Saturday, October 30, 2010

RSPB Feed The Birds Day

Today is the RSPB's Feed The Birds Day.  With the clocks going back this weekend, now is the time to clean off those feeders, stock up on good things to keep your birds happy over the winter.

If we have another cold winter many birds will rely on food sources from gardens to survive.  You may also get to see birds you don't normally see.  Fieldfares and redwings were frequent garden visitors last year.

  • Clean your feeders and tables regularly to avoid build up of mouldy food and disease.
  • Provide clean, fresh water for drinking and washing.
  • Put out a variety of different food from a variety of feeders to attract different birds.
  • Don't be too tidy - seed heads provide food and hiding places for insects. 

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

First Garden Goldcrest

A lucky spot in the garden today - a little goldcrest in the flowering currant (Ribes) near the backdoor.  I just happened to be taking a break from work and it caught my eye as I walked past.  Only a brief glimpse as it then disappeared from view.

Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)Image by nutmeg66 via Flickr
It's the first time I've seen one in the garden - having seen them at Pulborough last weekend.  There are plenty of trees around, so it's not too surprising - I've just never spotted one in the garden before.  Of course they are pretty small and could be easily missed.

Who knows what's out there when I'm not watching.
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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rainbows Over Pulborough

Over to Pulborough for a little bird watching - not realising that it was Autumn Fair day, so the car park was packed to overflowing and I was parked out along the access road.

Great for business as it meant things were busier than usual and a few more people venturing out onto the reserve.  I started to rain just as I arrived - only a shower so it didn't stop me heading on out to the reserve.

I have to say there wasn't a huge amount out there today.  Plenty of the usual suspects - large numbers of wildfowl had arrived but no waders.  Not a single one!

Lovely to see so many pintail and the wigeon are wonderful with their gentle calls.  Teal, shoveler and shelduck also out on the water and a large number of lapwing on the banks.

Another shower or two during the afternoon, followed by sunshine resulted in an amazing double rainbow above Pulborough.  The photo really doesn't do it justice but you can just about see the second rainbow forming.  It became much brighter and the main rainbow formed a complete arc over the North Brooks.

A few highlights even without the waders - a bullfinch sitting in the bushes just below The Hanger and also a couple of redwings feeding with three song thrushes and what we think was a fleeting glimpse of a fieldfare as it few past.  A buzzard also flew over a couple of times - being given a hard time by the crows but not bothering the other birds.

In the woods and bushes along the way I also spotted nuthatch, a treecreeper and several goldcrest which is quite unusual.  They're often up in the tops of trees and hard to see.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010


Another trip to Blackcap, near Lewes and more scrub-clearance.  A fairly small patch to clear which was overgrown with bramble, some small trees and bushes and plenty of willow-herb and wild marjoram which added a lovely scent to our work.

We were being 'buzzed' by the hang gliders who were flying up and down along the ridge all day.  Two or three of them whizzing by at great speed.

There was also a sparrowhawk flying along the woodland edge and calls from woodpeckers (green and greater-spotted) throughout the day as well as smaller birds wondering where their cover had disappeared.

There were only four of us + Gary (with the brush-cutter) but in just a few hours we managed to clear most of the slope.  Luckily most of it was pretty light stuff and burnt well.  Great views across the Weald in a mix of Autumn sunshine and later showers.
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010: Water and Wildlife

London Wetland CentreImage via Wikipedia
Whilst we're busily washing our clothes, drinking our cappuccinos and tapping away on our computer and smartphones, we're using up a precious resource.

Less that 1% of the world's water is available as fresh water and with a rapidly expanding population there are more and more demands being placed on this limited resource.

As people compete for resources, wildlife and nature come under even more pressure.

Worldwide, wetlands cover 6% of the world's surface, an area larger than the USA.  Half their area has been lost in the last century.
  • 300-400 million people live close to or depend on Wetlands.
  • Rice provides 20% of the world's dietary energy and is grown on wetlands.
  • 40% of fish species come from freshwater habitats.
  • 5 million people die each year from poor water supply.
They are an important ecosystem for people and wildlife, providing feeding sites for hundreds of thousands of birds.  These ecosystems collapse as water is extracted for agriculture and manufacturing.

We build on natural floodplains, drain marshy areas for redevelopment, concrete over large areas and build up river banks.  Rivers, lakes and floodplains slow down and absorb floodwater.  Wetlands absorb storm surges and coastal flooding.  Without them, the impact on loss of life, lack of clean water and disease is far greater as is the cost of clean-up and repairing the damage.

Today is Blog Action Day - one day in the year when blogs focus on one topic.  This year it's water.  Help reduce your consumption and preserve this precious resource.

Related links:

Blog Action Day 2010 for more blogs and info.
Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust saving wetlands for people and wildlife across the world.
Check your Water Footprint -
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Where Were All The Birds?

Just back from a week in Turkey on the south-west Aegean coast and disappointing from a birding point of view.  Not that I was there for that purpose but it's always nice to see different species when you're in a new place, especially abroad.

There was very little around - perhaps it's just not the right time of year or it's just not a good area.  It was a very touristy, purpose built resort, so I wasn't expecting flocks of rare or exotic species but a few residents would have been nice.

There were certainly plenty of magpies and sparrows.  Hooded crows were a common sight away from the town but there was a lack of raptors which I'd hoped and expected to see.  A fleeting glimpse of a falcon-like bird on a bus journey was at close at it got.  There were egrets along some of the wetter areas and grey wagtails at the poolside in the resort.

My friend heard a nightjar one night and there was a small owl of some description near to our apartment in the evening - heard but not seen.

We weren't too far from the birding sites of Lake Bafa and the Menderes Delta but didn't have the time or transport to get there - we were more focused on enjoying the break, relaxing and taking in a few archaelogical sites.

There was evidence of storks in many of the towns with nests on any tall structure and some columns built for the purpose.  They storks themselves were long gone - back to Africa.

Turkey is meant to be great for birds but they weren't much in evidence.
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