BLUE TIT BREEDING SUCCESS IN A LONDON GARDEN… AT LAST


Blue Tit - Terracotta Bird Ball - Nest

About 10 years ago I was given a terracotta ‘bird ball’ as a birthday present. Over the years it has been hung in several shady positions around the garden. We have seen blue tits give is a cursory once-over in April. It’s been ‘perch on the top, head through the door, quick discussion, fly off never to return’. This year it was different: late April interest and preliminary inspections, followed by moving in, furnishing, egg-laying, incubating, hatching, frantic activity, tiny squeaks and cheeps… then we went away for four days. Bad timing – we had missed the main event. 

The nest is now empty, the occupants all flown. With some difficulty, I managed to get a shot of the little nest made of dry grass and moss. The birds left the nest very tidy, with just a single tiny thank-you feather left behind… 

Blue Tit - Terracotta Bird Ball - NestBlue Tit - Terracotta Bird Ball - NestBlue Tit - Terracotta Bird Ball - NestBlue Tit - Terracotta Bird Ball - NestBlue Tit - Terracotta Bird Ball - Nest

POCHARD ON RADIPOLE LAKE, DORSET


Pochard, Radipole Lake, Dorset

A flash of sunlight across the lake, and suddenly assorted wildfowl emerged from the half-gloom and showed their true colours. This pochard was closest so I seized the moment…

Pochard, Radipole Lake, DorsetPochard, Radipole Lake, Dorset Pochard, Radipole Lake, DorsetPochard, Radipole Lake, Dorset

MEA MAXIMA CULPA

My attention levels to this blog have dropped from the insouciant to the negligent, and right down to the culpably neglectful. A prosecution for recklessly wasting precious space in the diminishing capacity of world’s supply of ether must surely be close. I have considered closing it down, but somewhere in the mix there are a few things that people obviously find interesting or useful; things I have researched and photographed in detail. Followers may be comparatively few, but the daily hit tally remain surprisingly high – whether I post anything or not. So for now, I’ll keep this running… But there’s only so much time in the day, and this blog is one project that takes a hit.

RING-NECKED PARAKEETS IN WEST LONDON


Ring-necked Parakeet, West London

The ring-necked parakeet (rose-ringed parakeet) Psittacula krameri

These pretty, noisy, gregarious birds, originating from the Indian subcontinent and (as a subspecies) the central Africa belt, are survivors and prolific breeders. Feral colonies, often expanding from a handful of escapees or released birds, are now found in many regions throughout the world. They are very adaptable, and populations spread rapidly. There are many thousands of them in south-east England, from the very heart of London to the outer reaches of the Home Counties to the south and west.

Rose ringed parakeet range.PNG

ring-necked-parakeet-west-london-keith-salvesen-8ring-necked-parakeet-west-london-keith-salvesen-1

It comes as a surprise to learn that the UK population has only become established in the last 60 years or so. Some colonies are several thousand strong. We have a smallish colony in our part of west London. I can only imagine the noise (and mess…) emanating from a huge population of many hundreds as they swarm in to roost at night.

ring-necked-parakeet-west-london-keith-salvesen-7 ring-necked-parakeet-west-london-keith-salvesen-5

We get the parakeets passing through our garden most days, mainly in small groups of about half-a-dozen. After pausing to make the most of any filled bird feeders – from which they swing upside down – they head to the park at the top of the road, where they roost. That’s where I took these photos a couple of days ago.

ring-necked-parakeet-west-london-keith-salvesen-6ring-necked-parakeet-west-london-keith-salvesen-4

We get pleasure from these green exotics, with their long tails and beady eyes. Elsewhere, they have undoubtedly become a nuisance. In places there are far, far too many of them and there is talk of culling. I don’t think anyone suggests complete removal; and by now it’s probably too late for eradication. But I do see that there is need for control where populations are out of control and breeding exponentially. I hope ours will stay around. I also hope the numbers stay much as they are now.

 

 

SPARROW CHICKS IN DORSET


Our house provides nesting opportunities for sparrows on all sides. Somewhat ramshackle, with plenty of holes in the thick walls and under the eaves, it is perfect for the communal sparrow lifestyle. Every year we think of filling the holes, and then to decide not to. The sparrows do no harm. We’d miss them. Here are some chicks in the most easily accessible hole for photography. It is used every year, usually twice. An iPhone is best for the purpose because the flash is right next to the lens.

Sparrow Chicks, Dorset 01 Sparrow Chicks, Dorset 02 Sparrow Chicks, Dorset 03 Sparrow Chicks, Dorset 04 Sparrow Chicks, Dorset 05 Sparrow Chicks, Dorset 06 Sparrow Chicks, Dorset 07 Sparrow Chicks, Dorset 10

Gable End Wall 2
Gable End date

CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH A ROBIN


This young robin assisted me while I was gardening by encouraging me to turn more soil for his benefit. He was mostly within arm- or foot-length, and when we got tangled he flew to the edge of the garden rubbish bag. It was there that noticed the intricacy of his feathers, and so I took advantage of a bird’s eye view, so to speak. Click an image twice for a full-scale close-up.

Garden Robin West London 1Garden Robin West London 2Garden Robin West London 3

 

 

A JACKDAW STRUTS ITS STUFF


Sometimes a sequence of photos suggests a narrative. I’m not sure I have ever been so close to a jackdaw before, but this one completely ignored me as it practised what appear to be its marching steps… 

Lead Off With The LeftJACKDAW 15-1

Left Foot Firmly ForwardJACKDAW 15-2

Pause To Change StrideJACKDAW 15-3

Right Foot Forward…JACKDAW 15-4

 

DO FIVE SWALLOWS MAKE A SUMMER?


We saw the first few swallows of summer here in Dorset yesterday. Two singletons and a group of three. Their arrival is about a week earlier than usual. One swallow may not make a summer (though it works for eating an oyster), but since there were five of them, I reckon early summer is here.

swallow-dorset-9

MEET… THE BOOBOOK OWL


I have been neglecting this blog recently because a lot has been going on… However while clearing out some old photograph files, I was stopped in my tracks when I found this tiny Australasian owl. I saw it in an owl sanctuary last summer, but had forgotten all about it  – I had been concentrating on another species, the Burrowing Owl. I feel it deserves a wider audience!

Boobook Owl 

BLACK-HEADED GULL PREENING… PHOTO SEQUENCE


This sequence shows a winter-plumaged black-headed gull having a serious preening session in winter sunshine….Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes01 Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes02 Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes03Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes04Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes05Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes06 Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes07 Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes08 Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes09 Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes10 Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes11 Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes12 Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes13 Black-headed Gull Preening, WWT Barnes14

WINTER BIRDING IN NEW YORK CITY (1)


Strange as it may seem, New York City is a great place for birding. The city may not sleep, and maybe neither do the birds, but nonetheless there are several excellent locations to see a wide variety of species. NYC lies right on the East Atlantic Flyway, the eastern migratory route of the USA. Along it, birds hurtle forth and back twice a year, from tiny warblers to large shorebirds, as they seek winter warmth nearer the equator before returning in summer.

north-america-migration-flyways

wqed.org

The optimum hotspot is CENTRAL PARK, in particular The Ramble (central) and the secluded Pond / Ravine walk by a pretty stream (north). This is definitely the first place to head for if you have half a day to spare. There’s a very good Central Park website (link above). You’ll also find a CP birding map online, and several websites devoted to birding CP from which you can get or make your own checklist (caution: some sites are a bit… intense). Among books, I have Birds of Central Park by Carl Vornberger and The Ramble: A Wilderness West of 5th by Robert A. McCabe. These are small coffee table books to enjoy rather than field guides, and can be found on Amazon (.com), ABE and occasionally eBay.

It’s worth mentioning PROSPECT PARK BROOKLYN as another good place for birds. It is very large and has plenty of water, which is excellent for water fowl and geese. I’ve seen chipmunks there too (well, I was excited, anyway). There’s the added bonus that the BROOKLYN MUSEUM is right there – perfect for a morning followed by an afternoon in the park.

Here are a few birds photographed in and around the City when temperatures remained below freezing despite a bright sun. There’ll be some more soon.

STARLING BY THE HIGH LINE, LOWER MANHATTANStarling, High Line, NYC

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, HIGH LINENorthern Mockingbird, High Line, NYC

NORTHERN CARDINALS, CENTRAL PARK Northern Cardinal, Central Park, NYCNorthern Cardinal, Central Park NYC

TUFTED TITMICE, CENTRAL PARKTufted Titmouse, Central Park NYCTufted Titmouse (2) Central Park NYC

HOUSE SPARROW, CENTRAL PARKHouse Sparrow, Central Park NYC

RING-BILLED GULLS, STATEN ISLAND FERRYRing-billed Gull, Staten Island Ferry NYCRing-billed Gull, Staten Island Ferry, NYC

HERRING GULLS, STATEN ISLAND FERRYHerring Gull, Staten Island Ferry, NYC

Helicopter photobomb above the bird!Herring Gull, NYC