Wednesday 17 March 2010

What A Bunch of Chocolates.....

.......multi national companies are.

Please watch this advert:

Follow THIS link to write to the CEO of Nestle demanding they stop using illegally sourced and environmentally damaging palm oil from Indonesia.

Having spent many weeks in Indonesia myself this issue is close to my heart. Large areas of prime protected Rainforest are being illegally logged in order to grow and sell palm oil to multi-nationals like Nestle. THIS MUST STOP ! Think of the American forests in 20th Century being levelled to make way for soya bean on an industrial scale. No more Ivory Billed Woodpecker.

If you sit back and do nothing, don't moan there are no orang-utans in 10 or 15 years, it will be your fault too for not taking action................remember, a few thousand people voting with their feet stopped us being subjected to yet another crap X-Factor Christmas No.1. Your vote will count ! Power to the people and all that. Respect.

Grampian Ringing Group Blog

I have posted a link to Grampian Ringing Group's blog in the Links to the right. I have been a member of GRG since late 2006 and have been, and am continued to be trained by them ( I now have a C Permit). So, I owe them a decent plug especially now there is a blog site !

There is some interesting recent stuff on there including a colour ringed Waxwing returning to the garden where it was ringed a year later ! Mind, this is after it reurning 'home' to Russia between times. Pretty incredible stuff and really shows the value of colour ringing birds.

Tits Up ?

Looking at the group ringing totals for species ringed I noticed Blue Tit at 376. Mmmmm.....I ringed 32 new blue tits last year, and 16 retraps=48 so about 1/10 of the total. This is down to my main general 'garden' ringing site being 'infested' by tits. The Great Tits and Coalies are great as they can be a bit more challenging to age, and in fact this site has really helped me hone my ageing skills on these species, which can be slightly more tricky eg. when you get coalies with greenish tinges to all wing feathers and female Great Tits that have replaced all greater coverts and have little or no contrast in pc's ( so you have to use alula and overall shape of pc's). Sorry getting all ringing technical here. Basically, Blue Tits are easy to age. However, just because Blue Tits are 'common 'doesn't mean they are not worth ringing, far from it I suspect.

I will try to put some images on the Deeside Ringer Blog ala Menzie's fantastic ringing blog eg. wing feathers, contrast etc. This may help trainee's ( I know it does 'cause it helped me) and may interest birders as some of the features will be visible 'in situ' through bins. Last year I had some retarded moult Siskins and a Great Spotted Woodpecker and in October caught a Scottish Crossbill that had suspended its moult and these may be of interest.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

This one band camp.....we saw some Crossbills.....

Finally, a post actually about Deeside Crossbills !

Sunday 7 March 2010, Aboyne.

Managed to park car safely, and, more importantly so I could actually get out when I got back ( though I had a shovel in the boot) ! Waded through 2 feet of snow and picked up several parties of Common Crossbills feeding on native Scots Pine. Finally found a large feeding flock of around 40 Commons feeding on Larch. No juveniles present in this group and sex ratio was 50:50 ( so have not bred). These birds were eating ice from a 'snow plate' on the crown of a stunted Scots Pine - never seen that before. Managed quite a few recordings with my Telinga ( sorry Reservoir Catz/ Tom McKinney) and FR2LE. It sounded like a pet shop at times.

Monday 8th March, Strachan.

Main concern was where to park the car, with 3ft of snow piled up on the sides of the road:

"Eh, WTF is the Car Park ?"

Might seem a moot point to some but the amount of times I have got stuck in my current car beggars belief so access can sometimes be problematic. I finally got the car into a space where a snow plough had turned and on getting out was treated to a Common Crossbill pair near a small stream. Managed a few recordings of these but unfortunately missed the Scottish Crossbill type that flew over the main road just as I got out - aural Id good enough though as they really are unmistakable. I then set off following one of the trails initially, noticing someone before me had been on snow shoes - good idea as the snow was 2 feet deep and heavy going. Then it was off the beaten track and this was not funny stumbing about in 4 foot drifts.

I encountered many group of Common Crossbills and these were all actively feeding on plantation Scots Pine which were for the most part open or opening. The real highlight however, was a first winter female Northern Goshawk that I spotted about a quarter of a mile a way and which then flew straight over me giving the "ki-ka-kaka-ka" call ( which I recorded). However, for the benefit of Res Catz, the ID was visually confirmed in the field, even down to it being a female, the recording merely incidental. Birders who are doubting whether or not they have seen either a Goshawk or a Sparrowhawk have seen a Sparrowhawk - you know when you have got a Goshawk straight away ! I once saw one terrorising a pair of Buzzards which was quite a sight. Sparrowhawks don't do that AFAIK.

So, Common Crossbills in "eating scots pine shock horror". But clearly some were still prefering larch where it was available ( and where there were crossbills !).

Saturday 6 March 2010

It's not the size of your parabola that counts it is what you do with it that matters !

This made me chortle, though I think the writer is possibly serious and a tad anti parabola/sound recording.

Guilty as charged ? Nah, surely not.....I can tell the difference between a Willow Warbler and Chiffer ! It does beg the question: are parabola's/microphones becoming a feature of moderm birding and if so, is this a bad thing ? Discuss.

A Room With A View...

It's not every day you look out of your study window and see this:

Any ideas ? Well a flock of 21 (Bohemian) Waxwings that I had been watching a street away an hour earlier decided to descend on a lone cotoneaster just opposite my house after I returned to do some work on Monday 15th Feb. A pretty good window tick but, without sounding glib, we see them from the house every year only usually at the back (south side) of the house.

A better pic ( though with my 18-70 lens):

It was looking like a non Waxwing winter up here in Aberdeen but this ( the largest flock) at least made some interesting watching for a couple of days - I never tire of checking them for rings and listening to their trilling calls. Catching opportunities were somewhat limited as the birds were not visiting particular trees.

The weather has been really bad up here with quite severe snow. I have managed some crossbill surveying but mainly in mid Deeside, with only a few days out in the upper valley - my car has a habit of getting stuck in snow so I have been a bit cautious.

In mid Deeside there is the same number of Common Crossbills that were present before all the deluge of ice and snow in December and even a few Scottish Crossbills have been heard/recorded.

I have been exceptionally busy with real work plus some other bits and bobs - to all those who have been emailing me that I have not responded to please accept my apologies: it may be some time before normal service is resumed. The Crossbill breeding season is now upon us and for the next few months I will be wrapped up with that as well as trying to finish some writing up as well as call analysis. I am sorry but this stuff must take precedence along with all the work that pays the bills !

Keep tuned in as ther blog will have sporadic crossbill ( and ringing) updates.