Monday, 7 April 2008

Quiz results and garden birds

Quiz Results :
For those who had a go at "the" Quiz last week , here are the results - did anyone get 12 out of 12? 1 Pheasant, 2 Curlew, 3 Corn Bunting, 4 Nightingale, 5 Spoonbill, 6 Kittiwake, 7 Toucan, 8 Kingfisher, 9 Nightjar, 10 Waxwing, 11 Nuthatch, 12 Magpie.

Wildlife Watching :

Here's a thing. Wildlife watching is a funny old business. Never predictable. On Thursday, Saturday and Sunday I went to Sand Bay close to high tide. The Oystercatcher numbers were 16, 0 and 6 respectively, Curlew 0, 52, 67 and Shelduck about 45 each day. So why did one day show zero count for both Curlew and Oystercatcher? Well it's because they move about obviously, but this goes some of the way to explain why single visit surveys of wildlife can sometimes not show the true picture, and why surveys need to be repeated over time under similar conditions. I remember at University spending 3 months trapping small mammals in a wood and I could never predict what would happen. The survey was May to July, so as the tree canopy increased, it proved that shade does affect movement, and interspecific (between species) activity. Happy days being bitten by voles.... have you seen the size of their teeth??

Local Patch :
I've never had a true local patch before as always driving about the West Country, so nice to now have Sand Bay (above; sunset over Cardiff from Sand Bay yesterday). For 6 months I've submitted weekly bird counts onto the BTO Birdtrack database. My plan is to stand once a week, for 1 hour, rooted to the same spot and record everything within eyeline. It is now making fascinating reading as the data can be viewed in graph and data form. A picture of peaks and troughs is beginning to emerge. Such as the Stonechats which have become elusive, but only a few weeks ago had 9 males in one area. Sadly no Short Eared Owls this year, and the Merlin has gone too, but summer migrants are arriving, nice Willow Warbler yesterday flitting through the trees.

Bizarrely on Saturday these Mallards came right up to me as they hunted for a suitable nest spot, in the middle of all this rubbish. I think these may be the pair I spotted nesting on the marsh before we had those storms in early March. Considering this area is used by dog walkers it's not really suitable. Maybe they'll move back to the marsh. Lets hope so.

On Sunday the weather was unpredictable, so spent it mainly ondoors. After lunch messed about in the conservatory with the digiscope, trying to get to grips with clarity. Common species, but I like them. Also noticed a Blackbird is nesting in next door's conifer hedge. I also had 2 Herring Gull and a Lesser Black Backed Gull come into the garden after some Sunday Lunch scraps. These birds are huge when in a small sub-urban garden... gave the starlings a shock I can tell you.

Slightly away from the area, 10 Swallows flew over us as we were in Homebase car park in Worle, and nearby a Peregrine flew over. I'd guess this isn't a co-incidence, as raptors will follow migrants as the migrants become exhausted, picking off the stragglers.

And this 10 second video I liked. This male house sparrow in my hornbeam hedge is looking up as if to say " what's this funny white stuff". We don't get much snow down here, most of the birds wear shorts all year, like the postmen. For photo's of proper snow, have a look at BB's posting from the weekend http://boulmerbirder.blogspot.com/2008/04/spring.html

And that's all folks...... except as a write this at 1.30 on monday, blizzard in Bristol.


  1. Loved the video. Poor bird is wondering what the heck is coming down it seems. That sunset is absolutely fantastic. All the pictures are great. Starlings have such beautiful colours. I only just noticed that you had a website with some of your paintings. I really like them.

  2. Hi OC. You never said how many birds you identified?? Thanks for the vote of confidence re pictures and paintings. I get to see some stunning sunsets at Sand Bay, as the Severn here is muddy, so reflects more brown into the sky, sometimes the sun is blood red over Cardiff. BR

  3. I only managed to get eight of the birds identified. Of course now that I've seen the answers for the other four, I hit my head and say "duh". lol

  4. Two weeks or ten days for a swallow return here.

  5. yep about 2 weeks earlier than Northumberland here, just read of a Hobby in Dorset yesterday, guess where I'll be tomorrow on my day off.

  6. Two of Britain's best-known garden birds are suffering a sharp decline in numbers, according to wildlife experts. There have been steep falls in the populations of both the Song Thrush and the Blackbird, with Blackbird numbers down 58% between 1981 and 1997.

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