Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Cuckoo and Others on a Beautiful Day

On Tuesday we went to the same location as Friday, but what a transformation.  On Friday the wind ensured that nearly all the small birds were cowering in the undergrowth, but in the sunshine on Tuesday they were all on display.  Once again a Cuckoo was the bird of the day.  The morning started well with a Goldcrest, and continued with Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers, Willow Warblers,  Reed Buntings, Linnets, Yellowhammers, Whitethroat and a Lesser Whitethroat.  One surprise was the amount of House Sparrows seen well away from habitation.  They seemed to be taking advantage of the emerging dragonflies, plucking them from the sparse reeds and returning with the nymphs to their nests.
Cuckoo
 Goldcrest
 Hose Sparrow with a recently emerged Dragonfly
 Reed Bunting 
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 Sedge Warbler
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 Reed Warbler
 On Friday Bob reported hearing a Cetti's Warbler, and sure enough we heard it in exactly the same place he recorded it.  It was also there in the afternoon, but it remained completely concealed.  After the class I was interviewed by Beverley FM about some of the birds likely to be seen and heard along Leven Canal.  When we were discussing the Cuckoo the male was flying around us calling, so hopefully a very atmospheric recording was made. 
Yellowhammer 
 Kestrel
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 Water Lily
In all, more than 700 photos were taken, so the following are just the highlights. 
Male Cuckoo
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The forecast for Wednesday is for a drop in temperature of 10 degrees and northerly winds, so Leven Canal will once more be bereft of good bird sightings until the weather picks up again. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Farewell to the Nightingale

Today the final Birding with Flowers Nightingale Special took place.  Three years ago there were about 16 singing males present, so we had the choice of which birds we tried to observe.  2 years ago there may have been 12 males holding territory.  Last year there may have been 9 individuals belting out their exquisite songs.  So, it was something of a surprise to learn that last Wednesday only one male was back.  Normally, they start arriving in numbers around 19th April.  Today we only found one bird singing throughout the morning, but there were reports that 3 birds had been heard singing, and a single bird was observed carrying nesting material.  
Nightingale (c) 2018 Tony Robinson
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Nightingales have declined by something like 90% since 1970.  We used to visit those in Yorkshire at Thorne Moors, but they died out a decade ago.  Since then we have visited those in Lincolnshire, as the population seemed stable at first, and they were easy to observe from the several paths.  However, in the last few years they have declined until the absolute nadir this year.  It now seems certain that there will be no point looking for them next year.  It was thought that they remained at this reserve because the dog walking kept the deer away.  Browsing Deer eat all the thick low vegetation that Nightingales need to nest, and in which they find their food on the woodland floor. There are probably other reasons Nightingales are declining, but this seems the most obvious one.  It is about time something was done to stop the sharp decline of this, and many others of our summer visiting migrants.
Garden Warbler
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Garden Warbler (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
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Female Blackcap (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
Garden Warbler
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 Jay - spotted by Pat
 Bullfinch
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 Long-tailed Tit - tail probably damaged brooding the eggs & young
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Nightingale 
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Nightingale (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
Nightingale
 Orange-Tip
Orange-Tip (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
Ditto
Green-Veined White (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
Small White
 Damselfly
 Blue-tailed Damselfly 
Mediterranean Gulls (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
Whirligig Beetles (c) 2018 Jane Robinson
Common Storks-bill (c) 2018 Jane Robinson

Some of my favourite images of Nightingales taken at the same location over the years.
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 A more recent image
 Collecting food for their young
 Bringing in nesting material