Three Of A Kind

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
We had a drop of rain on Friday; the first here for several weeks, just a few showers that barely wet our parched, straw coloured lawn and briefly dampened the roof tiles. By Saturday morning we were back to sun and blue skies but I rather hoped that the scattered showers had produced a different bird or two as the birding of late has been rather predictable.So I hit Micawber Road at the usual unearthly hour in the hope that something might turn up.  Naturally I headed for Conder Green, one of the most productive of local birding sites and where a couple of extra places are but a stone’s throw away to make for an often satisfying circuit.It was good to see up to 20 Swifts hawking insects over the surrounding hedgerows this morning. That’s probably as good a count as anyone has had this year.July sees the first Kingfishers returni...
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Dove Tales

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
I found an interesting piece on-line about the work of scientists at Lincoln University UK. It concerns the Turtle Dove, another rapidly declining bird of British farmland. The Turtle Dove is without doubt the most beautiful of the UK family of wild doves and pigeons. Turtle Dove  Turtle Doves are pretty rare on the west coast where I live but they cling on in southern and eastern parts of the UK. Many years ago I used to see lots of Turtle Doves on family drives to the east coast of the UK when groups of the doves would scatter at sight of an approaching car. Like those other members of the pigeon family, Collared Dove, Stock Dove and Woodpigeon, the Turtle Dove is not averse to early morning feeds along the carriageways of major roads where they find grit essential to grind up their diet of grain. I believe that those s...
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Making Hay

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
Thursday. Sitting in the shade of the old apple tree with a cup of PG Tips while reading more of Unnatural Selection felt like a good plan.But then the dawn of yet another sunny day set me off on a trip over the meandering lanes of Stalmine moss. Eight weeks of this fine weather means we’ll pay big time when it finally breaks but in the meantime it’s “make hay” for birders and sun-worshippers alike.Stalmine, Fylde There’s been a Corn Bunting or two singing of late but no firm evidence of breeding intent, and I know from experience the Corn Bunting is very secretive when it comes to giving away their ground nest hidden in an expanse of monoculture. A needle in a haystack has nothing on a Corn Bunting nest. But, there was a bunting singing from directly above the road only 40 yards away from the regular song post; if it’s t...
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Unnatural Selection by Katrina van Grouw. A Book Review.

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
I came across Katrina van Grouw’s work as an author in 2012 when I reviewed her first book The Unfeathered Bird here on the blog. The book was somewhat unique, a seamless marriage of instructive art and natural science which portrayed Katrina’s talent as a self-taught scientist and a gifted illustrator of animals. That first book was an impressive and quite remarkable début. And now I have a copy of Katrina’s second book for review. It is even more outstanding and stimulating than the first; a brilliant concept that is quite stunning in its presentation and execution. Unnatural Selection -  Princeton University PressUnnatural Selection is a celebration of the work of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s classic work The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (1868). Darwin’s m...

Another Bag Of Smarties

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Tuesday morning 0630. I met up with Andy at Cockerham quarry where we hoped to catch up with Sand Martins (Smarties). It had been too long since the last visit but an unavoidable break in our plans - Last time.On that occasion we caught 63 new Sand Martins, all of them adults, late May being too early for any young martins to be around. We did slightly better this morning by way of 67 Sand Martins, 57 of them new to us plus 8 recaptures from earlier this year and 2 from 2017. Of the 57 new, 40 proved to be adults, split 50/50 male/female together with 17 fresh juveniles. The colony seemed to be well on with their second brood, some females in the throes of egg laying.  Sand Martin - juvenile Sand Martin - adult We’d finished our work by 9 o'clock so I went up to Glasson and Conder for a quick check. Fresh arriv...

Twitchers are Losers?

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Isn't good to see a little controversy in the birding world now and then. Even if it's an old chestnut. From 10,000 Birds June 30th 2018. Twitchers are Losers."Everyone likes to see a rare bird. Whether it’s new for your life list, country list, state list, or county list, a new bird is a joy, a blessing. But listing, especially in a limited geographical area, is a game of diminishing returns. After all, once you have checked a bird off of your checklist there is no checking it again (unless you are into year listing). What’s a motivated lister to do? Some folks who are really into listing figure out what birds they still need for their list that are still at least theoretically possible to see and come up with strategies to see them. They wait for the winds to be right for a lake watch, sea watch, or hawk watch. They put them...

Mixed Results

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Bird ringers around the country report mixed results with Barn Owls this year. Some say productivity is down while others say “normal” and yet others think the season is late. The Pilling owls were at it again this morning, hunting in bright sunshine for all to see. Maybe they are struggling to find food?  One owl appeared to want to hunt the roadside where the car was parked so after a few snaps I motored off and left them to the job in hand. Barn Owl Barn Owl Barn Owls are highly dependent upon a healthy population of their main prey voles, both water vole and field vole, but they also take mice, shrews and rats. The abundance of voles in particular fluctuates strongly with peaks occurring at intervals of three to four years. The peculiar feature of voles is that autumn population densities can attain a coupl...
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Early Doors

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I’m trying to pack some early starts in these now longest days even though the birding is a little unexciting and predictable until July kicks in. There was a fine start this morning but cloud increased quite quickly and I found myself back home in time for morning coffee and a Rich Tea. Early Start - Cockerham Without the morning traffic it’s surprising just what can be heard across the quiet moss roads. I located both Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting by their respective far-carrying songs but each was a good 60+ yards away. Further along the same route I found a second Corn Bunting, two more Yellowhammers and a party of six Mistle Thrushes. Six is a good number together at this time of year and the likelihood is that they were one family group from one very crowded nest. Corn Bunting I stopped in a farm gateway to che...
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Underground And Overground.

Posted on - In Another Bird Blog
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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