Friday, March 27, 2009
Yesterday was the day that all the passage birds came through my patch, and it will continue again today. The fly through Osprey, the Boney knocking about with the last of the Black Heads, the first singing Chiffchaff and of course the over shot Hoopoe. I know this will have happened because I didn't get out yesterday and nor will I today (thanks to the supervision of the removal of an RSJ yesterdayand a bidness lunch today).
So instead of an idiosynchratic take on what I have seen in the last 24 hours, have some pictures of a Heron from earlier in the week. My field craft was so awesome in my approach to this one, that I totally freaked out a bloke reading the paper in a quiet spot that he thought I was a wierd stalker and promptly upped sticks and farked orph.
They have been taken with my perhaps unique technique of Digi-monocularising™, or Digimonning™. This technique involves sticking the camera at the end of a monocular and taking two hundred photos in the hope that one is half decent.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
And in the world of a certain pair of coots that live on the Wandle, this is quite an apt description of yesterdays events. The tide was well in and when I arrived they were frantically swimming around with random twigs, trying to make a difference...
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Well that didn’t last long did it? Spring sprung and then pissed off again. Strong cold winds, dull skies, chilly hands etc, but now there are no gulls to while away the time on the river bank with. I ventured out first thing anyway, cursing to myself about the lack of avifauna – but the reality was that in a short 20 minute spell I did manage to pick up 18 species (including a pair of Gadwall on the river), and a singing Dunnock shortly after that. So it’s not really as bad as all that I guess.
Here is a new photo from this morning of the attenuation ponds by the new build on the saaarf side. I have pics of this area through it’s development and intend to have a full and detailed post/report on the said ponds (new habitat! Wahey!) which will be stunningly exciting, and possibly free of anglo-saxon invective.
And the big blokes in the boat? They are in some race down the Thames next month, in which they, or the other team, will win. Again.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
It would seem that over the weekend the vast majority of the Black Headed Gulls have all but disappeared – which is a harbinger of springy type events as one assumes that they are off to breed. On this stretch of the river at low(ish) tide in the winter, there would be two or three hundred along the foreshore along with the smattering of Common, Herring and BB’s. Today I spent an hour on the bank without seeing a single specimen land. A half dozen or so flew over the bridge, but that was it.
In the spirit of post continuity, here is a Grebe.
Monday, March 16, 2009
This was about as active as we saw - although the nice chap from last week was about (John he said is name was) and he had loads of action!
Friday, March 13, 2009
If this follows the normal procedure, they will mate again shortly, the nest will be improved and raised. If they are lucky enough to raise it higher there still could be success.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Subsequent to yesterdays observation of the mentalist Coots nest material collection, I wandered further up the river today to have a look to see if they are actually making a nest and what stage they are at.
Well, they are making a nest in the upturned shopping trolley and ski ensemble as they did last year (assuming that it is the same pair).
Already they are sitting on the nest.
And they have four eggs in the nest.
Which are doomed.
As I follow the drama (a sort of ornithological film noir), I shall of course update you dear reader. When I see the blog followers withdrawing and the Fatbirder ranking heading back towards four figures, I’ll know that you’ve had enough.
In the meantime, have an arty farty pic of a Grey Wag from yesterday.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Well seeing as you asked, no the Grebes did not perform their foreplay dance yesterday but seemed more interested in actually building a nest. Nicely for me this seems to be on the corner of the dog leg of the river, possibly the only place on this little stretch that I cannot see. So in place of the spectacular watery extravaganza, have a picture of a small bird that I photographed badly.
However, did see this.
Yes, it is a Coot. And yes, it has nest material in it's gob.
To you this may seem mundane, to me this is the beginning of Groundhog Summer. Look at the mad red eye, and the steely determination to fulfill it's evolutionary destiny. This bird is beginning to make a nest in an area where it cannot succeed. Unless of course, it has learned from last years debacle. Now as my observations of the pair of Coots in this area last summer showed me, they have a fucking hard job remembering what happened yesterday (even if yesterday involved having the nest flooded out and the eggs sinking into the waters of the Wandle).
There will be, I am sure, considerable numbers of updates on these mentalists over the coming weeks....
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
As I may have intimated, I’m going to be trying to find the Great Crested Grebes and their mad courtship stuff this week. I’ll have high tides at lunchtime all week which helps. According to my notes, they were still at it at the beginning of April last year, and as they have started already this year, I might be in with a chance of witnessing the full blown courtship if I keep my focus on them for a week or so. Or that’s the plan. Offering rubbish photos may be secondary to the actual observation, and they are pretty evasive little bastards any way. But this was how far they got yesterday.
They began this in one area, and moved off pretty quick upstream, where I cannot follow due to the electricity substation. So I bypassed that and waited for them further up river, and they eventually came quite close (that old school field craft again folks) but not doing much at the same time mind you... so all I got was one doing a Shaky impression.
Monday, March 09, 2009
Being a creature of habits and simple pleasures, Saturday was given over to the Hyde Park Owls again. They are bigger than they were and can now fly. We were not aware of this until they started clambering about and rather than falling when they launched themselves, they flew and didn’t fall. There was the perhaps inevitable comic moment when one landed on the male who promptly flew to another tree.
Have a picture.
There was the usual assortment of birders and hangers on, and it helps to remind me why speaking to birders can be infuriating as they can be such a pretentious and snobbish lot. There was a thoroughly nice chap (whose name I didn’t get) who was there for a couple of hours with us who gave me a gentle ribbing about my old school optics, but was humble enough to use my scope for a little digital photography… The mental posh dude turned up again, but I’m warming to him – a little English eccentricity does no harm. We were riffing for a bit about the function of eye lashes within Eurasian avian predators. Rockin!
Other birders were largely annoying, and remarkably dismissive of the situation, some only staying long enough to get the fancy optics out, clock the bird and fuck off. But there you go, nowt stranger than folk.
There were parakeets nearby, have a picture.
Heard a Green Woodpecker, saw a Great Spot and the usual passerines were kicking about.
And I managed to dip on the Med Gull twice in a day. Bummer.
And uncharacteristically off topic, Ayr United went top of the league after thumping Stranraer 5-0 on Saturday. A win at Raith next week and the title is in the bag!
Saturday, March 07, 2009
Friday, March 06, 2009
I went to Suffolk on 'bidness' yesterday, and saw very little of interest ornithologically. Suffolk is nice (see the pic), and I was almost within smelling distance of Havergate.
Once the job was done, I informed my minion that we would stop for lunch at the nearest pretty laybay type thing. Which we did. There was a Great Tit wheezing in a tree, and a LTT which finished each of the Great Tit's syllables with a short peep. Weird. Jackdaws were knocking about in the distance. Not very exciting. Once the brief scoff was over we set off and a couple of corners later we found a parking area, by a river which was at low tide and gulls were present on the foreshore. This would have been a much better place to have lunch, so I pretty much fucked that opportunity up.
I have to go to a public house at lunchtime, again on 'bidness' so will not be out on the patch. Wheatears have been seen recently at the Wetland Centre, and Sand Martins are starting to move through but I have not seen any (yet). Next weeks focus is going to be on trying to find Grebes mating.
That is the state of affairs, as they stand. Right now.
Thursday, March 05, 2009
I watched Nature’s Great Events last night, and the footage of the Gannets was truly spectacular. The distant shots of the large flock machine gunning into the sardine shoal was just stunning. I basically sat in front of the tellybox swearing my tits off as the film got better and better. It wasn’t a conversation, just a one way ornithological tuourette’s. A kind of jizz-jazz free form improv swearing.
“Fucking look at that!”
I found a Stock Dove on the foreshore yesterday, which is only the second time I have seen them in the patch. This is the patch equivalent of african Gannets going ballistic into the sea.
No, I know, I’m struggling to believe that myself.
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
A new webolink is on the right, which thanks to Jim and James shows blogs in a map format and it's filling up quick!
In the UK there seems to be a massive bias to the north west - are you guys the only ones with anything worth seeing? Do northerners have a disposition for blogging? I dunno, but at the moment I'm the only one in London.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Kind of. From the weekend - note the sand! Thanks largely to Mrs Thing's chum making...
1st winter Med.
Pirates avast! Or something.
Adult Med. Saw this bird in the winter a couple of times, and now it looks different.
And if you look hard enough in this one, you can see a Barn Owl. A secret location that turns them up from time to time.
Monday, March 02, 2009
Another in the series of frivolous and daft bird names courtesy of Bo Boelens' book (if I plug it enough do I get boosted up the Fatbirder ranks perhaps?).
Now most birders will have heard of Spix’s Macaw, due mainly to the fact that there are not very many of them at all. Anywhere.
Well today’s offering isn’t that. A contemporary of Spix (a naturalist that had that particular parrot particularnamed after him) also went of to study things in Brazil on the same expedition (and no doubt shot a large portion of the findings). Anyway, his name was Natterer and he was Austrian. The sensible thing would have to have given him a parrot too, as Natterer’s Parrot would have been great – or maybe an amphibian even (his Christian name was Johann, so he could possibly have been called Jack...), but no.
He got a bat - Natterer’s Bat. Fine with that. Might even have seen one.
He got a bird – Natterer’s Slaty Antshrike. Which although clumsy, tickles no funny bones.
And then someone (Temminck I reckon) gave him another bird – Natterers Vizer Bearer, which does.
Obviously I have to know what a vizer is…
1 definition found vizer - Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :
Vizier \Viz"ier\, n. [Ar. wez[imac]r, waz[imac]r, properly, a bearer of burdens, a porter, from wazara to bear a burden:
A councilor of state; a high executive officer in Turkey and other Oriental countries
So this cruel, cruel, vindictive man was using these tiny little birds as his bloody porters.
Must have looked impressive though, turning up to the campsite of an evening with loads of these birds flying behind him with all his leather cases and guns in their claws…