Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Bird Boxes

Sorry for not posting in absolutely ages, but homework, schoolwork and loads more has had me busy almost everyday. Anyway today I thought I would do a post about bird boxes, specifically how to clean them out ready for spring.

Bird Boxes: Operation Cleaning!

1. First (of course) get the box down from the wall/tree/post and lay it own on the floor. Take the front off the box and place it near by. (always get an mature adult to help you though they maybe hard to find! πŸ™‚)

The bird box
2. When you open up the box there may be a nest or some dead chicks inside. The nest and the dead birds can be put in the compost bin (or whether you feel fit). Any unfertilised eggs can be placed in the compost bin but legally they should be destroyed.
Unfortunately some of the chicks died (blue tit nest)
3. Pour boiling water throughout the box. This can kill parasites likes ticks ad fleas and could affect success rate. Wait until fully dry and put back together again. If you want you can add hay or sawdust though they may take it out or put it in the nest. Tip: do not use straw as it will mould

4. Put it back up and wait for the Spring and see what you could get.
Last spring we had a family of Blue Tits and we saw 4 fledge!

My Top Tips: Bird Boxes
1. Place it in a place where you know it is safe from predators and won't fall off. Another handy feature is near a tree or a natural perch so they can rest on their way in and out. This is good as well when the young fledge.

2. Try using different boxes. For example open boxes are good for Robins and Wrens. Experiment because you never know what could show up!

3. Try a box with a camera. You'll be able to watch the drama of the nest as it plays out! These can be quite expensive though so it would be a good idea for a birthday present or for Christmas.

Saturday, 9 September 2017


Sorry for it being so late :(
So in the summer holidays we went down to Poole harbour in a 5 and a half drive, which passed with only my dad accidently running over a kestrel (he felt terrible afterwards) stayed a night at the premier inn and got ready for France. As we crossed the channel we saw Gannets, Herring Gulls and even a Great Skua - lifer - and it was really calming. As soon as we got off the ferry we began our journey to Normandy stopping off at a local nature reserve which literally means 'the house of nature'. We saw Egrets (Great and Little), Spoonbills, Redshank, Avocets, other waders, Coypu (escaped from the fur trade), an OTTER ;) and loads more waders and ducks. At the campsite we saw only ordinary garden birds, but they had character, like the robin that perched on the other caravans and the birds in the trees. We spent a week chilling at the pool, going to the beach and visiting the local landmarks, including a WW2 jeep tour around the D-Day beaches and the American Cemetery with nearly 10,000 graves. We also visited the Caen Memorial and the Bayeux Tapestry. And soon we were on our way for Brittany, stripy t-shirt included.
This little robin used my shirt as a perch!

At Brittany, our campsite was a lot better for wildlife, including red squirrels, deer and so much more! We spent a lot of time around the site, on horseback as well, and even went to a local nature reserve. It was slightly odd because it also had the list of birds you could shoot! We went along a little track and found a lakes full of 'ducks'. As we approached a lake fill of Pintail, Mallards, Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon and some ones even I didn't recognise. I was a bit surprised when they didn't fly off. Well I had it coming, they were plastic, decoy ducks and the 'hide' were shooting hideouts. But then in a twist of events (and 30 degrees heat) we saw seals, waders and an Osprey dive in grab a fish, and come back out. On one day to the beach even turned into a Sandwich Tern, divebombing in front of us in the sea! Sun, sea, sand and a lifer. So some good news!! After a fun filled week we were heading back to the UK, with a small detour to RSPB Arne. Arne coming soon...

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

The Summer Holidays!!!

Finally its the summer and I can't believe I've the holidays are here. Soon we are going to France for 2 weeks so hopefully I can see more brilliant birds on my travels. As well we'll be stopping off at RSPB Arne and Salisbury plain to see the Great Bustards, which live there despite living on MoD land. However I can probably squeeze some extra birding if the weather becomes sunny or a least not raining. Have good birding and a good summer,
Another day like this one please! New Brighton Beach

Saturday, 1 July 2017

SOS trip: Gronant Dunes and 5 lifers!!!

The day started off a bit drizzly, and dark and grey. However as soon as we crossed the border it perked up a bit and it stopped (for now!). We arrived at the car park and after a toilet break, we set off towards the dunes.
We reached the path and immediately spotted Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Linnet and Natterjack toadlets (baby toads) which are rare and nocturnal, but the babies were out in force. Unfortunately lots of them had been stepped on which was sad, but it was a busy path with dog walkers, hikers, birders and lots more. We spotted a Heron in the reeds, and, first lifer, a Sedge Warbler singing its heart out. As we continued our journey towards the dunes we spotted loads more sedge warblers, reed warbler, more linnets, Starlings, Oystercatcher, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Little Egret, Stonechat, Black headed gulls and a brief glimpse of the Little Tern Colony!
A dodgy shot of a Little Tern in flight at the Colony with the beautiful white forehead.
We walked up to the colony and the first thing I felt was the sound of the terns, because it was really noisy, but the terns were absolutely beautiful and the white forehead, orange bill with black tip and size makes them really obvious to identify beside the Common or Arctic Tern. We watched them through scopes, even on the nest. Little Terns nest on the shingle stones that have washed up, but this makes them very vulnerable to threats. Foxes, Kestrels, walkers, the incoming spring tides, dogs and egg collectors (*shudder*) are all a problem for the terns and the wardens who can't watch over them all day and night. It was only recently that the Little Tern colony was destroyed, the birds fleeing the nest and the eggs gone. On the other side of the fence they found trainer foot prints and dog paw prints. Hopefully this will neither happen at Gronant.
A Bee Orchid at Burton Mere
After that we went to Burton Mere scoring Mediterranean Gull, Spotted Redshank and even the breeding Cattle Egret!!!!!!! It was a long, but brilliant, day filled with lifers and more. I hope to go again soon.

On another note I saw a garden warbler today at Whixall Moss, while bird ringing and this trip was on last Sunday.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Just an update

Sorry for not posting in such a long time. What with my year 7 exams (managed to get good-ish marks on all), practising for the school orchestra and other things, the only birding I've managed to fit in is at home. The Blue tit, Great tit, Jackdaw, Sparrow etc. have had the young fledge successfully. I have seen 5 blue tit chicks from the same family and 4 for the great tits, which is great, plus a lot more! However, they are extremely loud when they are calling outside your window at 5am in the morning.
As well, at school, I have managed to discover we have Swallow, House Martin and Swift! Swifts are the most graceful and makes the most boring lesson a bit more interesting. They often are near the Swallows and House Martin and you can really tell the size difference between them.
  • Keep reading my other posts, I will have some more soon!
  • Get out birding
  • And I hope you enjoyed Springwatch (last episode on Thursday but you can catch up on iplayer) if you watched it!!!
A beautiful Wheatear: throwback from Bardsey Island

Sunday, 4 June 2017

The Lleyn Peninsula & 3 lifers

I am writing after a 2 hour car journey and quick detour to see the Ospreys at Glaslyn Osprey project and from the live screen we could watch the chicks despite the rain.
    We stayed near Llanbedrog, only 5 minutes walk from the beach but longer as all the ways to the village were many hills. Unfortunately the beach life was distinctly boring with only the odd garden bird and gull flying over, and the beach only coming up with a singular Oystercatcher. However the beach was set in a beautiful bay, and we saw little fish and crabs and even a Jellyfish. Anyway on Thursday we went to the headland and saw a Stonechat, Linnets and Meadow Pipit and the odd crow (etc.) but the sea was a nice change to the lakes and rivers of Shropshire. Despite the disappointing lack of birds there (in the forest we heard Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler in the forest with a Jay) we were going to Bardsey Island off the Lleyn Peninsula!
    Bardsey Island is meant to be the burial place of 20,000 saints but more importantly home to 20,000 (approx.) pairs of Manx Shearwaters! Of course, we didn't actually see them on the island but out at sea on the journey in we saw 1, not to know of the suprises in store!
     On the journey out we didn't see much till we reached the cliffs, and everything came in a flush of excitement! Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins and the odd Gannet, along with Kittiwakes and gulls were calling and flying and the Guillemots were flying in and bouncing on the water. Some were actively feeding while others simply lounged on the cliffs. There was a hubbub of joy when a Manx Shearwater was seen soaring over the waves (lifer, No.1, check)!
The island and lighthouse

       After arriving on the island we set off on a walk, and went to check the sea. Unfortunately we got dive-bombed by an nesting oystercatcher and we were careful not to let it happen again! They were nesting all over the island and you could hear their alarm calls as an unsuspecting rambler strolled by. The grass was covered in pink Thrift and a Chough (lifer, No.2, check) was picking at it. Soon after we had our lunch while watching sea birds, a grey seal - not at the main seal colony - was fishing in one of the coves and a pair of choughs. We saw a Wheatear and it's chick, adorable, and lots of Linnets. A sea mist covered the island as we departed and we even saw 30 Manx Shearwaters!
       We spotted a Lesser Redpoll at the osprey centre. Sorry for such a long post!!
The beautiful Wheatear chick


Monday, 29 May 2017

The Elan Valley: SOS trip

Last weekend we went to a trip deep in mid-wales, to the Elan Valley with the Shropshire Ornithological Society, where the reservoirs there keep Birmingham (and the local area) with water. With the specialities of Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Redstart and more classic spring woodland species.
   We set off and saw a few House Martin nests and twisting Swallows in the sky. We had already seen a Red Kite on the way there, but for everyone else it was a first for the day. As the least experienced in the group, I learned an awful lot about warbler song and now know that to make a great birder you need to recognise song. Now I can tell you Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Wood Warbler, Pigeons and doves, and a few odd garden birds so I guess its a start. Anyway we walked into the wood and first thing we see is a Willow warbler in full song, and quiet near as well. Next we saw a Pied Flycatcher entering the nestbox and 3 separate Spotted Flycatchers and they were busy, diving round in the wooded area. A few Goldcrests later and we heard a Blackcap and Redstart as well (neither are lifers but just 1 timers) and finally saw a gorgeous male Blackcap singing lovingly. Next the Wood Warbler came and what cracking views we got, right up close. No pictures but I can still remember it now a week on. We went down a slope and saw a Redstart which was cool as the last time I saw one was when I was 9, at RSPB Minsmere. After a Jay and Song thrush and a few garden birds we headed back down the river and back.
   After lunch, and a close encounter with a dog after my sausage roll, we set off round the estate by car and Stonechat and Wheatear were added to my list.

A Pied Flycatcher: not one of my best photographs

Sorry for the lots of writing but a little update:
1) The blue tits and great tits chicks have fledged
2) We literally just saw a Bullfinch through are kitchen window eating dandelion seeds, when we only ever see them in the top paddock.
3) And the Swallows haven't come back and unfortunately we have concluded that they have passed away or chosen another nest site.
4) Its SPRINGWATCH tonight!!!!!! 😊😊