Wednesday, 29 December 2010

To The Lighthouse

The calm period between Christmas and New Year is usually a good time for reflection. Plus January and February are looking very busy. So the three BirdGuides directors have just held a summit meeting to hatch plans for the coming year. Travelling variously from West London, Dumfries & Galloway and Donegal... we decided to meet in the middle.

This is the very fine Corsewall Lighthouse just down the road from Stranraer.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Sad end for the booby

After we ran an article on sad fate of the Spanish Red-footed Booby, even sadder news has come to light that the bird has since died. After surviving an operation to remove fishing hooks from its stomach, it finally died on 23rd December.

For more details, see the facebook page of Rarebirdspain. Photo courtesy of CRFS PNAE/Generalitat de Catalunya.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Chiswick In Winter

Not the mice this time. We have taken an executive decision to sacrifice part of Stephen's mince pie to a good cause: feeding our local Pied Wagtails which are hungrily chis-wick-ing around the Mews in the snow.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

It's a hard life being a Greenfinch

It's a hard life being a bird at the best of times, without the perils of cats and disease adding to your problems. This afternoon I received a couple of Greenfinch ring recoveries from Norfolk, one of which I'd ringed and one ringed by BTO Research Ecologist Stuart Newson.

'Mine' (if you can ever own a bird) was ringed at Ketteringham, just outside Norwich, in October 2009 and died of Trichomonosis at Halesworth, Suffolk, on 17th September (32km distant). We'll be running a webzine article on the devastating effects of Trichomonosis in the New Year, so keep an eye out for this.

The other bird was ringed by Stuart at Hapton, near Norwich, in December 2009 and was killed by a cat at Ludham, Norfolk, on 30 August (29km distant). This urban form of predation accounts for over 40% of 'known-cause mortality' in Greenfinches.

Who'd be a Greenfinch?!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The world's most unfortunate woodpecker?

We recently received this photo via a long chain of emails, but just had to share it. Apparently, the photographer had come home (in Hertfordshire) in the middle of the day at the beginning of November to find this Green Woodpecker embedded in the barge board above his garage. The beak appeared to have gone about 15mm into the wood.

Unfortunately the bird was quickly disposed of, as it would have been interesting to have seen it! Answers on a postcard please as to whether it was in mid-flight when it hit, or was pecking a bit too vigorously...

Thanks to Jonathan Smith for sending this round originally and for letting us use the photos.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Extreme mothing

You'd be forgiven for thinking that after the recent spell of freezing weather moths would be all but non-existent in the UK right now. Surprisingly, though, there are some moths that are quite at home in this winter weather. With temperatures this evening reaching the tropical heights of +2 °C, armed with torches and nets, our hardy band of west London moth-ers managed to locate over a dozen individuals of three species. Poor-quality photos taken with an iPhone.

First catch your moth, then find it in the net:

Male Winter Moth:

The commonest moth this evening, comprising 11/13 of the individuals seen.

Pair of Winter Moths with female above and male below:

The female is wingless.

Scarce Umber:

Another species where the female is wingless, so this one must be a male.

And the third species, in case you were wondering, was an Acleris sp. - probably A. ferrugana.

Mince Pie Outrage

The Warple Mews Mice have no shame. My Yemini Matari coffee was prepared to perfection. I slid out the perfect accompaniment: the last remaining Waitrose mince pie:

This is getting personal.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Off to Swanwick

Barring any snow-related disasters, BirdGuides will be at the BTO's annual conference at Swanwick, Derbyshire, this weekend. We'll be running the traditional Friday night quiz and also be on hand all weekend to talk about software, bird news, apps, data-sharing and much more. So if you're braving the weather to come along then do say hello (though we can't guarantee the conference centre will look quite so summery).