I thought this would be a sensible idea, as the 'main news page' can get a bit cluttered - so if anyone has something clever to say, then say it now & go down in history : ) (JR 04/07/2017)
Nobody will ever contribute to this page of course, which rather makes my heart swell with pride : )
Goldcrest vs Firecrest - Which is Britain's smallest bird ?
Well, they can't both be absolutely the same size - the observatory staff measure & weigh these birds with meticulous precision - down to millimeters & grams, so they will know - I would say that Goldcrests are smaller & lighter, while Firecrests appear to be slightly more chunky, or is that because they 'puff' themselves up in winter? (JR 17/7)
Do female birds sing?
Yes they do. The easy one is Robin. Are the songs different? - yes - go into Xeno-Canto for audio examples, other species include Dipper. In Historical terms, more female species used to sing, but this has died out over the years & the reason for this has not really been verified as of yet (JR 12/7)
What is the most boring bird on the British list?
Twenty five years ago, I would have said Ring-billed Gull - I remember being dragged out of bed for one in Uxbridge in 1991, but only participated in this venture because a Ruff (found by the late Pete Naylor) had been seen on the same field - this was 100 times more interesting. I got the gull, but missed the Ruff. Seven years passed & I was doing the weekend rounds with Tony Stride at Staines Reservoirs in 1998. Someone's pager went off & "Caspian Gull at Twickenham" was announced - we all looked at each other - what's that? - It was a bird so boring that I don't even bother to report or count them anymore - I'll take a Coal Tit over a Caspo any day & to applaud this possible sub-species makes us all look as dull as the 'test card' (BBC2, 1970's & early 80's) - Okay, perhaps I have been a bit unfair on Caspos - It's American Herring Gull that I now loathe (with a DNA sample often required) - I mean seriously, would you travel all the way down to Dorset for one? - only to find out it was a European Herring Gull!? - well I did warn them both not to go! (JR 29/7)
Which bird stimulated the impetus for each of us to all start?
Every answer here (if any declared) will be different. This exemplifies that no two birders are the same - a relief I think : ) For me, It all started in the late 1970's & it was the first day of the summer holidays - we were all packed into the back of this appalling "A" reg (1963) Austin Cambridge car & it chugged off down to Cornwall at a hair raising speed of 30 mph - cyclists overtaking us were common place. The car soon packed up & we were all stuck in a lay by waiting for the AA - I suddenly noticed a bird just feet away & it just looked so amazing - but what was it? - It was a Lapwing - a bird that changed my life & still sends a shiver of excitement up my spine after nearly 40 years (JR 14/07)
London's deadliest Accipiter - a manoeuvre almost beyond comment
I am of course referring to Friday's (14/7) female Sparrowhawk - How was it done? taking out a Woodpigeon & Collared Dove simultaneously?. No, I didn't witness the strike, just the victims pinned down on the field behind the garden - I was greeted by an assemblage of Carrion Crows in rapturous applause over the incident. Possibly one of the resulting victims was caught up in the cross-fire of the melee, but in keeping with an old Chinese proverb - "he (or she) that tries to catch two rabbits, catches neither" & both the pigeon & dove escaped (JR 28/07)
Collective bird names
Being on a long car journey for any bird can be awfully tiresome - so we invented ways to make the pilgrimages more entertaining & passenger friendly - one of the more popular topics was 'collective bird names' & there are more nouns for bird names than birders might think. I'll go straight for the jugular here - What avian species is a 'hill' the collective term for?, or a 'whisp'?, or even a 'building'? - no cheating : ) (JR 19/07)
The answers are: a 'hill' is the collective term for Ruff, a 'whisp' is the collective term for Snipe & a 'building' is the collective term for Rook - & in keeping on the topic of lengthy excursions, for good measure I will also include a 'trip' - the collective term for Dotterel - but you all knew that anyway : ) (JR 19/07)
I am wondering if there is a collective noun for Swifts? - yes, I have found two - a 'flock' & a 'scream' (JR 29/07)
Whimbrel? - by heck, I was praying for a Lapwing!
I knew straight away what it was & was slightly shocked - a huge endorphin release ensued - this is a garden record after all & not the farm - I'll calm down in a couple of weeks : ) - throwing the towel into the ring is not within the realms of my constitution or psyche. The White Stork was also on the 19th as well ~ a new lucky number perhaps? : ) (JR 19/07)
Holy Cow! - I have just noticed that on the farm, Red-backed Shrike, one of my Wrynecks & Woodlark were also all found on the 19th of the month - also, my very first Black Redstart from the garden in October 1984 was on the 19th (JR 19/08)
No Red Kites this week?
Ah, "Speak of the devil & he will appear" - I am employing this old theatrical idiom on purpose in a last ditch attempt to generate some reports this weekend - will it work? - we'll find out I guess (JR 28/07)
Of course it worked - but there were none over the garden today - but I know something you don't : ) (JR 29/07)
After several reports over this weekend, I finally got over the line at 15:50 today - salutations to Milvus milvus (JR 30/07)
Predictions for this Autumn
Obviously I run the risk of making a complete fool of myself again - but I've already done that 100 times over, so who cares? (JR 31/7) - I'll talk more about this on Wednesday. Well, that was the plan before I twisted my neck sitting in the 'migration chair' - only I could have an accident doing nothing. I could barely walk on Wednesday - was it divine retribution over my rant on the LWC?
Fasten your seat belts - I still think this autumn will be a killer & just hope to be a part of it. (JR 04/08)
Autumn expectations after a shaky start
I should have kept my mouth shut - now we are condemned to a lifetime of Feral Rock Doves & Caspo's - well, there have been some goodies - an adult Sabine's Gull, Temminck's Stint, Goshawk, Wood Warbler, several Tree Pipits now & a Pied Flycatcher... well there are still three months of this left so hold on to your hats! (JR 19/08)
It is looking better now
A little Meropidae anyone? - sorry mate, you should have been here yesterday...well, at least it wasn't a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - (now there's a birding question that would drive most birders nuts in the car!) - which bird on the British List has two hyphens in it's name?) - not that I twitch much these days, but seven European Bee-eaters would have just about dragged me over to Bayford which appears to hold multiple accolades for being 'best kept village' - I must take inspiration & make a start on some garden beautification (JR 20/08)
Is a juvenile passerine the same as a first-winter?
No & this one can be complex, so if you can't solve the 'Rubik's Cube' in less than two minutes, then don't even bother to read this - but I will try to simplify it - OK, let's take Whinchat, Pied Flycatcher, Wheatear & Red-backed Shrike - none of these species (unless suppressed) breed in London anymore. These birds go through a 'post-juvenile moult' before migrating. If we were seeing these birds as juveniles, it would imply that they bred locally! - secondly, the plumage does not necessarily reflect their true age due to the state of advancement or transitional development in their moult - occasionally some juvenile feathers are retained (particularly in the body) because the synchronicity in body moult is different to the flight feathers. I would therefore strongly suggest these individuals are tardy in their development, but are not retarded & certainly not juvenile - I once recorded what I thought was a juvenile Wheatear in London on July 25th 2005, but now realise it was a first-winter bird in slightly unmoulted juvenile plumage - confused yet? : ) (JR 25/08)
Silence is golden
But in my case, never for very long - a big day is coming & I can feel it - you read it here first : ) (JR 7/09)
A 'big day' at Staines
Yes, I would have loved to have gone - but with the gas pipes being upgraded this week, I am slightly stuck at home in the mud again - perhaps I'll get another shot in 2036! (JR 14/09)