Sunday, 24 July 2011


I spent a few hours mothing at The Lodge yesterday evening (yes, I've gotten quite in to that dark art recently too), but while I was there was drawn towards the magic sound of croaking Natterjack Toads on the heath.

The sound below was taken with my Iphone 3G, IProRecorder, and Lupo mini mic, and the image above was a 4 second exposure looking from The Lodge over Biggleswade Common towards Biggleswade.

Friday, 15 July 2011


I have fond memories of singing Rosefinches.  This was one of the 'stand out' birds for me from my very first trip abroad - to Russia, at the tender age of 13, in 1992.

It was a YOC organised trip, back when they had such things, to a conference for over 100 Russian kids, as well as a group from the States, and around 10 British YOCers.

A few things stick in my mind about the conference - lots of talks (in Russian, then translated to English) about Crows, an id quiz with bird skins, the smell of Russian disinfectant (or it could have been vodka?) around the canteen, and eating raw fish.

Obviously, the best things about the conference were the birds, and the place we stayed at was superb.  It was a college campus in the heart of rural Russia, around fifty miles east of Moscow.  The near-by village was full of wooden houses with nest boxes for Starlings, and surrounded by fields vibrating to the sound of Corncrakes. The woodland had exciting things too - fighting Golden Orioles which tumbled to the ground, hulking and slightly ghostly Black Woodpeckers, nesting Long-eared Owls with curious squeaky-gating youngsters, difficult to see Red-breasted Fly's and Greenish Warblers in the canopy.  The river, with its rather deadly looking wooden bridge you had to cross, had breeding Common Gulls, with River Warblers, and Blyth's Reed Warblers singing from the lush growth along its edges.  One day was spent in the marshes, a short bus trip away.  These had hordes of White-winged Black Terns dipping over the pools, and I remember walking through a meadow with whickering Black-tailed Godwits shimmying overhead.  A male Citrine Wagtail singing from an earth clod was blindingly bright, and a Terek Sandpiper scooted off a scrape of water as we passed by.  It was an unbelievably top trip, and undoubtedly sparked my interest in foreign birding.

Oh yes, and there were oodles of breeding Scarlet Grosbeaks, as we called them back then.  The Russians apparently called them 'Teacher-weacher' birds because of their lovely simple song.  Hearing the, unfortunately rather dowdy, Fowlmere bird singing from its favourite tree brought all these memories flooding back.

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