Monday, November 24, 2008

Winter Hibernation

I'm sending the blog into hibernation for the winter, with possibly a brief flurry of activity around Christmas.

There's no point in blogging unless you're going to do it regularly, and I'm simply not doing enough to maintain a flow of worthwhile entries at the moment.

This weekend was a case in point. There's a Rough-Legged Buzzard just up the A10. There's Serins and more at Rainham. And with the cold weather coming, a trip to Amwell for the gull roost could have been profitable.

So, how did it go?

9:am. D#1 has a maths course in Hatfield. Long-tailed tits round the house! That's an hour round trip to drop her off ( a few Redwings from the car).
Then D#4 plays football at the local club from 10:30 - 11:30 (well, he runs round after other children playing football to be more accurate). I spend a pleasant hour freezing my **** off and chewing the fat with other dads. Mistle thrush and a few BHGs.
Back to Hatfield to pick up D#1. Back at 1:15om, a quick sandwich then off to the British Museum with D#3 and D#1. D#3 has been doing Egyptians and wants to see the Mummies. The British Museum is just about my favourite (indoor) place in the UK, and we have a great time looking at the statues, hieroglyphics, and mummies. "Look - that writing is different to the other writing" I say, pointing to some inscription at the top of a piece of stone. "That's because it's a Pharoah's name daddy" says D#3. Ah. I'll shut up then.
5pm. Back to Sawbo in the dark.

Sunday isn't any better. 10:15 - drop D#1 for a swimming lesson. Starlings round the building. Then take D#2 for his lesson. Have a swim myself! Then home by 12. Off to the supermarket as I haven't yet been this weekend (see above). Dinner, and then its 3 o'clock. I could do the roost at Sawbo Marsh, but there's some stuff to do round the house to do with Kids bedrooms, and then its dark.

Realistically, that's how its going to be for the forseeable future. After Easter I'll be able to get out at the start and end of the day, and with luck see a few things.

So, apart from a brief hello at Christmas, that's it until the days lengthen again.

Until then, keep warm, and may the God of Birding litter your path with rarities!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Atlas count

Did a new square for the timed atlas count - and its the square with SLRS. Same old same old, but a Grey Wagtail was overdue for the patch this year.

The strangest thing was a couple of Bats. I thought they were Snipe at first, but once the binoculars were on the truth was out. They were bigger than Pipistrelles, and a golden brown, so I'm guessing Noctule.

This is the first time I've had proper views of a decent size bat through binoculars in daylight. And what a weird thing it is - like watching a hamster fly. It seems to be against nature for animals to be cruising around up in the sky.

Monday, November 10, 2008

SLRS Nov 8

There’s been some good birds in the area in the last few days; Great White Egret, Woodlark, but those birds were seen by proper birders who put a lot of hours in, not someone who strolls occasionally round their local patch with their eyes closed.

The scrape was full, and had just two ducks; a female Gadwall and a female Teal. A snipe flew over, and some BH Gulls were around. The solitary Lapwing was joined by a flock of 30.

A flock of 20 Skylarks flew over, then a few Meadow Pipits in the rough grass. Over by Feakes Lock there was the same flock of Buntings and finches that had been there a few weeks previously. I’d guess 20 Yellowhammers, 2 Reed Buntings, 20 Chaffinch, a few Goldfinches, some Dunnocks going mental, a Song Thrush, a Goldcrest, and a continual presence of Redwings.

The Cormorant tree, with a Cormorant.

If you look carefully, you can see the smoke from breakfast being cooked.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Merlinless at Trim's Green

One of the problems of having four children is that you can't spend you weekends sat on the Norfolk coast or heading off to Kent for the latest rarity. Time is strictly limited to an odd half hour here or there, and you have to do what you can in the time available.

A Merlin was seen on a few occasions during the week at Trim's Green. By the time I was free to go and look for it on Saturday ("need some flour from the supermarket"), it was a day too late. I sat around for half an hour in the apology for daylight that was Saturday lunchtime. The usual suspects came and went. 70 Goldies, a mixed flock of finches and buntings, and a few Skylarks over.

I assumed that the presence of finches etc flying happily round the new farm buildings meant the Merlin was long gone. Of course it may be some kind of Avian game of Dare, or the finches' version of the Pamplona Bull run - lets all go and sit in that tree and wait for the Merlin, and see if we can all get away in time.

Back on Sunday evening ("just taking the bottles to the recycling point"), with similar results. 35 Goldies in the Tharbies fiels sparkled in the low sun. When I turn up they all crouch in the ground, but after a few minutes they start running around, and splendid they were.

There's Goldies in here. Honestly.

Merlin Central - last week.

Commonly Spotted Orchids

We are fortunate in the UK in that the commonest orchids are also amongst the most beautiful. I spent a morning photographing some on the lo...