Wood You Believe It?

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Things didn’t go quite as planned this morning. The forecast for Oakenclough was reasonable - 7mph, cloudy with a chance of rain, but up beyond Garstang I drove through fog and mizzzle, a ringer’s enemies. 

Within minutes of meeting Andy up at the ringing site a heavy mist had closed in and enveloped the plantation. After a forty minute drive we don’t give in that easily so we set the nets and waited for birds to arrive. 

The fog proved slow to clear with little in the way of passerine migration as reflected in our catch of just 21 birds, albeit with a few interesting highlights. Birds ringed: 4 Goldcrest, 3 Redwing, 3 Blackbird, 3 Blue Tit, 2 Dunnock, 2 Great Tit, 2 Chaffinch, 1 Wren and 1 Sparrowhawk. 

The Sparrowhawk was a first year male of quite small proportions. 

Sparrowhawk

Despite the lack of large scale migration there was a mid-morning influx of 12-15 Blackbirds, including two obvious “continental” types, identified by their all dark bills and scalloped breast feathers. 

Continental Blackbird

There was distinct lack of finches this morning. I cannot remember the last occasion we caught zero Goldfinch or Lesser Redpoll at this site. We made do with a couple of Chaffinches, the only finch seen and heard this morning, the one below a fine looking adult male. 

Chaffinch
 
Chaffinch

Two out of the three Redwings were caught pre-dawn and were probably roosting nearby. The third appeared in the nets after a mid-morning arrival of circa 30 Redwings, the only flock we saw. 

Redwing

The one migration feature of the morning was a very obvious movement of Woodpigeons on a North-East to South-West heading, with a count of 1200 including five flocks of 130+ and one that numbered a high-flying 300 individuals. 

Every year sees discussion around the migration spectacle of Woodpigeons but it is unclear where these birds are coming from or going to. They seem to appear along the east coast and the Pennines, but aren’t seen coming in off the sea. They travel south and upon reaching the south coast head west as far as Dorset. Once here they seem to disappear. 

At present there are two schools of thought. The post-breeding numbers of this species in autumn in Britain are truly huge and the pigeons’ movements may be British birds heading south and west for the relatively mild conditions that this part of the UK offers, although there doesn’t seem to be a large influx of Woodpigeons into Devon and Cornwall during November. Alternatively they may be British birds that are heading south and on to France and Spain to spend the winter in southern oak woods.  On occasions in autumn, good numbers have been seen flying south, high over the Channel Islands. 

Woodpigeons

Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt it is a thought provoking sight. The much maligned and mostly ignored Wood Pigeon is a subject worthy of study by birders. 

Woodpigeon

 Otherwise birds - 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Grey Wagtail.

Linking this post with  Anni's Birding Blog.



A Gamekeeper From Bleasdale

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Readers of Another Bird Blog will remember that I am a frequent summer visitor to the beautiful part of Lancashire known as Bowland.

The same readers may also know that the bird ringing site of Oakenclough mentioned frequently on this blog is bordered by the shooting estate of Bleasdale highlighted below.  As I turn into the track to our ringing site, immediately opposite is a gated track that heads alongside Harris End Fell and into the secret world of the Bleasdale estate. 

Bowland, Lancashire

I am grateful to http://raptorpolitics.org.uk/ for the following.

“28th September 2017 was a landmark day in Bowland’s dark history of ongoing raptor killing, when Mr James Hartley a 34 year old gamekeeper from the Bleasdale estate appeared in the dock at Preston Magistrates Court facing nine charges relating to the alleged killing of two Peregrine Falcons in April 2016 on the estate where he was employed. 

Each one the nine charges read out by the clerk are listed below: 

1) Killing a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally killed a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a Peregrine Falcon, contrary to sections 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

2) Disturb the nesting site of a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally or recklessly disturbed a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a Peregrine Falcon, while it was in, on or near a nest containing eggs or young, contrary to sections 1(5)(a) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

3) Killing a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally killed a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a Peregrine Falcon, contrary to sections 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

4) Set trap/gin/snare etc to cause injury to wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, set in position a trap which was of such a nature and so placed as to be calculated to cause bodily injury to any wild bird coming in to contact with it, contrary to sections 5(1)(a) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act. 

5) Take a Schedule 1 wild bird. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, intentionally took a wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a Peregrine Falcon, contrary to sections 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

6) Possess live / dead Schedule 1 wild bird or its parts. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, had in your possession or control a dead wild bird included in Schedule 1 to the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, namely a Peregrine Falcon, contrary to sections 1(2)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act. 

7) Possess an article capable of being used to commit a summary offence under section 1 to 13 or 15-17. On 13 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, for the purpose of committing an offence, namely killing a Schedule 1 wild bird, namely a Peregrine Falcon, under section 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, had in your possession a firearm which was capable of being used for committing the offence, contrary to section 18(2) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

8) Possess an article capable of being used to commit a summary offence under section 1 to 13 or 15-17. On 12 April 2016 and 27 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, for the purpose of committing an offence, namely killing a Schedule 1 wild bird, namely a Peregrine Falcon, under section 1(1)(a), 1(4) and 21(1) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981, had in your possession hammer, trap and knife which were capable of being used for committing the offence, contrary to section 18(2) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. 

9) Cause unnecessary suffering to a protected animal – Animal Welfare Act 2006. On 12 April 2016 and 15 April 2016 at Bleasdale in the county of Lancashire, caused unnecessary suffering to a protected animal, namely a Peregrine Falcon, by an act, namely trapping and leaving for a number of hours, and you knew or ought reasonably to have known that the act would have that effect or be likely to do so. 

When Mr Hartley was asked how did he plead, guilty or not guilty, he stated "not guilty". 

The offences came to light after the RSPB had installed a camera within the boundary of the Bleasdale Estate overlooking an occupied Peregrine Falcons nest on the estate. Footage captured showed an individual in camouflage clothing, setting a spring trap near the nest containing eggs. The female Peregrine was shown leaving her nest followed by 4 gunshots, after which the female Peregrine did not return to the nest. The male Peregrine remained at the site all day, believed to have been trapped in the device set earlier near the nest. Later in the evening a person is seen returning to the nest site and removing something. 

The lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service explained that the defendant is the gamekeeper for this particular ‘beat’ on the Bleasdale Estate and during a police search of his property a bag was seized containing a number of tools. A forensic analysis showed that a wooden-handled hammer and an orange-handled knife both contained Peregrine DNA. 

The defendant gave a ‘no comment’ interview. 

The next court hearing is scheduled to take place on 11 January 2018 at Preston Magistrates Court and is expected to deal with legal arguments about the admissibility of video evidence. These legal arguments are likely to be crucial, for example did the estate provide approval to install the camera at an occupied Peregrine nest, and if so were any pre-conditions agreed between the RSPB and estate owner? Depending on the outcome of that hearing, a preliminary trial date was set to begin on 12 February 2018 and was expected to last for five days.” 

Peregrine Falcon

Readers, please ensure that the above account of this case reaches as many animal lovers as possible via Twitter, Facebook or whatever means possible. Just below this post you will see click-on buttons to Twitter, Facebook or email.

Linking this post to  Anni's Birding Blog.



Thrush Rush

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
There was no post-Ophelia rush of Redwings on Wednesday with just a single one caught out of the less than 40 birds on the move. Andy and I met up again on Thursday where we hoped to improve on our previous catch and also to witness something in the way of visible migration. October is generally one of the better months to do so, weather permitting. 

Visible migration "vis-mig" is the observation of bird migration during daylight hours, a bird watching principle pioneered by Dutch ornithologists in the 1940's. At suitable locations and at the appropriate times of the year it is possible to detect bird migration as birds follow their favoured habitats and routes to reach their destinations. 

Under certain conditions at Oakenclough, near Barnacre on the edge of the Pennines and looking north to distant Morecambe Bay about 12 miles away, we sometimes see migration in action. This is especially so in the autumn when birds on migration south pass to the west of us as they keep the coast in sight, and/or they fly to the east by following the Pennine escarpment. Many times they simply pass directly overhead and,  if we are lucky, a number of birds decide to rest up and feed in the woodland plantation that is our ringing site. 

Location of Oakenclough ringing site

Thursday proved to be one such occasion, a morning to witness visible migration on a large scale. The highlight of our five plus hours, and taking opportunities between spells of ringing birds, we counted a prolonged passage of some 2,350+ Redwings and hundreds of finches - 250+ Chaffinches, 40+ Goldfinches, 40+ Lesser Redpolls and 2+ Bramblings. 

The first Redwings arrived from all directions north soon after dawn with a continuous arrival until we left soon after midday. Parties and flocks numbered anywhere between 5 and 130 birds, some of which fed on site for a while before they carried on south and out of sight. Our count of 2,350 Redwings can be considered a minimum within our narrow corridor of observation and when birds flew north to south on a broad east to west front 

Mixed in with the large number of Redwings were a handful of larger thrushes and which from a distance in the grey, cloudy morning we assumed were Fieldfares. Further into the morning and when we actually caught two Mistle Thrush, most unusual in itself and in the absence of any definite Fieldfares, we decided that our earlier sightings were Mistle Thrushes migrating with the Redwing flocks. So now well into October I have yet to see a definite Fieldfare, and they too are a little late to appear in numbers.

Finch arrivals started later in the morning with groups and small flocks of between 4 and 40 birds. A single Chaffinch proved to be the only one caught out of the several hundred on the move as none of the flocks stopped off to feed. We had better luck with Lesser Redpolls and added another eight to our recent catches of the species. 

In all we caught 50 of the birds that stopped off in the plantation - 23 Redwing, 8 Lesser Redpoll, 6 Goldfinch, 5 Goldcrest, 2 Mistle Thrush, 2 Blue Tit and singles of Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Great Tit. 

Redwing

Lesser Redpoll

Redwing

Mistle Thrush

Mistle Thrush

Chaffinch

 Other birds seen – 4 Pied Wagtail, 1 Sparrowhawk, 2 Buzzard. 

 
Hurricane Brian

Seems there’s another hurricane on the way - a Storm Bomb named Brian. Don’t you just love the British weather?

Linking today to viewingnaturewitheileen.blogspot.co.uk/.



Goodbye Ophelia. Hello Birds.

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Thank goodness. Hurricane Ophelia passed over us without doing too much damage apart from destroying any chance of birding or ringing. Hopefully, and as the wind subsided throughout Tuesday night, it opened up a window of opportunity for migration to take place. 

I met with Andy at 0645 on Wednesday morning at Oakenclough where the trees barely moved in the still of post-dawn. We set up shop and hoped for a good catch of birds to ring and where with a little time between the processing of birds we might observe “vis-mig”, visible migration.
 
The Ringing Point

It’s in the half-light that we mostly catch Redwings but we caught just the one this morning. And then within an hour of dawn that small arrival of Redwings stopped completely and we caught no more. Of the forty or so Redwings that arrived in fives and tens most did so from the east and then left very quickly and headed off west towards the coast.

Redwing

Redwing

The hoped for vis-mig continued to be very slow with movement comprised of the early Redwings and groups of Woodpigeons totalling 90+ flying strongly south and quite high in the clear skies. It was almost 10am before finches appeared in the shape and sounds of Lesser Redpolls, Chaffinches and Goldfinches. Even then the large number of 120+ Goldfinches comprised of probably local feeding flocks as distinct from true migrants. Small numbers of Lesser Redpoll arrived and also Chaffinches but not in the numbers we hoped for. And where are the Siskins this year? 

Mostly our birds arrived unseen in the form of Goldcrests, an unexpected Reed Bunting and a rather nice first year Blackcap. We made up our total of 38 birds with the usual Blue Tits, Great Tits and local Goldfinch.

Total - 38 new birds of 9 species with nil recaptures from previous occasions. 11 Goldcrest, 7 Lesser Redpoll, 8 Goldfinch, 4 Great Tit, 4 Blue Tit, singles of Blackcap, Reed Bunting, Dunnock and Redwing. 

Dunnock

Blackcap

Lesser Redpoll
 
Goldfinch

Other birds seen this morning 2 Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 4+ Pied Wagtail, 4+ Bullfinch, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker.

Stay tuned. We may try again tomorrow if the weather holds.




First Redwings

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Tuesday 10th October. There was a chance of Redwings this morning after a good number were seen in the UK in the last few days, mainly on the east coast. I’d seen a handful of Redwings over the house early on Monday so hoped that Tuesday might be suitable for ringing up at Oakenclough with an opportunity to catch our first Redwings of the autumn. The forecast of an early 15 mph wind, cloud and showers was rather marginal but after some deliberation we decided to go for it on the basis that on a westerly the nets are fairly sheltered, and also on the expectation this might be the only suitable day of the week. 

I met up with Andy at 0645 when it was still quite dark and very soon after dawn we caught the first couple of Redwings and then a few more as the morning continued. We finished at 11.30 with a good mix of 12 species and 51 birds in total which included eight Redwings. 

Species and numbers: 16 Goldfinch, 12 Goldcrest, 8 Redwing, 3 Lesser Redpoll, 3 Great Tit, 2 Chaffinch, 2 Blue Tit, 1 Coal Tit, 1 Blackbird, 1 Blackcap, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Reed Bunting. 

Redwing - first autumn/winter

Redwing

We aged and sexed the Reed Bunting as a first autumn/winter male. 

Reed Bunting

 The single Blackcap proved to be an adult female. 

Blackcap

Our catch of Lesser Redpolls was smaller than recent weeks and almost certainly due to the bluster and short, sharp, showers. Below is an adult male. 

Lesser Redpoll
 
The morning’s visible migration was not especially eventful but even as the wind dropped with clearing skies about 10am, any arrival or movement of birds was hardly noticeable. The highlight was the 90+ Redwings we counted in singles, small parties, or the biggest one of 30+ birds which arrived without any obvious directional movement during the cloudy and showery period. 

Otherwise our biggest counts came from the number of Goldfinches about in small parties that totalled over 100 individuals. The Goldfinches we caught came mostly from our feeders that are designed to catch mainly Goldfinch, Lesser Redpoll and Siskin. 

Others noted this morning: 2 Jays, the first seen or heard here for many months. Also, 8 Pied Wagtail, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Raven, 1 + Bullfinch.

Linking this post to Anni's Birding, Eileen's Saturday and Stewart's World Bird Wednesday.




Out For The Count

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Sunday morning and there was time for a gentle run around the block before rain arrived about 10 o’clock. 

I was early enough to check Lane Ends where Little Egrets were beginning to leave their tree roost. Second one out was a Great White Egret, followed by 32 Little Egrets and then four or more Little Egrets still sat in the trees when I left 20 minutes later. Scattered across the marsh was a count of several thousand Pink-footed Goose, perhaps up to 9/10,000 and 29 Whooper Swans. Also, two male Sparrowhawks flew in and out of the trees in a rather strange way and I got the impression that they were not adversaries but perhaps siblings of the family that bred here this year. 

Just up the road at Gulf Lane I dropped seed at the Linnet project. There have been 100+ Linnets for a couple of weeks now but we’ve not been able to ring there due to constant wind across the open field. Patience is the name of the game and we know we will get a go eventually, preferably when numbers have built to 200+. 

There was a Barn Owl this morning on the distant fence and also a Kestrel, both birds showing a particular interest in one patch of ground. Three Swallows flew quickly through heading south-east. 

Barn Owl

Conder Pool was rather quiet again with few birds to set the pulse racing. A Common Sandpiper is still around, perhaps destined to be this year’s wintering one. Also, 40 Lapwing and 8 Snipe but a handful only of both Curlew and Redshank.  Apologies for the poor shots, the light was poor. 

Curlew

Redshank

In the wildfowl stakes - 84 Teal, 12 Little Grebe, 2 Wigeon, 1 Cormorant and 1 Goosander. 

It was spitting with rain when I checked the flood at Pilling/Rawcliffe where I found 40 grounded Meadow Pipit, 18 Pied Wagtail, 40 Linnet, a Grey Heron and a single Buzzard. 

The rain didn’t last long and by now and back home I found more to do. All week there’s been waves of Goldfinch coming through so I set a single net in the garden for a few hours. 

I ended up with a catch of 2 Robin, 1 Blackbird, 1 Dunnock and 16 Goldfinch, a bonus for the day’s birding. All but one of the Goldfinches proved to be juvenile/first autumn birds. I could not sex a couple of them as even now in early October they had yet to attain sufficient head colour to determine male or female.  Is breeding well into September part of the secret of the Goldfinch’s success of recent tears? 

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

Dunnock

And now own up, who thought that the Robin in their back garden was always the same one? 

Robin
 
More birds soon with Another Bird Blog.


Into The Moonlight

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
At last, a morning without a howling wind and rain with a chance to do some ringing. I met Andy at Oakenclough at 0645, just before dawn in the light of a full moon. 

Full Moon

Nets were up in double quick time in readiness for whatever arrived on site. After more than a week of poor weather where little migration took place we hoped for an interesting and productive morning. 

As predicted there was a light wind and sun from the off. After 5 hours we were pleased enough with our steady but unspectaular catch of 35 new birds and five recaptures making up the total of 41 birds. Lesser Redpoll topped the score sheet for the first time ever here with finches outnumbered by tits, although our five recaptures were Blue, Great and Coal Tit from recent times. 

Totals caught: 9 Lesser Redpoll, 9 Great Tit, 6 Coal Tit, 5 Blue Tit, 5 Goldfinch, 3 Meadow Pipit, 3 Goldcrest, 1 Chaffinch. 

We catch fewer Meadow Pipits than Tree Pipits here in the hills so we made a special effort today to even up the score. 

Meadow Pipit

This is the last year that we separate Lesser Redpoll and Common (Mealy) Redpoll because from January the two species are “lumped” together as one (again); and not before time in my humble opinion. 

At this time of the year most of our redpolls are left unsexed as they show very little if any redness in their body plumage, especially so if they are birds of the year,

Lesser Redpoll

Below is a first winter male Chaffinch. Easy enough to age via tertial colour, tail wear and colour contrast in the primaries, even in the field for those birders so inclined to show their prowess in  the often erroneous world of competitive birding. 

Chaffinch

Goldfinch

In the clear skies the visible migration this morning was far from spectacular with small groups of Lesser Redpoll and Goldfinch as the main constituents but noticeably few Chaffinches, hence the single one caught. 

Otherwise we noted 6-8 Swallows, a number of on-high Meadow Pipits, 5 Pied Wagtail and 1 Grey Wagtail but quite a number of birds too high to identify with any certainty. It was 10.30 before Buzzards took to the warming air whereupon we counted 6 or more in the sky together with one Kestrel.

Linking today to  Anni's Birding and Eileen's Blog.



This And That – Sunday October 1st

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
A run around the block on Saturday before the rains came didn’t produce too much in the way of birds. Sunday and it's still raining. 

I checked out the Linnet flock at Gulf Lane in the hope of a ringing session soon but a glance at the weather for the coming week doesn’t hold out much hope. While I was away in Greece Andy added another 25 Linnets and a handful of Goldfinch to the totals. Looking today most of the Goldfinch seemed to have moved on with the flock of 100+ birds almost exclusively Linnet. October is the peak migration time for Linnets so we expect the flock to increase again soon and also that those birds will include Linnets from further afield. 

Of course in Greece I’d missed the mid-September first arrivals of Pink-footed Geese to Lancashire but rather made up for it with many skeins flying off the marsh and over my head towards an inland destination. I’d counted more than 1700 in dozens of flocks before the movement died off and I too moved on. 

Pink-footed Geese

There was a Wheatear on the gateposts at Braides Farm with approximately 90 Lapwing and 100 Curlew scattered across the long grassy fields. 

Wheatear

A good find on a flooded field at Pilling/Rawcliffe Moss was a single Ruff feeding amongst a flock of 95 Lapwing but little else with a Saturday shoot with its accompanying noise and disturbance about to begin. 

Ruff

So in the absence of local news, and not much prospect for the coming week against the tail ends of two hurricanes, here’s more from Greece, 14-28 September 2017. 

A friendly horse - Platanias, Skiathos
 
Alonisos, Skiathos

The Yellow-legged Gulls of Skiathos are quite unlike our large UK gulls in exploiting the process of rubbish disposal and the British love of feeding birds. The Yellow-legged Gulls of Skiathos rarely come ashore but spend their time feeding offshore and sitting on the mostly flat sea, apart from on windy days. It was along the shore here at Alonisos that we had super views of an Eleonora's Falcon as one dashed left to right and quickly out of sight after being chased off by a Kestrel. 

Yellow-legged Gulls, Alonisos, Skiathos

I didn’t get any new birds this year but had a butterfly “tick” by way of a White Admiral Limenitis arthemis, a woodland species that we found along the margins of an olive grove near Alonisos. It took me a while to find this on Google because perhaps naturally enough, I searched for “black butterfly”. Doh! Seemingly, this species occurs in the UK and is increasing. 

White Admiral

We saw many, many Swallowtails this year, probably hundreds - a very beautiful butterfly that we also see during May in Menorca. “Papilio demoleus is an aggressive and very common butterfly. It is perhaps the most widely distributed swallowtail in the world.” – Wiki. 

Swallowtail

Below is yet another Red-backed Shrike and then a Whinchat. We saw very few Whinchats this year due to the lack of migrant birds as a whole. Also, not a single Wheatear and very few Yellow Wagtails. 

Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike

Whinchat

I knew that Spotted Flycatchers occasionally eat fruit but never witnessed it until this year in Skiathos. In the dry summer of Greece blackberries aren’t nearly as plump as those from a UK hedgerow but clearly good enough for a Spotted Flycatcher. 

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher

Skiathos

The Boat Yard, Skiathos

Stay tuned for more news, views and photos soon.

Linking today to Stewart's World Bird Wednesdasy.

Home From Skiathos

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Sue and I are back from Greece and as usual, up to our ears in catch-up with friends and family. Until I get up and running with birding I put together a few pictures of the last two weeks in Skiathos. Please "click the pics" for better views.

Two weeks of late September wall-to-wall sunshine, temperatures in the thirties and not a cloud in the deep blue Skiathos sky. I found myself feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the almost total lack of birdlife during what should be a period of peak migration. Yes, we saw House Sparrows, Collared Doves, swallows, and hundreds of the ubiquitous Hooded Crow and Yellow-legged Gull but had to search hard to find the limited number of migrants hiding from the burning midday sun. 

Nr Ligaries, Skiathos

Agia Paraskevi, Skiathos

The Bourtzi, Skiathos Town

The Bourtzi, Skiathos Town

Skiathos Town

The ferry - Skopelos to Skiathos and vice versa 

Where to go - Skiathos Town

 Coffee Time - Skiathos Town

I have experienced this strange sensation before on Skiathos and also on islands such as Menorca, Lanzarote, and closer to home on Bardsey Island and North Ronaldsay. Such times reinforce the understanding of the effect of the weather on bird migration during spring and autumn when theoretically there should be migrant birds at every turn but when ideal holiday weather makes for poor birding. A drop or two of overnight rain or preferably one of the famous Skiathos thunderstorms would have made for interesting mornings but it was not to be. 

It was in the relative cool of the hills and the monastery gardens that we found Spotted Flycatchers together with small numbers of Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Garden Warblers and Eastern Olivaceous Warblers. Up here close to the pine forests we saw Honey Buzzards circling and small numbers of Bee Eaters and swallows, both Common and Red-rumped. 

Church at Evangelistria
 
To the Monastery

Spotted Flycatcher
 
Willow Warbler

Red-backed Shrike

Red-rumped Swallow

Hooded Crow

Unlike our own farmland Barn Swallow the Red-rumped Swallow is a bird of the open hilly country of southern Europe and Asia where they build quarter-sphere nests with a tunnel entrance lined with mud collected in their beaks. They normally nest under cliff overhangs in their mountain homes, but will readily adapt to buildings and bridges. 

Red-rumped Swallow

It doesn’t matter where you go in Skiathos. There’s always a Red-backed Shrike to enliven proceedings and inevitably one that lacks any red in the plumage but displays the autumn russets of a juvenile or female.

The Red-backed Shrike is a very common bird in all of Greece and the Greek Islands, and a bird well known to Aristotle, the original Greek birder. The Latin/scientific name of the Red-backed Shrike is Lanius collurio, the genus name, Lanius derived from the Latin word for "butcher" and the specific collurio is from Ancient Greek “kollurion”. 

Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike

In the pine forests there are fire crews on permanent watch to ensure that help quickly reaches any conflagration. A few years ago forest fires in mainland Greece spread by strong winds across the waters of the Aegean to the islands of Skiathos and Skopelos where they devastated huge swathes of forest and claimed many lives. Only now have the forests recovered. 

Fire Crew - Skiathos

Our forest dwelling Jimny

Spotted Flycatcher

From the forested Kanapitsa peninsula of Skiathos it is possible to see the church of Agios Ioannis Kastri out towards the neighbouring island of Skopelos and where scenes of Mamma Mia were filmed. The film runs through the summer season in the open air cinema in Skiathos Town. The church stands on top of a rock and provides amazing view to the coasts of Skopelos and to Alonissos. Its name actually means Saint John on the Castle, assuming that probably there was a small castle there in the past to protect the island from pirates.

The "Mamma Mia" church of Agios Ianiss Kastri

Open Air Cinema - Skiathos Town

Me? I'd rather be birding than watch that awful film. Log in soon for more birding.

Linking today with Eileen's Blog and Anni's Birding.
  

Home from Home

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Sorry there’s no recent news. Sue and I are in Skiathos, Greece for a few days. Back soon but in the meantime there are pictures from recent years in Skiathos. Enjoy, and don’t forget to “click the pics” of Skiathos and its birds. 

 Skiathos - centre right

Red-backed Shrike

Hooded Crow

Hoopoe

Yellow Wagtail

Skiathos Town

Skiathos Town

Skiathos Town

Kechria

Isabelline Wheatear

Whinchat

Little Egret

Yellow Wagtail

To The Beach


 Alonisos -Skiathos

 
Skiathos - Kastro

Skiathos

 
Woodchat Shrike

Eleonora's Falcon

Red-backed Shrike

European Shag

Koziakis - Skiathos Town

View towards Skiathos Town

Let's finish with a video of Skiathos. It features the headland of Kastro where the Eleonora's Falcons spend the summer months . Enjoy.   





Back soon.