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:

20120913-182432.jpg

20120913-182504.jpg

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

20120913-182549.jpg

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)

20120913-182827.jpg

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…

20120913-183440.jpg

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

20120913-183727.jpg

Lazy Cormorant

20120913-183812.jpg

Lazy seals!

20120913-183843.jpg

This is a turtle trust me!

20120913-183950.jpg

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

Advertisements

A Day Late

Yesterday turned out to be a wipeout, purely because a friend came round and we played Xbox, (birding hasn’t overtaken that yet!) so here I go covering some if the things I promised on Sunday.

    My Top 10 for the year

This is the “mini competition” that I introduced to keep myself interested. Both Jo and myself picked 10 birds that we wanted to see, the winner being (obviously) the one who sees all 10 first. I will be honest with you here dear reader that a few of mine were based purely on a comical name, so apologies. Here they are (in no particular order)

1. Bittern
This was for two reasons, it looks pretty cool in a herony way and also it’s pretty rare, I obviously fancied a bit of a challenge. As it turned out it was one of the first birds that I spotted this year (peaked too soon!) but if you hear of any in your area I recommend going to look for one, they are illusive but be patient, they are awesome!

2. Ruff
Purely for the name, and the link on google that produced “ruff bird” it is a pretty ordinary bird until it displays, I will hopefully get you a picture before the year is out!

3. Kingfisher
As you will tell from my earlier posts, I love these birds and have now seen them, they just don’t look like they should be from England, so blue and so elegant, Leo and Toby I will find you these before the year is out as they should be shared with every person possible!

4. Osprey
Going back to my childhood these are awesome, so big and I have yet to see one fly, so that’s a mission for this year.

5. Woodcock
Obvious why I picked this, if the name isn’t worth it for shouting out alone, the waddle and noise it makes means this is one of the most comedic birds I have seen online, fingers crossed for the year.

6. Spotted Flycatcher
To be honest, no idea why I picked this. I think I meant to pick pied flycatcher when I was flicking through my Collins but wrote spotted. It’s not very impressive but is proving illusive so far this year and I’m sure I’ll be excited if I manage to see one

7. Firecrest
A small bird with a reddy orange Mohican. Nothing else to say, it HAS to be in my top 10! Also managed to see it..epic

8. Nightjar
I saw one last year and it made such an awesome noise that I need to see it again, I also know where one is\was in the New Forest so it should be relatively achievable (famous last words)

9. Goldeneye
I know the birders amongst you will cry that this is easy BUT it is on the list as a homage to the 1997 Bond Film of the same name. Seen and recorded (the film and the bird)

10. Hawfinch
Last but by no means least, this bird has a relatively funny name (finch of the night anyone??) but also looks pretty damn cool, also seen this year (an awesome day where Jo and I saw these for the first time) and they are a LOT bigger than I thought they would be.

There you go, that’s my top 10, I am half way through, so am a few behind Jo, although the Little Owl could hold her up!

I will cover the trips we have been on at a later date as I just wanted to share a few things that have made my year so far.

    My Garden

About a month ago I purchased a banquet table Bird Banquet Feeder similar to this one, in the hope of attracting birds to the garden which has rarely seen birds for years.

It was partly in jealousy of the vast amount of visitors to Jo’s garden and also that watching birds now cheers me up. It was a very slow start, however I can now report that we have regular visitors and also baby blue tits, baby starlings, baby goldfinches and baby sparrows in the garden. My main reason for enjoying this is that my mum and dad are also getting enjoyment out of seeing birds in the garden, it seems that the bird bug is biting!

I will try and get photos over the next few weeks as I shall be purchasing a new camera as I have been bitten by the photography bug after being lent a camera by Jo’s grandad, I will do a separate post talking about it as it really is such a good method of stress relief, I have some pretty good photos from the Wales trip ūüôā

I shall stop rabbiting on now, I will try to blog more tomorrow after football

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

Finally..

Hello Dear Readers,

 

After what seems like a month since I last did a proper post (oops, it actually is!) I suppose that I best start with the number of birds that I managed to see in January as a few of you are now demanding to know. In total, between January 1st and January 31st I saw 76 unique species of bird. I won’t get too birdy on you all (mainly as I will get something wrong and be corrected by Jo!) but here are my favourite birds of January and a little bit of a reason why.

  1. Bittern – This is the top of my list purely because some people can go years without seeing one, and the first time I go into a hide at Blashford Lakes there is one staring up at me, not only that, but when everyone thought that it had disappeared I looked to my right and it was sat out in the open trying to swallow an entire fish. One man commented to me that I may as well go and “retire from birding” as views won’t come better than that. (I sometimes feel like he was right and maybe I have peaked too early in my birding career
  2. Kingfisher – This would have been an epic spot on any day, but the fact that it came at the end of a disappointing walk around Fishlake Meadows made it even better. I know that Jo was amazed by my reaction to seeing them (two in one, just like a bus) but it really was like seeing a bird from a different country. You can’t describe just how bright the colours are, I managed to see three that day in total, and one more since, and they are still brilliant every time you see one.
  3. Greenshank – For all you birders out there this won’t be a particularly special sighting, indeed for Jo I’m sure that it wasn’t great, but, what makes it special for me was that Jo and I really worked together to identify it using the Collins Book (my copy that Jo subsequently dropped in the mud) it must have taken us about 10 minutes to finally confirm it, but it left me really happy that we were able to use skills that before January I had never used.
  4. Bearded Tits – Not only a funny name (you all know it is!) they also look wicked, also seeing Jo so happy to see a bird that she has been looking for for years made it extra special. We have pictures of them and just how close we were eating our lunch to them made it amazing.

I didn’t think that I would have made it to such a number in one month, especially my first, but its mainly down to Jo helping me and dragging me out. I have a feeling that the subsequent months won’t be so¬†spectacular, however there are over 10,000 left in the world for me to see so fingers crossed!

I went birding with my friend Greg at the start of February. He has new eyes (lasered) so in order to get his monies worth we thought it a good idea to see what he could see. It was a strange day; I am definitely not an expert, and I never managed to get to the bottom of what Greg thought of it, I probably endlessly annoyed him with my banging on about certain birds (my highlight was a goldcrest) and the hardest part was missing Jo. This may sound soppy, however it is purely because we have a very unique bird sense of humour, we personify them, its hard to explain, imagine Walk On The Wild Side, with just birds, if you are very unlucky some of you may get to experince this some day. However Greg was definitely not on the same wave length! (Sorry Greg)

I think that birding with different people will be something that I will need to get to used to over the course of 2012 (any volunteers living in Hampshire are eagerly encouraged!) but part of me just wants to make it a joint effort, hopefully when work quietens down I will get back into the competition, the new binocular purchases that we both made today should help,  I am just struggling with identifying the differences in certain types (especially waders) however I have finally nailed my tit identification  (stop sniggering at the back) so that is a step forward!

More about todays trip (to WWT Slimbridge) will follow when it isn’t so late.

 

Chris