Friday, 30 November 2012

Title Banner or No Title Banner

I have added a banner to the top of my blog, a Whooper Swan taken at WWT Martin Mere. What do you think?

Or should I go for this one:

I really like the three different ducks - the Shell Duck and the Pintails.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

BTO Part 3 - Blues, Greens, Blacks and Bumble Foot

My third and final BTO post is mostly about me holding and watching the wonderful Blue Tit.

This little fellow was a little aggresive when Andy was passing it on to me, as you can see he was a little pesky, but I don't blame it as I am slightly bigger than him!  

You know when you see a Blue Tit on your feeder or in a tree it looks like an everyday bird, however, this little fella is probably more amazing than seeing a Slender Billed Curlew when you're holding one in your very hand.

It felt like holding the world when I was holding the Blue Tit. He allowed me to see if it was young or old by looking at the alula feathers (greenish for a juvenile).

This Blackbird didn't really fancy his ring being chosen for him, so he picked his own.

This image is a little blurred but it shows how the bird gets ringed. A lovely Greenfinch this time.

My brother was laughing so much when he was holding the Greenfinch, which set me off laughing and then everyone else. But it is so amazing to lift your hand and let the bird fly away.

This poor little Chaffinch was unfortunately not allowed to be ringed because it had bumble foot, due to this if a ring was put on it would rub on the leg and make it sore. Brian has to clean his hands after touching the Chaffinch with bumble foot to stop the bacteria spreading to any other birds. This is also why you should clean your feeders regularly.

This is another blurred image, but it shows how the birds get weighed in little pots. This was the Blackbird getting weighed.

Over all my favourite bird of the day was the small but beautiful Gold Crest.

And that is the story of my brilliant day with Andy and Brian from the BTO.

Monday, 26 November 2012

A Hand Full of Gold - BTO part 2

This is part 2 of my day at Martin Mere, when I met Andy and Brian who are ringers for the BTO.

The last bird that we got out of the net was .....................  a Gold Crest (the smallest bird in Europe), which I was made up with.

I was so interested in the fact that when Andy blew on the top of the head, burning orange flared from the crest on top of the head which proved it was a male, since the females crest doesn't flare orange underneath.

They are so small that their beak is only as long as your finger nail, however it doesn't change the fact that they are beautiful birds.

I was taught a lot that day and learned how to hold a small bird (two fingers alongside the neck and your thumb just above the Tarsus so it acts like a cage), and how to ring a bird, measure a birds wing, check to see if it's a male or a female and check to see if it's young or old.

Again the most enjoyable bit was watching the bird fly free and unharmed at the end.

I think I've got a head start to being a good bird ringer. I just can't wait to start my training.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Meeting The BTO At Martin Mere Bird Fair

I have just had one of the best experiences out of my birding life; the bird fair at Martin Mere. When I arrived I went to a hide called Kingfisher Hide where Andy and Brian were doing ringing demonstations. As you can see these are the nets that they put up.

Here are the rings and equipment they use.

The first catch of the day was a female Great Spotted Woodpecker. She really wasn't happy about being caught, but I can't say I blame her.

Just look at all the red on the back of it's tail.  The woodpecker was fitted with a size C ring, it's wings were measured and then it was weighed. 

I must say a really big thank you to Andy and Brian who showed me how to hold and release the birds.

Here is Brian passing me the woodpecker. I managed to avoid being pecked and got to see this wonderful bird up close.

I must admit this was the best experience. As brilliant as it was to see the bird close up, the bit I really enjoyed was letting it fly free again. 

I spent most of the day checking the nets with Andy, and helping both Andy and Brian ring, weigh and measure the birds.

There was an even more exciting catch than the woodpecker, but you will have to read about that later in the week. I have learnt so much today about telling the age of birds from they wings, but more about this in my next few blogs.

Hope your weekends were just as exciting.

Our World Tuesday

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Breakfast with the Starlings, before it's too late!

Finally I've got more news from the birdhide, the greedy but beautifully speckled Starlings.

Even though this picture is a little blured, I really like it. It is just the fact that they typically have their mouths filled with food.

Even though we get loads of Starlings in our garden, (in europe)  from1979 Starlings have declined by 80% almost 40 million birds. 150 Starlings have beeen lost each hour since the 1980s.

Climate change, pollution, loss of habitat and global warming are all creeping in, so all of us birders and wildlife lovers are going to have to do something or eventually these birds will be as rare as the Ivory Billed Woodpecker.

And I just hope these birds will still be around for me to enjoy over breakfast in the hide.

What do you all think we should be doing to change this situation?

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Whoopers, Pinkies and Greylags

This morning I visited one of my favourite nature reserves Martin Mere Wetlands and it brought some delightful bird life just like these wonderful Whooper Swans coming in to land.

This is one of the many families that floated serenely on top of the water.

There haven't been many Bewicks Swans about, but the ranger said they are yet to come.  It looked amazing when all the families of Swans were coming into land or take off.

Of course there were some individuals hanging about.

The rangers said there were about 10,000 Pink Footed Geese about at the moment and one day last week they had a flock of about 26,000 Wood Pigeon which doubled the number of birds on the reserve, 

There were plenty of Greylag Geese about, however there aren't as many as the PFG.

I do like PFG especially when they fly, even though they make a right raquet.

In this group all the PFG took of with a group of Lapwing.

Now of course I can't forget the waders, I saw Redshank and Ruff.

And a bird I could not miss, and the first time I have seen one, the Pintail.

Reed Buntings were busy on the feeders, they were quite tame as well.

The Heron was about, in fact he was right up next to the hide.

A brilliant, brilliant day.  Hope you all had a good weekend too.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Collared Dove Close Ups

I have just put some food out on a tray close to the birdhide and as soon as I sat down in on my stool a Collared Dove came down to feed.

It is quite hard to get photos from the slots, but I had plenty of time to wait this afternoon.

As you can see when he finished he had his crop full of seed.

I have been getting close up to plenty of other birds as well, just like this wonderful Goldfinch.

And I can't forget the House Sparrows. They have been everywhere today. 

I will get some other pictures to share as well.
Happy Birding.

Friday, 16 November 2012

News From The Hide

As I have recently mentioned, I have had a bird hide built for me; and for the past few mornings I have been having breakfast inside.

Sadly no pictures, but I have seen some stunning birdlife (I will try and get some pictures over the weekend). The only problem is the feeders are really close up so I am literally almost 30cm from the bird when it lands on a feeder.  I might move them back a bit for photos like Richard has suggested, but for just watching them it's great to see them so close.

Heres what I've seen:
Starlings, a single Wren, Blue Tits, Collared Dove, Magpie, House Sparrow, Buzzard, Canada Geese, the odd one out goose (Mr White), FieldFares, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle Thrush and I am sure I will see plenty more.   

Monday, 12 November 2012

Building My Own Bird Hide

Yesterday my dad started to make a garden bird hide out of an old shed that wasn't used much. 

There is slots cut in the sides to see each feeder, it's even got one for the field so I can always see what the Buzzards are up to.

Dad has fitted shelves to rest elbows on and mum got 2 tall stools for us to sit on.

My brother always takes a sneaky peak out of each slot, he thinks the stools are really comfy.

Since the hide is nearly finished I decided to fill the feeders up and sit in the hide and see if anything would come down to feed.

One of the shed slots it is right up close to the feeders. And thats the one which is normally most active so I have to keep quiet, so I don't spook the birds.

Another slot gives a great view of the fence feeders.  I bought some new  food/treats for the birds...... insect pellets.

The roof sometimes leaks, but my dad is going to fix that by putting some felt on the top.

I need a few more things like a white board to record my sightings and stuff like that.

This morning I woke up and was straight into the bird hide and then my mum found me there.  She was laughing and I was even aloud breakfast inside the hide!!!!!

Bagel, orange juice and birding.

Our World Tuesday

Wild Bird Wednesday