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The Great British Bird Hunt

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7 hours ago, Illyria said:

Whenever I read the topic name I think this is about hunting chicks

 

(ha, get it) 

I was wondering if I should change the name, as it does sound a bit aggressive.

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Learnt a new trick from following York birdwatchers on Twitter - the quick and dirty iPhone-down-the-binoculars record shot.

1853113cb3337790fe6a17e89447b8ce.jpg

My garden feeders were graced by a lengthy visit from this male bullfinch last night, who spent about 10 minutes hanging out and eating sunflower seeds. My bird book says they don't visit feeders, so it's a surprising spot. The washed out photo here doesn't capture his colours, which were incredible - contrasty, glossy black beak and that reddy-pinky-orange chest plumage.

Greenfinches are regular visitors now too, but I haven't seen the goldfinches or long-tailed tits in a while.

Fairly sure there's some kind of warbler out there too, but I haven't been able to get a good look at it with binoculars. With the naked eye it looked a bit like a garden warbler, but with slightly pinker legs.

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8 hours ago, Alexlotl said:

Learnt a new trick from following York birdwatchers on Twitter - the quick and dirty iPhone-down-the-binoculars record shot.

1853113cb3337790fe6a17e89447b8ce.jpg

My garden feeders were graced by a lengthy visit from this male bullfinch last night, who spent about 10 minutes hanging out and eating sunflower seeds. My bird book says they don't visit feeders, so it's a surprising spot. The washed out photo here doesn't capture his colours, which were incredible - contrasty, glossy black beak and that reddy-pinky-orange chest plumage.

Greenfinches are regular visitors now too, but I haven't seen the goldfinches or long-tailed tits in a while.

Fairly sure there's some kind of warbler out there too, but I haven't been able to get a good look at it with binoculars. With the naked eye it looked a bit like a garden warbler, but with slightly pinker legs.

Nice bullfinch, despite the colours they are surprisingly hard to notice in trees. Warblers are confusing as hell so it could be anything!

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Achievement unlocked!

237724cea8247e3f284ec01973db624c.jpg

Crappy, out of focus iPhone record shot, but it confirms the arrival of a Great Spotted Woodpecker on my feeders. I've seen her fleetingly every morning for the last five days or so, so I guess I'm on her circuit now, but this is the first time I've been able to have a good watch. Happy to say I also now seem to have regular goldfinches.

A nice reward after a month in which my faith was severely tested by night visitors of some kind (presumably rats) climbing the pole, pulling the feeders off their hooks (a 2+ inch lift!) and throwing them on the ground. They were mostly after the fat balls, which they'd devour in one night, but they'd flip the others down to see what was in them. Ended up having to wire all the feeders to the pole, which has done the job. Although now I look, the rat bastards have knocked the water dish down last night.

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That's pretty good going. I get very little on my feeders. My garden birds consist of gold finches, great tits, blue tits, chiffchaffs, wood pigeons, magpies, black birds, House Sparrows and that's about it. Pretty poor going really :(

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I'm suburban, but not far some big patches of green (a golf course, and one of York's famous "Strays", which are largely unmanaged occasional grazing land), so garden wildlife is surprisingly good. That said, I've had the feeders out since about September last year, and it's taken a long time to get on the radar of the local birds.

 

I've been recording everything I've seen in the garden in 2016, and thus far have:

 

Blue Tit*

Great Tit*

Coal Tit*

Long Tailed Tit

Marsh Tit / Willow Tit (not sure which - seen a few times, but not heard)

Robin*

Blackbird*

Greenfinch*

Goldfinch*

Bullfinch (Male only)

Blackcap (Female only)

House Sparrow*

Dunnock*

Wren

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Female only)

Woodpigeon*

Collared Dove

Starling*

Magpie*

Hoopoe (not really)

 

All those with asterisks are established visitors, the others have turned up a few times. There's also my as-yet-unidentified warbler, who I haven't seen lately.

 

I've also had flyovers from crows, jackdaws, greylag geese, seagulls and a heron, and seen buzzards and a smaller bird of prey (which I like to imagine was one of the York Minster Peregrines) circling on thermals over the golf course. I've also seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, a yellow-necked mouse eating the fallen seeds, lots of bats, and most nights a hedgehog passes through.

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The warbler, if dull brown, will most likely be a Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler. Garden warbler possible too if you have a large wooded garden but I'd bet on the former, Chiffchaff as most likely our commonest warbler and most commonly found in gardens. Blackcap can't be discounted, but obviously the male has the blackcap, female has a red brown cap.

 

The key with warblers is to get familiar with their calls/songs as visually the differences are small!

 

I'd recommend watching this video to start with and keep an ear out for the songs, hopefully ID your mystery warbler that way.

 

 

P.S. jealous of your bird list. My bird list in my own gaff in Liverpool was up into the 40-50 species. But having moved down south into the city, we currently don't have a window out onto the garden so birds seen = very little. Getting our kitchen done soon though, with large window out onto garden a priority...

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@HellcockI'm in York - it's a decent city for passive birding, we have several large areas of minimally-managed (occasional lawnmowing and cattle grazing) green space called the Strays, which are tied up in medieval law and as such safe from being built on. There's also the sizeable Ings our flood-happy river provides, a decent bog, the university (which has large artifical lakes with islands), and quite a few golf courses locally.

 

I think we're supposed to be one of the best cities for sparrows, and the strays are good for ground nesting birds like skylarks and meadow pipits. The university has a resident population of Great Crested Grebes which are always a treat, plus a thousand sordid geese and one or two interesting exhibition species mixed in (garganey, gadwall, ruddy shellduck).

 

For active birding, most people seem to go out to the Derwent or the Humber, but I haven't had time to get over there yet.

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So anyone good with seabirds? I saw this on my walk today. I'm guessing juvenile shag or cormorant (favouring shag after referring to my RSPB book, but I'm a complete novice). Regardless of what it is, where it is is perhaps its biggest problem. Leamington Spa - about as far away from the coast as it's possible to be. I have seen one here before though, perhaps a couple of years ago, so it's not unheard of. I watched it for a good long while and it seemed to be having a good long rest, so I'm guessing it had flown a long way to be here.

 

seabird01.jpg

seabird02.jpg

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Not sure if that's a cormorant or a shag without reaching for my bird book, but I quite often see cormorants inland - they seem happy with any large body of water with fish in it, regardless of whether it's salt or fresh. Any reservoirs nearby?

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We have Draycote Water nearby (to my shame I've never visited it), and a quick google for that turns up pics with cormorants, so I'm guessing that's probably the correct answer (shame - I was hoping for a cheeky shag in the park).

 

Thanks a lot though. I really had no idea they would live so far inland,so now know a little more.

 

 

 

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Well jel, I'd love a Jay. One of our best birds, I reckon - handsome, and with lots of character.

 

Interestingly (for me), I have some corvids coming to the feeding pole now - magpie and jackdaw - just to drink the water. I make a point of changing it every 24/48hrs for the sake of the greenfinches (who, after eating sunflower seeds for 15 minutes straight often spend a minute or so having a drink), but I never expected it to be an actual draw in and of itself. Maybe, just maybe, they'll tell one of their Jay friends about the great fresh water...

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I hadn't seen a Jay since moving away from Devon as a kid (30 years ago), but this year I've seen several, which is fantastic I think there's a family in a nearby park. I took this blurry shot of what I think is a youngster a couple of days ago. I only found it because of the noise - lots of raspy croaky calls that I'd not heard before - even rougher than your average crow. I think there was another youngster in a nearby tree too. Lovely looking birds, but I get the impression they might be proper bastards. The few times I saw them before this, were always when other birds were making a racket - I think the jays were on the hunt. One of these times it was magpies raising the alarm, and if the magpies are complaining then I guess that means something that's at least as mean as them is on the prowl. All good stuff.

jayMebbe01.jpg

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I'm so glad people are enjoying this thread. I don't even care if the blogs not being read, it's just nice to see everyone sharing a common interest.

Oh and thats definitely a cormorant.

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Darren, which hide is good for Kingfishers at Blashford?

 

i've tried Ivy North hide before and there was one,but it was miles away..plus the windows don;t open on that hide at the front so I had the nasty scratched glass in between...

 

Need to get along there really, only been there a handful of times...

blashford.JPG

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The goosander hide mate. It's a little high up but I've shot all my kingfishers there and seen then every morning I've gone. The tern hide lets you get nice shots of sandpipers etc too.

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All the hides have doors mate. 
If I remember correctly everything is locked around 4.30 by the wardens. However, the Goosander hide and the lapwing hide are on timed locks meaning if you're already in them you can stay in them and they will lock behind you. Interestingly, they also open very early in the morning (I've been there at 7 and walked straight in). you might get lucky and find someone already there who will let you in, but personally I would aim to get there for about 4.

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Can anyone recommend a decent pair of binoculars for birding? My partner and I have been quite keen on the hobby since visiting Sri Lanka last year, but only have one pair of binoculars between us. In fact, I bought them for her which invariably means that she always has a close look at the bird(s) before they clear off by the time I've borrowed them!

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18 minutes ago, Klaark said:

Can anyone recommend a decent pair of binoculars for birding? My partner and I have been quite keen on the hobby since visiting Sri Lanka last year, but only have one pair of binoculars between us. In fact, I bought them for her which invariably means that she always has a close look at the bird(s) before they clear off by the time I've borrowed them!

 

Do you have an RSPB or Wildlife Trust reserve near you with a visitors centre? They normally have an optics centre with a range of binoculars, scopes etc, and it's really good getting to try them out in the field, rather than in a camera shop or something - that's how I bought my first pair.

 

We have two pairs - some a Nikon roof prism pair (nominally my wife's) which are light and 9x mag, but have a narrow field of view, and and Opticron porro-prism pair (classic field binocular shape) which have a lower 8x mag but a much wider field of view, and are bigger and heavier. I massively prefer the latter for birding - a wider field of view makes it much easier to pick out birds in flight or scan groups of waterfowl etc, and I rarely miss the difference in mag.

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Popped along to Blashford for an hour before work on Saturday... met a guy there and he said the Lapwing and Goose hides are never locked :)   I was there at 6:30 and he'd already been in there for an hour! Result!

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