Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Essex Birding drops onto my mat!

Yesterday the latest copy of 'Essex Birding' dropped on to my mat. I have today only just had a chance to look at it, as yesterday the weather was so good, I spent the day at Hockley Woods. I hadn't intended to spend the whole day there, infact the afternoon I had planned to visit Goldhanger. But, finding a Lesser Spotted woodpecker took me all day and even then I didn't manage it! Can't complain though, I had a great day, in a great location with wonderful sunshine. I saw at least six Great Spotted and one Green Woodpecker, along with Treecreeper, Nuthatch and a singing male Coal Tit, a local rarity these days!

Anyway, back to the magazine, Essex Birding is the journal of the Essex Birdwatching Society and is published twice yearly.

An excellent magazine, this current issue has 48 pages, full of topical and informative articles, usually penned by group members. There is always a comprehensive 'Recent Reports & Bird News section covering the prevoius six months. I can't recommend Essex Birding highly enough, if you live in Essex and have an interest in ornithology, you really should be a member and support your county bird club. You recieve the journal twice a year, as well as the annual bird report all for just £16 per year. You can join here

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

The Grumpy Ecologist: The Chase

I could not have put it better, thanks Graham, it will be a sad, sad day when these cuts are implemented.

The Grumpy Ecologist: The Chase

Thursday, 7 February 2013

A Few Days In Buckinghamshire

Spent the last few days visiting my family in Buckinghamshire, stayed with my mum and managed to catch-up with my four sisters and brother. I am the only one to have moved away from my home county. I tell them it was to get away from them lol. It is always great to go home and see them all and for me to also see the Red Kites.

While I was growing up in Risborough, Red Kites were confined to Wales and I would annually travel to see them. How things have changed, with the successful reintrduction to England, they are now literally commoner than sparrows, well al least in my mum's garden they are. The maximum I counted in the air at once was twelve, while during three days the House Sparrows never made it to double figures! Should we be concerned for the humble House Sparrow? I for one think so!

I took loads of flight shots and never managed one sharp image, must try harder!

Good to see the female Blackcap, that I noticed back in December was still present and feeding on the fatballs.

These two images are for my mum and the last one is absolutely true, bless her.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

A Day at Wat Tyler

View from the hide, taken while waiting for the Bittern to put in it's daily, but brief fly-by. After two hours I gave up, and yep you've guessed it, ten minutes later it shows and lands in front of the hide!

Popped into the RSPB's visitor centre, it was great to catch-up with some of my former colleagues and friends. Took a couple of pictures of the Jay, through the window, who was frequently coming to the  peanut feeder, I'm guessing he was stashing rather than eating them all.

Garden bird feeding area looking good.

The snowdrops are out, whey hay!

Added both Peregrine Falcon and Spotted Redshank to my Essex yearlist today, I have now seen 110.

UK Moth Numbers Suffer Crash, 40-year Study Shows!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Roll Out The White Carpet!

Two things are guaranteed to lift my spirits at this time of year. One is the lengthening of the days: mild days in February often deliver false promises of spring, but progress towards longer evenings is a relentless, celestial certainty - at least until midsummer's day. The second event, the appearance of snowdrops spearing through the soil, is a consequence of the first.

Roll out the white carpet. A much-anticipated sight in the winter months, the snowdrop's slim green leaves and bobbing white blooms are iconic. 

Snowdrops are able to survive the cold winter months and flower so early, because they grow from bulbs. Seeds are produced provided there are insects around to pollinate the flowers, and early emerging queen bumblebees will provide this service when the weather is warm and dry enough.
It used to be thought that the snowdrop was native to the far south west of England and the Welsh borders. However, it was first recorded growing in the wild in the 18th century, after being cultivated over here since 1598. As such, although formally considered native, it is actually a recent arrival.

In some counties the snowdrop is or was known as 'Death's Flower' and it was considered extremely unlucky to bring it into the houuse.