Friday, 23 May 2008

Scottish Common

This is for Reg in relation to this thread HERE.

This bird was caught in lower Deeside in October 2007. As can be seen it has an intermediate bill, downcurved culmen and plumage that can be indicative of a pine crossbill. It gave both EcE and Fc4 on release, both classified as curvirostra.

Just to prove the point further, here is a Scottish Crossbill caught in October 2006. This has an intermediate bill that is downcurved (though not as much as the common above !) but has more orangey-red plumage ! This gave a Scottish Fc3 on release:

Hopefully this will illustrate the potential difficulty in separating these forms to species level, and even with considerable experience for some individual specimens it will be necessary to have all the evidence including biometrics and bioacoustic.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Calling All Crossbill 'Experts' !

A mysterious crossbill found in Glen Doll, Angus needs your help HERE.

Only serious crossbill boffins need apply, no timewasters please.

ICRAP ( The International Crossbill Research Analysis Program ) requests that participants refrain from using non standard and unsubstantiated terminology such as "glip", "british", "phantom" etc otherwise the following loxia subgroups will also be considered:

The "Fitlikemin" - of Aberdeenshire.

The "Yehoorsir" - found in the Lomond Hill plantations of Fife.

The "Ehlleatmehpeh" - specific to the Fintry hills outside Dundee.

The "WeeFree" - only found on the Outer Hebrides in irruption years.

The "Ganzee" - present on Shetland and Fair Isle in irruption years.

The "Wherzabizees" - only found in the plantations of Merseyside.

The "Gitorfmoiland" - of Dorset and Devon.

The "Buckie" - the resident Crossbill type of SW Scotland, also recently recorded in the Manchester area.

Thank you. You have been warned.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

"She Was a Fast Machine, She Kept Her Motor Clean"

Okay, hands up who went up North to see the Upland Sand. Me ? must be joking. I couldn't be bottomed driving the 50 or so miles from my pad in Aberdeen. I will happily wait till 2102 to see the next long as it lands in my back garden. It's just a bird afterall. Some people must have no job or at least no work to do ! I'd much rather have a Wryneck on one of my June. Now that would be interesting ! Or a Nightjar as happened a few years ago.

So what else makes me 'tick' other than crossbills given that I don't keep lists. Well, this year I am going to do a bit of Dragonfly surveying for the atlas. Things haven't really got going up here as of yet but reckon when I am out this weekend some Large Reds will have emerged. Also going to be targeting Golden Ringed's in Deeside as their distribution seems a bit vague. I have even got a holiday booked with the specific purpose of finding and photographing Odonata......and my real passion Mediterranean Chelonia of course.

A Golden Ringed wouldn't want to mess with it...obviously.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

"Who's Nest and Pictures of Billy", Sunday 5th May

A momentus day as I heard the first juvenile 'pine' crossbill begging calls of 2008. I didn't see them as they were in a mega 'bushy' granny pine, but the adults flew in to feed them, strangely accompanied by another female. The juvs could even have still been in the nest but I checked all the likely places for a nest and couldn't locate it, so it wasn't there. The birds had therefore probably fledged nearby and just managed to fly to this particular tree. The adults gave EcD Parrot type calls which I recorded just to prove that they actually were what I already knew they were.

On Monday my bestest half had juvenile crossbill calls at a site in mid Deeside. Though she had the Remembird with her she was too busy looking at and for insects to record them apparently. Duh ! Yep, it is possible to tell the juvvy calls apart to species level...................those of you still struggling to tell the adults apart probably didn't need to hear that ! :-)

Speaking of nests what a crazy year. I have found more nests than ever, and without even trying - it's actually getting embarrassing. However, the really bad weather in April has resulted in a high failure rate-well more than 'usual' 50%. This is to be expected in the odd year, though it will be interesting to see if any try again or have second broods this year like they did last year.

Nest Diary "Death In The Pines : A Typical Scenerio"

This nest was found as the female had just started building with literally 3 twigs on 9th March (if you look close you can see her peeking at you):

"Here's looking at you kid, celebrate......"

The following week on the 16th the nest was finished and eggs laid sometime later that week. On the 23rd March the female was sitting tight through driving snow storms. I was a bit worried as the male was feeding her only every 90 -120 minutes which is not great (for her). In wet weather the cones close making foraging times longer. This pair had intermediate bill depths (est. around 12.0mm) and both birds were practically identical in this respect. Both gave the same calls and I got the male singing on two occasions so some good stuff re-assortative mating and song to call correlations.

By the 4th of April the chicks had hatched and the male was singing above the tree, and both male and female flew off to feed. The next day an area of low pressure moved in with wet and windy weather and the chicks persished. Total bummer. All that effort from the dedicated female to no avail.

Today, I found yet another crossbill nest (the 23rd this year), the female sitting and the male coming in regularly to feed her. I recorded a male singing in this very tree two weeks ago but there was no nest then. More will be found no doubt.

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Simply The Best !

Especially for all the Aberdeen fans I 'coexist' with up here in NE Scotland , here it is all over again just for you. Git it right up yiz !

Now, just to find £1500 to get a ticket......