Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Set fare

The spell of harsh weather forced many of the birds on the Carr to drop their normal cautious nature and allow closer approach. This first pictured was one of ten to twenty birds finishing off the last of the Hawthorn berries.
Although I've always found that Fieldfare are much more gregarious when they are on the ground and will wander up to you, perhaps distracted by all that listening for movement in the earth below. These latter pictures were taken from my hide (car) at Cambois (Cammis) as the bird hunted for worms on a roadside verge.
My presence didn't exactly go without notice though. A cold Scandinavian stare to go with the cold Scandinavian weather we've had of late. Perhaps it's because the hide is bright (if it were clean) blue.
It's always nice to see the full range of colours in the bird given the benefits of a bit of sunlight.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

A bird in the hand.....

......is worth food in the mush. Met a Wren (Chris) feeding a Robin yesterday afternoon. This little chap is straight onto you when you get past the flagpole on the bumpy road. The territory is between two gates and he will follow you even if you put food on the posts for 'him', as he seems to prefer taking food from the hand. He even landed on a neighbours arm and plucked at her jacket. My offerings up to now have been suet treats but thinking he may need some variation I headed off with a mix of sunflower hearts, seed and sultanas. Of course he had already been fed mealworms and turned his beak up at the basic offering. The post where I leave food had also been usurped with Willow Tit, Great Tit and Dunnock all benefitting. Other Robins in the area are more cautious and whilst getting close won't make that leap of faith and probably a good thing too. Indeed the Robin across the road ignores all offerings preferring the unseen bounty that lies on top of the ice in the frozen ditches.
These are now beginning to thaw and a brief sighting proved the Barn Owl had survived the tumult and was hunting the area where HP feeds his ducks. I then waited for an hour and a half in beautiful sunshine for another sighting but none came. At one stage it was almost balmy but as the sun set and the wind gained strength the chill returned. Just to spite me, the momment the sun had reached the clouded horizon out came a Short eared Owl.
After a short flight or two it perched up and eventually the cold got through me and I returned home  leaving it to an evenings hunting.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Ear ear

A brief if pleasant sighting and a year tick earlier this week for Long eared Owl before it disappeared back into the relative warmth of the woods.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Garden Willow

Feeders still attracting good numbers of birds with the first visit this year of a Willow Tit who spent much of yesterday in the garden. I wasn't too impressed this lunchtime though when nine Woodpigeons turned up instead of my normal pair.
Reed Bunting number four with three males and one female making the journey over the back fence and the weekend saw a solitary Yellowhammer who seemed a bit puzzled by all the commotion and flew straight off.
Nice to see three Tree Sparrows which is my first multiple count for some time. Between 2000-2005 I used to get a regular flock but recent times have been sparse.

Monday, 21 January 2013


It's blue Monday and I feel like having one. Constant hassle and problems however the title actually refers to birds which as the bad weather bites means their need for food allows closer access. My favourite Kestrel let me walk right under her, something she normally never does and old Bully gave me stare rather than the elusive call from the back of a bush.
In the garden the poor Robin has almost given up trying to defend his patch from allcomers and numbers of birds visiting means feeders need topping up at mid day. If the snow would stop I may even get some more pics!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Same bird?

Typical. I get the Christmas card shot a month too late. That's why none of you got one! I'm sure this is the same bird that was taking food from the hand two years ago. When I approached it instantly flew into the tree next top me about six foot from my face and gave me that look. As I took the shot he flew toward me as if to land but returned to the branch. Unfortunately all I had was the remnants of a Pork Pie (don't ask) so he got some nice fatty pastry crust but didn't seem that keen. Now my pockets are charged with suet treats every time I wander down but fear that a routine would mean the bird relying on visits.
The initial joy of seeing a Barn Owl has faded with the continued snowfall and now I fear it will go the same way as those before although most birds seem to be finding food at the moment.
On Wednesday the ditches were alive with Wrens on the ice and this one popped up in the sun to look for bugs on a gate post.
Previous to this I had flushed a Snipe from the ditch side and unusuallly it dropped back into the ditch 70 yards further on rather than heading skyward suggesting it may have been a Jack Snipe but I couldn't re-locate it for proof.
Looking through the days shots I enlarged this as the bird had appeared to regurgitate feed but no vole to be seen although spy the leg. Looks like a ring to me. Possibly one of the birds ringed by Ade early last year or the return of the bird I first blogged for 'a landing post' on 23rd November 2011.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Snowy owls

It's been twenty days and two long years since you winged your way past me (sorry Sinead) but tonight finally a Barn Owl hunting en patch. Not one seen in 2011 or 2012 after the Prestwick pair met their demise in the harsh winter of 2010/11. The snowy ghost flew wide hunting circles around the area not concentrating on any one field like the Short eared Owls.
I took a few shots but as you can see they were all distant and noisy exposures but who cares....Barnie is back. Eventually it seemed to kill as did a nearby Kestrel who took the prey up into a tree. A few moments later the yackering call of the Kestrel as the Barn Owl tried to pinch the meal. I normally find  its the other way round as I have seen at Cresswell and this study in America suggests with Shorties. Anyway, I was happy and reflecting on the six months spent last year watching many owls without one Barn Owl and then, on the way back.
A shot I know many waited for but never got. A Short eared Owl finally on that wretched trailer in front of the gate. It don't rain but it snows.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Cometh the snow

......cometh the birds to garden feeders. A nice female Siskin yesterday spent a good ten minutes on the Niger seed.
but Woody the sticks like glue to the nuts
and currently up to three Reed Buntings naturally prefer seed.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Scandinavians in Amble

After a largely unsuccesful morning on the Carr where the weather tempted me out only to unleash it's wintry force as soon as I was as at the farthest point of my wander I retreated and spent half an hour studying the graffitti in the range sentry box. Then delivery duty for the folks and off up the coast for a spot of lunch at Amble. Unable to afford re-mortgaging my home for a portion of fish and chips I settled down in the car park with a small sausage (well it was cold)...........and chips. Firstly I spotted this well marked Nordic Jackdaw C.m. monedula with the trademark white collar although be careful not to confuse with the sheen that can be produced by our resident C.m.spermologus. Try this link to know more
Then just as my fingers were nice and oily a familiar bird caught my eye. Well I didn't know I knew him till I had moved the car to a better position and taken a few photo's to reveal Black headed Gull J72J which I first saw in 2010 but has been reported there regularly since arriving in the country having been ringed as a three year old + in Trondheim Norway on 5th April 2005. He knows the Amble routine and after a few momments followed the crowd of gulls chasing folk more generous than I with their lunch. He likely returns to Norway for breeding having been seen there in April last year, a mere 1124km trip to get jiggy with it! Thanks to Morten who returns ringing information so quickly the blog was out of date momments after I published.
Just a Commoner with no known scandinavian roots.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Up creep

Not the greatest shot of a Treecreeper taken yesterday but it illustrates a couple of interesting points. Firstly look at the span of that foot equivalent to half the length of its body and the extra long, thin and likely very sharp claws especially on the hind toe which is likely the reason Treecreepers only go up. I'll have to get a shot of a Nuthatch (which move both up and down the bark) to see how they differ ( I just checked, it's shorter). It's definately not a Short toed Treecreeper then which was the subject of a major faux pas a number of years ago when I started more serious birding and sent in a record card claiming one on the Carr. The then county recorder Ian Fisher came down to see the pictures which I was convinced, having half read the books, showed the white V at the end of the wing being in line rather than broken. What I didn't note was how all the records were from the south and that it had a whistling Goldcrest rather than Coal Tit type call. Ian deflated me down gently.
Secondly the stiff tail wedged against the tree for additional support whilst at the other end the long sharp beak searches for mites and grubs. Short toed have longer beaks don't you know which speaking of interesting facts Springwatch commented on their roosting habits where they chose a depression in the bark of a pine tree into which they flattened themselves leaving the camouflaged back exposed but retaining all body heat against the tree. I always thought they roosted, like they nest, in cracks in the tree trunk.
Last night also saw two Shorties flying but views are brief and compared to last year they are hunting over a very wide area. Another poor photo was had so don't bother enlarging it. What's worse I missed six Waxwings that passed through just before I arrived.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Gets on your....

Blogger still refuses to let me access my computer to insert photos so after deleting, disabling and abusing I found a way round by using my Picasa web album. I also got a shock in that all the pictures I've posted over the years are stored there which I didn't realise was happening although I should have assumed so. I don't use Sky drive in business despite the benefits of back up copies in that I don't want personal stuff floating about there in the Ether but I guess it's out there already.

Sunday, 6 January 2013


So. Blogger refuses to let me upload photos which I suppose saves you the pain and is probably appropriate for this is an olfactory post.
For those of you who read the title too quickly, fear not fair maidens for I have not re-married and am still available, nor gentlemen am I to further expose that rather overly endowed American lady who spends an unfair amount of time pleasuring her man. (I fear nearly all of my readers fall into those interested by the latter category). I digress.
Stepping out of the door this morning I was hit by a somewhat stagnant odour similar to that produced by land fill or slurry but not as sweet. I suspected one of the local farmers had moved an unusual amount of the brown stuff but the smell seemed to pervade the whole area. The walk was uneventful recording no new species for the year list currently standing at 55 but it was suggested to me that the lack of wind and warm temperature combined with falling water levels exposing rotting vegetation on the Carr may well be the cause of this methane malaise. As I put the bins out tonight the general smell of the area was almost equal to that of the bins and things can only get worse. Water levels are still very high and with at least two feet to fall a hot March like last year would really be a gas.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Old favourites return

Having got back into the work ethic this morning by lunchtime my enthusiasm had dwindled to say the least so I headed out in the hope of something interesting in the gloom that passes for daylight at the moment. I was rewarded by a big bird passing through but better still on the fence line near where they last bred in 2008, a pair of Stonechats. These splendid little birds were virtually wiped out as an inland bird by the two severe winters in a row so hopefully given the warmer weather remaining, we may see the return to their former inland breeding grounds.
Not the greatest picture but male Stonechat all the same. Mike H and I spent some time searching for big bird without luck but Mike did spot two Short-eared Owls. Unfortunately I had told two visiting birders earlier in the afternoon that none had returned and then two show up at once to contradict me. It's nice to be wrong especially when one plays the angel on top of a Christmas tree.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

how to spend new year

perfect..slept right through it. Old list 123, new list currently 41. Same problems, same work, same financial cliff, same boredom so why do they call it new year...ah yes, different date. One more notch on the leg of life.