Sunday 23 March 2014

New Garden - New List! Birds of The Cottage.

Elis and I have moved back to Newport Pagnell in Bucks. Our brief sojourn to Northants didn't work out too well with regard to garden birds although we did try to attract as many as we could. The really cold snap in early 2013 helped a great deal adding some new species. In the end the list was a mere 41 (not nearly as impressive as our Brazilian fourth-floor apartment which ended on 101). Highlights were a long staying Fieldfare and a small group of Siskins that brought with them a Lesser Redpoll one day.
Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret, Siskin Carduelis spinus and Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis A lone Lesser Redpoll visited our feeder arriving with a group of Siskins.
Our new abode is slightly more rural in the sense that it backs onto fields. in Northants we had regular Buzzards overflying the house but here we have Red Kites as well as Buzzards, in fact they are much more regularly seen. We have also seen a Sparrowhawk just the once.

The feeders already attract a small number of birds including Great and Blue Tit, both of which were very occasional visitors to the feeders further north. Finches are represented by Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch so far, thrushes by Blackbird, Song Thrush (heard only singing his heart out in the early morning, but we have yet to find him) and Robins.
Great Tits Parus major; This pair inspected the nest box, but seem to have lost interest.
There are Dunnocks and Wrens making up the compliment of small birds. In addition there is a large Wood Pigeon that visits every day, we'll draw a veil over the Feral Pigeon that flew over and in the field we have seen Magpies, Carrion Crows, Rooks and Jackdaws.
Dunnock Prunella modularis; among the spring primroses.
At the bottom of the field there are some ponds and down there we sometimes get Mute Swans and Cormorants and surprisingly so far we have only seen Starling once when a pair sat on the barn roof, the male singing for all it was worth. Recently we heard a Green Woodpecker yaffling, but we couldn't get a look at it however today a female came to visit our lawn in search of something to eat.
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis; this female perched on the apple tree before going to the lawn.
Green Woodpecker Picus viridis; feeding on the lawn.
As if this wasn't exciting enough we also got a Cottage tick when  Marsh Tit came briefly to the feeders, lets hope it'll be back soon.
Marsh Tit Poecile palustris; a brief visit. 
Signs of spring are in the air too, the Great Tits inspected the nest box and are singing away, the as yet unseen Song Thrush gives forth every morning and the Blackbirds are warming up. Today we saw the first evidence of Dunnocks nesting when a bird was seen carrying nesting material and headed for a bush in the neighbour's garden. The other day a Goldfinch spent some time tearing moss from the lawn to construct its nest, but it flew away over the barn so we don't know where it is nesting exactly.
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis; this individual was collecting nesting material. It landed on the mossy lawn and although it already had a beak full of white downy material it attempted to collect moss from the lawn often dropping the downy material and hastening after it.
The other night we gave a talk to the Chorleywood RSPB group about our charity Wader Quest, when we returned there was a pair of toads in a passionate clinch on our doorstep.
Common Toad Bufo bufo; caught in the act on our doorstep!
All of this means that The Cottage list is at 24 after just four days, and we can expect much more to come I think!

Sunday 9 March 2014

Good looking gulls.

I don't know about you, but I'm not one of those that finds gulls fascinating, unlike with waders I can't sit and sift through a flock and study the minutiae of plumage details. Don't misunderstand me though, I find them really attractive and on our travels around the world we have seen some real corkers.
Hartlaub's Gull Croicocephalus hartlaubii; Simonstown, Western Cape, South Africa.
Red-billed Gull Croicocephalus scopulinus; Christchurch, Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand. 

Dolphin Gull Leucophaeus scoresbii; Porvenir, Tierra del Fuego, Chile.
Grey Gull Leucophaeus modestus; Antofagasta, Antofagasta, Chile. 
Heermann's Gull Larus heermanni; San Diego, California, USA.
Belcher's Gull Larus belcheri; Villa Marshes, Lima, Peru.

Franklin's Gull Leucophaeus pipixcan; Villa Marshes, Lime Peru.

Andean Gull Croicocephalus serranus; Marcapomacocha, Junín, Peru.

Ivory Gull Pagophila eburnea; Patrington, Humberside, England.
Brown-headed Gull Croicocephalus brunnicephalus; Bang Poo, Samut Prakan, Thailand.
Kep Gull Larus dominicanus; Punta Arenas, Magellanes y Antárctica Chilena, Chile

Laughing Gull Leucophaeus atricilla; Everglades National Park, Florida, USA. 
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis; Bolsa Chica, California, USA.
Western Gull Larus occidentalis; San Diego, California, USA.