Sunday, 29 March 2015

A mixed bag for post No 900

Changeable weather brought little of interest this weekend other than trying to second guess the rain showers to which end I failed twice!. Mrs Mallard chasing Mr in the late evening sun on Friday.
More voles than birds on the feeders taking advantage of the anti Magpie wire protection.
One moth, an Oak Beauty although quite a dark version which meant I hunted through the Carpets before making a decision. Mothing then ended due to guess what..........rain.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Got everything but the red legs!

Lots of these around when I drove from Alnwick to Rothbury via the back roads the other day. I assume all released birds pairing up. Loads of Pheasants too, nearly all males. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A little privacy please

I've just come out of the bath!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Beginning to tick

After last Saturdays morning count Banks Pond turned up Tufted Duck, Coot and Little Grebe returned to the patch although the Tufties never stay for breeding. The pain of a week of work was tempered by the thought of Friday but the eclipse was pretty craptastic from my viewpoint so after doing my duties I obtained a late pass for the evening. The shorties are still reluctant to fly but probably two still present as a Crow reportedly flushed them early in the afternoon. I headed up the bumpy road to the west end in search of Wheatear but none were found. The flock of Golden Plover were still hopping about the flooded fields with a couple of Lapwing on territory and were joined by the Curlew flock which grew to 84 over the course of the evening. An Oystercatcher called and a solitary Dunlin and five Greylag Geese were flushed before I headed for Eland Hall where at 6.00pm my target, the pair of Barn Owls, rushed past me heading toward the Carr for their evening meal.
I returned having spoken to Bill (who despite still suffering from Tinnitus appears slightly better for those who have enquired) and he reported a male Wheatear near Holmes' muck heap but it was dark before I got there and the eclipsed sun set. 
My Saturday morning count rapidly turned up 41 species but a female Chiffchaff calling for a mate was the only addition to the list. 
Mothing has been poor due to the cold nights with Common Quaker the only macro and the wonderfully named Hofmannophila  pseudospretella an early micro.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Vole ID

Waiting for the owls to appear the other day (which they have not been so keen lately) their favourite prey item, or so I thought, was feeding under one of the feeders emerging every so often from under a root. Just before doing this post I checked to make sure it was a vole (I've shot myself in the foot more than once with ID) and noticed that the ears were very visible so read on further and checked another shot taken in shade.
The red colouring with grey flanks / underparts suggest this is a Bank Vole although I doubt an owl would be unduly fussy about it as a snack.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

We're off

Collared Dove has been on a single egg in the old nest just feet from my back window for a few days now, female Blackbird carrying nest material into the rear hedge while male watches on, Starlings chucking my loft insulation out of the eaves and Sparrows have chosen their apartments.
Father waits expectantly

Monday, 16 March 2015

What's in a name?

Short-eared Owl
Latin Asio flammeus Asio being the genus of Stigidae order denoting tufted ears and flammeus meaning flame like or fiery from the plumage.
Originally described as Hornoul in 1544 Willoughby refined this to Horned Owl but later Short-eared Owl probably coined by Thomas Pennant as the species was separated from the Long-eared Owl.
Many names derive from its characteristics i.e 
plumage Brown Yogle, Grey Yogle (Shetland), Red Owl (Dartmoor) and Grey Hullet (Lancashire). Also Cat Owl and Flat faced owl from appearance.
preferred habitat Moss Owl (Yorkshire) Marsh Owl, March Owl, Meadow Owl, Swamp Owl, Bog Owl, Grass Owl and Fern Owl (Ireland)
hunting strategy Day Owl, Evening Owl and Woodcock Owl (Norfolk, Suffolk, Kent, Berkshire)
and prey such as Mouse Owl.
Americans generally refer to it as Hawk Owl and the association is close with the Hen Harriers the birds often seen hunting the same land.
Sea Owl and Pilot Owl (Kent & Suffolk) will refer to birds coming in off the sea on migration. Here's the given name from European countries some of which demonstrate the same derivations
C Kalous pustovka                                        
D Sumpfohreule                                   
E Lechuzn Campestre
F Hibou des marais
FN Suopöllö
G Βαλτόμπυφος
H Rétifülesbagoly
I Gufo di palude
NL Velduil
P Coruja-do-nabal
PL Sowa blotna
R Болотная Сова
S Jorduggla
Just out of interest using the abbreviation SEO can attract lots of hits from the states where the more common meaning is Search Engine Optimization.
Acknowledgements 'All the birds of the Air' Francesca Greenoak. EBBC Atlas of European Breeding Birds and sorry blogger is playing silly buggers with the formatting.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

What a grey day

It's been a slow start to the year not helped by the relatively benign but changeable weather. Todays count quickly rattled up 42 species which considering I'm only on 62 for the year is pretty good. Curlew and Golden Plover (no Greys unfortunately) flocks are building nicely with two Lapwing displaying in between being chased by Crows. Having seen few geese till this week there are now three pairs noisily chasing each other around the place as are a couple of pairs of Mallard.
Not much sign of the Short-eared owls in the greyness however I am getting reports of Barn Owls from the west end after dark. That'll be a trip out later this week as today added Linnet and an overflying Grey Wagtail to the list.
Foxy is looking a bit grey round the rump as well.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Is it a bird, is it a plane?

No it's my home made moth trap. Ten of your quids plus some odds and ends lying around the house. Hope it works but so far thwarted by the weather as its either blowing hot of clear and cold. Water tightness of the electrical bits has been proven though and one visitor to date.
Pale brindled Beauty me thinks. Will now have to get my id knowledge up to avoid pestering Tom the county recorder all the time although getting photos in daylight with true colours and decent exposures should help the cause rather than last years half arsed methods.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Pheasant attraction

Feeders at the Carr now attracting game.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Barking up the right tree

Chatting away to a builder today giving him the dubious benefit of my bird knowledge it was nice to see two Treecreeper, a Goldcrest and a Nuthatch in the magnificent pine next to us. 'Here' he said 'have you seen this' and he took me to another pine down the drive where he showed me a polished recess in the bark with a small patch of droppings below. Having just seen the species responsible and re-calling seeing how Treecreepers roost face in to the bark of a tree I surmised this must be one of their roost sites.
There were another two close by, all at around head height (that's 5ft 8 for short arses like me) and between the access road and two driveways where cars and people would pass just two feet away. Worth a try later to see if I can catch the owners in residence.
The main residence was somewhat grander but I'm sure it will surprise many who know the area that this splendid town house, one of a terrace of eight, is actually in Riding Mill.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

More of the same

Well that proves Short eared owls will avoid hunting in high winds if they aren't starving. After last weeks show Sunday through Tuesday was a disappointment as the winds howled around the Carr. Then today as the wind dropped and it warmed up there they were again from 4.10.
Quite active and in various poses and habitats
With careful observation and the help of a Carr regular visitor the conclusion was five birds present.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Aren't you supposed to be a night owl?

Out twice between 2.00 and 3.30 at Cresswell yesterday and according to the board the pair had been seen earlier in the day.
Can't be feeding young and the gates at the farm were closed indicating movement of beast so I deduce Watson that they have been disturbed from their roost by workings in their barn.
This one shows very white on the wing whilst at rest (see the last pic of Jonny's latest excellent shots which is likely the same bird)
Crappy flight shot of the same bird so it must be the trailing edge of each feather combining to give the white panel.