I had intended to take part in the birders quiz again this evening as Ashley, Mark and Nick have done a fantastic job on it. They had transferred it to zoom meeting this evening and I signed in. However when I learnt it was going to be based around Fair Isle my heart sank as this was probably the worst birding holiday that I have ever experienced anywhere in the world and although I know many old British birders have memories about it I think it is very over-rated as a birding destination and so I decided not to take part this evening and signed out.
it was a bit milder today and so John and I went for a walk later in the afternoon and had one of the most confiding Kingfishers that I have ever seen. It wasn't a bit bothered as we both tried to take photographs of it in the gloom. A friend had alerted us to a Tawny Owl that was not showing at all and so we continued our walk and watched two Little Egrets on the meadow as well as many Black-headed Gulls. We retraced our steps and waited by the tree we were told held the Tawny Owl. At dusk one of the Tawny Owls poked its head up but I suspect that you will not be impressed by my photo of it!
Tawny Owl...............yes there really is a Tawny Owl hiding here!
I am very proud of one of my former college boyfriends who is a member of the Isle of Man's Government who introduced a private member's bill to ban sky lanterns and helium balloons on the Isle of Man. It has passed it's 3rd reading and these dreadful things that kill and maim so many birds and wildlife are now banned on the Isle of Man. Why anyone with even half a brain would ever buy these wretched things is totally beyond me. Its about time our politicians did the same! Please let's all educate the ignorant people who buy them that it is not OK to kill and maim wildlife the way that they do. I see so many of them that drift on to the reserve where I work causing so much havoc.
After walking along the old railway line at Roydon I headed up to Grimston Warren. A Red Kite was soaring over the heather as I walked beyond the stand of Pine trees and over onto The Delft. I watched a ringtail Hen Harrier quartering the ground and spooking some of the eleven Roe Deer present. Down on The Delft 3 Common Snipe were in the Juncus which has badly taken over this site. I retraced my steps and watched a Little Owl fly from one of the trees and out of sight. Back on the common a Stonechat sat on the top of a Heather bush. Skylarks were singing and a Meadow Pipit flew over as I made my way across the road where there were 50+ Linnets sat in the trees on my way back to the farm. By the time I returned home I had walked nearly 7 miles.
George and Teddy
Happy 2nd birthday to my darling little twin grandsons George and Teddy. George has a real interest in animals and birds (I don't know where he has inherited that from?) and loves watching them either in books or in real life. He even took part in the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch! How I would have loved to have been with them this weekend!
With snow forecast for most of the day I had planned a day inside but my weather app seemed to suggest that snow was not due for at least another two hours no matter what time I looked at it! I decided to brave the elements and walked around an area at Sandringham. I was horrified by what greeted me. Sandringham has undergone a transformation in the last year and is losing its wildness as people are now being managed everywhere. Most of the trees in the car park have been felled (no more Two-barred Crossbills then!) and today I discovered that my favourite Nightjar spot has been fenced off and all the understory of the trees taken out. Grrrr...........................I don't know where the birds were today but with the exception of a few Goldfinches I saw very little! I saw more on my garden feeders!
New fences at the Sandringham Nightjar spot
Fenced-off Nightjar Spot
Black-headed Gull wandering around my front lawn
After wishing my granddaughter a happy 7th birthday it was good to listen to Rockjumper's Webinar this evening about cruising around some of the islands west of West Papua taking in the Vokelkop of West Papua too. It brought back such good memories of the amazing trip that I did there 2 years ago. The islands were fantastic and the birds of paradise just stunning. I cannot wait to get travelling again but it looks as if all our plans for this year will not happen. I thank my lucky stars that I did have a foreign trip last year just before the pandemic struck.
The birding community have been shocked at the news from Fair Isle that the the wardens of the observatory have been made redundant. I suppose given the fact that there is no observatory at the moment it is hardly surprising with no income the situation of employing people would not last for long and in fact have done really well to employ them for two years since the devastating fire. However I feel sorry for the family concerned, given the fact that they lost everything in the fire. It will be quite a while before a new observatory will be built as the latest tender has been turned down.
Having cleared an area of snow away from underneath my feeders, I had a few scraps from my roast dinner last night to put out on the frozen ground. It was not long before the dominant male Blackbird who chases all other Blackbirds away was enjoying them. I added a few suet pellets to the mix and scattered them around too in the hope that the bird would allow a few other birds to feed too.
Icicles on the Ivy
Skaters on the ice
John and I took a walk around one of the local lakes and watched the ducks all enjoying the ice that was melting fast. Gadwall, Tufted Ducks and Pochards were the dominant species. John picked out a slightly weird looking duck and decided that it was a Scaup. It did not have the usual scaup face but structurally had to be one. Some white patches at the side of the face suggested that it was a first year female. Little Grebes, Teal and Black-headed Gulls were all around the ice. I scanned through the ducks and found a Goldeneye. Coot, Moorhens and Mute Swans added to the scene. On the way back John found a Black-necked Grebe but I won't embarrass him by what he called it as! A snipe alighted from the lake edge before we watched a close Water Rail that was not at all bothered by us.
Sorry to start my post with a rant but it does make my blood boil when after my supermarket run I took a walk on my local beach only to find yet another helium balloon blowing along the tide line. What is it with these people (morons) that will buy these things? Surely it does not take much to work out the damage that they cause to our wildlife. So many seabirds, turtles, whales, dolphins end up with them either tied up in them or ingested into their stomachs? What I would like to do with these people is not suitable for me to print here!!!
Trying to calm myself down I took my exercise along the beach and enjoyed watching the birds that came and went. Turnstones were scuttling along with Sanderlings searching for any tasty morsels that the tide had brought in whilst Herring Gulls were gobbling up starfish. Oystercatchers were cracking open mussels as a Redshank ran around occasionally stopping to prod the mud. Fulmars were flying overhead and landing on the cliff edges to claim their nesting sites and calling to their mates. A gaggle of Brent Geese were on the sea but all kept very close together.
Another death trap released into the sea!
I was expecting some new furniture to arrive and so had to stay at home for the day. Whilst I was on the phone I watched a Red Kite flying over the houses opposite me. Now that the snow has all melted my feeders are not as active as they were but I still have Blue Tits, Great Tits and Long-tailed Tits as frequent visitors.
Poor weather has not inspired me to get out today, but to sit and continue with my birding articles. There is some good news though as I have been invited for my vaccination next week. Hooray.....a step to be able to return to normal life as soon as we can get everyone vaccinated.
On my way to get the garage to sort a cruise control issue on my car there was a lone Siskin calling in my neighbour's tree.
John and I walked some local woods where a Woodcock flushed out of a hedgeline and several Crossbills flew over calling. It was good to see some other birders who were also in the area trying to find Woodcock. We also saw Red Kite and a Common Buzzards soaring on this wonderful sunny, mild day. It was so good to be out and about walking in some lovely woods that I have not been to before.
I walked the Nar Valley Wat today where the woods were full of birdsong. Goldcrest and Coal Tits were up in the fir trees and a small flock of Redpoll and Siskin were in the Alder Trees. A Robin sang its heart out as I crossed over a bridge but a Great Tit objected to my presence as it scalded me as I walked by. Blue Tits were everywhere or so it seemed. a Blackbird caught my eye as it sang form high up in a treetop.
Along a Hedgeline a Brimstone butterfly flew by. My first spring butterfly of the year.
At home I got the ladder out to make sure all my nest boxes were cleared out as I had seen a pair of Blue Tits prospecting one of my boxes. As I was doing this a Peacock butterfly flew around my garden. It was very mild today and it was lovely to think that spring is on its way.
Whilst walking along a hedgeline today I thought I could hear a Firecrest singing. I stopped for a while and listened. A pair of Coal Tits caught my eye but I was sure it wasn't them that I had heard. I waited a while and out popped a beautiful little bird that sang for all it was worth!
Back at home my feeders are still being ravaged by the Long-tailed Tits and Blue Tits. They must be most well-fed birds on the planet!
The zoom talk this evening given by Chris Lansdell on birding in Sri Lanka was excellent, one of the best set of photos and presentations on zoom that I have seen. Thank you Chris, it was a brilliant evening and brought back many fantastic memories.....I even got an armchair endemic tick out of it!
After a day of gardening and tree trimming the only birds that I noticed were the Rooks and Jackdaws swirling around in the sky as a Common Buzzard flew over.
The NarVOS zoom meeting subject was a bit different from most of my bird club meetings as it was a history of the woman bird photographer Emma Turner who was born in 1867. As woman bird photographer myself thank goodness that I did not have to wear the type of clothing that she did or have to carry around the heavy glass plates that she did. I had to smile at one comment about the processing that takes part afterwards, it may be different from that of today but I am sure it takes just as long!
I had a lovely walk today adding a few year ticks as well as watching many Wigeon and Teal. Listening to their calls in the sunlight was warming to the heart. Common Snipe, Ruff and Redshank were wading at the side of flooded areas. The last of the Pink-feet were still present but I don't suppose they will be with us for much longer. A Marsh Harrier put some Lapwing and Golden Plover to flight as I listened to a Skylark sang its heart out above me. Two Grey Heron sat in trees as a Little Egret prodded the ground. I had a lucky day seeing at least 3 different Kingfishers and 2 Grey Wagtails too.
It was a beautiful day and so I cycled to West Newton Mill where I watched a few Buzzards loafing around in the sky before continuing onto Sandringham. There were a few people around but it was nice to stop for a very short stop to have a drink and some sustenance in the sun before carrying on my way. Woodlark were singing in the sun which made for a delightful sight. Back along the track at West Newton a Common Snipe flew before I walked along the Babingley River. A Stonechat sat on top of a fence post as a flock of Lapwing were put up by something. Two Marsh Harriers were around with one male bird calling high up above me. A Goshawk flew over and gleamed in the sun. It was just wonderful to be out and about today.