Monday, 15 June 2009

A bird related update at last

Just this second had a Coal Tit in the garden. Score! Tick Tick Tick. What with the forked lightning (5 seconds until the thunder = storm about a mile away) my window's much more interesting to look out of at the moment than is usually the case.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. Yesterday I got to spend a couple of hours birding round Frensham Little Pond in Hampshire while the woman was rehearsing for a concert, a large area of land heavily forested by Conifers. Almost entirely Conifers. In fact, you couldn't take a step without crushing half a dozen pine cones. Want to guess at what I didn't see? Perhaps predictably, no luck with Loxia curvirostra this time round. Nice scenery though, and the usual smattering of Robins and Blackbirds trying to trip me up by singing eachother's songs.

And of course, the Small Pond itself.

A bit more interesting on the bird front round this area. There were warblers galore nesting in the reeds and I initially took them all to be Sedges based on the song I could hear, but a couple of poor photographs* have thrown up some doubt. I'll be sticking them up in a Birdforum ID thread, but feel free to have a go yourselves. I'll label them BIRD 1 and BIRD 2.

BIRD 1: Well defined pale supercilium, but the top of the head doesn't seem dark enough for Sedge, and then there's the orangey/brown shade of the legs. This looks more like a Willow than anything else to me, having compared it to the books. Obviously no song with a mouthful of bugs.

BIRD 2: Resigned to the fact that this is probably unidentifiable. Very orange legs and bill though. Could be a young version of bird 1, except that it appears to be gathering food - would assume it's feeding young of its own.

More unexpected was a Common Tern fishing on the side of the lake not disturbed by swimmers. He was most obliging.

Showing beautifully the black tip to the bill that makes it a Common rather than an Arctic. Because, you know, it might have been an Arctic in the middle of rural Hampshire. Pfft.

Also heard but not found were 2 Chiffys in amongst the trees, and more Wren than I could count. It made for a pleasant walk, and deserves far more time than I gave it.

Other than that, a green streak flying across the front of the car while I was driving marked only my SECOND Green Woodpecker of the year. And a walk round the Weald and Downland open air museum on the Saturday produced a vertible flood of Swallows nesting in the old style thatched rooves. Many of the windows are unglazed and its quite a thing to walk into a doorway as a Swallow bursts out above your head.

Weekend butterflies consisted of a definite Speckled Wood, and another which looked skipperish at the time - brown wings with orange streaks on the upperside of the forewing - but resting the forewings weren't held over the hindwings. Nothing in the book quite matches, and I didn't get a photo, so here's an artists impression:

A poor artist to be sure, but an impression nonetheless. Perhaps the woman will tell me if she remembers differently.

After a few weeks of very little birdwatching activity it's been quite refreshing to get out and get back into practice again. After next weekend I get a big leap in free time, so hopefully interesting content will abound. Or something.

*Basically I'm an idiot. I'm still not used to this camera and its many many buttons and features, and forgot that the last time I'd played with it it'd been tripod mounted, in which case image stabilisation is just a waste of battery power. So I'd switched it off. Didn't show up too much on the landscape pictures, but the telephoto lens didn't suffer it so well at 300mm. The later pictures were taken with image stabilisation ON and are generally much better.


  1. Mystery bird 1 is, to my eyes a willow warbler: legs are the right colour, longish wings/PP, flycatching, right habitat (they love coniferous). Supercilium looks good to.

    Mystery bird 2 is... well, I'm not sure. Probably a warbler of some form. Leg colour and shape suggest if could be another willow, but posture is off - unless you caught it in an odd pose. When you go on BF, upload more than just one pic of it, if you have them - it's definately IDable, just not by me:P

    Now sit back and see how wrong I am.

    As for the coal tit... are you sure its not a juv great tit...? Can look very grey/coaly and is more likely in Romford. Have to ask:)

  2. Could it maybe have been some type of skipper? Resting they are more like the shape of a moth, with the wings pointing down and are generally plainish brown patterns.

    And are you sure your coal tit wasn't just a juv great tit?

  3. That 'artists impression' is WAY off!
    - it had eyes! I think only one on the tops of the wings...
    But I saw eyes... :-P

  4. Re: Bird 2 - unfortunately that's one of only 2 photos I have of that particular bird, the other being a brown smudge. No good at all.

    Re: Butterfly - I thought skipper originally, but it was sitting like a butterfly rather than a moth. Could still be a skipper, but I can't be certain. Further searching on google has been fruitless.

    Re: the Coal Tit - Juve/Pale Great Tit was my first thought as we've had a few of those down, but there was no black stripe down the chest and no hint of yellow on the underside. Having been watching a pale Blue Tit shortly before this one landed I'm fairly confident - this bird was smaller. Suffice to say I'll be watching the garden carefully for the next couple of weeks. Sightings like this demand photos.

    Other good news: Long Tailed Tits in the trees out the front of the house. By call and sight. Not too long a flight to the garden :-)

  5. Re: artist's impression - Ooh, if you're sure then I'm pretty certain what we had was a Meadow Brown :-) Thought that looked similar but I didn't remember any eyes.

  6. if its a meadow brown then your drawing really is rubbish :)
    A good spot though...

  7. Pfft, I don't have to sit here and take this criticism.

    I'm going to sleep.