Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Waxwings everywhere!

If you live anywhere in the north or east you may have already realised, but we're in the middle of a big Waxwing invasion. This is a very early arrival and some really big flocks have already been seen. The biggest we've heard of were 480 at Pitlochry and 320 in Aberfeldy this morning, and there were at least 622 around Lewis in the Outer Hebrides yesterday.

Our BirdMap for Waxwing sightings in the last week clearly shows the arrival, with virtually no birds southwest of a line between the Isle of Man and London.

So if you've not seen one of these delightful birds before then perhaps this winter will be your best chance. Generally found in supermarket car parks and town centre ornamental trees, they're usually very confiding allowing a great view. Listen out for their very distinctive trilling call as well, sounding oddly reminiscent of "sid-little".

Monday, 18 October 2010

Another colour-ringed bird evades me!

I've just heard details of yet another colour-ringed bird on the Hayle estuary that I've managed to miss. This was a Greylag Goose, which admittedly doesn't sound like the most exciting of sightings, but this one was sporting a neck collar. It had been originally ringed in southern Sweden in June 2000 and had previously been seen in The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark.

It then popped up in Northumberland in February 2010, before wandering to North Yorkshire, Bedfordshire, Essex four days later, Aberdeenshire four days later and then Kent. It was then an unusual addition to the seawatching tally at Porthgwarra, Cornwall, on 9th October before gracing the Hayle four days later.

So next time you see a lowly Greylag Goose, stop and think where it might be from. And if you're lucky enough to see one with a neck collar or colour ring then report it online via www.ring.ac

Friday, 15 October 2010

Breeding Red Kites are a first in Ireland

Since 2007 a programme to reintroduce the Red Kite into Ireland has been happening. In total 81 birds have now been released in Wicklow, with another 53 in Down since 2008. Last year the first two pairs bred, but weren't successful.

But this year was far more successful, with seven pairs raising 12 chicks in Wicklow and four pairs raising five chicks in Down. This is great news for the species, and more details of the project can be found in this extract from Wingers, the kids section of BirdWatch Ireland's magazine.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Escape to Wormwood Scrubs

I was in the office early this morning when the telephone rang. It was David Lindo on the Azores with news of a Great Grey Shrike gracing Wormwood Scrubs. Ah don't you just love the 21st Century. Needless to say David was not a happy bunny. Fancy being over 2000 miles from your local patch when a cracking bird like that turns up.

Anyway I scooted over to "the long grass" at the Scrubs where the bird was rumoured to be lurking. Sure enough, it did not take long to spot a distant white splodge atop a bush, surrounded by a posse of West London's finest. An exhausing couple of hours ensured, during which time the skrike led me a merry dance around this surprisingly large "park". Rolling Prairies more like.

Eventually I realised that the best plan was to stake out a random bush and wait with my heavy camera for the bird to come to me. With good grace it did so just before my parking ticket ran out. A very handsome creature and what a treat to escape from the office for the last few hours of our Indian Summer sun.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Tits and finches on the move

Just today I was reading some amazing ringing totals, with Lista Bird Obseravtory in southern Norway ringing 528 Blue Tits yesterday! But browsing round I also found that Falsterbo Bird Observatory in southern Sweden had ringed 574 on 4th October!

All this seems quite amazing, but then consider Falsterbo ringed 633 Siskin yesterday (385 in one net round!) and seen migration counts of 83,000 Siskin then it's not surprising! Even this pales into insignificance compared to 20th September though, when a massive 240,300 Chaffinch/Brambling passed overhead.

With news of a big movement of birds from the Continent over the last couple of nights as well (from radar studies) it could be quite a weekend...

Leucistic Wheatears and other oddities

We've seen a few odd photos of leucistic birds recently, but this one uploaded to Iris yesterday is a cracker! This Wheatear was photographed in Turkey and must have been a surprise for the finder.

Other odd photos can be found in the aberrant birds album on Iris.