Friday, 30 April 2010

Greenfinches replace Blackbirds

After the sorry demise of my nesting Blackbirds (two chicks disappeared and one died) I now have another nest to report on... This is built in the ridiculous position of the conifer right outside our back door, but at least it's easy to monitor!

The identity of its owner was a mystery for a while, though Dave Leech (Head of Nest Records at the BTO) had predicted Greenfinch from the photo here. Apparently the use of so much moss and fine feathers is a good hint.

By this morning, things had progressed and Dave was of course right, as three eggs had appeared, and very pretty they are too! Hopefully they'll be rather more successful than the Blackbirds...

Lavatory art in Northumberland

The BirdGuides webzine is a bit full at the moment, but we couldn't resist posting this story somewhere...

A public lavatory in Seahouses, Northumberland, is the unlikely location for an interesting piece of public art. Two eight-foot billboards tall will be on display for the next five months, showing off two of the region's characteristic birds.

The two birds were chosen for a specific reason: Eider symbolises the sea and Yellowhammer represents the land. As the 'Gateway to the Farne Islands', Eider is a typical species of the area and an ideal species for the installation.

The artwork has been created by Seahouses' appointed Visiting Artist Stuart Mugridge. The art project has been developed by Inspire Northumberland and the Seahouses Development Trust (Chief Executive, and avid ornithologist, Jon Riley is below) with support from the Rural Development Programme for England. Artist Stuart Mugridge said "Seahouses is an interesting place to work and visit that has evolved down the years, with its contrast of heritage, wildlife and working harbour."

Stuart talks about what values he hopes people will gain from experiencing the billboards. He said: "I hope my new work generates a genuine public response; getting people to stop and think about their personal surroundings and to create a taste of things to come in the coastal village."

Photos courtesy of David Williams Photography.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The north/south divide

After mentioning my Blackbird nest at the weekend, I spotted this great results page from the BTO's NestBox Challenge yesterday. The red markers show Blackbird nests; those with eggs are in blue and those with chicks in white.

I would have expected more of a north/south divide, but this is more obvious in something like Blue Tit (below), with southern birds more advanced than northern ones, especially in the sunny southeast...

The maps are still a bit sparse in parts, so if you've got any nesting birds in your garden (not just Blackbirds and Blue Tits) then do join the free survey at

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Spring ringing

Spent most of last week up and down the country, so it was nice to be back in Norfolk and catch up with some ringing... This morning I popped along to the ringing demonstration at the RSPB Lakenheath Fen Family Fun Day. Despite the bright sun (no complaints there!) we still managed to catch plenty of Goldfinches amongst the more expected haul of tits.

It's still always a pleasure to see the faces of people seeing birds up close, and they really do inspire. It was a joy to catch up with only my second Swallow of the year (how embarrassing...) and a couple of male Garganey on the flood.

Nesting was then the order of the day, and I failed to find a Little Grebe (yet to be proven breeding for the Atlas in that 10 km square) but did flush a Green Sand instead! Back home was slightly more successful, with a Blackbird nest with three very young chicks in the salubrious setting of the old stable! I'll keep you informed how these guys get on...

Wednesday, 7 April 2010