Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Now, one could anthropomorphise this whole situation, and if you did you would be sad because the Coots put in the effort to produce the eggs and one didn’t hatch, one nearly did, three did hatch but one chick didn’t last long. The two that were left were getting nicely plump just before they were eaten. If however, you don’t anthropomorphise the situation you will be glad to know that there is a Kestrel chick nearby with a nice fat stomach, full of Coot. Yummy.
With the loss of this nest, the birding interest on the patch is well and truly grinding to a summery halt.
Damselflies for sure.
Bugs if necessary.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Friday 25 June 2010
I was looking at this nest today and saw no young only the pair of adults - there was another coot nest much futher down the river - so I take it the young have been predated?
A bloody Hobby! FFS! It won't come back, as there are no hirundines or dragonflies to eat. I am as gutted as Frank Lampard. Truly, truly pissed off. A Hobby in the patch, and I missed it. Gutted.
And as for the Coots, that really is bad news. I'll be back, but what I'll have to show only the patch will tell...
Friday, June 25, 2010
Nothing to do with the wonderfully flatulent Johnny Fartpants I assure you, but it is to do with another kind of seemingly audible flatus.
Farting hirundines. The evocative and once widespread summer sound of a flying wet fart. Or more accurately the lack of hirundines round here and therefore the lack of wet farting noises. Or even more accurately the lack of a particular type of wet farting noise, as there are other birds that make wettish (damp?) farting noises that are similar to the wet farting noises that I wanted to hear, but hadn't heard, that on occasion sounded exactly like the wet farting noises I did want to hear. It got to such a point that the wet farting noises I was hearing were being dismissed as farting imposters without being considered properly. I refer to the wet farting noises I was hearing in the sky of course and not necessarily anything that was generated by your esteemed host's trouser department. Absolutely not, no.
However, I remain convinced that I didn’t rule out any wet farting noises without good reason (a birders farting jizz if you like), and until yesterday all wet farting noises were definitely the wrong farts. That's right, yesterday I heard wet farting noises in the sky and eventually, after much potty-mouthed mutterings, found the wet farting culprits and finally got the wet farting noise creators on the year list.
62 – House Martin x 3
And the Coots? No problems, they even have a drinking straw each.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Grey Wagtails have fledged for (at least) the second year in a row. Last year they fledged at the end of May, the two that I found yesterday were fresh out of the nest and there may be another to come. Nearly a months difference on the fledging time, so this time round I suspect that the first nest failed – and they didn’t nest in the same site as last year.
Here is one that has found a home on a mattress that was once in a Caravan.
Here is the other in a bush.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I still haven’t found the Grey Wagtail nest. There is one, of that I am sure. There is a female and a male Grey Wagtail, the male sings a lot and the female wasn’t seen for a while. Yesterday I saw both of them, in the same area at the same time and both had gobfulls of insects. One after another they flew to a similar place and then flew off. I think the nest may be underneath a bridge. But I thought that last year, and was very wrong. Elsewhere there was a couple of Common Terns floating up the Thames and some recently fledged Carrion Crows. Noisy Goldfinches, a flock of Long Tailed Tits. Greenfinches drinking from puddles in the road. Tufties floating. That kind of thing.
But you don’t care about all that, do you? You’ve come here to see what happened to the Coots and their chicks. You have come here for your daily dose of schadenfreude at my expense as I tear my hair out at the futility and desperation caused by the vicissitudes of one family of small water birds. Well dear reader, take that look off your face. I can see through your smile, you would love to be right and I’ll bet you didn’t sleep well last night. So here you are, here is the update what exactly has happened since the last instalment?
Well, not much actually. The big nest is a bit smaller, the little nest is a bit bigger and the two chicks are a bit bigger too.
Here is a picture that shows the size of the two nests in question.
Still, if this nest progresses well and I’m a bit short of Coot based drama – worry not – look what I found a mere four hundred yards from the shopping trolley!
Yep, it’s a fresh nest in a tidal river that isn’t high enough! Hurrah!
Monday, June 21, 2010
This is how it is. There are now two chicks, one has perished. It is no more. Predation? I don't think so, the site is just too tricky to access. The problem is this...
Saturday, June 19, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
And feeding it to four day old chicks for good measure. For those that thought that Coots just eat weeds, this may come as a pleasant surprise. I'm assuming that it is a Mitten Crab as they are not unknown in these parts, but one of the Coots did bring a crab to the nest yesterday. The legs and the insides went down quite easily. The chicks were not too keen on the shell though.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
...and Coots too.
While flicking between the improving Uruguay and Springwatch last night, I caught the bird race feature. Both teams ended up going to the Wetland Centre. Perhaps a little contrived, but perhaps not a surprise. The full details of the visit, I assume, will be in tonights programme which might be viewed depending on how bad France are (the worse they are, the less of Springwatch will be seen I reckon).
I'm supposing that they didn't realise how close they were to the 29th best patch in London, and how close they were to the drama unfolding in the Wandle. 2.1 miles - that's all. They could have had a wander around the patch and seen very little, and very easily too. A missed opportunity for sure.
The chick in the egg didn't make it and it is now flattened at the bottom of the nest. The fifth egg hasn't hatched. The three chicks remain in situ.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
...but what do you reckon this is?
Why it's a day old Coot chick you say. What's so special about that?
Perhaps if I put it in a little context for you...
Oh, you say. That looks like a nest in the river Wandle that has been built on a shopping trolley by two Coots, and by golly it looks like there is a chick on the nest.
That’s right dear reader, the Shopping Trolley Coots have, after at least three years of trying, incubated eggs successfully and now have young. I say it again - the Shopping Trolley Coots have, after at least three years of trying, incubated eggs successfully and now have young
No, I can hardly believe it myself either.
Lets have another view.
Yes, that is a Coot on a nest with a chick. Gobsmacked I am.
Yesterday, there were three chicks and the adult was still looking after an egg or two. The weather was overcast and threatening to rain, so being young they stayed close to the female.
I'll probably throw a cynical view in tomorrow, but for the moment just bask in the glory of persistence.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Let me illustrate this point by discussing the nesting habits of three pairs of Coots. Specifically in the Wandle. I am going give three examples and use words and pictures to elucidate behaviour of said bird in some kind of pseudo-scientific way. You shouldn’t really be surprised by this if you are a regular visitor here. I don’t blame you if you go and find something more interesting to do. For those that wish to persist, here goes!
The three examples of nesting are categorised thus – 'the doomed', 'the doomed but interesting', and the 'once doomed but hopeful'. Stick with it kids, it’ll be over in no time.
Not so long back I showed the folly of a pair of coots that plonked down on the banks of the Thames as the tide exposed a suitable area. Here is another example in the Wandle. It is a different pair, of that I have no doubt (there are about five pairs round here, none of them with a hope in hell of success). This area of the Wandle delta is the closest to the chalk stream that wandle once was, and this area of the riverbed is exposed for no more than a few hours at a time, and the nest site and the collection of material is futile. Don’t mock them, they cannot help it.
The doomed but interesting.
Spotted yesterday on the Wandle. If you look carefully you can see that there is a Coot behind the reeds frantically pulling all the nesting material that it’s mate is bringing it into a rudimentary nest. It’s high tide, and the birds are nesting in a quite suitable area. Now, if this nest were being made by any other waterbird you could reasonably expect success. However, these are Coots. Do you know what the problem is? In an hours time the water level will fall, and the nest will become more distant from the surface of the water. And Coots don’t like this one little bit. It doesn’t bother Moorhens, but Coots have to have the base of their nest touching water. So, it was an interesting proposition, but I doubt if the birds will build a nest from the top down that will be 5 metres tall. I've seen this pair (or birds holding this section of the river as territory) starting nests on freshly exposed mud at low tide, so it is possible that they are trying to build two nests a day. Mad.
The once doomed but hopeful.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
And now on Radio 4, it’s Woman’s Hour – CLICK!
I had to take Mrs Thing to the University Of Essex and then wait for a number of hours before leaving the University Of Essex.
“What will you do for four hours?” said Mrs Thing. “Oh, don’t you worry about that...”.
For those that don’t know, The University Of Essex is one of those post-war out of town campuses, and is situated in the middle of Wivenhoe Park near Colchester. Which is a park like area on the outskirts of a large town that is next to the countryside. Terribly convenient for someone such as myself with a penchant for staring into trees with lots of time to kill. I could have done a bit of research to try and find out in advance what to expect and where to focus my energies, but that’s no fun and doesn’t leave much space for exploration which is of course half the fun of going to new places. So with the radio turned off, the doors closed and locked I headed off to wander round the campus. And it was totally pissing down with rain. And it rained really hard, and then started to rain harder. After an hour this began to annoy me as all I had seen was some very wet waterbirds doing very little. Having to stand underneath trees to try and get some shelter while smoking wet fags was quite wearing so I decided that I was going to brave the full ravages of the weather anyway so set off again, and then the rain stopped and the sun came out. Which was very nice.
It transpires that I had been round the more ornamental side of the campus, where the alien tree species are in full flow along with a fair few Rhododendrons chucked in for good measure (there is a private house there too which I assume is the university top dude’s residence). It was not filling me with hope for the following hours. However, once I had left this area I found myself in an area of open parkland with long grass and some big oaks dotted about, very similar to this picture in fact.
This gradually gave way to a more open area at the top of a hill with less of the big trees – and this where the interesting birds started to appear (singing Goldcrest, Swallow, two Woodpecker species, Blackcap etc) so in all I was enjoying it a bit more. I found this sign and I really don’t understand what it is about. I mean, it's a sign on a signpost but it doesn't tell you anything. It's at the end of a path which ends at a closed gate and a wall. It's by a road, which has cars on it, not cows. It's very strange, and the more I think about it the more confused I get. So I won't think about it any more.
Essex Coots doing wet.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Monday, June 07, 2010
While we are on the subject of Springwatch, I have to get something else of my chest. I may come across as some kind of Springwatch hater, but it is not intentional and I’m not. Blubells. Protected species yes? Illegal to uproot or offer for sale under the auspices of the Wildlife and Countryside act of 1981. So why, when trying to show how acidic the formic acid coming from an ant’s nest is, use a bluebell? And then ask why one would need litmus paper when you have bluebells? What kind of lunacy is this? What the presenters seem to forgetting is that there are a lot of children watching this programme (by design), and if children think that something is cool they will copy it. Getting bluebells to change colour over an ants nest is cool, but it would have made much more sense to use some bloody litmus paper and keep the bluebell info under the radar rather than having the possibility of loads of kids finding bluebells, pulling them up and then running around to find ants to wave them at. C’mon guys, it’s a great programme but do have a think about what you are broadcasting!
Friday, June 04, 2010
I reckon that the Goldfinches that were assumed to be nesting on the Fulham side have fledged as it is all very quiet. During the course of the day you were almost guaranteed to hear lots of chattering and singing but it's all gone quiet, which I am taking as a good sign.
I still haven't seen any House Martins in the patch yet. Not that I see many, but that's not the point.
There was a pair of Canada Goose with two goslings on the Thames yesterday. Gawd knows where they came from.
A pair of Gadwall are still on the Wandle! What the... On Tuesday I thought that only the male was there and the female might be on a nest or something. It wasnt, it was hiding behind some mallard.
A Trumpeter Finch was at Cley recently, Mr GREvans issued an email (that anyone can subscribe to- other rare bird alerts are available) saying that it had been flushed enough and that it shouldn't be disturbed - but is this not what is supposed to happen anyway?
With the recent addition of Silvery Y and The Engrailed, my list of self found and identified moths has now broken the 15 mark. No, I didn't miss a digit out. The Engrailed, what a name.
Kate Humble said on telly the other night that the second world war was "fairly appalling". Fairly appalling? Stunning.
On the topic of Mr GREvans, on the Londonbirders group, there is the annual talk (rightly so) of not going public on Schedule 1 species. So how does Mr GREvans get away with his book about where and when to find rare birds? I don't know, but if anyone buys it for me for my birthday later in the year, I won't mind.
That's hypocrisy isn't it?
Doesn't matter, nobody will have read this far down such an enormous post, once they've seen the picture of the gosling, everyone will go 'aaaaah' and go somewhere else. Hypocrisy? I'll probably get away with it...
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
A popular wildlife programme is currently having a certain focus on Avocets at the nest. If the bird is not jusdadooorable, then I’m sure that it will be soon – as most birds on that programme are (although good on the male presenter for seeing the potential chick as a Kestrel meal).
I have seen these birds in the wild, and on more than one occasion in fact. I saw some this year and I saw some last year. And the year before that. Etc. However, when I see them these days – despite their innate and undeniable beauty, the grace, the ridiculous yet practical beak, the incongruous leg colouring and even the wonderful name, I just don’t get excited by them. I call it ‘Avocet fatigue’, and I’m sure that I’m not the only birder out there that feels that way. Maybe not about Avocets perhaps, but I’m guessing that some birders really cannot get excited about birds they see all the time, regardless of their beauty/significance/rarity/charm etc etc.
I know why I suffer from Avocet fatigue, it’s because in the eighties I spent a month on an Island in Suffolk where there are a lot of them. And then I went back the next year for a fortnight. I don’t know how many there are these days but I have checked the BoEE counts that I have in my slapdash notebooks and there were 234. And there were that many every bloody day.
So do excuse me if I don’t pay too much notice to them on the telly but perk up a bit when the raptors are killing stuff. Like the Hobby. The one catching dragonflies that is, not the one sitting on a mans arm eating chicken.
Springwatch. You gotta love it.