8 Dec 2009

Lack of Birdlife in my location.

Where have all the birds gone! Warren have you got my Greenfinches? cos I haven't, still have the Goldfinches coming to the feeder, one Blue tit and one Great tit, a few Sparrows hundreds of Starlings and loads of Jackdaws. Whats happening in the countryside Field Guys? Any Fieldfares, Redwings, not been out much due to health or the lack of, had my Swine Flue jab today, like some of our birds I am considered at risk.

Couple of Robins

Look Mum one wing, the question is did he fly in ever decreasing circles?
Herring Gull at Leysdowne

19 Nov 2009

The ingenuity of birds.

Above is a short clip depicting the versatility and ingenuity of birds, and in this case Starlings, seen here utilising its wing as as an arm. I wonder does it still have in its small brain a spark of memory of the prior use of this limb
It is perhaps why these birds are so successful and that they do not seem to suffer the ups and downs of numbers as do our other resident uk birds.
Well! Its something to ponder over.

18 Nov 2009

THE NEED for BIRD PROTECTION

THE ENEMIES OF BIRDS. Excerpt from a book. THE activities of the Inverness and Nairn Agricultural Executive Committee destroyed 2,500 Hoodie Crows in 1946. The Oban Times, of 2oth September 1947, reported that 2,284 Hoodie Crows were destroyed in 1947 in Inverness-shire. At one estate at Ware, in Hertfordshire, in 1946, 65 Jays and 63 Magpies were shot by the gamekeepers in nine months. The Birds of the Liverpool Area mentions 5 o Magpies on a gibbet one winter in Cheshire. The famous game-book Gammoma includes in the Knowsley Park vermin lists 148 Magpies shot in 1829, 136 in 1830, 114 in 1831, and 82 in 1832. The following birds, seen on a gamekeepers' gibbet near Scarborough in 1890, were recorded by W. Gyngell in The Naturalist for 1905: 20 Long-eared Owls, 17 Carrion-Crows, 7 Tawny Owls, 4 Short-eared Owls, 4 Sparrowhawks, 2. Barn-Owls, 2 Kestrels, 2 Magpies, i Jay, and 736 head of other "vermin." In Bulletin 81 (1948) of the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society, 11Tawny Owls were reported found on one recent gibbet and 3 Great Crested Grebes on another. The late Lord Sefton and party shot 2,939 Red Grouse on the opening day of the 1915 season upon his 12,000 acres Abbey stead moor in Lancashire, and 17,078 grouse in the season. In one drive at Cannock Chase, in Staffordshire, about 1860, 252 Blackgame were shot. Hugh Gladstone records, in his book Record Bags and Shooting Records, that, on 12th October 1916, Lord Elphinstone and party shot 249 Snipe at Tiree, in the Hebrides. 358 Woodcock were shot by thirteen guns at Powerscourt, County Wickow, on 2jth September 1890, and at the mouth of the River Maigue, in Limerick, a fowler killed 43 Bean-Geese at one punt-gun shot. Another punt-gun killed 150 Golden Plover. The Rev Mr. Close, of Kileel Rectory, last century shot 60 Curlew at one discharge of his punt-gun in Carlingford Lough, and in 1845 a fowler shot upwards of 300 Dunlin with one swivel gun shot. Firing 1,510 cartridges, the 6th Lord Walsingham killed 1,070 Grouse in a single day at Blubberhouses, on the Yorkshire moors, and it is reputed that the carcases were stacked in piles three or four feet high in the farm­house passages and corridors, and for a week the building was crawling with vermin which had left the dead birds. A ball bowled by Jehangir Khan, of Cambridge Univer­sity, to T. N. Pearce, of the M.C.C., in a cricket match at Lords on 3rd July 1936, killed a Sparrow, which fell dead against the stumps as Pearce played the ball. The Sparrow is now stuffed, mounted upon the ball, and the whole set up on a stand with a plaque commemorating the feat. "Corncrake Wings, 2s. 6d. Pair. Jays, 6d. Starlings, 2d In winter the Starlings which visit Spain from Germany and North Europe are caught at their winter roosts and used for human food. 22,000 dozen, or over a quarter of a million, have been taken in a season near Cadiz and sold for eating at three pesetas a dozen. I will, if interest is shown, publish more facts, although shameful it perhaps does point to some progress in conservation.

9 Nov 2009

Something that will concern all of you eventually

Hi Field guy's and Visitors I have just purchased an all singing and dancing desktop computer, ( which will probably be outdated by the New Year ) and it has been loaded with the all new Windows 7 which microsoft will have us believe is the answer to all our problems, on the face of it yes! but hold on here and consider what you have purchased or will be in the future, as they are washing their hands of XP and will not be giving this windows edition any support, it is already enjoying an extension due to an outcry from the public. They then they marketed Vista, home , Pro and Student editions, not even arguably the most unstable windows edition to date and charged us a premium for it's use despite numerous updates via SP1, SP2 and numerous other corrections to the unstable program they never got it right and some updates even caused crashes serious enough for a visit from an engineer, and then to be told your PC would have to go back to the Engineers lab as this problem cannot be corrected on site, that's £50+ before he's started. Microsoft now get really devious, they have given you a much more stable operating system but at a cost. Yes it is better, smoother, because they have taken away all the faults and the parts of the programme that slowed down everything, you do not have video editing, photo editing and most importantly no email programme, I was okay I just switched over to Outlook, so again Mr Gates is advocating "Less is More" but I do not agree, we should have had a stable programme in the first place, by adequately testing the product and doing away with all those annoying updates which only proves the programmes instability, Shops and businesses can be brought to book for shoddy practice, but not Mr Gates. I will now get off my soapbox.

6 Nov 2009

Strange Colouration

This little chappie is a very recent visitor to my bird feeding station he has unusual colouring I also noticed that it was being picked on by the other Jackdaws and that the only way he could get a lookin was to wait until all of his kind had fed, then move in and have his fill. I can only assume from my observations that he is being victimised for his colour, which makes him different. So what's new!!!!

Degree of forward vision.

I always thought that birds only had sideways sight and that is why the heads are so active, in this picture interestingly it proves otherwise, in that they have a better all round view than we have.

28 Oct 2009

My thanks to the field guy's, A Hobby.

This bird is a bit of an enigma to me, but certain features are not quite right for Kestrel.I am using Collins Bird Guide.
Any thoughts you field guy's?
Ken and Warren or anybody, what is the characteristic feature the confirms this species.

27 Oct 2009

Two Birds One Shot!

Yes and they are both Waders, a preening Oyster Catcher, and a very nice Dunlin, taken at Leysdowne, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, from the promenade.

23 Oct 2009

My Rarest Shot Ever

I took this shot about three years ago, it is a Trumpeter Finch, all the way from Africa, it was taken at Tankerton , Whitstable, on the North Kent Coast, three years ago, only two have ever made it to the UK, to get the shot I was using a 400mm zoom lens the distance at least 75 yds, I would add that some birders were less than concerned for the birds welfare and to my mind were tantamount to harassing the exhausted bird.
Strangely that day I was in contact with another great rarity which was spotted by Bill Oddy the day before, whilst in the company of top brass from the RSPB, they were out on the pools at Cliffe Marshes for whatever reason, he apparently exclaimed quietly, are you aware of that Terek Sandpiper over yonder! Lots of red faced RSPB Brass, and because of this quite brassed off.
I lived in Cliffe at the time and went down to the pools in the evening after returning from my encounter with the Trumpeter Finch, stopping off at Oare, Faversham, on the way home. On the viewing mound there were probably 30 birders, I managed to get my shot and drove further out onto the marsh there was a bird which was flying low the other side of the fence catching the occasional glimpse, the colouring was such I thought Kestrel, it got ahead of me by about 25 yds and settled on a post, identification was then unmistakable it was a Rufous Cuckoo not only that it flew off and joined another.
I will never be blessed in my lifetime, with the vision of three rarities in one day, but one never knows!

22 Oct 2009

A Garden Spider

What a wonderful colouring nature gave this common spider, at the moment it probably has a representative of the species in every garden in the UK, if you enlarge he has quite a pretty countenance.

Same Spider

In this shot this insignificant little spider had grabbed a wood lice, wrapped it up, sucked out the body fluids, and dispensed with the shell by cutting it free from its web.
I am glad it is the size it is.

One of those very slender spiders that are everywhere.

No! he does not have headlamps, they are eyes and show up beautifully.

21 Oct 2009

Collared Doves

The birds are just making a comeback now that they have finished breeding a big first for me on my feeder was a Great Spotted Woodpecker unfortunately no picture, maybe it will make another or even a regular appearance.

12 Oct 2009

A Pleasant Morning Birding.

Had a trip to Oare and Elmley not much doing, but it was a lovely autumnal morning, about 350 Black Tailed Godwits present and resting, a few Golden Plover, and 30 to 40 Teal. Quite a lot of Lapwing present at Elmley, Wellmarsh Hide scrape is now bordered by an electric fence to deter mainly foxes, it is very green as the power is supplied by sun and wind. A great deal of work has been carried out widening dykes and scrapes and providing more cover for wildlife, RSPB, Well Done!! I suppose highlight of the day was catching a Peregrine in one of the waterless scrapes sunning itself happened so fast was unable to get a shot.

Meadow Pipits

Black Headed Gull

Juvenile first winter.

Two Egrets

5 Oct 2009

Spider on my Staghorn Fern

I think this one came in from the cold.

28 Sep 2009

A Birders Lament

As you now realise I am back in Kent for the winter. We took ourselves over to Sheppey and started at Leysdown to perhaps see the Turnstones or perhaps Sanderling. nothing spectacular there so retreated back to Harty, at the top of the hill that descends to the bend with the fleet to your right I stopped and gazed up the fleet my bino's they did not produce anything of note so returned to the car looking east towards the raptor viewpoint I could See a large discolouring in the grey sky which was heading our way, then the honking and noise could be heard and getting louder as you have probably guessed I was gazing at a huge movement of geese, Greylag and Canada a rough accounting gave me circa 1500 or more birds, grabbing my camera, fitting a 400 zoom lens I fired away, capturing all three leading vee formations and getting shot's as they flew up the fleet towards the new bridge crossing, and capturing on the final shot a landscape which included the geese. We entered the car and discussed our good fortune at seeing this wonderful sight so early into our day, I began to think I was into a rare purple patch and that RSPB Elmley was going to produce something special. We cruised up to the Raptor Viewpoint and I could contain myself no longer, I stopped, grabbed the canon 20d SLR , activated the preview button the screen glared at me and in the middle, as if framed, it read NO MEDIA INSERTED, I had left the 4 gigabyte media card at home, after calling myself unmentionable names I rummaged through my kit bag and found a 256 MB card, that did save the day, but the geese will have to be a pleasant memory. There must be a moral their somewhere.

A Little Grebe.

Found this little bird fishing in one of the dykes that still had water.

I have no idea !

This was taken today in the Wellmarsh hide RSPB Isle of Sheppey, Kent, you will notice the nasty looking protrusion emanating from its rear end.

27 Sep 2009

Bee

A bee at the blossom of my beans Yesterday, I planted a few much later than is recommended and I am now reaping the benefits and should be picking for at least another two weeks,

Garden Spider

26 Sep 2009

Shoveler Duck

A nice example of a Shoveler taken at Oare, Faversham, Kent.

Blogs in General

We all like to post what we have seen and just occasionally it will be something of note rather than fairly mundane stuff but nevertheless interesting. But what about the things that we have not seen or at least not in the bountiful numbers that have perhaps been so in other years.
  • Things I have not seen or at least very few are, please do not take this as a survey on declining species it could be me not in the right place. Swallows- not as many as prior years Sand Martins- not as many as prior years Swifts- have seen very few sparrows- noticeably fewer Kestrels- A real absence Butterflies- noticeably fewer, Peacock, Admiral, Brimstone. Painted Lady, large continental migration and plenty of Cabbage or large whites, and still are. Moths- noticeably fewer, did not see a Hummingbird hawk or even had one reported on KOS But according to the experts so called, we can expect plagues of spiders and Craneflies. How have you guy's summed up the summer season?

Ringed Avocet

Caught this bird in flight, it was not until I started processing the picture I realised it had a ring, bit more like a bracelet. Taken in Suffolk.

24 Sep 2009

Konik Horses

WILD HORSES IN KENT
These horses were imported from Holland and now roam the Stour valley at Stodmarsh, Kent they are a particularly hardy breed, Interestingly the name Stodmarsh is a corruption of Stud Marsh and is the place the monks of Canterbury kept and bred their draught horses but obviously not Konik's
It's one of the oldest animals known to man, and it's returning to the South East of England after 7,000 years. Wild horses once roamed all over Europe and England. Now the wild Konik horse is once again grazing on the English lowlands. It's a small miracle that these creatures are being brought back to our shores, and it's all thanks to the work of Kent conservationists.

23 Sep 2009

Same Bewick's as below about to effect a landing.

These swan's really are distance travelers like 747's Long Haul and along with Whooper have been attributed to the spreading of the so called Bird Flu virus, I am not a virologist so I have to believe what I am told to be the case

Bewick Swans at Elmley

22 Sep 2009

Red Kite

This was taken in Wales on recent touring holiday. Lots of shots can be captured I have hundreds, but to get the posture artistically correct cuts your displayable shots down to tens and twenties.

21 Sep 2009

My little family of Goldfinches

Its nice to see these little back again after the breeding period.

Dare I say Speckled Wood

To get a close shot was impossible so I had a go with a 400mm lens

12 Sep 2009

Natures Gems

Taken at the Brecon Visitor Centre

Cornish Pasties.

Name not known, but I do know that travelers and country folk would use these as kindling to start fires.

5 Sep 2009

HOPE BOURNE

A portrait of a truly remarkable lady. This is about ten years ago.

Hope Bourne by Exmoor National Trust

HOPE BOURNE AND EXMOOR Hope Bourne was born at Hartland in North Devon. She claims to have lost her birth certificate and not to know her age but one can guess that her birth was in 1920. Her mother was headmistress at the village school in Elmscott. Hope left school at the age of 14 and, as an asthmatic and the only child of a widowed mother, she was expected to stay at home. She was in her 30s when her mother died. All income then stopped and the house had to be sold to pay off debts. Hope was left with no home, little money, no income, no qualifications and no training. She decided to become as self sufficient as possible. Hope moved to Exmoor, to a succession of remote and primitive cottages, including one near Nutscale Reservoir. She lived off the land, growing her own vegetables, gathering wood for fuel and shooting for the pot. She earned a small income through helping farming friends by tending stock. In the 1950s and 1960s she claimed to live on £5 per month. She earned about £100 per Annam and saved nearly half. Hope relied heavily on friendships. She would call in at farms when she was out and about, and people would call in and see her. Neighbours, even if they were ten miles away, would always come and help out if there was any trouble. She spent 30 Christmases at Broomstreet Farm, owned in those days by Mary Richards, who was her oldest and best Exmoor friend. In the 1950s she spent a year on a sheep station in New South Wales; in the 1970s she spent three months in Canada with friends. She taught herself to paint and draw and kept a diary from which she wrote and published articles. She sent her first book, written in pencil, to Anthony Dent. He returned it neatly typed and visited in person shortly afterwards. The book, Living on Exmoor, published in 1963, is a month by month diary of her activities and is illustrated by her pen and ink drawings. Her next book, A Little History of Exmoor (1968), was also published by Dent. This is a good account of Exmoor from prehistoric times to the 20th century and concentrates on the history of farming. It is brought to life by her imaginative drawings of farmsteads through the ages. Her third and fourth books, Wild Harvest (1978) and My Moorland Year (1993), have a similar style to her first, being a collection of experiences of farming, local lore, encounters with neighbours and vivid descriptions of the seasons. It is perhaps in the latter that she has her finest, almost poetic writing. From 1970 until the early 1990s she occupied a tiny, old and leaky touring caravan in the burnt out ruins of Ferny Ball Farm above Sherdon Water. There she kept her bantams in the ruins and helped out on neighbouring farms at busy times such as lambing and winter feeding. Getting up at 5am she'd do the farmer's stock, write her journal, and then go for a 20 mile walk with her sketch pad, mapless, guided by an inner compass. She followed the hunt on foot, shot and fished, never washed up, ate 1lb of meat a day, some of which was none too fresh, and drank from a stream. She believes that hunting and farming are the backbone of Exmoor. She wrote a weekly, thousand word column for the local paper, the West Somerset Free Press, which she picked up every Friday, when she went into Withypool to collect her mail and bread. At the same time she would post her next article, handwritten in pencil. The column was always popular and generated considerable correspondence. She also contributed articles and drawings to the Exmoor Review, with an emphasis on local farms and their history. In the 1970s Hope became famous through newspaper articles, then two television documentaries about her and her lifestyle: About Britain: Hope Bourne Alone on Exmoor (1978) and Hope Bourne – Woman of Exmoor (1981). In 1979 Daniel Farson interviewed her for a feature in the Sunday Telegraph Magazine. She told him: “I have never taken a penny from public money. Friends tell me I could live better on National Assistance, or whatever they call it now. Over my dead body! Anyway, I’ve never been able to afford the stamps. I’ve told them this would be more than my entire income! It’s a good life but it’s a tough life. You’ve got to be 100% physically fit to live as I do. You’ve got to be tough, body and soul. Whatever happens at Ferny Ball, I’ve got to cope with it alone.” In the Exmoor Oral History Archive she gives a vivid account of how she dealt with accidents and extreme weather at Ferny Ball. In the late 1980s she was eventually persuaded to have a telephone put in for emergencies. Her asthma became worse and concerned friends managed to find her a new house at a community housing scheme in Withypool. Although on the edge of Withypool Common, she finds this like living in a city. She has all modern conveniences but rarely uses the electricity, sleeps on the living room floor in front of the open fire and leaves the rest of the house to her bantams. She is not able to go shooting now and, having sold her guns, gets her meat from the butchers. Hope’s last publication was a booklet about former weights and measures and had no Exmoor connection. She is very concerned about the future of Exmoor, its farming and wildlife. She thinks there is too much 'taming down' of Exmoor by both the National Park Authority and the National Trust, even though both have done good work by preserving large chunks of moorland that otherwise might have gone under the plough. She believes that the wildness of Exmoor teaches self-reliance and that there are too many paths, signs and interpretation boards. People can learn better by finding things out for themselves.

2 Sep 2009

Red Kites

Should be the Red Devils !

Kestrel

Not sure whether this little chap has just eaten, if he hasn't then perhaps Weight Watchers could be beneficial.

1 Sep 2009

On a lighter note.

Who said tree's don't have feelings, hows this for a smacker, Prince Charles would probably appreciate a copy of this.

Possible Raven?

I am a little unsure of this ID I tend to err on the side of Raven the reason being the flattish top of the head also its size being larger, this only from memory as there were no other birds to do a comparison. I took this on Exmoor.

Red Kite in tree

31 Aug 2009

Taken in Wales
Taken in Wales
Taken in Wales
Taken in Wales
Taken in Wales
Taken in Wales
Taken in Wales
Taken in Wales

27 Aug 2009

Common or Harbor Seal (phoca vitulina)

Came across this rather big boy on the coast at Portland Bill, I timed his dives eight times, and he surfaced almost to the second after ten minutes, staying on the surface only long enough to prepare his body for the next dive, he would take a deep breath exhale and repeat this about ten times and then dive, we would do much the same thing.