Sunday, January 28, 2007

More garden stuff

Managed to get my own Woodcock by nipping down through Richard's wood, not in the garden but nearby. Also from there lots of Redwing and Fieldfare and 2 Mallard.

Not so many Chaffinch today but the Common Gull flock was at about 2,000. Yellowhammer seem much more abundant than a week ago, the cold weather pulling them in to the food perhaps - probably 8 or 9 different ones around the garden - maybe more.

At Sandsend the sea was very rough, only a Red-throated Diver and Grey Wagtail were of note.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Big Garden Bird Count day

Did my count first thing(ish). Chaffinch scored just under the 100 and there were plenty of Yellowhammer about (5 at once under the feeders). Brambling were sadly absent and only a few of the 150 Redwing came and sat in a garden tree. Fieldfares were flyovers so they didn't count. It was in the afternoon that more interesting things arrived with Common Gull up to 1,500, a Siskin on the nyjer feeder (first since the autumn on the feeders), Great spot on the peanuts and (possibly new from the garden) a Peregrine spent 10 minutes buzzing the other side of the dale.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

More garden birds

What's this under the kitchen window?

Snow prevented me getting to a meeting, so I diverted to home.

Louise had already flushed a Woodcock from a bramble patch up the garden - garden tick. But these were nice under the window. Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 22, 2007

Wham, bam, Peregrine slam

Usual sleepy exit from the car outside work, usual glance upwards as I head for the door, usual Herring Gulls decorating the church + feral pigs, then mayhem as two peregrines scream (literally) over the car park, bad-tempered chasing, sweep up high and go their separate ways. Good start - bad day though, so it goes.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Fixing the profile

I need to post this photo to fix the profile. Posted by Picasa

Scaling Dam and garden today

Two new drake Goldeneye to supplement the usual adult and sub-adult males - a total of at least 16 Goldeneye of all ages and genders. The male Long-tailed Duck was evident but no 1st winter. 2 Pink-feet were hiding amongst the Greylags. 26 Fieldfares went north-west. A good range and mix of species, although dabbling duck numbers were low. A record 5 House Sparrows were around the feeding stations.

Back home Fieldfares and Starlings were out in force with at least 350 Fieldfares, about 600 Starlings. There were 100 Redwing at least. Most of these would have remained hidden but for the raiding female Sparrowhawk. Common Gulls reached bout 350 also but only 2 Bl-h Gulls and no big ones today. The Magpie roost didn't seem to happen, although between 4 - 6 were hanging around the lower fields from late afternoon. A Grey Heron plodded around the lower fields from lunchtime. Chaffinch numbers seem steady but a small rise in greenfinch and Goldfinch numbers continues. Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bad Seawatching - No 2 (the answers)

Unsurprisingly no entries to the competition, this sea watching is after all very hard stuff. No prizes to give out, so I'll keep the bins. Here are the answers.

1. A classic case of "wrong place" Haderhaven is a harbour in the middle of Holland, less than ideal for a seawatch.
2. No bins - not a pair in sight, bins are the essential piece of kit you always have at the ready for a seawatch.
3. No soup (or tea, or coffee - acceptable alternatives) - another essential.
4. Two hats too few - three hats would be the minimum recommended.
5. Hands in trouser pockets. This can easily lead to the very worrying "damaged trousers" - an uncomfortable and usually seawatch terminating condition or even "too close to the birds" - generally a wet experience and equally terminal in respect of the seawatch.

Thanks again to Ed van zoonen for the use of his photo.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

So I'm told

4 Bullfinch in the garden, a record flock.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Rabbit stuff

The garden is still full of rabbits. I have a thing about introduced species - only Little Owl and Brown Hare (although that may be native) really escape my wrath. Rabbits don't only eat everything - even gooseberry bushes - they also cause a significant pot hole hazard for the casual wanderer. No longer. I have printed out these magnificent tips and hints and scattered them around the garden. (A much safer strategy than the fellow who dislikes moles and came up with a wild plan involving many metal stakes and lots of electricity = happy moles; dead fellow. Do follow the link.

Oops have discovered that the images were copyright from a book(s) by Andy Riley (and were taken down due to copyright issues). These are similar (in homage?). The originals are very clever (and funny in a Tebbit Spitting Image kind of a way).

Andy if you're reading I didn't really print out pirate images and scatter them all over the garden, no sireee.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Living room view

These feeders are a bit more distant and there's lots of wheat in the feed, thus the Pheasants. If the Pheasants aren't diving in its the jackdaws and Rooks, although they are more timid. We put a little feed on the ground but by putting a ground type mix in the feeders it falls to the floor over the day - well morning unless we refill them and so we get plenty of Chaffinch on the deck. Since we've been doing this the Chaffinch flock has generally been about 50 ish. Tree Sparrow has appeared once, Yellowhammer is a regular visitor. Posted by Picasa

Kitchen window view

The Great Spot is about 8feet from the sink. Posted by Picasa

Garden today

Star performer today was the Great Spot, as usual. The Chaffinch flock was at least 50 strong, Goldfinch are now up to 8. Of most interest was the magpie roost, just across the road, which hit a record 32. Magpie are quite hard to see here most of the time so it is interesting that so many come to roost. I should go and stand on top of the moor late one afternoon and see if any are coming in from the next dale or if they all originate from this one.

4 species of gull today but no great numbers, reflecting the numbers at Scaling. 9 GBbG with 4 Herring went through.

Yesterdays brief sortie to Scaling Dam in the late afternoon produced the 1st W LTD but very little else. Gulls were well down, only 250 Commons although the rough seas brought c50 GBbG. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bad Seawatching No1

WhitbyBirding seeks to improve your seawatching skills and knowledge. The world of the skilled seawatcher is a world of mystery and suspense. Hours of intense concentration rewarded with that 35 seconds of joy and excitement – ecstasy even. The world of the bad seawatcher is one of cold, wet misery, spilt tea and peeing all over your bins. The Bad Seawatching series is intended to help you avoid some of the seawatching beginners less comfortable mistakes. This series should transform the seawatching expeience for every birder that follows our expert advice.

The photograph (kindly supplied by Ed van zoonen) illustrates a number of elements of bad seawatching. (It should be pointed out at this stage that the three gentlemen in the photo may not intentionally be engaging in seawatching – but they could be, and if they are it is very bad seawatching indeed.)

Look carefully at the photograph. I will pick out a few issues for you:

1 Fire too small

2 Tripod in wrong place

3 Poor posture

Later in the series we will look at each of these elements in detail as well as examining crucial aspects like:

Wrong place

No notebook

Is it a bird?

Too much imagination

No soup

In the meantime can you find the 5 other elements of Bad Seawatching illustrated in Ed’s photo? You are welcome to post these in the comments section below. WhitbyBirding may even come up with a prize for the most accurate answers, well, maybe.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The return of the Long-tailed Ducks

Both LTDs were on Scaling this afternoon - although they took a bit of finding. The 1st W was eventually found towards - but not in - the Cleveland end and seen well from the Yorkshire end along the southern footpath. The hide was invaded by birders from Leeds on a day out, after a while one of them said, "Do you ever get Guillemots on here?" To which I replied that I'd not seen one. He then got me onto two small diving things way up the Yorkshire end by the orange bouy. 2 LTDs together, and in the gloom I managed to make out the plumes and pale head of one. It's not such a bad error at that range, especially as LTDs dive
just like the larger auks, flicking their wings out as they submerge. The male bird eventually made its way into the Cleveland end to roost in the bay just inside the county boundary. Also present were 5 Pink-feet. There had been 7 yesterday and 11 (including one that apparently had orange bare parts) the day before. Unfortunately when I popped in yesterday it was sans scope - a non-birding expedition diverted - so I couldn't check the 7 properly. Little else of note - very few gulls (but lots in Sandsend Bay). Rather irratating was the flock of 15+ geese that I got onto too late flying away into Yorkshire - I thought they might have been Barnacles, unfortunately the massed ranks of Leeds birders failed to get onto them also.

Sandsend was enlivend by our friends' young lad who took to winter bathing in all his clothes, he took some convincing not to join the Red-thoats et al permanently. 4 of afore mentioned Red-throats, 10 Shags, 2 Sanderling, 13 Ringed Plover, 2 Turnstone, 5 Redshank, 5 Common Scoter. Most interesting was the mass of birds around the very distant fishing boat but with haze it was just too far away to identifiy anything but a few Gannets.
 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New Year Greetings

Having left my notebook in the hide at Scaling on the last day of the year - thanks Martin for letting me know - now recovered by a flying visit on a non-birding day yesterday. Long-tailed Ducks appear to have gone - however, this is an old trick by these crafty quackers, I'll be surprised if they not seen again this month.

A new series for the New Year is in preparation - Bad Seawatching - WhitbyBirding's contribution to improving your seawatching skills - coming soon.