nature notes

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MrsBiscuit
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nature notes

Post by MrsBiscuit » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:40 pm

I have been meaning to start this thread for a month now, inspired by the great geographic distances between us, I thought we might spot different wildlife. We don't get much with 4 legs around here (last week I saw a rabbit. This is noteworthy!) but there are a lot of birds and a great variety of insects. Its the behaviour as much as anything which fascinates me, for example, in January I saw a sparrow eating an olive. This is unusual, because as you may know, raw olives are 100% revolting, and even the birds don't normally eat them. Perhaps in the cold they make an exception for the oil, and/or the fruit is about 3 months old so perhaps it is less unpalatable.

I am no expert and not even a well informed amateur, but I do spend quite a bit of time gazing into the near and middle distance :D Anyway, the ninny thread has spurred me into action, specifically Marigold's mention of a fieldfare and HG's observations. Yesterday I thought I'd spotted my first ever fieldfare, but closer inspection with the binoculars and a book made me realise I was looking at mistle thrushes :oops: and my first ever redwing(s). They were on waste ground opposite, which is relatively open but with enough long grass to hide in and eat the seeds, or wait for worms and ground dwelling insects. They were doing that thing of being still so you didn't know they were there till they moved. Whilst I was marvelling at them something else, much larger, came into view and as yet I can't ID it. It was like a small hawk/falcon with blue/grey shoulders. It was sitting on the ground and I never saw it in flight so I couldn't deduce much from its tail.

Anyway, what's going on in your part of the world? I am holding romantic view that artic foxes or hares are up on Fetlar :D
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dinosaw
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Re: nature notes

Post by dinosaw » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:07 pm

Beyond the usual woodland animals, game birds etc I suppose our area is known for Red Kite and Glis Glis. The amount of Red Kite you see around these parts it's hard to believe they were ever an endangered species, I've even started to see the odd one that has come a cropper on the roads.
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rick
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Re: nature notes

Post by rick » Wed Feb 28, 2018 7:51 pm

Great idea!
Ive been taking my camera with me everywhere lately, photographing mostly birds and trying to name the photos. Its a learning curve and I'm somewhere near the bottom i.e.
took few pics walking the dog the other afternoon and got nowhere with the RSPB birdfinder so asked the handy ecologists we have at work - a redwing and a long tailed tit (those little fluffballs are so cute!!!)
Also a cormorant (not too sure what sort, doesnt look quite like any uk resident - most like the american sorts but that seems very unlikley. Mostly what you get looking up cormorants is by anglers who hate them with a passion)
The Black headed gulls are still around - heads getting blacker now.
And this I saw this morning. might be difficult to make out but it is where a pheasant has slipped over on the snow (probably landing) Was OK it seems - footprints leading away from the embarrassing incident
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Hen-Gen
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Re: nature notes

Post by Hen-Gen » Wed Feb 28, 2018 8:01 pm

Yep, romantic notions I'm afraid MrsBiscuit. The polar bears have eaten all the Artic foxes and Artic hares! :D
No rats, weasels, stoats, foxes, badgers, bats, hares, voles, shrews or moles here but we do have rabbits, mice and hedgehogs.
I suppose that I have to say that this island hosts (in the summer) 90% of the UKs Red Necked Phalaropes. They are currently enjoying the balmy heat of Ecuador but return here to breed. Actually they are a common bird globally speaking but just scrape in to the UK here.
In the 70s there were Snowy Owls breeding here but the old male drove all his sons away until he died of old age. This left several females laying clutches of infertile eggs until they too died. A tragic tale of unrequited love.
For me though there is another bird that symbolises these islands. 60% of the entire world population of Great Skuas breed here. They are currently wintering Gibraltar and down the African coast. Once they return then every other life form better watch out. Wader chicks, sea birds and the eyes and tongues of new born lambs are all fair game. Walk through their breeding areas and expect to be dive bombed. They really are avian thugs and most crofters are not averse to accidentally treading on the eggs of this protected species!
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Marigold
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Re: nature notes

Post by Marigold » Thu Mar 01, 2018 11:19 am

Snow overnight, down to -6, now -3.5. Another garden species this morning, now up to 28 this year, a female Reed Bunting clearing up under the feeders. She has been really tucking in for over an hour, her crop must be lovely and full of sunflower seeds and kibbled peanuts by now, plus she's had a drink. Reed Buntings are common in the local hedgerows and along the river valley of the Test just down the field from us, but not usual in the garden. When she joined the sparrows on the fatballs she was camouflaged among them, so maybe they do visit more often than is apparent at a glance, as that 'little brownish bird' category can be confusing to identify.
I keep on popping out to add leftover hot water from the kettle to the bird bath, which is much appreciated. To some extent, there's a temporary truce between birds who would normally waste energy chasing each other away from the resources on offer, - up to 4 robins feeding alongside each other this morning, which is unusual to say the least. However, two collared doves have been wandering around on the frozen pond, looking helpless and hopeless, instead of coming up to the feeders as usual and finding water up there.
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chrismahon
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Re: nature notes

Post by chrismahon » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:40 am

One thing that surprised me in France was the amount of wildlife- even more so down here than in the Dordogne, although I haven't seen a Salamander here. We have kites (red and black winged), buzzards, hawks, magpies and crows all disturbing the chickens. 1000's of pigeons at certain times of year but otherwise just a couple of collared doves. European cranes migrate over here as well but we have about 50 resident cattle egrets with a few cheeky enough to wander around in the garden. All the usual small birds except no sparrows here- something we were plagued by at the last house with them eating almost as much food as the chickens. Get the occasional deer nearby but, because we have electric fencing, they no longer come into the garden to eat the roses. Saw our first wild boar here last week. It was huge! Of course we have green frogs (noisy), common toads, midwife toads, whip snakes (the resident female is 1.5metres long) and small lizards. We also have coypu, called ragondin here, but fortunately they stay down in the valley as otherwise growing veg would be impossible as they eat ⅓ of their body weight a day of roots. Seen red squirrels, which are far more common further North. We also have hares.

The things we haven't fortunately got down here are rabbits, ordinary rats and grey squirrels- I haven't seen a grey squirrel in France at all. Mice however are a big problem! Between myself and our dog we have caught 120 since October, although she may have eaten quite a few so the actual number could be higher.
bigyetiman
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Re: nature notes

Post by bigyetiman » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:55 am

Ivy berries are revolting to which is why birds leave them until last. OH has got to through 25Kg of duck and goose food this week, mainly because the couple of Egyptian Geese that come to the lake for a bit of food every day, brought 45 friends to the all day buffet hopper, then the Canada Geese brought some Greylags with them, even the rooks from the rook roost in the woods have been seen with their heads in the hopper. About 300 Redwing have been foraging around the lake and garden. The flock of Sparrows has gone up from 140 to nearly 200 in the roost, and the resident pair of Great spotted Woodpecker have been joined by another 2 for the duration. Even the Grey Wagtail that is usually along the brook has been under the feeders
Not quite managed a Cattle Egret in the garden yet, but Little Egrets are daily, and we have had Great White Egret, once
Icemaiden
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Re: nature notes

Post by Icemaiden » Fri Mar 02, 2018 7:49 pm

I never dreamt that grey wagtails would use a feeder! Do you have the fat balls with insects in them?

Sounds as though you'll be eating a lot of goose in the near future. ;)
Chickens are a girl's best friend (though diamonds would be nice too!)
bigyetiman
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Re: nature notes

Post by bigyetiman » Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:40 pm

Yes OH has fat balls hanging up with various bits in them, and the Grey Wagtail is busy underneath the feeders with the Pied Wagtails hoovering up spillages. She has also hidden fat balls under shrubs for the Blackbirds and Thrushes. She came in all excited from feeding the ducks and geese, as she had peered over the hedge and was scanning along the brook and found a Jack Snipe bobbing about
MrsBiscuit
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Re: nature notes

Post by MrsBiscuit » Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:57 pm

Are you on a reserve or something BYM? All that goose food, not to mention the sheer numbers of birds. There was a mention of red wings and field fares on Today this morning, saying there are far more of them around as than usual. I watched a bunch of sparrow again this morning, fighting over fallen olives, just like watching hens with tasty morsels. You obviously have a good eye as well Marigold, but I am glad you provided a photo commentary Rick!

I have seen skuas on wildlife programmes, vicious looking things. I do wonder about kites, I know they have been reintroduced, and are expanding hugely as they are such good hunters. I am beginning to question if it was altogether a good move as I know where my .mum lives the variety of birds has dwindled greatly and although wood pigeons are in great supply, it is very common now to find piles of feathers on her back lawn.

It's wet and miserable here, my only spot, and not a very original one as they are common, is a black redstart.
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