of Goldcrests. I saw a magnificent male Kestrel, later being chased by a Rook, and heard a distant Buzzard, and that was petty much it except for the regulation Rooks, Jackdaws, Gulls, Pheasants and Partridges.

    I walked round the lake that the farmer dug on top of the hill, but since he died there was naff all there either, it used to have a huge roost of Greylags in winter and Barnacles and various ducks and waders all year. Also he had a couple of Black Swans.

    Oh well, it was a nice walk as the sun went down, definitely a three sausage day (with PSB).

    Those Great Spotted Woodpeckers can be a pain, some years ago one hammered out the weld in my nut feeder and all the peanuts fell on the ground.Come to think, I haven't seen or heard as many of them as usual, though there are still some Green Woodpeckers to be found.
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    Post by chris c on Wed Nov 14 2018, 22:52

    Spotted a magnificent Red Kite over the farmland, right where I used to see them but hadn't in the last few years. Very likely they have been around all the time but have a large territory so were the other end of it from me.

    Also about a dozen Common Gulls with the regulation Blackheads and Herrings. Not uncommon in winter in dozens or maybe hundreds but nothing like the thousands a year or two back. Not much else over the fields, just the routine crows and Pheasants, and a covey of well over 30 Red Legged Partridges (yum!)

    Today I'm pretty sure I spotted a Merlin flash past, but I was driving and couldn't stop. Usually we get them on or near the coast but this was way inland. I'm sure it was too small and flew wrong for a Sparrowhawk. Gorgeous birds!
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    Post by chris c on Sun Nov 18 2018, 22:44

    Walked on yet another piece of farmland and finally there are a few "winter birds" showing up. very sparse and late in general so far.

    There were two Black-Billed Blackbirds in the berry-laden hedge. They are pretty dumb, they flew up the hedge in front of me, chacking in alarm, all the way from the road to the wood. If they had any sense they could have flown away from me over the field and circled back into the hedge behind me.

    Probably about 30 Starlings and a flock of a dozen Skylarks on a wheat field (which looked like spring in the low sun) with mostly Black headed Gulls and a couple of Herrings quartering the field, and maybe a couple of Common Gulls in the distance, hard to tell because they were directly into the sun, and finally four Lapwings.

    A Buzzard flew out from a tree beside the track and was joined by two others calling in different directions. One was semi-hovering, flying into the wind at the same speed it blew - I've also seen Kites doing this.

    I thought I spotted a couple of Fieldfares but they turned out to be Mistle Thrushes, quite rare nowadays. Later I actually did spot some Fieldfares but not many.

    On the way back I finally heard and saw four Golden Plovers go down into a cultivated field and vanish. I also saw a distant flock of about 30, flying away from me.

    I used to take my mother for a birthday dinner at the fish restaurant in Orford, then walk along the sea wall. Each year the walk got shorter until the last year when I took her to a pub overlooking the estuary so she could look out through the window.

    One year I did a tribute walk, all the way along the sea wall and back up a farm track and the road. There was a flock of Goldies partly over the water on Havergate Island, and then flying onto the farmland on the land side, probably at least 150 - on September 19. Not seen any anywhere this year previously.

    Likewise we used to see and hear Fieldfares and Redwings flying over from October on, this year I doubt I've seen a dozen of each.

    Once again it was gloriously sunny but the east wind had a bit of a bite.

    I made a pseudo-Bolognese sauce with a small amount of rice to soak up the juices, and half a dozen Brussels sprouts, then realised with annoyance when I was eating it that I forgot to add the chopped Halloumi. Oh well I have enough ground beef for another, I'll have to try harder to remember next time.
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    Post by chris c on Mon Nov 26 2018, 22:31

    I heard that Starlings were murmurating at Hen Reedbeds so set out for a look late afternoon. The people I met told me where they were currently displaying so I set off along the sea wall to the hide.

    On the way I saw an increasing flock of Starlings, right in the distance near Southwold. When I reached the hide I pointed out that its inhabitants were looking out of the wrong window.

    Due to the gloom the birds were hard to see, but then a second flock started to perform much nearer. It could have gone either way but eventually the distant flock came over in a series of waves, and there was a pretty decent but unspectacular display in a panorama from the hide window. Eventually the pace picked up and after doing a series of spectacular shapes they suddenly all plunged down into the reeds.

    As I walked back along the sea wall I could hear them all chattering away from their perches in the reedbed.

    A good reason to demolish a rump steak with Brussels sprouts and chestnuts.
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    Post by Jan1 on Wed Nov 28 2018, 17:44

    Shopping at a nearby Tesco store yesterday I'm sure I spotted a Pied Wagtail in the car park, it certainly looked quite cute  Smile

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


    It was probably in a hurry to grab some food and get back to its nest as it was pouring with rain, I know I was glad to get back home in the warm and dry  Smile

    All the best Jan
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    Post by chris c on Thu Nov 29 2018, 22:18

    I just saw and heard a couple of dozen flying overhead as I was walking down by the river. They often roost communally, sometimes in city centres, and they are fond of car parks and roofs. Not sure where these were heading, may have been a roost somewhere. They can congregate in hundreds. Keep an eye out as dusk is falling.
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    Post by Jan1 on Tue Dec 04 2018, 18:05

    We were inundated with coal tits/blacktits/blue-tits or whatever the other day. Definitely the tit family!

    Well when I say inundated ... six at a time on the feeder. Smile
    They were amazing to watch and then they flew off into the bushes …

    What a lovely way to waste spend time, the word enchanting came to mind.

    All the best Jan
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    Post by chris c on Wed Dec 05 2018, 23:31

    When I was young and put out the peanut feeder for the first time in autumn/winter it was always either a Great Tit or Blue Tit that was the first to appear.

    They often flock together with several different species and sometimes also the likes of Goldcrests in winter. My favourites are still the Long Tailed Tits, or as mother called them bum-barrels.

    Winter birds still mostly lacking on another walk over the farmland. Numerous tits and Jays in the woods, Rooks, Jackdaws, Gulls, Pigeons, Pheasants and Partridges on the fields. You can tell which fields were manured last year by where the gulls circle and drop down for insects and worms.

    I thought I saw the Kite flying over high up but it was actually a Marsh Harrier. I don't see them inland so much since the Buzzards moved in.

    There was another flock of about a dozen Pied Wagtails, but naff all Fieldfares, Redwings, Lapwings or Golden Plovers. Maybe they all stopped using Ryanair.
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    Post by chris c on Fri Dec 14 2018, 21:56

    Still only seen or heard one or two Redwings and Fieldfares but there was another large flock of tits, mostly Long-Tailed with some Blue and Great Tits and a couple of Goldcrests - and a Marsh Tit which we don't normally see in town though they are at Minsmere and a few other places not far away.

    I wonder if the threatened cold weather this weekend will bring anything.
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    Post by Long birder on Sat Dec 15 2018, 07:43

    It was great to see 19 Waxwings that were feeding on Rowan berries in the middle of Keswick last week. They were in short supply last year but small flocks have been seen this year.
    But nothing like the pre roost flock some of us saw years ago along the Caldew near Dalston when there were nearly a thousand birds.
    A gem of a bird with their flight somewhat like a cross between a starling and a bee-eater
    .
    D.
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    Post by Jan1 on Wed Jan 30 2019, 18:15

    If you took part in the UK Big Garden Birdwatch this last weekend - the results are in ...


    "Thank you

    Thank you very much for taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch 2018. It's been running since 1979, so we've now got 39 years of data to look back on. This information is vital, as is shows us the species that need our help, and the ones that are thriving. Then we can put steps in place to put that right.
    Thanks to you, we can now reveal the top 10 garden birds in the UK and Northern Ireland. Yet again, the house sparrow was at the top spot. Then we have the starling at number two. In at number three was the blue tit, followed by blackbird, woodpigeon and goldfinch. Number seven was great tit, number eight was robin, and in at nine and ten were long-tailed tit and chaffinch."

    Read more at https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/results/#q80wqCOdpoZ2gcUf.99

    I just love robins  Smile 

    All the best Jan
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    Post by Jan1 on Mon Feb 18 2019, 21:28

    In the spring-like weather we have been experiencing our friendly garden robin has made several appearances …
    It's quite worrying I have found myself saying hello to it  Shocked 

    Hope this new week has started well for you.

    All the best Jan
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    Post by Jan1 on Mon May 06 2019, 18:51

    Out and about recently it's been lovely seeing the many birds around.

    I know about this time last year Eddie and I spotted some beautiful Jays with their blue tipped wing. Well just the other day one was seen feeding on a feeder a neighbour had put out in the garden … amazing to see. Mind you she said she'd also had squirrels on it too - they seem to get everywhere don't they! LOL!.

    Hope you're enjoying the spring season.

    All the best Jan

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