Back in the birdwatching game?

backtobirding

Firstly, let me apologise for the space of time we’ve both been incognito for on the blog. Once again, life has got in the way, and its been far too long. Life has also gotten in the way of our getting out and about recently, so there aren’t many birdy tales of recent months to fill you all in on. However, we have a HUGE backlog of adventures from last year, which I am slowly going to work my way through as we have some beautiful photographs and interesting tales to share.

This weekend has not yielded any birdy outings I’m afraid, as I’ve been hit pretty badly by an ongoing cold (which is hopefully being given the boot now I’ve got some antibiotics in the system), but hopefully my infection will have cleared in time for a bank holiday outing of some sort next weekend.

For now, I’ll have to keep my birding to the very persistent coal tit which I can hear in the conifers outside our flat every morning without fail and hope to be back out there very soon.

Why now?‘ I hear you ask as to getting back to the blog? Well, I’ve seen a challenge going around the blogosphere to blog every day in May. So, that gives me 2 remaining days to get prepped! I think every day on this blog is a challenge, so I’m aiming for 2 posts a week here on NYAB and have set up a new (more varied) lifestyle blog, Tales from the Finch’s Beak which can be found over here. If you want to join me, this will be a bit of everything that makes me smile day to day and hopefully a chance to showcase and get back into my photography. Looking forward to the journey and over on my new blog I will be posting on a daily basis- please hold me to account– for all of May (eekk!). And I am sure there will continue to be a few bird related posts on there for good measure- don’t want to stray too far.

Looking forward to being back in touch.

Jo

2 Days Running

After finally getting round to blogging yesterday i thought I should continue my new found enthusiasm. Yesterday I promised a link to my Flickr account which will be forthcoming, but for now I will run through the Notyouraveragebirders year from April until now in pictorial format.

At this point I will apologise that some of the pictures aren’t great (I’m still learning) and I know little about ISOS or shutter speeds and the like, so be patient!

It all kicked off in April with a trip to Cornwall for my birthday. Cornwall holds a special place in my heart as its the first place in the UK that myself and Jo went on holiday for a week. Obviously the added bonus is that there are a multitude of birding paradises down there and the scenery is something else. Here is a couple of pics from Porthgwarra:

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And the Chough we picked up along the way at the Lizard…

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After that came a trip to see Jo’s grandparents where we also managed to fit in a trip to Anglesey that resulted in my first ever Puffin! (here’s where the warning about photos is applicable)

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We also got the added bonus of meeting a twitter contact in the form of @naturebites on a lovely beach where we got to see a huge collection of Terns and put a face to a contact. Here is Kathy and Jo looking a bit cold…

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Work took hold after this trip until we headed back down to Cornwall in July to see some more wildlife, but the weather took hold. We managed to get out on a sea trip though which was pretty awesome including a leatherback turtle and some very lazy seals

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Lazy Cormorant

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Lazy seals!

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This is a turtle trust me!

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Possibly my favourite bird at the moment (just edging a goldfinch)

That concludes part 1 of the update, I’ll carry it on tomorrow.

Enjoy everyone

Chris

Not Forgotten!

Hi Guys,

Just a quick one to say we haven’t forgotten you! We have both been extremely busy since we got back from Cornwall and I want to sit down and write a blog entry that will do what we saw and experienced justice (it’ll be a long one!)

I am also waiting for my glasses to arrive (the years in the office and gaming have taken their toll!) so once they’ve arrived the blog will get going again.

I promise lots of photos and some (hopefully) witty stories as well as a dramatic ending

See you soon

Chris

I’ll leave you with Mr B, taken at the Eden Project 🙂

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Quick update before the big day

Hello readers!

Since my last blog I have been pretty busy with work and real life, I really need to win the lottery so I can just watch birds and blog all day (cross fingers please, promise I’ll share 🙂 )

I know I have a lot to still cover from my list, but I will cover that later on. The main reason for this blog is to give you an update on my bird ‘banquet’ station. It’s been in place for a good while now, and I was starting to get very jealous of Jo having such a diverse range of birds in her garden that weren’t in mine, the main one being a greater spotted woodpecker. This particularly rangled with me as it is a bird on the front of the RSPB bird guide and I always thought it raised hopes to people who purchased it as beginners that they should expect these birds in their gardens, especially if they live in urban areas…

It turns out I was wrong (not for the first time this year) and when I was working from home a couple of weeks ago I ran into my living room ( I was testing out my hamstring, don’t ask!) and saw a bird fly off the suet log feeder to a nearby tree, grabbing my binoculars I saw it was a GSW! I cannot describe my excitement and had to call Toby at work (sorry for the ramble Toby!) as well as texting Jo.

I had a fear that I would have frightened it off but am pleased to report that it visits every day, although I have had to put in more bird food orders so I’m doing my best to help out local business!

We also have 9 starlings that have reached adulthood, and 2 baby goldfinch that have finally come to terms with the fact they can fly and now spend all day eating sunflower hearts, they are turning into proper fatties! Out of curiousity does anyone know when their red heads start to come through?

All in all I would recommend anyone with a garden to get a bird feeder set up, even on a grey day (lots of them recently) they brighten up the day and I have lost hours watching them so far.

I suppose I should explain my ‘big day’ tomorrow now. I decided to sign up for a 26 mile walk, for charity, from Winchester to Salisbury, I thought it would be a good thing to aim for and to be honest I’m really looking forward to the challenge, however my plan to take binoculars and see birds along the route has gone out the window, I shall just rely on my eyesight as quite frankly I don’t want to carry any extra weight especially with the ridiculously wet forecast. When I get back and if I can move I will blog and finish that list.

Have a great weekend everyone and enjoy the summertime if the weather allows!

Chris

Heartbreak

Well, my mission for tonight is to update on our recent adventures, but with a long train journey ahead of me, I feel the need to share sad news from yesterday.

One of the things I am yet to blog about is that I’m undertaking volunteer work for the RSPB at the moment to survey Lapwings on the South Downs. This is a great excuse to get out and about and to search for signs of Lapwing breeding. Sadly, I’ve only found Lapwing on one field I’ve visited so far, but I fear that even there may not prove fruitful for this species this year.

Yesterday, I was out and about for 4 hours with no sign of Lapwing until the end of the walk. I’d decided on a route which ended up at the place I’d seen them before, so at least if we didn’t spot any, there would be a lovely Lapwing surprise waiting for me before returning to the car. A surprise was definitely what I came across, but not the type I was hoping for.

Approaching the Lapwing field, I could see it was looking very neat and devoid of crops. Getting closer still, what I was dreading to see was confirmed. A farmer was just starting on a second round, having churned up the entire field with a plough. I was devastated and just stood there in disbelief. Watching this take place was truly harrowing and a scan of the field through my binoculars threw up four folorn looking lapwings just watching as their home had been destroyed. Whilst I don’t know 100% that nests had been destroyed, these birds were mobbing crows and performing their lolling display flight over a month ago, so I am fairly certain that nests would have been in place by now. Absolutely horrible to witness and I am not ashamed to say that tears were shed. I’ve had to calm myself before I contact the survey organisers to let them know what happened, but I will be in touch with them later today. In some ways I am glad I was able to witness this so at least I know what happened, but this is undoubtedly the darkest moment of my birding life to date. It just goes to show how farmers must work with nature if our native wildlife is to have a future.

Whilst these events cast a massive shadow on my day, there were positives too. I was lucky enough to see at least 8 Skylark (with more singing), 2 Linnet, 8 Hares as well as the bird of the day which was a lone Grey Partridge spotted by my Mum. We also spied a Corn Bunting singing away at the top of planting on a strip of set aside land which was full of seed producing, wildlife friendly plants. This event in particular just goes to show that if farmers put in some efforts to help declining species, the birds and other species are able to reap the benefits. Whilst little efforts like this strip of land make a difference, a lot more needs to be done to give our farmland birds a positive future.

Jo

A Lesser Spotted Sunday Treat

Sunday marked another day of very leisurely birding. I would probably even go so far as to say that calling it ‘birding’ may be a bit of a stretch, more like ‘enjoying the sunshine with a pair of binoculars’. Being a glorious day, we decided to set out to Lepe Country Park to enjoy the weather on the Coast. When we arrived, we quickly realised that most of Hampshire had the exact same idea as it was absolutely heaving which was definitely not what I had been hoping for!

We managed to find a vacant bench looking over the Solent towards the Isle of Wight and enjoyed the sunshine whilst flicking through a magazine and snacking on lunch. Just lazing about was perfect and whilst my life has revolved around birding recently it was lovely to spend Sunday afternoon enjoying being outside but not just because I was birding. Not much to report on the birding front other than a couple of Long Tailed Tits in the brambles, some ducks and a couple of Canada Geese on an inland patch of water. Pretty much the only highlight was a Black Tailed Godwit– the first I’ve seen in its russety summer plumage probing away in the mud with its beak.

Whilst birds were few and far between there was a lot of blossom around the place which looked stunning in the sunshine:

After a stroll along the sea front, and a stop off for me to finally pick up some local Tide Tables from the visitor centre, we decided to head home with a detour via Hawkhill Inclosure, site of Chris’s deer experience last week. I wasn’t expecting to see anything of note as we just fancied a wander, but I ended up having my birding highlight of the weekend. We took a short circular walk to stretch our legs before heading back home, and the Inclosure looked absolutely beautiful in the bright Spring sunshine.

Having seen a few Chaffinch and Blue Tit on our way round, when Chris spotted something ‘bright green’ in the trees, we stopped to take a look and after a bit of searching a glorious Mr Siskin was revealed. The woods we were looking in seemed to have a fair amount of bird activity in them, so we decided to stop for a while and see what would be revealed. We didn’t have to wait long before we noticed a Great Spotted Woodpecker which we watched for a while and even saw drumming, which was great. Amongst the treetops Chris spotted a fine male Crossbill and we later spotted a female companion. One Siskin soon became several and there was obviously a resident flock residing along with a group of Chaffinch. Whilst looking for a mystery bird Chris had seen, I spied some movement along a knarled tree branch. On closer inspection the movement revealed itself as my first ever Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and best of all it was completely self-found. Like my Firecrest/Goldcrest fears, I always worried I would mistake this bird for its big, brash Great cousin, but this is far from the case. I knew that this was a small woodpecker but I was amazed at how small. This bird was amazing, shuffling along the branches, and definitely one of the best birds I’ve ever seen- a minature, more finely detailed version of a GSW!

On our way back to the car we came across several singing Chiffchaff (fast becoming our weekend soundtrack) and another flock of Siskin in the pines around the car park. A lovely way to end our day in the sunshine.

What a weekend of life ticks!

Jo

No Sight

So, I have now completed my first solo bird walk. As I said yesterday, I was hoping for the junco. However, it would appear that the bird has flown. I turned up at the carpark (after getting a bit lost) and was greeted by the sight of one other car. Suggesting that everyone else knew the bird wasn’t there, unperturbed I pressed on.

The landscape was so different to the last junco attempt, it was a bleak, almost winters atmosphere and I couldn’t blame the junco for moving on, if I was a bird I’d have done the same. Here’s a picture of me at the ex junco site (I know I don’t look great but the sun chose that moment to come out and the quickly retreated)

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I decided to move on, there was nothing fluttering and I could hear lots of noise. I managed to see robins, chaffinches, wood pigeons, magpies and the crowning moment some goldcrest! One thing I did notice today was that if you see one type of bird you will see two, and every type I saw had its mate with them, this was pretty useful as at other times of the year you only see one or the other, the downside is that they are often quick moving or having sex, swings and roundabouts I suppose!

I had one other bird encounter on my way out of the car park, when I saw a male and female stonechat performing what I imagine was a courting dance, Mr Stonechat was looking pretty cool, but I couldn’t stay around to see them longer as I was stopping cars from getting into the car park (sorry new forest drivers)

One thing that made me genuinely happy on the walk came after I was cursing a bird for not landing, meaning I couldn’t identify it, I turned around and was greeted by this sight..

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There were 27 deer staring right at me, probably wondering who the hell I was talking to (I did it regularly today) they stayed around for the next 10 minutes and I just sat down and watched them. It really made me realise how much I have fallen in love with the outdoors and being in the middle of nowhere.

In birding terms it wasn’t a great showing, with no new year ticks and I’m no closer to Jo and her score, however it has rejuvenated my desire and should hopefully stand me in good stead going forward.

*i would also upload the video I took of the deer but my phone won’t communicate with the iPad so bear with me! I also couldn’t find my camera so made do with my phone one which is why the photos aren’t great quality.

Speak soon!

Chris