Sunday, March 22, 2009


Along the boardwalk


Singing Chiffchaff


Brown Trout
Brown Trout swimming in one of the chalk streams

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM or Canon Powershot A640

Friday, March 20, 2009

The best kind of meeting

If you have to have a meeting on a sunny Friday afternoon, this is the way to do it:
  • leave the office
  • select a tranquil, natural environment
  • sit on the grass (slightly damp trousers are a small price to pay)
  • feel the breeze in your hair and the sun on your face
  • have your meeting
  • listen to Robins singing...
  • Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming...
  • Siskins twittering...
  • Blackbirds fluting...
  • Long-tailed Tits raspberrying...
  • Bumblebees buzzing around the daffodils
This is post no. 778, by the way.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

And now for something completely different

Another Place

Another Place



Another Place

I'm back from Another Place, the Antony Gormley installation on Crosby beach, Merseyside. There are 100 life-sized metal figures on the beach. When the tides are at their highest, they can all be submerged totally.

When we were there, the tide was on its way out. New sculptures appeared all the time, which was weird. It shows the power of nature, or that whoever put them in did a really good job in making sure they didn't get dragged out to sea. They're mounted on metre-long piles sunk into the beach.

I remember reading some conservationists' concerns that the sculptures might scare birds off, but we watched a flock of Sanderlings scurrying around right next to one. I guess the increased numbers of visitors might be more of an issue, but it was pretty empty while we were there, on a blowy Tuesday afternoon.

The Starlings were in the car park, close to the ice-cream van and mobile burger bar. They were mostly males, congregating next to people who were sitting in their cars. The birds sang while they waited.

More on Flickr

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D + EF 300mm f/4L IS USM or Canon Powershot A640

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Now that's a beak

Male Green Woodpecker
Note ragged, bleached secondaries

Male Green Woodpecker
Male Green Woodpecker

Male Goldfinch
Male Goldfinch (note the red behind the eye)

Another enjoyable ringing session at Beeston today. The sun shone, the wind was gentle, butterflies (Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Brimstone) fluttered, five Buzzards thermalled overhead and we were brought bacon butties and cups of tea. And caught 72 birds!

33 were Greenfinches (and one of those was a control - a bird that someone else had already ringed, somewhere else). The Green Woodpecker and a Starling brought a bit of variety to proceedings. A super-fat Chaffinch weighed 27 g and had a wing length of 93 mm (it could be on its way back to Scandinavia); many of the females were carrying plenty of fat, showing as a smudge of yellow on their chests.

photos taken with Canon Powershot A640

Saturday, March 07, 2009

90 up

We reached no. 90 on the garden list today. I was watching the inhabitants of the pond - backswimmers, water boatmen and a few beetles - when two Mute Swans flew over. Conveniently they announced their fleeting presence with their loud wingbeats (Mutes are the only swans with noisy wings).

A total of 100 suddenly seems more possible, but I think it might take rather a long time...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


It's always fascinating to watch a Treecreeper shuffling its way up a tree, picking at tiny food particles on the way. It looks a bit like it's climbing a mighty rock face, but in reality it's just a small, brown bird
photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM, Extender EF 1.4x II

Sunday, March 01, 2009


Female Goldfinch
Female Goldfinch (the red stops midway along the eye, not behind it)

Male Greenfinch
Male Greenfinch

Male Great Tit
Male Great Tit, with super-wide black belly stripe

Male Great Spotted Woodpecker
Male Great Spotted Woodpecker (with red on nape)

Time for some more garden bird ringing.
  • Greenfinch, 12 (+ 1 retrap)
  • Great Tit, 12 (+ 1 retrap)
  • Blue Tit, 11 (+ 1 retrap)
  • Goldfinch, 7 (6 were male!)
  • Chaffinch, 3
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker, 2 (male and female)
  • Dunnock, 1
  • Robin, 1
Greenfinches seem to have made a comeback, as they've only been present in small numbers lately. Where have they been? 

All the retraps had been ringed on the last session, on 8 February. Where are those birds now?