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taxi4ballet

Any cuckoos out there? ... and other BirdWatch news

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None here in Saltdean unfortunately!!

 

I used to go to Leonardslee Gardens (not far from Horsham) every time about this time of year largely because of the fantastic azaleas there and always heard a cuckoo.

Unfortunately about three years ago this lovely Gardens closed to the public as the property was sold to new people so haven't had a cuckoo fix since then ......though about three years ago did hear some at Wicken Fen near Cambridge.

 

Will keep a listen out for those cuckoos on their way to Norfolk then ......you never know.

Looks like the Norfolk folk have got all the cuckoos....lucky them!!

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Ungrateful owls.  I made an owl box to the RSPB spec three years ago and all I've had in it are pigeons and crows; in fact I just found another clutch of 5 crow eggs in it.  And they talk about a housing crisis. 

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None down here in Brighton and no swallows or swifts yet either!!

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I can say the same about robins and wrens!!

 

I have every conceivable shape of wren nest box and although it sings it's head of in the garden( at least get that) it never nests in any of them!

 

The robins always disappear end of April ish and never discover their lovely boxes

 

We get starlings and tits nesting mostly.

We used to have a very tall tree and a crow nested there once but it died ( the tree) so don't get them any more.

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Ooh, well Beds must be an avian hotspot at the moment then, because I saw a house martin on Wednesday flying over the house, and on Thursday I was looking out of the window at work, and saw a swift.

 

It'll be pink elephants next!

Edited by taxi4ballet
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We used to have a very tall tree and a crow nested there once but it died ( the tree) so don't get them any more.

 

 

You can help yourself to some of our crows, we have dozens of the wretched things just across the road making an unholy racket.....   I have a few bluetit boxes which get used; it hadn't occurred to me to put boxes out for the robins and wrens, and I might knock some up now.   What we do get in abundance are swallows in the stables, and I love it when they all first emerge and start swooping round.

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Robins find all sorts of funny places to nest. Last year one nested in our garden - on an old bird table buried under some honeysuckle.

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When I was a child, a robin nested in our garage. It had flown in through a tiny crack in the window my father had not got around to fixing.  He wasn't very pleased, because he had to wait weeks before he could get his car out.  I was delighted, though. 

 

We have masses of crows, but the real nuisance here in my part of London is Magpies.  They seem to drive everything out, although we have had successful crops of blackbirds in the past.  None this year, unfortunately, as far as I can see.  Probably just as well,  The strain of distracting the neighbours' cats from our garden is quite tiring. 

 

 

What we do get in abundance are swallows in the stables, and I love it when they all first emerge and start swooping round.

 

How wonderful.  Again, as a child, we had masses and masses of house martins every summer in oour town.  Then people started putting up netting to stop the birds nesting.  Even the police station did it, and to my horror, the local primary school.  Apparently, people didn't like the mess they made.  In the case of the school, the teachers said the birds left droppings on their cars.  What sort of example does that set the future generations.   I mean, come on, a bit of rain and the droppings were soon washed away. 

 

It is illegal to destroy a nest, and it should also be illegal to put up things that prevent visiting birds from nesting in their usual places.   

Edited by Fonty
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I've got masses of birds singing in the garden this morning, they start about 4am and a couple of ducks sunbathing as a bonus. Would be lovely but the peace has been disturbed since 7.30 this morning by hundreds of road cyclists who feel it necessary to cycle past in packs shouting at each other. As they approach the first shouts 'left' then they all question it then it is important to screech 'clear, clear' to each following cyclist even though they are on top of each other.

And don't get me started on those that think they can stop on your drive and chat, have drinks or check their bikes without the good grace to say hello or ask if it is ok. I wouldn't stop on someone's drive or garden in a town so why is it deemed ok in the countryside.

Only positive I can find is thankfully it didn't happen last weekend as I worked night shifts and needed to sleep, would be impossible today.

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I've expanded the title of this thread to cover any birding news (good, bad or indifferent) and moved some posts over from Room 101.

 

I like watching water birds but I am in no way an expert and garden and field birds are a total mystery to me!  Bearing in mind that I live in an urban environment (albeit on the coast) we are lucky enough to have some fields (previously tips going back to Victorian time) at the bottom of our road.  I am absolutely hopeless at spotting small birds.  Recently I went on a guided birding walk through those fields.  We could hear lots of birds but I couldn't see them.  Our guide got quite excited when he saw a black cap (I'll be blowed if I could see it) but he described it and I looked it up in my book when I got home.  Blow me down with a feather but at the start of this week Chunkydog and I were walking up the pathway and a black cap flew in front of me at eye level!!  Previously I would have just thought it was an odd sparrow!

 

At Crosby Lakeside on my way up to the sea wall I saw some small sparrow-sized birds that were quite rusty in colour.  I happened to be on the phone to a friend who is a keen birder and she said my description sounded like pipits.  I looked them up when I got home and she was right - they were water pipits!

 

I love looking at the oystercatchers on the beach when the tide is out too.

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Ugh - you can definitely keep your crows! We had a real problem with them quite a few years ago now. They are very territorial and will protect their area fiercely. Unfortunately the crows around here saw themselves reflected in the windows of our house and about five other houses near us and started attacking the windows at about 4am every morning - to the extent that the house behind us had blood all over the windows. We ended up painting the lower half of all the windows with the stuff you use to keep greehouses cool and leaving it on for a few weeks - for about three years on the trot and then suddenly no more.

 

This year I don't know if we are fortunate or unfortunate as we have a bird of prey - a sparrowhawk or kestrel (not sure which), which has decided our garden is a perfect place to hunt. Its only a small garden and it is quite a sight to have the hawk land just a couple of feet from the patio door, stand on its prey until it stops screaming (and yes birds do scream)and then start plucking feathers. It then seems to eat a little bit before flying off with the rest. Twice it has done it right in front of us now and then yesterday there was another ring of feathers in the garden!

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The sight of a grey heron in a local brook this morning provided the perfect reason to interrupt the run when it started to get a little slow anyway. I find herons so incredibly elegant and graceful, just standing there motionless.

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The sight of a grey heron in a local brook this morning provided the perfect reason to interrupt the run when it started to get a little slow anyway. I find herons so incredibly elegant and graceful, just standing there motionless.

 

 

I love watching cormorants at our local Crosby Lakeside (a man made marina on what had been our local beach, leading up to the sea wall and the beach).  They are not as elegant as herons but I think they are tremendous birds. 

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In North American bird news, we saw an indigo bunting in the back garden for the first time.

 

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/indigo-bunting

 

The first we saw of it was a bright turquoise patch in the trees and we thought it was an escaped budgerigar until we realised it was too big. Then it came to the bird feeder outside the door, which is in the shade, and all of a sudden it wasn't turquoise any more but dark blue-black. According to our field guide, that intense turquoise isn't an actual colour, it's caused by diffraction of sunlight through the feathers. It's a member of the cardinal family, which is another bright-coloured bird over here.

 

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/northern-cardinal

 

In each case the female is sort of drab brownish-grey. Hardly seems fair.

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I like watching water birds but I am in no way an expert and garden and field birds are a total mystery to me!  Bearing in mind that I live in an urban environment (albeit on the coast) we are lucky enough to have some fields (previously tips going back to Victorian time) at the bottom of our road.  I am absolutely hopeless at spotting small birds.  Recently I went on a guided birding walk through those fields.  We could hear lots of birds but I couldn't see them.  Our guide got quite excited when he saw a black cap (I'll be blowed if I could see it) but he described it and I looked it up in my book when I got home.  Blow me down with a feather but at the start of this week Chunkydog and I were walking up the pathway and a black cap flew in front of me at eye level!!  Previously I would have just thought it was an odd sparrow!

 

Last winter I spotted a bird in my garden that I didn't recognise, and various searches in books and on the web showed that it was a blackcap. It turned up on a regular basis throughout the winter. I was most amazed as I hadn't seen it in previous winters, and equally this year it's only been there occasionally. Congratulations, it looks like with the fields and the marina you'll have a regular resident there!

I agree about the cormorants, when I saw these for the first time in a coastal area, I couldn't believe that such birds existed in Europe.

 

Memories of the Crosby marina ... I once took part in a company-sponsored 5k run around the marina, and I was awfully slow ;-)

 

 

In North American bird news, we saw an indigo bunting in the back garden for the first time.

 

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/indigo-bunting

 

 

That's absolutely stunning! Oh, and I love the book by John James Audubon with those wonderful prints of birds.

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We get lots of birds in the garden. I like to feed them and keep the bird bath topped up. That was popular in yesterday's heat. There were so many sparrows in it at one time, it was like a crowded lido. I have to say I don't know what some of the birds are for certain, despite having a guide book. I do love the sound of blackbirds, particularly around now, early in the morning and last thing at night. Something very evocative about their song.

We used to get wrens and skylarks but you don't see them so much now. So much natural habitat is being destroyed by building and chemical spraying, I do like to hear about people doing what they can to help wildlife. We also have a pheasant that has moved in, since its greenbelt field was covered in 'affordable housing'. He was on the fence outside our back door the other day and his screech made me jump out of my skin. We get the sparrowhawk hovering but nature is what it is. I remember once on a country walk, there was a lot of commotion suddenly in the undergrowth. As we stopped to observe, two birds flew out carrying a mouse between them. They seemed to have it by its elbows if mice have elbows, and they flew off with its little body dangling between them, highlighted against the evening sky.

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I live in the centre of London, about half a mile from Tower Bridge.  Most people round here feed the birds, so we get quite a good variety - tits, goldfinches, woodpeckers, a few sparrows.  Lots of pigeons of course, and the occasional visit from Mrs Sparrowhawk.  However, we have two very large problems.

 

I used to have swarms of chaffinches, goldfinches and even the occasional bullfinch.  However, I had to change my seed feeder when swarms of pesky ring necked parakeets moved in and started to eat everything in sight.  I had to put up a feeder with a cage around it, which the finches don't like at all.  So now I don't get any.   And don't get me started on the subject of grey squirrels.  I would happily support any council plan to get rid of both these pests, although so many people think they are cute.  :angry:

Edited by Fonty
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I was watching a tern diving for its lunch at Crosby Lakeside this morning.  They are much more elegant than gulls to my eyes.

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There used to be a lot of seagulls in our road but they have definitely declined in recent years as more and more people have put up netting on the roof to prevent them from nesting.

 

We have had some very tame ones in some years and they really do look at you when close up so you can have a sort of rapport with them and it's lovely when they trust you enough to bring over the babies who are usually already pretty big by then.

 

I do understand why some people are worried by seagulls and crows on their property as they are both VERY noisy and seagulls can be VERY messy but neither my partner nor myself have ever even been remotely near being attacked by these birds......often given a fearsome reputation in the press......

When the crows nested they were very defensive but only against the magpies and seagulls!!

The seagulls were quite deliberately provocative ..... flying really low over the nest even though they couldn't have landed in the tree! But the crows... much smaller.. would carry on chasing them till they were well away from the nest. Also when they nested I learned a bit about crows vocalisation.....they have so many different sorts of sounds including an almost melodious "cooing" noise. The baby crows were so cute with enormous beaks compared to head size ...like most birds. All fledged successfully inspite of the seagulls fancying a tasty morsel if only they could have got to them!!

A success story for us this year are the sparrows nesting in a group box at the front of the house. They have started making a slow come back after having been absent for a few years here so although we put the box up which has three possible take ups some four years ago....this year we have one pair nesting there at last!!

I must admit am beginning to be dubious about these pictures of wrens emerging from boxes .....they haven't been photo shopped in by any chance have they?

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How lovely, Janet.  They usually have them on the top of Tate Modern as well. 

 

Not been along there recently, so I don't know if they are nesting this year.

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I have mixed feelings towards birds this morning as the dawn chorus which woke me up at 4.45am seemed to be at the volume of a football match!   The rain coming after a couple of hot days seems to have got them all stirred up, maybe it brings the worms to the surface.

 

Since moving to the countryside I've become far more tolerant of species such as pigeons and magpies, which are real pests in town but I think just need a lot of space. Our pigeons are fat, clean and brightly coloured, unlike the manky flying rats I dodge in London, and the magpies here seem mostly to dig for insects rather than eating all the baby songbirds as we used to find in town.  They are still thieves however; we put out a couple of dozen night lights with shiny aluminium bases for a party last year and they nearly all got stolen! 

 

I'm looking forward to the buzzards reappearing, which seems to be a sign that summer is here - I like their unearthly cries, and when one occasionally swoops overhead they are of a truly impressive size.

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We live on a housing estate on the edge of some green belt land (due to be built on in the foreseeable future!!) and we have had 2 very beautiful guests wandering around since Christmas. Peacocks. They are very polite, spent a couple of long afternoons in our back garden. We don't know where they came from or who they belong to but they are most welcome visitors. A bit noisy when one loses the other but that's understandable. Love them.

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We live on a housing estate on the edge of some green belt land (due to be built on in the foreseeable future!!) and we have had 2 very beautiful guests wandering around since Christmas. Peacocks. They are very polite, spent a couple of long afternoons in our back garden. We don't know where they came from or who they belong to but they are most welcome visitors. A bit noisy when one loses the other but that's understandable. Love them.

 

Just to change the subject slightly, I find the building on green belt land so depressing.  What is the point of having it at all, if the politicians allow strident lobbyists from the building sector to persuade them to raise dreary housing estates or blocks of flats.  There are so many studies that say people need open space or they become depressed.  You can guarantee that the people who allow this are in no danger of having vast swathes of concrete being erected near where they live. 

 

Anyway, back to birds.  We had a visit from a pheasant last year to the local park at the back of my house, which was a bit startling in central London.  No idea where it came from, but it strutted across the grass and hid in some growth around a tree.  I was watching from the kitchen window, and many dogs went past and didn't spot it at all.  When I went out later, I had the greatest difficulty seeing it, even though I knew exactly where it was.  Perfect camouflage. 

Edited by Fonty
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How's this for an ominous Friday 13th sighting?  I was driving down a country road this morning en route to a wallet-rupturing tyre replacement appointment, when a big crow flew low across the road in front of me - with a snake in its beak.   The snake must have been 15-18 inches long, quite a load for the bird.  My sons are currently trying to turn this into some Game of Thrones prediction about Jon Snow ;)

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The crow is showing that you will have a bountiful summer by showing you how big a snake it caught for lunch!

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How's this for an ominous Friday 13th sighting?  I was driving down a country road this morning en route to a wallet-rupturing tyre replacement appointment, when a big crow flew low across the road in front of me - with a snake in its beak.   The snake must have been 15-18 inches long, quite a load for the bird.  My sons are currently trying to turn this into some Game of Thrones prediction about Jon Snow ;)

 

Hopefully the dead snake was Ramsay Bolton.

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