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    Birds

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    Derek
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Fri Jan 20 2017, 17:29

    Had a trip down the coast today to a pond at Workington to see a Smew that had taken up residence
    Whilst watching a Water Rail ran across the open grass on the bank behind.
    Med gulls, Rock Pipits and Purple Sands at harbour. D.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Fri Jan 20 2017, 22:14

    @Chris Thanks for your recent post Chris which I enjoyed reading and also the link ...

    Minsmere looks a beautiful place and if I can't get there in person, it's nice to see on a computer screen!

    http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/placestovisit/minsmere/f/12440/t/193359.aspx

    @Derek Just reading about your day Derek, and it sounds very good.
    I think you must have had some reasonable weather!

    We've had a cold but beautiful sunny day - I hope it lasts for the weekend

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Fri Jan 20 2017, 22:20

    @Jan1 wrote:@Chris Thanks for your recent post Chris which I enjoyed reading and also the link ...

    Minsmere looks a beautiful place and if I can't get there in person, it's nice to see on a computer screen!

    http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/placestovisit/minsmere/f/12440/t/193359.aspx

    @Derek Just reading about your day Derek, and it sounds very good.
    I think you must have had some reasonable weather!

    We've had a cold but beautiful sunny day - I hope it lasts for the weekend

    All the best Jan
    Hi Jan, it was cool c5deg c and still, and the sun shone in west cumbria, weve had many dull days up to now and it was good to see the sun. atb Derek


    Last edited by Derek on Fri Jan 20 2017, 22:44; edited 1 time in total
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Fri Jan 20 2017, 22:28

    @Derek wrote:
    @Jan1 wrote:@Chris Thanks for your recent post Chris which I enjoyed reading and also the link ...

    Minsmere looks a beautiful place and if I can't get there in person, it's nice to see on a computer screen!

    http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/placestovisit/minsmere/f/12440/t/193359.aspx

    @Derek Just reading about your day Derek, and it sounds very good.
    I think you must have had some reasonable weather!

    We've had a cold but beautiful sunny day - I hope it lasts for the weekend

    All the best Jan
     Hi Jan, it was cool c5deg c and still, and the sun shone in west cumbria, weve had many dull days up to know and it was good to see the sun. atb Derek

    Thanks Derek ...some sun makes all the difference. With the weekend here again I just hope the folks who may have been working indoors may get the opportunity of enjoying some fresh air and sunshine over the weekend.

    The grandchildren are hoping to get out for a nice walk with their mum and dad. Our granddaughter has a new pink hat she wants to wear on her next walk! So sweet...

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sun Jan 22 2017, 21:10

    Water Rails are so pretty, like a designer Moorhen. We hear them all the time here but only occasionally get to see them mainly in hard weather, but sometimes they come out and pose beautifully. I didn't know the Med Gulls had reached you but I remember Purple Sands from the north east. Sometimes they pop up here and I always feel sorry for them and want to feed them prozac.

    Friday I walked north from Dunwich. The sea had broken through the sea wall/shingle bank and come back through the shore pools and reedbed leaving a load of vegetation spread all over the ground. The Environment Agency or someone else had brought in an excavator and redistributed a load of the shingle back to where it came from.

    Beautiful shiny day but cold. I missed out on the Twite flock, in fact there wasn't too much of anything, probably it was all up north while I was down south just as it was all down south when I'd been up north. There were some huge skeins of geese in the distance, probably on the farmland where the farmers leave out the beet tops to attract them - and keep them off the wheat fields. Too far to be certain but I suspect mostly Greylags and Whitefronts. A big skein and several smaller ones of Barnacle Geese flew over, latest I have is that the feral population is more like 500 than the 300 I was told previously. I took a leisurely stroll back facing into the sun.

    It all took off after I got home.

    Mostly I fuel my walks on a breakfast of a thickly buttered oatcake with smoked salmon, and sometimes some nuts and once another oatcake with ham, then don't eat again until I am hungry. A far cry from when I used to have to carry sandwiches, chocolate, Kendal mint cake, crisps, coffee with sugar etc. Sometimes I miss dropping into a pub for lunch and chatting to the cute barmaid and friendly dogs (or friendly barmaid and cute dogs, depending on the pub) but with these recent magnificent sunsets I've taken to cooking and eating as the sun goes down - my excuse is that by then I am nearly hungry so that's all right then.

    The thousands of Rooks and Jackdaws heading north to roost intersected with thousands of (mostly Black-Headed) Gulls heading east to roost - and finally a flock of about 30 Golden Plovers appeared, wheeling madly around the sky, in between everything else, dipping down to ground then flying back up again. I watched them until I got a crick in my neck so never saw where they finally landed.

    Yesterday I walked west into the setting sun along a farm track and spotted about six of the Goldies in a wheat field, along with 50 - 60 Fieldfares. Both nights there's been sporadic Blackbird song along with the Robins and Dunnocks and Great Tits. The black-billed Blackbird is pretty wary of people but seems to be dominant over the local ones. Maybe when he takes his towel and goes back to Germany my tame one will return from next door.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Tue Jan 24 2017, 23:45

    Continuing sunny but cold, I drove to some flooded watermeadows and saw hundreds of Whitefronts (wild) and smaller hundreds of Barnacle Geese (almost certainly feral) along with the usual suspects like Wigeon, and at last I found where all the Pintails have been hiding. Lots of the head down, arse up showing off their cute pointy tails.

    Suddenly a Peregrine came whanging past the hide at about 300 mph (well actually probably 50 - 60) scattering everything in all directions. It flew into the distance and hundreds of Lapwings, Redshanks etc. flew up, and it even had a go at a load of Rooks and Jackdaws perched up preparing to adjourn to roost.

    Walked back up the beach failing to see Snow Buntings, which have been around, but they are small and the beach is very long. Did spot a few Stonechats though, someone said he'd seen a "flock" of them, normally they are in pairs and small numbers in the vegetation and gorse bushes at the back of the beach.

    Going out and coming back the temperature was 3 C and it reached the giddy heights of 4 briefly. Sausages and purple sprouting went down the pie-hole.

    Today when the lists cleared I drove around the farmland and spotted probably a couple of hundred lapwings, but all spread out, no big flocks, and no Goldies though there might have been some masquerading as clods of earth. Walked across some of the more local fields and heard a few Goldies in the distance, too far off to see, and spotted a few Lapwings and eventually a Buzzard which I could hear mewing in the valley. Talking to a farmer's wife, and neither she nor her husband had seen many Golden Plovers and fewer Lapwings than there used to be.

    I also got chatting to the guy who bought a big old house with a parcel of swamp and scrubland which he's been working on. He put up a Barn Owl box which was quickly occupied but the bird had no mate (yet). There were masses of House Sparrows chiping in the hedge, Great and Coal Tits singing, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming, and on the way back a bunch of singing Goldfinches, without their Siskin accompaniment. It's getting to sound like spring.
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    Derek
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Sat Jan 28 2017, 11:32

    I spent thursday looking for birds that had be seen off and on for some time.
    Initially I had a walk on a former open cast site that has been allowed to go wild for over twenty years but the Great Grey Shrike that was there the day before had decided to use another bit of its feeding territory. Anyway, it was good to get out and have a walk but felt a little loaded with the scope, bins, tripod and camera but the rising ground gave me a work out and I met a friendly local and a sociable birder so it was worthwhile.

    I then went to Workington, saw and photographed the female Smew, looked at various ducks and Whooper Swans and tried to find a possible Sibe Chiffchaff with no success. Mid pm I went looking at gulls at the harbour but apart from Med Gulls the first winter Glaucous Gull decided to hide from me and another birder from Northumberland. He had just seen the Pacific Diver which is good bird, I saw the one near Harrogate some years ago. Some nice pictures on the Solway Sandpipers blog btw!

    The Sun was setting over the Irish Sea when I decided to drive for home to see the better half who had been helping her friend with her very precocious four year old granddaughter.
    regards
    D.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sat Jan 28 2017, 21:46

    Yesterday I walked up the beach from Sizewell. The car said 5 C, but with the wind chill it felt more like -3 C. I was hoping to walk as far as where there's also been a Glaucous Gull but turned around about halfway.

    I thumbed through the gulls, Cormorants and Kittiwakes on the rigs - gantries where the outflow from the disused power station used to run - and the huge wheeling flocks of gulls and more Cormorants where the outflow from the new power station runs out to sea, but nothing rare that I could spot anyway.

    The wind was in my face all the way up, and it was STILL in my face all the way back. How do they do that??? At one stage I though the cold had me hallucinating as I saw someone walking a dog on wheels. Actually it WAS a dog on wheels, a poor little elderly pug with arthritis in its back legs which were strapped into a little carriage. Well at least I caught some more sun.

    Just the weather for liver and bacon, with the mandatory mushroom, and this time purple sprouting.

    Generally I tend to eat earlier after I've been out, but not necessarily more until the following day, but I had a further meal of grilled salmon, toasted almonds and spinach at night. Had the rest of the salmon today and later probably Cumberland sausages and brussels.

    Congratulations on the Smew. Sorry you missed the shrike, we've had one down the road but I had such good views of the one a couple of years back that I didn't bother to try for this one. We have a Long Tailed Duck on a reservoir which wasn't on my maps but I found it on the internet, might go see if that is still around. There are often some out at sea mixed in with the scoters but they usually resemble pale dots among the dark dots bobbing up and down.

    The Rooks and Jackdaws are still performing but in the distance, and no-one seems to know where the Starling murmurations went.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Sun Jan 29 2017, 12:41

    I've said it before and yes, I'm going to repeat myself!
    I do enjoy this thread and reading about the many birds, wildlife and nature - plus other interesting snippets. Smile

    I really must go for a walk to our local park or nearest river soon, because the only birds I saw yesterday were pigeons Rolling Eyes

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sun Jan 29 2017, 23:05

    Might be some places here you could get to

    http://www.wildlondon.org.uk

    I used to walk in Richmond Park, and some of the old churchyards have birds but more from spring onwards. You might even see a sparrow, I don't know what their population is like now.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Mon Jan 30 2017, 19:13

    @chris c wrote:Might be some places here you could get to

    http://www.wildlondon.org.uk

    I used to walk in Richmond Park, and some of the old churchyards have birds but more from spring onwards. You might even see a sparrow, I don't know what their population is like now.

    Thanks for the link, there are many great places to go to.

    Richmond Park is a great one to visit, I used to go there quite regularly with my parents when a lot younger ...

    The weather this week is going to be rather mixed - can you believe February is knocking on the door - well almost  Smile

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Mon Jan 30 2017, 23:02

    Watch out for the deer in autumn, they can be a tad aggressive when they're rutting. Most of my favourite spots in the area were down in Sussex, some in Surrey and Kent, including a couple of reservoirs which were the nearest thing to estuaries in terms of bulk birdlife.

    Saw the first daffodil today - but it turned out to be a plastic one! The snowdrops are real though, showing white but not yet in flower in several places. I walked round the quarry where there was a flock of Chaffinches, no Bramblings or anything else though, and a couple of Long-Tailed Tits which appeared to be paired up already - they spend most of the winter in flocks along with other tits. Mother always called them bum-barrels. Heard a Siskin in the distance in the alders around the lakes, and a pair of Bullfinches and some Goldfinches.

    Then I took a drive through some of the farmland and FINALLY found a flock of a couple of hundred Golden Plover, with plenty of gulls but no Lapwings. When I got home the Rooks and Jackdaws were back in the back field doing aerobatics, so I watched them while cooking and eating the last of the Cumberland sausages with brussels.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Wed Feb 01 2017, 17:32

    Well, Chris kept mentioning Cumberland Sausages - so I bought some for a change, and we enjoyed them this morning for breakfast - they are quite peppery - but they did make a nice change and I will be getting more.

    While eating breakfast I looked out on the nearest tree and there was a magpie! Didn't stay long on the branch ... flew off to find its own breakfast perhaps!

    I think many have been doing the RSPB Garden Birdwatch which ended recently
    https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/
    Apparently more than 519,000 people took part last year, and they counted 8,262,662 birds ... amazing!

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Wed Feb 01 2017, 21:23

    I still haven't been putting out birdseed because there was a rat on the back step several weeks ago, so there are still relatively naff all birds in the garden. My current favourite is a cute little wren that keeps popping up, whirring from shrub to shrub.

    The action's still out in the field, despite the gloom the rooks and jackdaws were carpeting the ground again yesterday before flying off in a black sheet to their roost, and today when the fog finally cleared (washed away by the rain) there were about 50 Golden Plovers the other side of the field. They'd moved on later and the carpet of rooks and jackdaws was punctuated by loads of gulls, mostly black headed.
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    Derek
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Thu Feb 02 2017, 16:54

    Wife and I went for a walk in Shrike habitat the other day. Would you believe it she spotted it soon after we got out of car. What a super bird, got a few record shots before it was flushed by a walker. Derek
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Thu Feb 02 2017, 18:48

    @chris c wrote:I still haven't been putting out birdseed because there was a rat on the back step several weeks ago, so there are still relatively naff all birds in the garden. My current favourite is a cute little wren that keeps popping up, whirring from shrub to shrub.

    The action's still out in the field, despite the gloom the rooks and jackdaws were carpeting the ground again yesterday before flying off in a black sheet to their roost, and today when the fog finally cleared (washed away by the rain) there were about 50 Golden Plovers the other side of the field. They'd moved on later and the carpet of rooks and jackdaws was punctuated by loads of gulls, mostly black headed.
    Forgive me if I've told you but some years ago I took out a rat that was coming to our feeders with a friend's .22 telescopic sight air rifle. Didnt half make it jump in the air!
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Thu Feb 02 2017, 22:44

    Oh yes the neighbour who's a pest controller took out one of my rats, with a proper rifle. The bugger of it is, he accused me of having them breeding under my decking, so I took it out. What neither of us knew was that there was a membrane over the ground, and while the rats were going under there to feed on birdseed, they were never in the actual ground under the membrane - and worse still I found they were coming through holes under the fence from his patio!

    He wouldn't have it though.

    Then they dug out some mole tunnels and started popping up out of what used to be a molehill under one of my feeders, which was when I stopped feeding them. I'm pretty sure the one on the back step emanated from under his fence too. Mind, they have been all over town since last winter, many traumatised young kids who are no longer allowed to feed the ducks as they have been feeding on bread along the river.

    Well done on the Shrike! Don't they glow? Almost like a lightbulb on top of the tree. Ours was relatively tame, lots of great photos appeared on the internet.

    FINALLY! I spotted some of the Bewick's Swans, fifteen of them out in the middle of a field. I think there have been about 30 in the area but they have been typical "They were here yesterday, honest!" birds for me so far this winter.

    Walked on a heath not expecting to see much, and I didn't, but it was uphill, which meant downhill back to the car, useful when it started spotting with rain. Heard and eventually saw a couple of Dartford Warblers. I remember back in the hard winter of 62/63 they were down to about eight pairs, on Arne in Dorset where I saw them (and where Winterwatch was set) and some of the West Surrey heaths. Gradually they spread back into the New Forest, and Ashdown Forest, and made it to Suffolk I think in the nineties, now they are widespread on the heaths in small numbers, and very site specific. Can be hard to spot, they are about the size of a Wren with a long tail and the colour of the heather they live among, and flit about fast. They have a whirring call and a scratchy song a bit like a Whitethroat on helium.

    I maintain a belief that birds can actually evolve very quickly into a different species. Two years back I saw plenty of Darties but Woodlarks were absent from a lot of their usual locations, though other people told me they'd seen them. Last year I had Woodlarks coming out my ears but failed to see a Dartie until about August, though other people spotted them in their usual numbers in their usual places. It's the only possible explanation! They evolve back again after I've gone.

    There was a tinkling flock of Siskins and a whole flock of House Sparrows on the edge of the village. A couple more Siskins, a couple of Redpolls and a smart pair of Bullfinches in the woods at the back of the heath, plus a bunch of Stock Doves whizzing about the treetops, those guys can turn on a sixpence. I walked on to where I'd seen a Chinese Water Deer last year but that wasn't around, and not a single Woodlark in their usual spot, It's too early for them to be singing really, but you often see them chumbling about on the ground. Nada!

    As I cooked the last two venison sausages with Brussels and mushrooms the Rooks and Jackdaws put on perhaps the best display yet, suddenly the whole flock catapaulted into the sky and went whirling around in the wind like a huge black snowstorm, going every which way at every level at once. Then they went over to the back of the field, and although they were further away I could see even more of them as they filled the sky again.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Fri Feb 03 2017, 10:23

    Chris said:
    "As I cooked the last two venison sausages with Brussels and mushrooms the Rooks and Jackdaws put on perhaps the best display yet, suddenly the whole flock catapaulted into the sky and went whirling around in the wind like a huge black snowstorm, going every which way at every level at once. Then they went over to the back of the field, and although they were further away I could see even more of them as they filled the sky again."

    Sounds wonderful ... your words paint a marvellous picture, thank you  Smile

    All the best Jan
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sat Feb 04 2017, 23:11

    Completely absent today, I could see a few flying over high. They're probably using someone else's field. I imagined them flying up and saying "Who left all that rook shit all over the place? Let's go somewhere else . . ."
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Derek on Sun Feb 05 2017, 16:54

    Chris,
    I heard of a guy who took out a rat with an air gun and it turned out to be a neighbours kids Guinea Pig! Couldn't the prat see it hadn't got a tail?
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sun Feb 05 2017, 22:26

    Oops! Sad Well at least he could eat the guinea pig. The rat, not so much.

    Naff all at Minsmere today, the Goosanders get word that I'm coming and decamp elsewhere. Plenty of Marsh Harriers though, a couple of distant Bitterns, and a whole flock of Long tailed Tits. Heard not a few Beardies but saw none. Nice walk though, and nicer dinner - ground pork with multicoloured peppers, mushrooms, garlic, chillies and the obligatory bacon, with thyme and oregano and toasted sesame oil, stir-fried in EVOO with Brussels sprouts and a bit more rice (honestly I don't know what got into me) with fresh ground black pepper after I dismantled the grinder and put the screws back where they were supposed to be, and sea salt.. I was too hungry to wait for the bunny casserole, if I'd thought ahead I'd have put it on low heat before I went out and slow cooked it for a few hours.

    Rooks were in the distance, and the Goldies even further in the distance, my toes and fingers were still cold so I didn't pursue them.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Sat Feb 11 2017, 21:58

    I'll see your Smew and raise you a pair! They turned up at Minsmere the other day but I didn't get to see them yet, they're a bit flighty and obviously still exploring, I'll wait until they've settled into some predictable spots. Nearly went yesterday but I poked my head out the back door and thought "that's enough exercise for today!" It was dull, overcast, barely above freezing and spotted with rain, later turning to snow, and today was much the same.

    I'm pretty sure the other night I heard Goldies in the back field but they'd gone again by morning. They weren't where I'd previously seen them when I walked there the following day, in fact there was next to naff all. I think I heard a couple in the far distance so they're moving around a bit.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Andy12345 on Sat Feb 11 2017, 22:52

    I've been spending a lot to time in an area lately (golf course), crazy amount of different birds, very interesting how they are shaped so differently and behave so different, there are some kind of brown birds of prey hunting, they tend to sit on top of large stumps, lovely to watch, woodpeckers which I love to look at but am crazy about the sound of the pecking, crows/black birds (don't know the difference) pigeons, gulls, robins (I'm convinced ones following me about, I have had a few robins nest at work, I reckon it's one of the babies) I've heard they are lucky so like these pretty little buggers (if I'm wrong about the luck, don't tell me) parakeets, other small birds various shapes and sizes, I nearly always play at the crack of dawn and feel quite privileged to share their mornings, some avoid me, some let me pass by quite close and just watch me, this normally provokes a (one way) conversation
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    Re: Birds

    Post by chris c on Mon Feb 13 2017, 23:23

    Robins follow gardeners especially in the hope you will dig up something edible. I believe they originally learned to follow wild boar as they rooted in the ground.

    They can become tame enough to take mealworms from your hand. Be careful if they get too confiding though, you might step back on one.

    Yeah golf courses can be good for all sorts of birdies, not just the golfing kind.
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    Re: Birds

    Post by Jan1 on Wed Feb 15 2017, 15:55

    I love robins ...

    I actually saw what I think was a wagtail  


    It was in the shopping centre car park watching two magpies trying to get a ball of foil open  ... which I think someone had discarded ... and they could smell the crust of left over sandwich that was enclosed. Well as I sat a moment watching I think this is what they were trying to do. I must say they were making a good job. The wagtail got too near and was chased off !!!

    All the best Jan

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