Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Juveniles, everywhere!

For the local domestic birds this year has been a good year. The extensive cat population has, to our knowledge, only taken 3 juveniles (2 Robin, 1 Starling), though we remain vigilant. We have watched over 50 juvenile Starlings feeding on occasion, 6 juvenile Greenfinch, 1 juvenile Robin, 1 juvenile Song Thrush, at least 8 juvenile Blackbirds (from 3 clutches), 4 juvenile Chaffinches, 6 juvenile Collared Doves, over 30 juvenile House Sparrows and over 10 juvenile Goldfinch.

The Sedge Warbler is still about at the moment but no indication as to his success or otherwise, and no sign of the Common Whitethroat or Willow Warblers seen in April and May.

We've also recorded new birds over the garden including Common Buzzard, Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Peregrine Falcon.

Today was a special day for the Garden birdwatch though, as I finally managed to photograph one bird we've been hearing a lot of these last few weeks and who appears to like to the large numbers of ants infesting parts of our lawn - she's a juvenile Green Woodpecker (juvenile due to the spotted chest and female as the colour bar under her 'chin' is black not red):

The resident magpies don't quite know what to make of her and seem reluctant to pick on a bird their own size (they positively 'leg it' when the Crows come in and the fights with the rabbits are funny!):

Apologies for the slight misty quality, she's still very skittish so the pictures are taken through a bedroom window.

The weather does look to have confused just about everything though, we've noticed Wren, House Sparrow and Woodpigeon clutching in August, which is very late in the year (do Woodpigeons actually observe the seasons at all !?).

Out in the real world however the news is worse. Seabirds in Scotland have suffered from the decline in their food-stock species including Sandeels, mostly ascribed to rising sea temperatures. some species recording their poorest ever seasons. In addition waders have suffered from the rising water levels, with many nests being washed out. Birds of prey in Scotland and The Peak District, and other areas, are still being deliberately killed off by land owners, gamekeepers and farmers, to protect their 'sport' later in the year - e.g. killing vast quantities of young, confused birds specially bred to be poor flyers, slow, noisy and colourful out of the sky, not to mention the other species they kill for pleasure or just by accident.

Finally many migrants had their first clutches washed away or drowned in the heavy rains of May and June, who knows how they fared in July, so whilst we have done well locally the big picture for birds and birding is worrying.

To end on a positive note, we're actively planning a trip to Lincolnshire and East Anglia next Easter to take in The Wash and the coastline along both Norfolk and Suffolk (can't wait!).

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