Category Archives: Ornithology

Earlier Birds

The earlier birds catch the worms?

Not always the wisest of choices in this “dog eat dog” world of survival of the fittest. Yet Blackbirds are known for taking risks by attempting to rear an early brood. But this early?

For more information, please follow the attached link to Chris Foster’s wonderful blog at Considering Birds.

Considering Birds

An insistent chirrup gave it away: a just-out-of-the-nest blackbird begging for food under the shelter of an evergreen oak. Its parents were both in close attendance, and if they’re capable of complex thought they were no doubt thinking smugly that their gamble had paid off. The blackbird is usually an early bird, but a fledged chick on February 10th is evidence of an astonishingly early breeding attempt, though by all reports not an isolated one this year. Somehow this pair had snuck around building a nest, feeding and raising a chick almost under our noses, deep in the low hedges that line a well-traversed footpath. I’d seen the male carrying a worm, rather than immediately swallowing it, but not put two and two together. I hadn’t heard him singing, nor seen either parent carrying nest material.

At dusk on that same day a different male blackbird was in full…

View original post 194 more words

A Christmas Robin with a spring in its step, not least its voice! And just why might that be.

Of late, I’ve heard song from Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Robins, Mistle Thrushes, Great Tits and Coal Tits and probably a couple more I haven’t mentioned. Why?

Perhaps this pre-Christmas Davis weather station graph might help guide you towards an answer.

 

Pre-Christmas Air Temperature Maximums - December 2015

Pre-Christmas Air Temperature Maximums from Newbury, Berkshire – December 2015 so far.

 

Yes, the unseasonable Temperatures aren’t helping our bird’s natural processes of late, least not, nature in general is pretty confused. The minimum Temperatures as illustrated by the chart below don’t help things much either. You’ll note that I am yet to register a single Air Frost in December. Once again, the blue line (in this case, maroon) represents the approximate average conditions expected in any given year.

 

Pre-Christmas Air Temperature Minimums - December 2015

Pre-Christmas Air Temperature Minimums from Newbury, Berkshire – December 2015 so far.

 

Now time for some Christmas cheer. Voted No.1 in David Lindo’s UK’s Favourite Bird survey, as promised, here is our Christmas Robin.

 

P1010617

A Robin Redbreast (Erithacus rubecula)

Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year from Tony Powell and UKbirdingtimeline.com

 

 

naturestimeline Education services – “A conservation professional sharing his personal perspective on breaking news stories from the world of nature alongside his own accounts from the field.”

and

Climate Change effects on our already vulnerable Bird species

Here is an article which recently grabbed my attention, courtesy of BirdLife International. Do have a read through it.

The Messengers: Preview our upcoming climate change report

As with most things in nature, be it climate, birds or otherwise, there is a certain amount of predictability about our knowledge of things but also other aspects remain unchartered waters, so to speak. One thing you can be sure of, is that some species are in dire need of human intervention if they are to sustain their own populations. With frequent flash flooding episodes on the rise, we know for a fact that such events will continue to decimate many vulnerable ground-nesting bird’s broods. Equally, when left unchecked, so too do the rising numbers of egg and chick-raiding predators. These are in reality additional threats over and above those mentioned within the article. I therefore believe that we at least need to mitigate against Climate Change, even if it is the only action most will be willing to take.

naturestimeline Education services – “A conservation professional sharing his personal perspective on breaking news stories from the world of nature alongside his own accounts from the field.”

and

First proper signs of Autumn in the air

Just the other day I made a concerted effort to go to a networking event which is an unusual thing for me to do but needs must, I guess. In truth, I’m not an overly social being which is quite unlike those nomadic wanderers, Redwings (Turdus iliacus) which always tend to arrive around these parts at this time of the season.

Well, to cut a long-story short, into the wee early hours of Sunday 11th October after the above-mentioned event  I heard some Redwing calling (example calls provided by xeno-canto.org) overhead for the first time this Autumn. In reality I cannot be sure how many, probably only just a couple but they’ve arrived, yippee.

You can see from the chart below that their arrival dates in my patch have been very consistent during recent years.  As this was also at approximately one o’clock in the morning I feel I did quite well to be so observant at such an hour.

First Redwing of Autumn (locally) as of 2015

First Redwing of Autumn (locally) as of 2015

Click on the chart image above in order to access the datasets in full screen.

Best Wishes and Happy Redwing hunting amongst a plethora of other Autumnal delights.

and

A change of direction – cross posted from naturestimeline

Time for a widespread change of direction with this Blog? Maybe, maybe not. See my posting from the other blog – naturestimeline

Please provide your thoughts as to how UKbirdingtimeline could develop.

Over time, this Blog will pick its feet up once again and the intention is make things more interactive.

I will be back.


UKbirdingtimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+

Could it be a Waxwing winter?

Anybody with access to the various bird news services will be aware of the increasing numbers of these northern Vikings. As true inhabitants of arctic and subarctic lands, they only descend to our shores, upon failure of their favoured Rowan berry crop. Right now, Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) are thinly spread across the United Kingdom. Should you wish to seek them, one should head to places with a rich abundance of exotic berries, such as Cotoneaster, Pyracanthus and the like. Unsurprisingly then, supermarket car parks are favoured locations, along with your own berry-laden back garden. Waxwings are renowned as voracious eaters and in Birds Britannica, it is quoted that an individual was on record as having eaten approximately 600 to 1000 berries, over the course of one sitting. Consequently, if you wish to see a flock of these delightful birds, you may have to be quick off the blocks.

*As ever, the images represented below, come courtesy of BWPi, published in association with Birdguides.com


UKbirdingtimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+

VisMigging time again

Are you a VisMigger, have you ever participated in VisMigging?

VisMigging, short for Visible Migration is where a person/persons sets out to pan the skies overhead for signs of avian life.

As a citizen scientist, whose claim to fame is in being a top ten BirdTracker in 2011, I view this pastime as an extremely useful scientific tool. Any birder with a keen eye and ear will produce valuable findings. With the fresh Autumnal air reinvigorating you, what could be better? As well as the fact, that hundreds and thousands of other folk participate, you are not alone in this.

Looking back at the records elsewhere in 2010, the highlight proved to be the large numbers of Lapland Buntings (Calcarius lapponicus)a true passage migrant.

Lapland Bunting, a non breeding Male

Lapland Bunting, a non breeding Male

Come 2011, the more common miniscule lightweight Finch, the Siskin (Carduelis spinus), was to take the honours.

Siskin, a Summer plumaged female

Siskin, a Summer plumaged female

The latter species was to smash several all-time site records with huge numbers seen or heard, most likely due to lessened availability of their favoured tree seed crop over in Scandinavia.

So what of this year? The prevailing weather conditions are important and add to the general air of anticipation. With the United Kingdom expected to be under a general Northwesterly flow over the coming weeks, it should make things move. Although recently however, quite a few of us Brits have basked in warm sunshine, thanks to a nearby High Pressure cell. Under the influence of this particular climate synoptic, locally, Swallows and House Martins have slowly moved through. Rather oddly, though, I witnessed a late Common Swift on the 3rd September.

Swift

Swift

To assist your own observations, you should gain a good knowledge of the local terrain. Another recommended practice is to follow weather forecasts in the media for opportunities affording weather windows. These are simply gaps between the passing of showery outbreaks or warm or cold fronts. As like us humans, the birds and wildlife in general will react to these everyday nuances. Additionally, Moon Phases play a role and let’s not forget, the diminishing daylight hours as we head towards the Autumn Equinox.

For your information, I have listed below, a select few websites which are dedicated to the science of Visible Migration.

BTO Bird Migration Blog

The Bird Observatories of Britain & Ireland

Trektellen Migration counts in Great Britain

Durlston Country Park Daily Diary

 

Do let us know of any other websites that you become aware of.


 UKbirdingtimeline – courtesy of Tony William Powell on Google+

*As ever, bird images are courtesy of The Birds of the Western Palearctic interactive DVD, produced in association with Birdguides.