Friday, 26 October 2012

Vismig calls

Here is a selection of calls I've found on the excellent xeno-canto website of the type of vocalisations I've heard species give while migrating.  If you've never given a vismig session a go before listening to these, and remembering them, should give you a great start.


Wednesday, 26 September 2012


The first 'Pec' for Broom.  Just part of Broom gravel pits great run of birds this year. These include: Purple Heron, Glossy Ibis, Rough-legged Buzzard, Roseate Tern, Spoonbill.  Not bad for a dirty hole in the ground!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A golden pull-over

This view gave me a bit of a startle!  Very grey, white super, and seeminlgy smaller

I got a bit closer and it started to look less good.  There's a hint of gold in the underparts in this view.

It's still grey looking, but the super looks a bit dirtier, and its shape really isn't too disimilar to a normal Golden Plover

It has some old primaries - p10 and p9 certainly look old (I think) which probably best fits a Eurasian Golden Plover
So there you go.  It's a grey looking Eurasian Golden Plover.  Shame as I was really hoping it was an American Golden Plover when I first saw it.  Still, plenty of time this autumn to find one of those locally...

Eurasian Golden Plover, Southill, 29th September 2012.

Monday, 27 August 2012


This is a panoramic view from The Pinnacle, Sandy (you should be able to scroll around it usung your mouse).  It is a great vismig spot, virtually unknown about until I started putting in some time up here in autumn 2007.

This morning it produced two Tree Pipits together about twenty minutes after sunrise - my first of the year in Beds.  I don't usually do any vismig sessions until well in to September but I am now wondering whether I should do a few more in August, just to catch the Tree Pipit and Yellow Wag movements?  Maybe I will.

Here's a recording of the Tripits from my Remembird:

Tree Pipits on The Pinnacle by Steve Blain

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Birding iphone apps

Here are my five 'must have' birding apps for the iphone.  These aren't id guides or the like, these are for increased birding productivity - how to make the technology in the iphone work for you.

FiRE 2
A fantastic sound recording app.  Has the ability to add gain to your recordings, and also upload them straight to Soundcloud.  Has been very useful to record Sibe Chiff calls while out birding and I'm hoping to use it during this coming vismig season too.

A really simple counter app.  One click adds one to the counter, its as simple as that.  It's much quicker than a traditional metal clicker and great for counting roosting gulls!

Just a bit better than the standard camera app.  The biggest benefit of this one is that you can set a separate exposure area to the focus point.

Outside Maps
The official OS app where you can download the very useful 1:50,000 scale maps.  These give you all the footpaths and tracks you need when out birding.

This is simply an app to help you store downloaded files on your iphone.  I find this most useful when I want to find a song or call from the excellent website.

Are there any I've missed?  Please leave a comment if you have found an iphone app that might be of use while our birding.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012


I've recently got myself a new phone - an iphone 4s - and the camera on it is great!  I've been messing around using Instagram which has yealded some nice results.  Below are the instagram shot, then the oringinals.

Pink storm

Regal nettle

Summer shower

Monday, 16 July 2012

Girecrest II

After some googling I came across the excellent passage written on regulids in HBW, and which is handily reproduced on their website here:

In summary, it states that the song development of all regulids is highly influenced by learning process, and are especially sensitive up to the 47th day after hatching.  In captive studies it was found that Firecrests and Goldcrests could learn each others song from tape recordings.  Individuals have also been found in the wild which give intermediate song – both in northern Spain and also in southern England, and this was explained because in either area both species are at low breeding densities, thus they learn the closest song to their own.

Ok, that is perhaps a little over-simplified, but that is the jest.

I also came across this fascinating image of a presumed Firecrest, however it looks a bit odd...

Aren’t regulids brilliant!

If you have no idea what I’m on about take a look here.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Operation TD

Turtle Dove on my neighbours fence
Turtle Dove on a fence

This is my Turtle Dove.  I presume it's the same one that visited my garden last summer.  So far, it has only visited my garden once this spring - 20th May.  I'm hoping it will come back again.
Turtle Doves are rapidly becoming harder and harder to find in East Anglia and it's still not clear why this is.  A new initiative has also started up this year called Operation Turtle Dove and aims to stop this beautiful bird from going extinct in the UK.  Please take a look at their website and consider helping in any way you can.
This year the Beds Bird Club has decided to audit all it's remaining Turtle Doves.  The Bird Club is asking all birders who see a Turtle Dove this summer to BirdTrack their records.  All these records will then feed in to the distribution map which will be updated regularly (see below):

View Larger Map

All the red squares are 2011 records, all the blue sqauares are 2012 records.  Can you add any more?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Kite delight

Red Kite at Southill
Red Kite near Southill

These things are now pretty widespread around Bedfordshire.  However there are still pricks who go out and try to poison them - take a look at the Hexton incident.  That link is particularly galling as Red Kites were becoming a wonderful feature of nearby Pegsdon Hills; one of my favourite places to go birding locally.  Both kites and Ravens were slowly getting harder to see around the hills and now we know why.  Really makes my blood boil!

Saturday, 9 June 2012


Birdparty; Are you going?

Saturday, 19 May 2012


I went to check on a male Firecrest in a local wood this morning.  I hadn't been to look at it for a few weeks but last time I did it had paired with a female Goldcrest and she was making a nest.  I'd never heard it sing, despite others telling me it did so regularly.  However, after re-finding the right spot in the wood and hearing what I thought was a Goldcrest sing close-by I locked my bins on the male Firecrest moving around the folliage.  It was good to know he was still in residence.  After a couple of minutes I heard the Goldcrest sing in the same tree - a bit close for comfort I thought, especially as I know Firecrests and Goldcrests don't really get on.  I then realised the 'Goldcrest' song was actually coming from the Firecrest!

My ears are definitely getting slowly worse with age, but I have never heard a Firecrest give a song so close to a Goldcrests before.  I recorded it on my Remembird and have created a sonogram in Ravenlite, as well as recording a Goldcrest in the same area, and I have also created a sonogram of a 'normal' Firecrests song I recorded a couple of years ago.  Take a look and listen and please drop me a comment if anyone's come across this before - it had me a bit foxed!

I do wonder if because it's paired with a female Goldcrest it has adapted its song to be more attractive?  It is certainly something I've never come across before, however I have now seen at least four mixed pairings of Firecrest and Goldcrest, several of which have made nests and at least one of them feeding young, although I never saw the outcome of that nest.  Are there any definite hybrids know about?  I may have to do some Googling to find out...

Edit - found out somre more.  See here.

Firecrest singing like Goldcrest

Firecrest normal song

Saturday, 12 May 2012


Red-rumped Swallow at Grafham Water
I had a quick trip up to Grafham Water this morning to see this lovely Red-rumped Swallow.  When I first arrived I couldn't see any birders or the bird.  A quick walk on to the dam and something flicked up from my feet - the swallow!  It flew around for a while and landed no more than around 8 feet from me.  It gave stunning views for around four minutes until a blundering cyclist came along to within a few inches of it and it flew off towards Plummer car park.  Luckily we relocated it flying over the road between the dam and the car park a while later, and still giving fantastic views.

Sunday, 6 May 2012


Prairie Dogs at Broom

Prairie Dogs at Broom
Prairie Dogs running wild at Broom
This wasn't a species I ever thought I'd see around Broom - Prairie Dogs!  After a tip-off the other day about these I was a little sceptical of their existence - I thought it was so unlikely, especially as I'd been down to try and see them a few times and only seen Rabbits.  This morning I ambled down and saw what I thought was a huge ginger rat zoom over the grass.  After a minute or so I spied two little heads peeping out of a burrow - blimey!

So, where are they from, how long are they going to last in the wild, and are they bad for the local environment?  I guess time will tell, but for the moment they're an interesting addition to the local fauna.

Monday, 16 April 2012

The sound of spring

Nightingale at Paxton Pits

Paul H and I popped up to Paxton Pits this evening to see the Nightingales.  Only a handful of birds are in already but one of them performed admirably for us.  Wonderful birds.  If you want to see and hear Nightingales then Paxton Pits is most definitely the place to go.

(Blimey - it's amazing what else you find out when Googling 'Nightingale' - my post isn't about "a care home for older Jewish people", nor a "goth rock, now progressive/AOR metal/rock band from Örebro in Sweden", or a gay nightclub, or even somewhere to go and get "classically stylish clothes for mature women in sizes 10-34 including wide fitting shoes" but feel free to follow the links in case you've arrived here accidentally)

Saturday, 14 April 2012


Slavonian Grebe at Stewartby Lake

Slavonian Grebe at Stewartby Lake

Slavonian Grebe at Stewartby Lake
This Slavonian Grebe smacks of deja-vu.  A summer plumage bird turned up in mid-May last year at Priory CP, before moving to Pitsford Res to spend the summer.  I suspect this bird, currently at Stewartby Lake, is the same individual on a return visit - it just needs a few more weeks to really look smart.

Monday, 9 April 2012


Great White Egret at Radwell

Great White Egret at Radwell

Great White Egret at Radwell 

This Great White Egret was a relief to see. It is just the second record for Bedfordshire after a ten minute visit from presumably the same bird on 1st January 2012. Well played Nick Cook and Richard Bashford for pulling this one out the bag! Your next pints are on me.  Radwell Lakes, 6th April 2012.

Lovely Philippines

I'm slowly getting round to adding bits from my recent Philippines trip - there are a handful of videos which I will upload to the IBC, and I will put any photos on Flickr.  Above is a Lovely Sunbird.  More to follow...

Friday, 23 March 2012

Black Reds

Black Redstarts at The Lodge

Black Redstarts at The Lodge

Black Redstarts are one of my favourite birds, and these two turned up today just outside my office window at The Lodge.  I think they are probably a female and immature male.

Monday, 19 March 2012

bogged down

So, why the long pause between posts?  I’ve been to the Philippines, which was fun but hard birding, and mostly bogged down with sorting out 2011 records for Bedfordshire currently.  I’ve also been trying to finish off a conversation piece on ‘hooded’ Yellow-legged Gulls, and I might write more on eastern chiffchaffs after seeing another interesting bird at Marston Sewage Works last weekend.

I’ve also been embroiled in three new blogs; A Beds self-found year-list competition, a patch year-list competition “the weakest list”, and a moth year-list competition “i-moff” – take a look.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


This interesting Chiffchaff was jumping around a bush by my car at the end of Meadow Lane, Bedford today.  Its call instantly drew my attention to it - as it sounded a bit plain and monosyllabic.  I got a pretty good view of it and it was fairly brown with the only green on the plumage being on the wings and on its tail sides.  It had a scruffy cheek with a few feathers out of place but it did have a really nice flaring supercillium.  The underparts were dull cream getting slightly brighter towards the centre.  The upperparts were grey-brown - all in all it looks pretty good for tristis.  Have a listen to the call (below) - mostly pretty even, but one or two calls were pushing towards the 'seoo' end of things.  I wonder if its in the variation of tristis?  More research needed but it does look good.
Chiffchaff at Meadow Lane 8th Jan 2012 by Steve Blain

Related Posts with Thumbnails