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