Underground And Overground.

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We’ve had a few dreary mornings and I’d waited days for a bright, clear morning to drive into the hills with camera at the ready. Tuesday looked promising so I was up early and then drove north and east with fingers crossed as I left the coast behind. This was probably the last chance of the year as upland birds have already started their return journeys to coastal locations. "Click the pics" for close-ups. To The Coast There are not many Lapwing around now and I was counting ones and twos only, with little sign of late breeders. In my experience, Lapwings tend to give up rather than try again if their early breeding fails with small flocks appearing as early as mid-June. I found a good number of Curlew, some with large “running” chicks but also a good sized one learning the ropes of calling from a drystone wall.  ...

Sleepy Time North

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There’s not a lot to report from this morning’s birding sortie but then it is sleepy mid-June. The regular Barn Owl flew over someone’s garden and past their lounge window. That’s a pretty good bird for anyone’s garden list. Barn OwlI stopped at Gulf Lane to inspect the bird seed cover crop and where pretty soon we’ll be catching more Linnets, a few Goldfinch and one or two other species. There’s been a tremendous surge of growth in the six or seven weeks since the farmer sowed the field during which there’s been zero rain with lots of sunny days. At the end of July we’ll cut a 100 ft ride for single panel nets through the crop and away we go with Linnet catching through until March. Bird Seed Cover Crop I saw six or eight Goldfinch and a couple of Linnets along the edge of the dried up ditch plus a sin...
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Missed The Pink

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
I found myself looking at Starlings this morning. Yes, those noisy, mucky pests that carry the very appropriate Latin title of Sturnus vulgaris. For readers not up to speed with the latest rarity news, there has been an influx of Rose-coloured Starlings into Western Europe and the UK from the pink ones’ normal area of easternmost Europe and southern Asia.  In those parts the species inhabits steppe and open agricultural land but when they turn up here in the UK they might be found in almost any habitat that resembles their original.  An adult Rosy Starling looks nothing like our Common Starling but for the next few weeks it’s a good idea to check out any post-breeding Starling flocks as the juveniles of each species have a closer likeness.All of a sudden there are a lot of Starlings around this week with flocks here and t...
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Wader Snaps

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
This is the quiet period when migration takes a breather as the birds settle down to breed. I took time out with the camera today with the intention of snapping a few waders in the hills a thirty minute drive from home.  Don't forget - click the pics.Snipe intrigue me. Dumpy, squat  little waders that like to hide away in marshy places and rarely make it easy for the camera. In the breeding season the males keep an eye open for trouble along fences or dry stone walls and where with a stealthy approach there’s a chance of a picture or two. I took loads of pictures of one obliging Snipe. Snipe Snipe SnipeFor a minute or more the Snipe took a walk along the fence towards an on-guard Oystercatcher. The Oystercatcher had chicks but Snipe are generally a week or more behind the oyks. Oystercatcher Oystercatc...
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Book Review – Birds of Prey by Brian K Wheeler

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New books arrive thick and fast. Up for consideration today are two books released together as companion field guides to North American raptors - Birds of Prey of the West & Birds of Prey of the East. The two are due for publication any day but for the benefit of readers of this blog, I managed to get my hands on a copy of each hot off the Princeton press.  Birds of Prey of The West - Princeton Press Birds of Prey of the East - Princeton PressAfter the run of photographic field guides and PC & IPhone apps of recent years I felt somewhat relieved to see that the art of the classic field guide is not lost but alive and well in these two volumes from Brian K Wheeler. A glance at the author’s unbeatable CV gives a clue as to the expertise displayed in these two superb books. “Brian K. Wheeler has been ...

Result!

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A Linnet Readers who follow this blog may have read about the Linnet project at Pilling/Cockerham. Over two winters we have caught and ringed over 500 Linnets hoping to find out more about Linnets that spend the winter on local farmland and coastal marshes of The Fylde of North Lancashire. We have suspected that many originate from Scotland with previous evidence of a summer nestling from Shetland recaptured at our one ringing site in winter. Now comes news of another Linnet and its connection to Scotland. We ringed Linnet S348682 as a juvenile/first year female on 2 December 2016. In the both the following weeks nor the next winter did we recapture her. Fast forward to 27 April 2018 when S348682 was recaptured by another ringer at Clachtoll, Lochinver, Highland, Scotland, a distance of 496km and an elapsed time of 511 days f...
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Back On Patch

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There was a stiff north-easterly wind as I set off over the moss roads. It had been three weeks without birding the local patch so I was keen to see what had taken place in this “silent spring”. Via the Internet I’d read local blogs and bird club pages where all agreed that a number of species were down or even missing – Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers, Swallows, Swifts, House Martins and Reed Warblers; the same names kept cropping up on the list of absentees. Until this morning I’d not seen a Swift in the UK, just several thousand in Menorca over a week ago. It was almost 1030 this morning before I saw my first 2 UK Swifts of the year, both heading purposefully into the wind and out over Morecambe Bay. The early start gave a number of Whitethroats, both singing but also skulking as they do. Maybe they are just trying to c...
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Book Review – Wildlife of Madeira and the Canary Islands

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When I arrived back home after two weeks in Menorca, there was a parcel waiting. It was a review copy of Wildlife of Madeira and the Canary Islands, freshly out as the newest addition to the highly successful WILDGuides titles. The author John Bowler is a conservation officer on the island of Tiree in the Scottish Inner Hebrides. He is the author of a number of field guides, including Wildlife of Seychelles (Princeton WILDGuides). Wildlife of Madeira and the Canary Islands - Princeton PressMacaronesiaSo how does the new book stack up? Firstly, the clue is in the title. Potential buyers should note that this new volume is a more than a bird guide. It is a “wildlife guide” and therefore includes a guide to not just birds but also mammals, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies and dragonflies. The book covers the key wildlife s...

A Packet Of Smarties

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I met up with Andy for our first Sand Martin ringing session of 2018. Like me, Andy had been on holiday, me in Menorca, and he in Turkey. Birders and ringers are ultra-competitive and as we swapped tales of sunny days his Eleonora’s Falcon was pretty good but I reckon I smashed him with 5 Golden Orioles, a European Roller and a Red-footed Falcon. There was no such exotica today. It was back to the bread and butter of Cockerham, the piping of Oystercatchers and the steady buzz of Sand Martins all around us as we waited to catch. Last year was very poor for our catches here as the so-called summer kept thwarting our planned visits. This year the colony is more tightly packed and so far at least, the weather is much better. We counted 200+ Sand Martins in attendance with most of the occupied nests in the softer strata layer of the...
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Oop,oop,oop.

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We saw lots of Hoopoes during our two week expedition to Menorca. Hang on, let me rephrase that a little. We heard many a Hoopoe; probably several dozen. We saw less - five or six individuals on a typical day."Click the pics" to see Hoopoe action.Hoopoe The Hoopoe’s “oop,oop,oop,oop” call carries many a mile over the quiet landscape of Menorca. But this mainly shy bird often calls from the cover of a copse, a dry stone wall or the corner of a distant building. For an apparently highly visible bird with a funky hairdo the Hoopoe can be difficult to spot. Its striking but basically sandy-brown plumage blends well with the dry landscape while the black & white wing pattern and the bird’s erratic butterfly flight allows the bird to dissolve into the dappled light of a Menorca day. Hoopoe The Hoopoe is very common in M...
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