Friday, October 01, 2010

Another deformed Chaffinch

This Chaffinch has a severely swollen chest. Its not quite the deformity of a male Chaffinch we had in the garden in March 2009. See here for the Elephant Chaffinch (not played by John Hurt!).

Sparrowhawk eats Woodpigeon

Liz and I watched this female Sparrowhawk tucking in to this still live Woodpigeon. It was on the drove outside the house as we viewed from the office window. She flew off with it without any difficulty. Strong lass.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Cattle Egret - at last!

Cattle Egret with Lapwings, Nene Washes, 21 Sept 10
© Steve Dudley

At last! Not just third time lucky for this individual, but a long over due PBC tick for me! First there was the infamous bird race day Lesser Black-backed Gull. And then came the the 2008 bird found by Brian Stone around Elton. I dipped this bird, but what really hurt was reading in the Cambs 2008 bird report that the great suppressors Andy Frost and Richard Jones excelled themselves in keeping its presence secret at Caldecote for a week. Ah well. All good things come to those who wait!

Common Cranes, Nene Washes, 21 Sept 10 © Steve Dudley

These three Common Cranes were a bonus. They bred on the washes this year and here is the single young with the two adults.

Lesvos (again!)

Violet Dropwing, Achladeri Forest, Lesvos. 16 Sept 10 © Steve Dudley

Just back from Lesvos. I'll try and post a wee report and some more photos later. This dragonfly taken with my new Canon 7D with a loaned Canon 400mm f5.6 telephoto lens.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Madeira seabirding

White-faced Petrel, c.12 miles north of Madeira, 6 August 2010
© Oliver Nüssen

Liz and I are just back from a fabulous trip to Madeira which included a superb 3-day pelagic with Madeira Wind Birds. See here for a short report and some of my snaps - no where near as good as the fabulous photo by Oliver Nüssen - White-faced Petrel has always been one of my dream birds (from when it was known as Frigate Petrel) and I found this stunner which spent quite a while feeding around the boat on the second day of the pelagic.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nutter in the garden!

Amazingly, a Nuthatch this lunchtime bouncing around the gardens here shouting its head off.

It was one of those nagging moments. I was playing with the new pup in the garden and kept hearing this call from across the road. Each time I thought ‘that’s familiar’ and started searching through my grey cells for a match. Eventually, and somewhat bizarrely some might think, it took me to a valley on Lesvos and Nuthatch sprang to mind. ‘Nah’ that cant be it I thought. So pup on lead we wandered across the road and within a few minutes tracked the caller down, and sure enough my grey cells had been right, and garden tick no. 131. Later in the afternoon it wandered briefly in to the trees of our garden and our next door neighbours, before heading back to the more mature tree area of the house opposite and adjacent farm.

Not quite sure where the nearest nutters from me, but must be a few miles at least. It also reminded me about when I added nutter to my Thetford garden list. Another calling bird This time an open office window brought in the call and looking out I eventually found it rummaging in the roof-gutter of my neighbour’s house! I’ve since added Melodious Warbler and Wryneck to my roof-gutter forager list!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Nowt like a bigoted fisherman to rile birders

Well, we all know there is friction in some quarters between birders and fisherman. The problem largely stems from ignorant bigots such as Angling Times contributor Steve Partner. Just read is brilliantly titled 'The dark heart of twitching' article at Angling Times.

To quote Partner 'It's a story that I guarantee will ignite fury'. Aye, it does that alright, but not in anglers, but in the millions of law abiding birdwatchers Partner is slandering with this crap. Partner suggests an individual who is legally controlling Cormorants, who is armed with a rifle and has a dog with him, is 'challenged by a man, almost certainly a birdwatcher, who had been spying on him while he undertook the shoot. Malcolm was then verbally abused before being punched in the face. Unable to defend himself because he had his hands full with gun, dead cormorant and a dog lead, he turned away, only to be subjected to the epitome of cowardice: he was repeatedly punched in the back.

The attack, which some of the better informed are suggesting may have been committed by a 'heavy' paid for by the birdwatching fraternity that also use Carr Mill Dam, left him with a broken nose and cracked ribs. All this for simply helping a fishing club safeguard its stock. Sometimes, rarely, words fail me.'

Well, words fail me too Mr Partner. In my 20+ years of birding and in all that time working in the administration of birdwatching at the local and national level, I've never heard such crap suggesting that 'almost certainly' a birdwatcher undertook the attack, or it was 'committed by a 'heavy' paid for by the birdwatching fraternity'. That's right, I forgot, that whip-round we all had last year to 'do in' fisherman and others.

The fact is Mr Partner, its all in your head. Yes, someone may have been assaulted, but to state this had anything to do with a birdwatcher is pure fantasy. I know of just as many non-birdwatchers who dislike the controlling of animals at any level, but I dont know of anyone, birdwatcher or otherwise, who goes around punching people in the face. Perhaps we associate with different sorts of people oourselves.

Its amazing that any publication should publish such nonsense. It is poor journalism in the extreme and even poorer editorial control. Unless of course Angling Times supports Mr Partner's views of birdwatchers (anyone like to guess if they do or not?!)

Its nice to see that with 174 votes on Steve Partner's article, it gets a rating of one star! well done all those (like me) who voted to send a message to Angling Times that this sort of bilge is not wanted nor needed.

And coincidentally I received an email from the Chairman of an angling association in the NE today asking for support for their habitat restoration scheme at their fishery to benefit local wildlife. I pointed him to Steve Partner's article and suggested that with cretins such as Partner in their midst, anglers were unlikely to receive much support from the birdwatching community. His response 'Thanks for bringing the article to my attention i had not seen it, who needs enemies when you have insensetive bigots like that in your corner'.

Well, for Mr Partner's benefit, many people who are against fishing are anti because of the actions of people like himself and people who litter the countryside with fishing line which is a danger to wildlife. IN just a couple of minutes searching online I came across numerous images of birds caught in fishing line like this Black-throated Diver and, aamzingly, Tawny Owl, below.

Black-throated Diver with fishing line trailing from bill © Tomasz Kulakowski

An amazing image of a drowned Tawny Owl caught in fishing line © Steve Nunn / New Hythe Wildlife Blog