Thursday, 20 September 2012

Refer to other blog...

Dear followers,

First of all, sorry about the lack of recent postings. Please be advised that in the interests of keeping all my blog postings on one page, I will from now on be posting all bird-related thoughts on my 'blog about everything else', a.k.a. Nick Young's World.

The link is below. The latest post (as of today) is about seeing a goldcrest in the middle of the City of London:

Thanks for reading!


Monday, 21 May 2012

Birdwatching among the scultures

Last Thursday I took the day off work to go out to the Henry Moore Foundation in rural Hertfordshire with relatives who were over from Canada. It’s worth a visit even if, like me, you think art might not be your thing – because the sculptures that are on display in the grounds of the farmhouse where the Moores moved to during the war are truly breathtaking.

Naturally, I took my binoculars to see what I could see. There were Robins in the hedgerows, a fleetingly-glimpsed House Sparrow, and plenty of Rooks in the field with the sheep. There’s a bird table in the garden by the visitors’ centre where I saw a pair of Great Tits.

Sighting of the day, though, was a Treecreeper making its way up a tree next to one of the barns that Moore converted into a studio. I’m not sure when I last saw one of those – I’ve checked my notes and I am pretty sure they’ve eluded me in Coldfall Wood. Now that was worth taking the binoculars for.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Watch out, there's a Jay about

If you’ve heard a harsh screech on the streets of East Finchley recently, you may have been listening to a Jay. According to several correspondents, there are a lot of them about.

Smaller than a woodpigeon, the Jay has a pinkish-fawn body, a distinctive black ‘moustache’, a black tail and white and blue patches on its wings. Despite being the most colourful members of the crow family, Jays are more often heard than seen as they are secretive birds. However, there have been sightings on streets and in gardens recently as nesting pairs have been busy gathering materials.

Although they are woodland birds (Coldfall Wood is an excellent place to see them), numbers in the suburbs have risen in recent years – and as that photo on the back page of the February edition of The Archer showed, East Finchley is nothing if not tree-lined!

Jays are best known for eating acorns, which they store in the autumn so they can eat them all year round. However, they also eat insects, beetles and even the eggs and nestlings of smaller birds – something for which they are considerably less notorious than their cousins the Magpies. As such, they may well have a negative impact on smaller birds as they will be looking for more food with which to feed their young at this time of year – although I have been told by a fellow-resident who’s had some in her garden that Jays themselves can be victims to persistent Carrion Crows in this regard.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Tuscan interlude

Last week I went on holiday to Tuscany with my wife and mother-in-law. We had a blast – I can’t recommend Tuscany highly enough as a holiday destination!

On the bird-front, I heard more than I saw – we were staying in a hilltop village called Panzano which is about half-way between Florence and Siena on the 222 ‘Chianti’ route.

I didn’t take my binoculars as we had to adhere to Ryanair's baggage weight allowances, but I did see quite a few birds on my walks around the village – lots of Tree Sparrows (recognisable by their brown caps), some Starlings, Blackbirds, Collard Doves, Woodpigeons, Magpies, Jackdaws and at one point I swear blind I saw a Buzzard circling over the fields looking for rabbits.

There were also plenty of evidence of nests! Most of the buildings in Panzano are pretty old so there are lots of cracks in the walls that birds seemed to be flying in and out of all the time.

I didn’t get many chances to take photos but here’s what I did manage.

A bird was flying in and out of this crack in the wall but it was so quick I couldn't identify it.
 Male Blackbird.
 Collard Dove.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Not your usual venue

Recently, I opted for a more unusual birdwatching venue in East Finchley.

The future of Stanley Road Playing Fields may be an ongoing cause for concern, but with the land itself fenced off I wondered which birds I would be able to see on the field from the footpath that runs between the playing fields and the local primary school.

The field backs onto a street called Leslie Road, where Sparrowhawks have been seen recently. A photo of one even made it onto the back page of this month’s edition of the local paper (I wrote the article although I wasn’t credited for it; I cannot and do not claim credit for the headline).

I wasn’t so lucky. My favourite sighting was that of a Carrion Crow perched on top of a disused floodlight pylon, surveying the landscape. He even stayed there for long enough to allow me to photograph him. Magpies were busy scavenging across the playing field itself, as were a few Rooks.

I could hear but not see a Blackbird. I think I’m getting better at identifying bird calls.

However, most of the birding action was to be seen on the edges of the field – just like the hedgerows at the sides of fields in the countryside! There were three types of tit in the bushes, and I also spotted a Dunnock and a Robin. A very small flock of Starlings (is five enough for a flock?) flew overheard.

On the non-avian front, I also managed to see three Orange-tip butterflies.

Bird notes from Friday 6th April 2012:

Carrion Crow 2
Rook 3
Magpie 2
Blue Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Starling 5
Great Tit

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

A visitor!

My bird feeder has had a visitor!

A Robin on Sunday afternoon. He flew along, perched on top, flew away, figured out how to use the feeder, came back and grabbed a beak-full of seeds. I did not see this, of course. My wife pointed it out to me.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Local paper

As well as birdwatching, I also write for The Archer, the local volunteer-run newspaper here in East Finchley. I have combined these two interests for several articles – most recently a re-write of my blog entry about the Big Garden Birdwatch which has made the March edition (page 8 if you follow the link!).