Its been a long time, i shouldn’t have left you…

Hello readers,

I have not died of red wing overload (a common birdwatcher ailment) i have just been extremely busy with work and seeing family. Right, where to start…?

The red wings stayed for 2 days then buggered off, they didn’t fancy saying hi to Jo but were very happy to see me, result. I have seen no birds whilst travelling to work or indeed at the weekends, c’est la vie.

Two weeks ago, Jo and I went on an organised walk to see some red kites,  when we pulled up it felt like a really badly organised school trip but this time it was hard to figure out who was the teacher, we were quite obviously the pupils (i had the worlds smallest binoculars (error that keeps being repeated!) however, once things were kicked off by the walk leader this turned out to be one of the best birding experiences of my life.

The people on the walk were much more chilled than the people chasing the junco and were genuinely interested in any birds, this meant I didn’t feel stupid asking what the birds were that flew past, also i got to use other peoples scopes and got to actually see the birds (this has led to me looking for scopes on eBay daily) Seeing 70+ red kites just chilling and messing around was awesome, however I was more amazed by seeing a short eared owl just chilling on a post and a partridge that didn’t want to move in case it got eaten by it. Although we still reduced the average age by at least 10 years there were still at least 7 other women to go with the 30 men…

We saw a load of other birds, however it has been that long that I cannot really remember what they were, so this is where I really really need to get up to speed with writing them down (waterproof notebook after payday I think!) Last week and weekend were a write off, due to a visit from my brother and sister in law, however the golf course (somewhere Jo won’t be) on Sunday morning provided me with a green woodpecker and another unknown bird.

I am going to have to rely on weekend trips in order to get a good number of birds, and really do need to get back in to it.

I must also confess that I am now a fully signed up member of the RSPB, mainly for the free gift, however it also means that I get to go to all the RSPB reserves for free at the same time as helping keep the birds going so that I can actually spot them.

I apologise for the lack of humour in todays blog, I will be back on form with my next one, football (a hard fought 0-0 draw) has taken it out of me and I am genuinely annoyedIi have forgotten birds, I fear that I really am taking this too seriously….

Chris

P.S Sarah, i am disappointed that you are team Jo despite me provding you with the motivation, i am consoled however, by -the fact that members of “Team Chris” are having T-Shirts made up displaying their affiliation, so i’m sure that I will get over it and I would still love for you to come on a walk with Jo and I xx

Missing my birding companion

Farlington Marshes (spot the egret!)

 

With Chris busy with visiting relatives all weekend, on Sunday I braved the world of organised ornithological walks and joined a HOS walk to Farlington Marshes and took my Mum along for company.

Farlington isn’t that far away from home, but its one of those places I’ve just never been to. Whether this has anything to do with it being very close to the motorway or too close to Havant I’m not quite sure. While I’m quite sure there are some nicer parts of town,  my only experiences of Havant are of the decidedly grotty station and nearby Probation office, so it hasn’t registed as a destination of choice even though I know its a real haven for wildlife. Setting off at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, I was looking forward to a day of notching up ticks that Chris hadn’t yet got.

For the first time amongst a group of birders, two things happened that were quite bizarre: there were about as many women as men (and some of them weren’t just tagging along with their husbands) and I wasn’t the youngest one there! This meant a different group of people than I was used to, but all in all it was a good day. When its freezing cold and reasonably windy, being out on the coast doesn’t make for a warm trip, but I wrapped up and braved the elements for over 4 hours. I added a lot to the year list, and I have discovered that being amongst experts is crucial in determining what the different waders are. These birds (mostly brown and on long, stick like legs for those who aren’t familiar) I find impossible to get my head around, so having others there who are able to tell and even describe the differences was a real bonus and gave me a boost while Chris was stuck at home.

Whilst I saw some brilliant new birds that I’d never knowingly seen before, as well as a lot of more familiar species, I couldn’t help but feel like I was cheating by going along with a group of strangers. Whilst we are in competition, my favourite birding moments often involve the two of us frantically trying to establish together what we’ve just seen. It may not be the best method in terms of seeing lots of different birds, but it is a lot more fun and there’s something exciting about working out what I’ve seen with someone I know so well. Whilst I had a lovely few moment discussing the merits of Stonechats with another lady and relished the mutual disappointment of most of the group when we missed out on a Bearded Tit that the walk leader had found, its not the same.

Chris, I’m looking forward to some mutual birding next weekend please!

Jo

Short Eared Saturday

For the second Saturday running, I spend dusk watching a Short Eared Owl. This week’s was performing a sequence of distant fly pasts on the Broadlands Estate, viewed from Skidmore Bridge. Two weeks in a row- I’m developing a habit!    Jo

View from Skidmore Bridge

Earthflight- Europe

Well, Thursday night is now officially Earthflight night. If you’ve not come across this programme, it is well worth clearing your Thursday evenings for. Now I’m a big fan of a wildlife documentary at the best of times, but this, filmed a lot from the air giving a real birds eye view, is truly amazing. Rather than get the description wrong, here’s the BBC’s description of the filming techniques.

I’ll sum up the first 2 episodes another time, meanwhile enjoy the highlights of Europe.

– A murmuration of Starlings swarming over Rome are pursued by a hungry Peregrine.

Common Cranes fly over Venice on their journey from Africa to Finland

Common Cranes fly over the Bulbfields of Holland

Barnacle Geese journey with the man who reared them

Barnacle Geese on their Migration

Earthflight, BBC One, Thursdays at 21:00

Enjoy- Jo

Update

Having had in my mind all day that i was going to gut my room and tidy it properly then post properly about the first weekend, i stupidly decided to go for a run at 7pm. If i am honest, this was as a result of eating a lot of rubbish all day (what is it about winter that brings that desire for fatty foods?!) and needed to not feel like a fat slob.

So, having spent 3 miles doing my best impersonation of a horse with all the cheek puffing, i have no energy to blog about what was a fantastic weekend birding (never thought i’d say that in my lifetime) so, please be patient and on Wednesday i shall fill you in on the weekend, in the meantime, Jo shall be walking in the park at lunch whilst i am trying to organise the office (theres no justice in the world!)

 

Oh and yes, short ear owls are freaking awesome!

 

Chris

A better commute

A walk to work

Having decided the only way to beat Chris was to get out and about more, I was presented with the ideal opportunity on my commute. Arriving at the park and ride just as the bus was pulling away would normally have me cursing, but today this was what I had secretly been hoping for. Instead of waiting for 15 minutes until the next bus, I decided to walk to work. Whilst I didn’t get any new birds, walking into Winchester along the river was a far nicer start to my day than sitting on a bus!

Jo

We’re going on an owl hunt (and leave disappointed)

After yesterday’s birding frenzy, we thought heading out just before dark would again be fruitful. To be honest, we were never going to see another Short Eared, but I think this hope was at the back of both our minds. We did get a load of ticks for our 2012 lists, but nothing nearly as exciting as yesterday. A Buzzard drifting along very close to the ground  had me fooled to start with until Chris pointed out what it really was. I am very glad I make mistakes like this around Chris and not around those that really know their stuff. Its very easy to think you are seeing what you would like to see rather than what is really there. Today’s highlights include 24 Mute Swans (see them coming into land below), very vocal Wrens and a LOT of Chaffinches roosting for the night.

The photos are about as exciting as our year lists so far- enjoy us looking birdy in our outdoor gear. Either way, it was fun to be outside and as childish as it sounds its always fun to think you’re going to get stuck in the middle of nowhere in the dark without a torch, although we made it back just in time (just no owls to be seen).

Jo