Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Sue and I trip down to see Keith on his home patch for a few hours birdwatching. Our first stop was the RSPB reserve at Northwood Hill in search of Nightingales and Cuckoos.

Both species are vocal when they first arrive in this country but soon fall silent, in the case of Nightingales, or depart after laying there eggs. so its important if you are going to locate them to do so early on. Both birds were in fine voice with at least 5 different Nightingales, and 2 cuckoos on the path down to the viewpoint. There were also a number of Blackcaps and a Chiffchaff.

Nightingale singing at Northwood Hill

Arriving at the viewpoint we had lunch looking over the marshes. Whilst having lunch we had a variety of birds singing from the surrounding vegetation including Nightingale, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Blackcap

After lunch we traced our way back to the car, serenaded again by Nightingales. The sun had come out and so had some early butterflies including Red Admiral, Peacock, Orange Tip and most surprisingly, a Painted Lady.

Blackcap (m). Photo by Keith

Our second stop was Keith’s local patch at Abbotts Court. A party of Swallows with one House Martin were over the lakes together with Blackcaps and another Cuckoo, which flew over our heads. A Reed Warbler was also heard.

In all we saw 40 species in a few hours and caught up with some of the recently arrived summer visitors.

It was good to be able to get back to visiting familiar haunts. It is probably a year since Keith and I walked the riverfront at Gravesend, so it was great to be able to visit on Thursday.

The normal wader population that we would see in the winter had gone to the breeding grounds but the highlight of the day was 7 Mediterranean Gulls in full plumage. Also 2 Blackcaps singing in the riverside park.

A post-lockdown trip back to Bough Beech. The water level is still high and there is little to be seen on the reservoir apart from the resident geese and grebes. A couple of Buzzards drift aimlessly over the back of the north reservoir, but all is very quiet. still it is good to be out again.

I make my way down the road to the old Oast house. a party of Sand Martins and Swallows, my first this year, pass over the road and continue north. A Greater Spotted Woodpecker is the highlight of the birds on the feeders and a get a brief view of the Kingfisher as it darts past the bridge, whilst a Reed Bunting briefly emerges from the Reed-bed. No butterflies yet to be seen, perhaps still a little cold for them. A sparrowhawk drifts over on the way back to reservoir. 34 species is not a bad list for a couple of hours, but it is just good to be out again!

Mute Swan

Posted: March 26, 2021 in Birds, Natural History
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photo by Sue

photo by Sue

photo by Sue

photo by Sue

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Canada Goose

Posted: March 11, 2021 in Birds, Natural History
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The Canada Goose is one of our common resident geese, Introduced from North America from the late 17th century it has spread across almost the whole of the UK and is often found on city lakes and in parks as well as in the countryside.

It is estimated that there are around 62,000 breeding pairs in the UK with a peak population of around 190,000 birds.

Flock of Canada Geese with a single Greylag Goose (centre)

Bulfinch

Posted: March 4, 2021 in Birds, Natural History
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One of my favourite birds but rare in my area now.

A new visitor to the Garden

Posted: February 25, 2021 in Birds, London, Natural History, UK
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Was surprised to find a Fieldfare in the garden the other day. This was the first record since we arrived here in 2000 and took the garden list to 46 species. I didn’t manage to photograph it but here are some pictures of Fieldfare taken at Bough Beech earlier in the year

I remember seeing my first Ring-billed Gull. It was the long-staying one at Copperhouse Creek in West Cornwall. Years later we had one that returned to Greenwich/Isle of Dogs in London. Like the Copperhouse bird, it returned to the site for a number of years running.

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It was pretty wet over the weekend, but I did manage to find a break in the weather to do my garden birdwatch and recorded 11 species in the hour (plus 3 more flying over which don’t count towards the birdwatch. The flock of Redwing and the Nuthatch stayed away but most of the regulars put in an appearance

Big Garden Birdwatch

Posted: January 29, 2021 in Birds, Natural History
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Here in the UK, it’s the weekend of the Big Garden Birdwatch organised by the RSPB. This is the largest citizen science project in this country and last year almost 500,000 people took part and this year with many more of us at home in lockdown they expect the response to break that half a million observer barrier.

I have three local spots to record – My own garden, my local park and the gardens of a nearby historic house. I hope to get these done over the weekend but typically all plans have been put on hold as we have heavy rain here in London at the moment and even the birds in my garden have disappeared. Let’s hope it clears up so the results can flow in.

The survey which has now been running since 1979 has been important in tracking the rises and falls in ‘common birds’ found in gardens. It has plotted the declines in House Sparrows, Blackbirds, Robins and song Thrushes and has highlighted areas where more in detail studies should be undertaken.

Robin

So I am poised and ready for this years count. If only the rain would stop!