Thursday, 27 May 2010

Birds At Our Feet

Yes it is none other than BirdGuides Technical Director John Cromie WITHOUT HIS BEARD! According to rumour it lasted 20 years. We hardly recognise him.
It is that time of year again when baby birds are to be found lurking underfoot in the hope of being fed. Even this baby Magpie on my doorstep manages to look endearing, despite having been fattened on a diet of local song birds. In fact, with ironic justice, I am pretty sure it was turfed out of its happy home (and its siblings probably consumed) by the pair of Carrion Crows nesting in my improbably tall poplars. Certainly there was an extraodinary racket and commotion yesterday morning, just before the appearance of this stray.

And in related news...

We found this headless pigeon Rock Dove the other day outside the offices of a leading PR company near Kensington Gardens. What does it signify? Probably that Peregrines are roosting in Lady Di's former abode.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Home Tweet Home

Just waiting for a flight to catch some rubbish-tip gulls on Guernsey (more on this later) when this landed in my inbox.

So smoking is pretty bad for your health, but these Blue Tits seem to have completely ignored the best medical advice.

This pair, in Wallsend, Tyne & Wear, found an outdoor ashtray to their liking. Their quality residence is Oceana Business Park where the pair have stalled building works. It'll be interesting to see how they do but they obviously have hungry mouths to feed.
To see how Blue Tits are doing nationally, check out the BTO's Nestbox Challenge.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Number 10 conference update

I've embedded the section of BH here to save you having to iPlayer. We do know that Kestrels are happily resident at Number 10 - we ran a previous story that you can read over at the webzine.


It appears this won't be the end of our Radio 4 appearances. It seems that despite my accent I might be on next week on Ten Rare Men.

BirdGuides, politics and Radio 4

BirdGuides had a starring role on Radio 4 this morning, talking politics and urban birds.

The unique Cameron-Clegg news conference in the garden of 10 Downing Street was rudely interrupted by several birds, singing and going about their daily lives. The PM and his deputy had to compete with a singing Robin, a Blue Tit busily feeding chicks in a nest box in the garden and an alarming Kestrel. Below you can see Nick Clegg watching the rude Kestrel, with the tit box behind him - could he be the new Urban Birder?

Explaining all, I had a brief slot on 'Broadcasting House' this morning - you can listen again here (scroll right to the last two minutes of the programme).

National Moth Night

Last night's National Moth Night event was very well attended. Here's David Howdon clutching Waring, Townsend and Lewington surrounded by a gaggle of would-be moth-ers. The moths were rather uninspiring sadly; despite the clever engineering of a sheet, a Robinson, a Skinner and the dreaded actinic Heath trap. We attracted rather more wasps than moths. Anyway - we had views of a Fox, and a small bat whirled around. This morning's opening was just after 5 am.

A spectacular Herald.

A slightly tatty Brimstone

Sandy Carpet

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Graduating to a grown-up camera

Oh dear. It had to eventually happen. I've finally had enough of my out-of-focus iPhone pics and succumbed to a proper camera of the dslr variety. So a short butterflying sortie was planned for this morning for practice. I'm fairly pleased with the results. I've yet to work out what to do about processing so these are unadulterated.

Crab Spider lurking in Bluebells

Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Pearl-bordered Fritillary

Some sort of hoverfly. Answers welcome.

Duke of Burgundy

So a successful morning's work. Alarmingly I'm only just starting to work out the sheer expense of memory cards and bits and monopods and lenses and other stuff that's needed to do a good job. Sigh.

This evening is National Moth Night, so I'm about to wander off to Perivale Woods with the Robinson. I predict lots of moff pics in the morning.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be a Yellowhammer

This amazing clip shows a Corn Bunting doing a very passable impression of a Yellowhammer, filmed by David Erterius on 9 May in southern Sweden.

David notes that such unusual singing has been recorded Corn Buntings isn't an unknown phenomenon, and BWP has an interesting insight:

"However, there are a number of reports of M. calandra apparently singing song of Emberiza, including Ortolan Bunting E. hortulana (Schumann 1956), but particularly Yellowhammer E. citrinella; such individuals were isolated from other M. calandra, interacted with E. citrinella, and rarely sang M. calandra song (Donovan 1978, Donovan 1984; Richards 1981; Stirrup and Eversham 1984), and situation thus best not described as mimicry, but instead probably exemplifies importance of social interaction in song learning (Pepperberg 1985)."

Thanks to David for posting this clip up and sharing his footage.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Openbill Stork deaths in Thailand

Just spotted this story and thought I might spread the news a bit.

A week ago "thousands" of Openbill Storks were found dead on a wetland site in Thailand. Authorities aren't sure of the cause of death, but are investigating. For more info have a look at the article in the Bangkok Post.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Highs and lows of bird recording...

We'll do the low first, and it's bad news on the Greenfinch front... The female in the garden of 'BirdGuides Norfolk' was sat happily yesterday morning, but I noticed she was off the nest this morning. A quick nest check showed an empty nest, which had presumably been predated overnight. Another one fails...

The high was slightly more fun - Bird Atlas fieldwork in East Lincolnshire. Along with Kate, Nick and Rob from the BTO, we covered eight TTVs (Timed Tetrad Visits), which as you'll see was quite tiring...

Who said fieldwork had to be hard work?! We did struggle to find our quite how to record this pair of displaying Emus though...

To check how the Atlas is going where you live, and how you can help, have a look at the regional results pages.

Thanks to Rob and Nick for the photos (I think...).