Thursday, 30 July 2009
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Sunday, 26 July 2009
As I stepped out yesterday morning there seemed to be an air of change in the breeze. The sort of feeling normally reserved for late August / September not July. Anyway, nice day so off on a count which turned up a very respectable 52 species without a positive Sedge Warbler sighting. This is good for summer as 50+ counts normally occur in the last two weeks of April and during autumn passage so the casual water, despite not being visible, is having some effect. Numbers were generally low particularly the warblers but Wrens, Swallows, House Martins and Pied Wagtails were abundant. A singing Blackcap remains in the copse on the bad bend, a Grasshopper Warbler near Banks Pond and 14 Greylag Geese were in the flooded fields near Mayfair Cottage. My first male Migrant Hawker of the year flew up and down the road near the pine copse and a single Hare bounded out of vision when spotted.
A change from last week was the number of Reed Buntings singing. There was a singing bird every hundred yards or so last Sunday yet this week it took me two hours to find one! A well established territory near Holmes’ muckheap he sings with two standard notes and a final whistle which is most distinctive.
Over the woods there was a very verbal Buzzard and possibly hundreds of Swifts in aerial display. Speaking of which…..the Reed Arrows turned up prompt at 19.00 on Friday and with yesterday being good weather performed their special landing. A great benefit of living next to the airport are these impromptu displays no doubt egged on by the air traffic controllers. It was a high speed run in from the east in arrow formation with a steep climb into diamond nine and breaking descent splitting either side of the runway to circuit pattern and alternate landing. These are the only airplanes that actually circuit between
Wednesday, 22 July 2009
Monday, 20 July 2009
Sunday, 19 July 2009
the site of Banded Demoiselles just weeks ago was totally under water yesterday. The river was using both the 12.6m span and the 5.6m span which it rarely does, and consequently is over 20m wide and probably about 5m deep. Descibed as an attractive hogback bridge in Pevsner, it is noted locally as a good shortcut and lethal for the unwary or daredevil among us. The view above shows the triangular pedestrian refuge and, in the distance a blue Corsa abandoned either because they hit the water too fast or have detached the engine from the drive shaft by speeding over the bridge!
Play at the golf course was impossible as the 15th tee became an island allowing 30+ Pied Wagatils to feed on the adjacent greens and Swallows / Martins hunting below the trees. At least the weather kept the dogwalkers and cyclists at home so allowing uninterupted views of greyness!
Friday, 17 July 2009
and as a result I added Pectoral Sandpiper and Little Stint to my patch list which along with appearances of Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Ruff, Grey Plover and Redshank made last autumns passage an exciting time. I still have dreams of April 2005 though when 80 almost summer plummage Black Tailed Godwit turned up as top photo and would appreciate a repeat.
Looking forward to getting out first thing tomorrow weather permitting.
Wednesday, 15 July 2009
Returning on my route two Pied Wagtails headed off south and a Yellowhammer gave truncated bursts of song. The sky was now filling with the Swifts as they arrived from I know not where and a Coal Tit family called from the tops of a stand of pines. As I neared Banks Pond House Martins swooped low to feed burbling when they got too close to each other and Mistle Thrushes rattled from a nearby field of freshly cut grass. A pair of Coots fed their solitary young as did a single Little Grebe with a sole survivor of it’s second brood. A Moorhen dashed for cover as a Buzzard circled over Fox Covert Plantation and the Canada Geese family craned their necks to see what was happening.
Back home to find three Tree Sparrow amongst the throng at my feeders so I guess the world carries on and now unfortunately, so must I.
Sunday, 12 July 2009
AG arrived to be shortly followed by three other birders. Discussion started as to the ID of a small bird on the south shore but it was just a fly catching Pied Wagtail dashing about. The birder to my left, Mick I think, mentioned a Grey Plover on the farthest patch of mud……..hadn’t seen that on my scan so scoped in to find a glorious summer plumage bird. Not having seen a summer plumage Grey before I called it in error as a Golden, this being the default observation for a land lubber like me, and everybody got a good view.
Minutes later the whole flock of Terns and Lapwing rose up, circled with some Oystercatcher then put down again and DE pointed out the arrival of four Bar Tailed Godwit which I had again missed. Nice birds coming out of summer plumage, got some fine views and then relocated the Plover with the Lapwing flock. Whilst watching the Godwits I was aware that DE and AG were becoming more animated about the Plover and some discussion with digiscoping ensued. DE advised me that the bird just wasn’t right and could be a Golden. I felt it looked big but without any other birds to compare offered to go get my field guide. Walking back flicking through the book it occurred they were considering one of the rarer Golden Plovers and when set up again they went through the salient features…smaller slimmer bodied with proportionately larger head, long legged, coarser plumage, tertials longer and buff grey underside not white to the wings. Where is the usual flock of hundreds of Golden plover you usually have to sort through when you need a comparison? I remember the black was very black, the wings very pale especially from the rear where the back stood out as a darker band and appeared to have three concentric rings. We waited for the bird to fly. Two other birders turned up and just as they entered that wretched metal hide, the field guide fell on the ground and AG announced the bird in flight and that the underside wings were grey but on turning…..nothing. None of the other birds had moved but after thorough scanning, the Plover had gone.
We looked and looked, especially when other birders we had alerted turned up but to no avail. I left just after five pm whilst AG and ADMc headed off for the south pool and DE arrived back from a two mile hike round the north!
Checked Druridge Pools and Cresswell in vain hope on the way back but few of anything there when, getting back into my car at Cresswell my text alert went off …’probable Pacific Golden Plover at East Chevington south pool’. They’d found it and, confirmed by later sightings that evening I had a new life tick. As you will also see, I never once raised camera to my eye but then it saves me from saying...'you see that dot there, thats a Pacific Golden Plover you know'
Friday, 10 July 2009
On 11th June there were two eggs and four by the 13th. The female then started incubating and whilst not visible when standing nearby, could be seen when I was seated in my car on the drive. The male was largely absent except first thing in the morning when he did a stint and late evening when he would sit on my neighbours porch roof and declare his territory. As I sat in my armchair watching TV I would notice the whole bush shake as the bird left the nest, then appear and fly off for a feed. On 27th June I watched the female carrying food so as she left the nest I did a quick check for Magpies, Crows or Jackdaws and peered in to find four ugly naked chicks. By 4th July feeding had increased with both parents providing full beaks of worms and grubs which, helped by the wet weather were in plentiful supply. The downpours didn’t seem to worry them with the female returning to brood as soon as the rain started.
Having been quiet up to now, the young were now making noise as the parent approached which was very noticeable as I lay in my bed first thing each morning. More than once did I leap out as I heard the local Magpie family, all five of them, arguing in the garden just ten feet from the nest but rather than doing the usual Blackbird alarm panic, the parent preferred to perch in my conifer trees and use a mew call to calm the young. By 7th July the young were now largely fully feathered and on checking two young were in the bowl of the nest whilst two were sitting on the rim. Yesterday as I opened the front door at lunch time both parents rose up from the long grass near the drive (yes my garden is not what you could call manicured more abandoned) and on checking one fledgling peered back. I couldn’t see any birds in the nest but after checking under the car, drove off and left them to it.
Last night the male bird was still returning to the bush with food and the calls of two young secreted below could be heard. By this morning all was quiet, nest clean and empty and squashed rather than cup shaped. A common bird, a normal brood and a good result all viewed without needing to get off my fat butt……..that’s armchair birding for you.
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Anyway I walked up to the hide last night and was glad to be dive bombed as I passed the nest site indicating that the adult birds still had something to protect. I set the scope up and scanned the raft but couldn’t see anything so assumed chick was hiding under the corner shelters but after ½ an hour no sign. Then I saw an unmoving patch of fluff on the far side of the shingle that had been gathered in the centre of the raft. I feared the youngster had died but the parents were still landing although bringing no food. Then a movement and the fluff bundle raised a head, then a beak appeared and a stubby wing was raised to preen. Having prepared itself the youngster stood up and looked around. Parents paid no notice even when the young leaned toward them waiting for a beak of food. It was late in the day and he/she was growing well so plenty of feeds must have been given already. ‘Ah well’ it appeared to sigh and tried preening beneath its wing again only to nearly fall over. This seemed to I enliven the youngster and it trundled across the raft to peer over the edge at the water. The bird looked as if it was going to jump up onto the edge rail then promptly turned and headed for the middle of the shingle pile. There it stood, looked around, then jumped up flapping its little wings like mad but, getting no lift, landed back squarely on both feet. It paused for a moment, yawned then settled down again to snooze. Meanwhile the parents were in a frenzy as another bird seemed to tease them flying past with a fish in its beak and a pair of Great Crested Grebe were getting amorous in the weed nearby. Let’s hope that the full attention of both adult birds can bring about the desired result.
On the Prestwick Carr front, did a count on Saturday morning which produced some good numbers of young birds particularly Whitethroat and there were more than one hundred Swifts in the air who were joined by a wandering Common Tern who fished in Pringles fishing pond before moving on. This used to be a regular summer occurrence however has declined in recent years possibly due to the breeding demise at Big Waters or the formation of other larger fishing ponds in the area. Anyway the list struggles on…….
91 Common Tern
Thursday, 2 July 2009
Which begs the great question. Do you keep boths eyes open or close one when looking through a viewfinder or scope. I think the recommendation is to keep both open but my brain has yet to be taught to ignore the unwanted information.
Did you know Picasso could draw portraits upside down with total accuracy. Just had the sort of brain that translated the image to his hands irrespective of convention.