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!!!!!! 😊😊

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Nesting Blue tits

Our Blue Tits have started nesting and bringing anything from flies, peanuts, mealworms and more! hopefully little baby blue tits will be emerging soon. Spring is definitely on its way except our swallows. I don't know if anyone else has experienced this but are Swallows are still not back! I am quite worried but hope they'll be alright!
The blue tit in the box
Please read my post on Woodlane etc.

Woodlane Nature Reserve

Today we went to Woodlane nature reserve, nr Ellesmere, and although it wasn't a very nice day we had high-ish hopes to see the Sand Martins, and maybe a Grey plover. Unfortunately the Grey Plover had gone but we still saw 2 Little ringed plovers, and lots of goslings and ducklings which were adorable! The gulls were kicking off and building nests and a few fights broke out. Sticks were flying while in a small corner an Oystercatcher was on a nest as well. There were lots of fisherman but not many birders. We did see Jim Almond, who has a Shropshire birder blog (definitely worth a visit), and visited some of the other hides. You have to have a permit to go into the hides but apart from that it is well worth to go see and great waders and warblers sometimes and in spring definitely. It was a great day overall. The best birds were Little ringed plovers, ducklings and goslings.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Trip to the Stiperstones

If anyone who went on the trip, please tell the leader it was amazing!!
Somehow it was a beautiful day, not a cloud, and a Linnet, lifer :), and a beautiful Whitethroat! Now I'm on 160, and still going. Anyway back to the trip. There was about 20-30 people on the trip all spread out, with lots of different experiences of birding, me probably near the end, and as soon as we left a cuckoo was calling. It set off an amazing day. Soon enough in the first couple of minuets we saw 2 Meadow Pipit, a Stonechat and a Skylark. We moved on with Skylark and Meadow Pipit after each over, and even a Snipe!
These were the main birds over the relatively easy terrain, if in parts a little wet, but it wasn't just birds! There were amazing Green Hairstreaks and lots of moths. It was amazing how much people knew. We also had to cross a field full of cows, I have small and controlled fear of cows (bulls pretty much), and a giant dun bull, lumps of muscles toned on his hide, and I was really worried. Fortunately lots of people were scared and everyone was veering to the left, as the bull was to the right. Then I saw the Tree Pipit, lifer number 2.
A Red Kite drifted over while a Kestrel hovered and a Buzzard drifted, and this was a major see for me. Now not for numbers as I have seen 300 at one time at Gigrin Farm, in Wales. But at my house I have only seen 2 in 12 years and one at Lower Heath, by the primary school, so this was great. It is one of the best places in Shropshire to see them now.
An incredible day overall and today I got birdwatching magazine.

Friday, 5 May 2017

How many lifers????

So if you go back in my archive you will probably find my new year lifer list. I have managed to tick off
  1. Meadow Pipit
  2. Wheatear
  3. Goldcrest
  4. Brambling
And approx. 8-10 other lifers (can't remember the exact number) for this year! Yes! 🐦🐦

In another news I had to present my project on birds, for science, and it went really well! Everyone enjoyed it, I hope, and I did about food chains, anatomy, facts, birds that can't fly, bird classification and habitat. I enlisted my friend to help with the drawing of the food chain. Unfortunately my friend neither knows the difference between a Grey Heron and a Merlin and cannot draw birds. I did a simple woodland food chain.
Grass > caterpillar > blue tit > sparrowhawk
She simply wrote grass > caterpillar > bird > big bird
This sort of ruined the process of scientific fact but her 'amazing' drawing managed to make everyone laugh as well. She did about Snow Leopards.