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Birdwatching


taxi4ballet
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I looked out of the window this morning and saw a very large bird perched on my neighbour's tv aerial. Couldn't identify it to start with, so I got out my binoculars...

 

It turned out to be the largest wood pigeon I've ever seen - a massive, giant one. We get a lot of them round here, and this bird must have been nearly double the normal size, heaven knows what it's been eating to make it grow that big!

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I looked out of the window a few years ago and thought the bird table had been stolen.  Then I noticed it collapsed on the floor, presumably because of the giant woodpigeon that used to like to sit on the top of it!  I have seen one or two of these supersized woodpigeons over the years.

 

I like watching waterbirds and would have much more chance of seeing some if Chunkydog would actually walk on the beach as opposed to the prom!  On the odd occasion when I have persuaded her to walk down on the beach at low tide (ie I have to put her on the lead), apart from gulls we have plenty of oyster catchers, curlews, dunlin, knot, sandpipers etc.

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Some of them are huge and because they are now so common can be very annoying!

The number of times Ive rushed for binocs because I think there's a hawk or buzzard flying above the downs and it turns out to,just be a woody!!

 

They can also drive you mad with their 5 note call at 4 am in the summer right outside the window!

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We get a lot of really fat wood pigeons around here too and in spring we suddenly have ducks in the road and local park, even though it has no pond, eating all the crocus.  But the oddest birds we ever had were actually rooks (or crows, can't remember which) which started attacking our windows and frames at dawn.  We believe that they saw their reflections and thought it was enemy birds on their territory.  They attacked about 5 houses, including ours, causing quite a lot of damage to both window frames and themselves.  We had blood dripping on the windows!  The only solution we could find was painting the bottom half of the windows with the stuff used to keep greenhouses cool.  Looked weird but it did the trick.

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A little birdie story

a couple of weeks ago we heard the recognisable thud of a bird flying into the bedroom window.

We could see a little green finch lying on the ground with its legs up in the air in a very "dead" looking position.

My partner went out to have a look and said he thought it was still breathing so lifted it up onto the retaining wall and was going to put it lying in the same position when I suggested he turn it over onto its legs. Certainly if it was "dead" it would have just gone over sideways but it didn't.

Well it didn't move from this position for about an hour and I thought it must have died but when we looked closely its eyes were blinking.

We have a very good wildlife man 5mins in the car and thought this was going to be one for him but we put out some water anyway very close to the little finch though it still hadn't moved off the spot.

Another hour went by and then we noticed it had very slightly changed its direction but still was very still.

Well we had to go out so thought we can take it to the wildlife man when we get back.

But when we got back it was gone. We looked everywhere nearby in case it had fallen of the wall but no sign so can only presume it had recovered and flown off!! (I'm pretty sure it was too close to the house and too enclosed a space for a sparrow hawk to have taken it ) so we think it did survive!

So it just needed time to recover from being "knocked out" I think not leaving it on its back helped too and out of reach of cats!!

I suppose when we get concussed it takes us a while to get over it so same for the bird.

We have had a single green finch in the last week who has been spending longer than usual on the sunflower feeder just sits for quite a while after feeding and looking towards the house.....before flying off.....so we like to think its the same one......as they usually feed more in little groups....but it probably isn't!

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At work, they installed a covered walkway between our old building and a new one, which had glass sides.  After about a week, they kept finding stunned birds on the ground.  Apparently it is very common for birds to fly straight into glass structures, so now there are pictures of the outline of a bird of prey at regular intervals, to deter the smaller birds.

 

I read somewhere that you should never install mirrors in your garden as birds fly straight at them thinking they are attacking another bird. 

 

We get the dreaded ring necked parakeets screeching and squawking on our seed feeder at dawn.  So noisy, and they eat everything. 

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We certainly came to the conclusion that our windows must have been like mirrors and the rooks were attacking their own reflections. When we first saw the blood on the window of the house opposite we thought a bird must have flown into it. Then 5am the next morning saw us and our neighbours outside trying to work out what the horrific noise was as all our windows came under attack as well and woke everyone up. It wasn't until the morning after that when my youngest DD peeped from behind the curtain and saw this large bird pecking the glass that we realised. It really was horrific the damage these birds were doing to themselves. Strangely, it was only that one year and has never happened again since.

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Absolutely stunning and a bit creepy was when the red kites finally moved into our area.  I could sit in my conservatory and watch them circling above.  We lived on a hill and they used to take advantage of the thermals, but they sometimes got too low for my liking.

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These birds and buzzards etc are fantastic to look at though when you do manage to get a closer view on occasions. The finches will definitely have to watch out if move into our area......no red kites yet!

 

More in the winter months we do get the odd sparrow hawk right in the garden and even these comparatively smallish hawks are quite awe inspiring close up. It's never actually taken a bird.......as yet.....but has certainly tried. Because we have a lot of birds feeding in the winter it's probably attracted to the garden but at the same time because there are so many there's usually good warning systems in place!!

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I get sparrowhawks in my garden, and have seen a female attack and kill a wood pigeon twice in the last year.  :( The first time the carnage took place about 3 feet from where I was sitting in my office, taking part in an on-line conference call, and people kept asking me what all the noise was. 

 

I've also had the smaller male perched on my washing line.  They are very handsome birds, and I try to console myself by saying what pests wood pigeons are. 

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Well there definitely seem tobe more woodies around than sparrow hawks! I got quite fond of a baby woody(they don't have the neck markings) this year!

 

No matter how natural it is, its always upsetting seeing an actual "kill"

Hope you didn't manage to say anything inappropriate while it was all going on!

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One Sunday morning in the summer I heard a bunch of rustling and squaking, but on looking out my window - saw nothing.

 

Then abou 5 p.m. (still full light in summer) I saw a large crow dragging a wing - trying to reach a bowl of water I keep filled for the various birds - it gets very dry here.  The crow was attacked by a large hawk before it could reach the water.  The crow scuttled back between the garden wall and the trunk of a very large male pepper tree.  Remembering the scuffle I heard in the morning, it seems this cat and mouse (crow and hawk) contest had been going on all day.  The crow behind the tree - the hawk on the garden wall - and the crow's family watching and squawking from a safe distance.  As the hawk hopped along the stone wall,  I could hear its  long talons.  It was a beautiful but fearsome creature.

 

My husband wanted nature to take its course - but I thought the crow after suffering for so many hours deserved a break. I called the local branch of Project Wildlife - they only rescue wildlife - not dogs and cats or other domestic animals.  I never expected an actual living person to answer (Sunday at 5pm) but a man did and within 25 minutes was at my house, captured the crow and took it to their wildlife  hospital.

 

The crow family watched this entire event - and for weeks afterward whenever I walked from my house they hovered nearby and squawked their anger at me.  I have read they are capable of face recognition.

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Lovely story Anjuli I could just picture it all!

 

Our local man Roger is very good and it's amazing to see the recovery of the mostly wild birds including sea gulls but also foxes and hedgehogs etc.

He always releases them back as near as possible to where they were found.

 

A couple of years ago we took him a magpie we found in the garden whose leg was around the wrong way and had lost some feathers (most likely a cat attack) and we weren't sure whether he'd recover but sure enough I went to visit two weeks later and he was as fit as ever and very active! He was eventually released but are not sure if he's revisited the garden again or not!! He had been one of three baby magpies who visited whom we called Snap, Cackle and Pop.

 

It's difficult this decision whether to interfere or not.....if you can that is.....but I take it that as Ive been a witness to it then Ive become part of the story too so perhaps its the victims lucky day!! so in the end would always go for a rescue if at all possible.

Even Roger has to have some animals put down though or they die anyway but I think he works on the premise that they have to be able to survive in the wild again especially with birds like crows and sea gulls. Some sanctuaries will take foxes and the like.

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I live close to a lake which is a major stopover for migratory birds, geese, etc.

 

One day I was sitting on my porch and saw a huge funnel of geese spiraling up - just like a tornado funnel - only going up instead of down.  When they reached a certain height the birds at the top of the funnel broke off and formed the V and flew off on their migration.   Must have been thousands of birds.  I had often wondered how they get into that V  - and I guess that funnel is the means.

 

And watching a pair of mockingbirds attack a crow - the midair instaneous manueverings - must make a fighter pilot green with envy.

 

It's quite amazing - no radar, no airport tower.

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