Friday, 27 March 2009

Waco Jaco Pastorius

(Sighs deeply) Ahem ! Okay maybe time for something more constructive and less negative ?

Right, well here is the Weather Report ( get the title now ?) for NE Scotland. It is going to snow. When is it going to snow ? Very, very soon. How do I know this ? Easy, Crossbill nests. You see, every year when I am out checking nests and looking for more or recording singing males, there is at least several days where I am wading through two plus foot of snow. So far this year that has not happened. I do have some nests found so just waiting on the white stuff to come along and wipe half of them out. Admittedly they are a bit later this year but in all previous years females were sitting in snow flurries and storms. Hardy things crossbills.

And, if it doesn't snow then that global warming thingy is to blame and we are all dooooomed. But don't worry, the Scottish Crossbills will all be okay as apparently they will migrate to Iceland, said an expert. Apparently.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Wind Of Change ( not the Scorpions)

At last, common sense prevails:

"From Nigel Hudson-BBRC SecretaryJust to let you all know that at last week-ends' BBRC AGM, held at Minsmere, 3 species were taken off the BBRC list as from Jan 1st 2009. The 3 species are Cattle Egret, White-billed Diver and Parrot Crossbill.For Cattle Egret & White-billed Diver please continue to send any records prior to 1st Jan 2009 to the BBRC. In particular Cattle Egret records should not be ignored as we want to have as complete picture of the influx for any future researchers. Parrot Crossbill is slightly different in that very few records have been submitted for a number of years, and BBRC will not be looking at retrospective records.Also do continue to send records for these species to your County Recorder."

This all means that in this year's NESBR 2008 I don't have to justify not sending my Parrot Crossbill records to BBRC for their verification. Hooha ! I don't think they would have thanked me if I sent them every Parrot record I had somehow.

Kinda ironic though as nearly every photo I see of a 'Scottish Crossbill' on Birdguides, Surfbirds, Bird Forum etc is actually a Parrot Crossbill ! Maybe they(BBRC), or perhaps more appropriately, someone else should be reviewing those records after all ?

Friday, 13 March 2009

At Last......Jenni and Winkler !

You remember that scene from 'Waynes World' - the one where Wayne is drooling over the 'glass case' Olympic white Fender Stratocaster uttering "Oh, Yes... One day it shall be mine" ? Well I've got two of those, neither White though. You see for me the proverbial 'White Stratocaster' has been owning my very own copy of.... cue trumpets....bam, bam, baaaam :

Yep, good ole Jenni and Winkler's "Moult and Ageing of European Passerines". Well now I do, or should I say as of Wednesday I do thanks to the very nice lady I bought it from sending it out very quickly. I won the recent auction of a copy on ebay bidding £100, the minimum reserve set for it. The closest other bid was £99.99. So I won by 1 pence. Ouch. To that individual I must apologize - it is the bargaining equivalent of a tennis shot that hits the top of the net and flops over at match point. If it is any consolation my maximum bid was much higher than £100. I also got up to put in my final bid at 7.30 am on a Saturday morning, my busisest day, so you see I really do deserve it.

Was it worth it ? Well at £100 it is £150 cheaper than the one currently on Amazon. For an out of print book it is a fair price I think and I am delighted to finally get one, especially in such good condition. It is going to be real handy too in terms of ringing - contrast in GC's with Robin's has always been a bone of contention with me, and I tend to use tail shape and, in Autumn to late Winter at least, the colour of the inner upper mandible. Iris colour useful too ala Dunnocks. This bookie has some nice wing examples of typical, and atypical specimes which put into pictures what Svensson puts into words. Invaluable for a ringer this book certainly is.

However, fear not if you don't have one or can't foresee owning one before the surely necessary reprint. THIS site may serve as decent stopgap meantime. It did for me.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Common As Muck

Howdy all. Appologies for paucity of posting but it is crazy time again for me - birds are nesting and it is all go for the season !

Sunday and Monday this week I had quite a lot of Common Crossbills in mid Deeside. It was difficult tracking them with the high winds but interesting stuff all the same. Most were in parties of 6 to 8 though I did have a flock of 22. The smaller parties are probably fragmented family groups. Birds were singing and displaying which is always great to watch, though no great recordings as the wind was howling !

I have been finding quite a lot of Common Crossbill parties in the native pinewoods and plantations since December 08, particularly in mid and lower Deeside. These birds have all been feeding on Scots pine as there has been little else for them to munch. Contrary to popular belief they can forage from unopened Scots Pine cones - just not very efficiently. This year they have not had much choice. However, most will seek out those trees where the cones have started to open - I found one such tree with a Parrot, 3 Scotties and a Common near Banchory in December (see post below from December).

Last week caught up with some Scottish 'Pine' Crossbills at a native pinewood:

It is going to be all hands on deck for the next 3 months plus I have loads to write up, so will appologize now if the posts are not forthcoming ! Do stay tuned in just incase........