nature notes

The place to chat, fluff your feathers, and let off steam!
bigyetiman
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Re: nature notes

Post by bigyetiman » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:35 pm

OH uses Xeno Canto a lot, it's easy once you get the hang of it and brilliant when someone wants to know what a bird sounds like.
The caterpillars of the Elephant hawk moth are pretty impressive, so are the Emperor moths, especially as they have 3 colour phases. They had a Deaths Head Hawk Moth at Rainham Marsh last year feeding on the deadly nightshade and OH rang me and I went down to see it, very impressive and so is the caterpillar. We were at the Eastbourne air show last year and OH pointed out a Humming Bird Hawk Moth feeding on blooms in front of us, which was great watching it, luckily it appeared before the planes started
Love Lime trees to wonderful scent.
Enjoy the Tilia, must give that a try especially if it works for sore throats
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Marigold
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Re: nature notes

Post by Marigold » Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:46 pm

We usually find Elephant Hawk moth caterpillars in our garden - on a variety of trees and plants, including our silver birch and ash trees, and also on fuchsias, which I think is their preferred food.
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bigyetiman
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Re: nature notes

Post by bigyetiman » Mon Jun 18, 2018 8:44 pm

These get brought into the nature reserve by slightly hysterical people convinced they are going to poison/kill their children and eat the house. Even when shown they will turn into something quite lovely they wont take them back, and they have to be re-homed.
You should see my lot at the yard when the wasp spiders appear, they are like schoolgirls. One of the drivers thought it would be very funny to grab a large one and shove it under Ruth's nose to which she said "ooh a wasp spider" and carried on her conversation. Much to his disgust who thought she would run around screaming
MrsBiscuit
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Re: nature notes

Post by MrsBiscuit » Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:24 am

Brilliant photo Marigold. I do like coming on here as I feel I have my own personal Naturewatch!

I remember many years ago taking a photo of a something or other moth caterpillar disguised as a twig. It really brought home to me the power and 'intelligence' of the natural kingdom. Everything has evolved to make the best of its chances of survival.

We found a dead death's head hawk moth in our fireplace during the summer last year, that was pretty amazing, and would obviously have eaten all children within a 5 mile radius. I think my favourites are the hummingbird hawkmoths, they always seem joyous somehow.

Today's question for you all is, can you identify the miscellaneous brown birds that we all see, every day? In the heat I am noticing something flitting about with its beak open, it is on the ground as well as flying. Its slimmer than a sparrow and with a more upright stance and more of an olive brown. What do you do to distinguish one breed from another, many of them look the same to me?

And a supplementary question. How would you go about providing water for birds. We don't have a bird bath and I am not able to get one easily. Usually I put a wide shallow container on top of a short pillar but I never notice the birds using it (it is in full view). At the moment there are plastic buckets and tub trugs full of water by the house but they don't go in there either. Yesterday I resorted to a plastic ice cream tub on the ground under a tree where they congregate but that was ignored. Is is essential to have it placed high up - if so, how high would you say? And is it better on open ground, or hidden somewhere in bushes/trees?
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Marigold
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Re: nature notes

Post by Marigold » Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:38 am

Try a large, shallow bowl (a big pottery plant saucer is good, more stable than plastic) and place it on the ground in an open spot where the birds can feel safe, preferably near to a tree or Bush where they can perch and reconnoiter, before flying down, just as you would for feeders. Like a mini-pond, but not as deep as your buckets. They are attracted to a shallow place where they can bathe as well as drink. After all, birds expect water to be at ground level, don’t they? The little baths up on pillars are more for decoration than use, I think.
Also good for other wildlife, especially hedgehogs, in hot dry weather.
bigyetiman
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Re: nature notes

Post by bigyetiman » Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:36 am

This is the OH MrsBiscuit, for small brown bird try Dunnock, although they aren't olive brown as such if it is not a Sparrow, young Robins are brown.
with an upright stance. Depends on exactly where you live as well
Best way to start with bird I D is size which rules out quite a few for a start, it's preferred habitat which will cut the list down a bit more, if it's in a reed bed you can concentrate on those birds. Any stand out features like a red crown for instance of blue in a wing say, then you can build a picture and start looking in books. Get a bird guide book keep it handy and away you go.
You are spot on Marigold birds aren't interested in fancy bird baths, seen many a dustbin lid being successfully used.
MrsBiscuit
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Re: nature notes

Post by MrsBiscuit » Tue Jun 19, 2018 1:02 pm

Thanks both, I will scout about for something sturdier, I think I am going to get a couple of large terracotta plant saucers. There are plenty of spots near their various roosts.

On the small brown birds Mrs BYM, I had thought of dunnock as we had them at our old house, but this just doesn't look the same, its not as dumpy. I have a feeling this is some sort of warbler, finch or similar, its quite elegant. And then I wonder if I am looking at a female serin or siskin (probably not as there is not any noticeable yellow and its always on its own). The thing with sizing is my books say things like 12cm or 11cm or 14cm and I am sitting there thinking 'I can't tell the difference'! Anyway, thank you for attempting to help me, I guess the lesson is really just to observe more.
Margaid
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Re: nature notes

Post by Margaid » Tue Jun 19, 2018 3:48 pm

I have several "fancy" bird baths in my garden, all except the one I brought with me were used as holders for wire baskets of flowers! If any of them have water in them , the birds use them. Much safer for them ere than a plant saucer on the ground, Mischief would think I'd found a new way of serving his dinner!
Icemaiden
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Re: nature notes

Post by Icemaiden » Tue Jun 19, 2018 6:21 pm

Mrs B- I was thinking warbler too. Though I have to admit that most warblers come into the category of "LBJ" (little brown jobbie") to me! :lol:

I've got several bird call CDs with which I keep meaning to use to learn their calls. A lot of LBJs are easier to identify by their song than by appearance.

Size wise, when you want to look a bird up in a book, it helps to look at it and think, for example "bigger than a sparrow but smaller than a starling", stubby beak, not slim, long tail, etc. Then when you get the book out, you can look up the size of the sparrow & starling & know that you're looking for something in between; you know the colour, beak shape etc. Leg colour can be helpful too if you get the chance. Probability plays a part too. If it comes down to a choice of several birds, one of which is resident where you are & two of which aren't, it's probably the former!
Chickens are a girl's best friend (though diamonds would be nice too!)
bigyetiman
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Re: nature notes

Post by bigyetiman » Sun Jun 24, 2018 5:29 pm

Had our first ever Grizzled Skipper butterfly and Canary Shouldered Thorn moth in the garden today, and we have loads of Banded Demoiselles this year. Not surprising as the brook feeds into the local river which is alive with them.
Also had the DeHavilland Dragonfly (plane)go over which rounded things off nicely.
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