Monday, 13 April 2015

The Pond

A couple of visits over the last couple of days has brought me a few firsts for the year; two drake Red Crested Pochards stayed for the day on Saturday, accompanied by an Otter in the evening, yesterday a lone Swallow flew low over the water.

Today 2 Chiff Chaff sang from the North Wood, along with a pair of drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers, on the pond there were 11 Mallard, 6 Canada Geese (one on nest), 6 Pochard, a pair of Teal, 19 Tufted Duck, 4 Little Grebe, 4 Moorhen, a pair of Mute Swan (one on nest), 15 Herring Gull, and 2 Lesser Black Backed Back Gull.

8 Curlew flew in from the North as two Swallows hawked over the pond. A Kestrel hunted to the East, and a Common Buzzard was mobbed by Carrion Crows over the Obelisk.

Reed Bunting, Great Tit, Robin, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Dunnock, and a female Great Spotted Woodpecker were present in the feeding station.

Heading down the Dene, I was pleased to find the Dippers doing well.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

A day in the Pennines...

After a stream of reports coming from the North Pennines, with the presence of a White-Tailed Eagle, myself and Phil decided to head down for a much needed days birding. 

Although we didn't manage to find the WTE, we did have a brilliant few hours in the company of Red Grouse, Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Skylarks and the showy Great Grey Shrike at Stanhope.

No matter how desolate they are, there's something quite inspiring about the moors in the Spring.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Hybrid Aythya

My attention was grabbed by a funny-looking Aythya duck at Holywell last Friday, it had me running back to my car for the scope.

 My heart was racing, but when I got the scope on it, I realised it wasn't the Lesser Scaup I had hoped for. Instead, after a few minutes of grilling its features and comparing it to a variety of sources, I suspected it was a Tufted X Pochard hybrid, which was confirmed by a text from BD (it's been around for a few weeks).

Today I had a brief chance to revisit this stunning hybrid and capture some record shots. 

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Islay Goose Management Strategy

Scottish Natural Heritage have again done themselves proud by announcing this goose management strategy on Islay. Every time I read 'strategies' like this I can only think, when will the human population going to be culled? 

The three aims of the strategy:
- Meet the UK's nature conservation obligations for geese, within the context of wider biodiversity objectives. (That's a great box ticking line)
- Minimise economic losses experienced by farmers and crofters as a result of the presence of geese. (i.e. reducing crop damage by 25-30% by lethally controlling Greenland Barnacle Geese)
- Maximise the value for money of public expenditure. (Money/Greed)

To achieve these aims there are a further list of points, but my favourite line being:
'Maintain a viable population of barnacle geese at a level which meets our conservation obligations.' 

Our conservation obligations, shifting baseline syndrome?

Not far into the report you'll find this gem of a paragraph. 
'The average Greenland barnacle goose population wintering on Islay has risen from c.3,000 in 1952 to a peak of just under 50,000 in 2005-2006 (Figure 1) (Mitchell & Hall, 2013). That long term increase since the 1950s was due to a combination of breeding success, reduction in hunting following legal protection and changes in agricultural management providing good quality winter feeding. However, the numbers have fluctuated over recent years. There was no significant growth in the Islay population between the last two population censuses in 2008 and 2013 and there was a drop of just under 6,000 geese since winter 2012/13. Analysis by WWT suggests that the population trend has have levelled off (Hilton et al. 2014)'

So it seems that Scottish Natural Heritage would prefer to return to a time when numbers were reduced by hunting. On further reading it appears they are thinking about it:

'Possibilities for sporting tourism may be considered during the period of the strategy.')
But its all ok, they've added a silver lining, they're investing in the Greenland White Fronted Geese, aiming to increase the population, minimise disturbance, improve their traditional feeding areas, and provide diversionary feeding.

I understand that in this day and age that its becoming increasingly difficult to live, in terms of money, but the constant bright idea of culling species is ridiculous. 

It's as much their home as it is ours.

You can read the article and find links to the report here:

Friday, 12 December 2014

Wander in the Woods

I had a little wander in the woods this morning, stunning blue skies, fresh cold winters air and that stunning low sun. Accompanied by a cast of Roe Deer, and a little surprise flash of blue.