Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A mad week

A Robin - fresh out of the freezer!
Since my last post when I visited a very foggy Gibralter Point I have delivered talks to the Friends of Wormholt Park in west London and RSPB members in Aylesbury and Guildford plus took part in the North West Birdfair at Martin Mere Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust in Lancashire.

Finally, I did some filming with a kid who breeds quail in his back garden in east London and with Polly Morgan, the supremely talented artist who uses taxidermy in her visually stunning work. She uses a lot of birds and when I was in her studio she prepared a Robin for stuffing right before my very eyes. She had me plucking out one of its eyes and scooping out its brain with a pair of tweezers!


Monday, 21 November 2011

Foggy Gibraltar Point

After being so excited about going to Gibraltar Point in Lincolnshire last weekend for the first time, I was met with a wall of fog - all day. So despite being out all Sunday morning I didn't really see anything of Gib Point at all - I could have been anywhere!

I did see a shadowy Spoonbill flying over in the fog, Goldcrests, Reed Buntings and many invisible calling Pink-footed Geese. At much closer quarters were the below depicted Woodcock and deceased Badger.
A controlled Woodcock
Dead shot

Friday, 18 November 2011

North East Adventure

Checking out a Bittern from the Hide at Gosforth Park, outside Newcastle (Alan Tilmouth)
Alan Tilmouth & TUB
It has been a long and busy week with various ongoing projects taking up a lot of my time - hence the lack of blogging activity.

Last weekend, I had the distinct pleasure of being shown around parts of Northumberland and Tyneside in the company of keen birder and bloody good ornithologist Alan Tilmouth. I spent a misty morning being shown some great sites plus seeing some great birds such as a vagrant Greater Yellowlegs and Lesser Scaup plus a Grey Phalarope, Eiders, Willow Tits and a Bittern. The latter species was seen briefly at perhaps the most fascinating site I visited, Gosforth Park Nature Reserve, on the outskirts of Newcastle. Unfortunately, this interesting urban reserve is in trouble as the surrounding area and its corridors are under extreme threat of development. There is an active campaign going on to try to save the area. Check out local campaigner, Alan Hewitt's blog and help save this special site http://www.savegosforthwildlife.com/http:/www.savegosforthwildlife.com/2011/11/18/the-urban-birder-david-lindo-backs-save-gosforth-wildife/

Finally, I ended up at the fabulous Washington WWT in the afternoon where I delivered a talk and signed a few books. My day was capped by the spectacle of several hundred Curlews flying in to roost just outside the hide that I was sitting in. They looked and sounded amazing in the evening gloom. I have never seen so many Curlews inland before in my life. Just as I thought that I had seen it all a Barn Owl flew right by the window of the hide to land by the side of the building. It had pounced on an unfortunate rodent and had its wings spread out across the grass. A magnificent sight. A brilliant end to a fantastic day!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Kikinda good!

Some more images from the International Long-eared Owl Conference in Kikinda, Serbia.
A controlled LEO
Checking out the biometrics
Some of the owl inhabited trees in Kikinda
A tiny fraction of the roost
Delegates on their tea break

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Bullfinches are back!

A male Bullfinch (Russell F Spencer)
I'm very happy at the moment because a small party of Bullfinches (a male and two females) have taken up home within Chats Paddock in Wormwood Scrubs. Two pairs of Bullfinches used to breed on my patch including a family that nested within a scrubby enclosure called Chats Paddock. All was beautiful until disturbance during the 2006 breeding season caused the Paddock pair to desert. The remaining pair did the same the following year, thus by 2008 they were extinct as breeders.

Gone also were the parties of birds that used to visit my beloved patch during the winter. Overnight they went from being a regular sight to being recorded perhaps once a year for a few moments. Indeed, I heard one call once from deep cover last winter and that bird turned out to be the only one recorded that year.

So I hope that the birds that have taken up residence for the past week stay. Perhaps they may stop and breed. I'll report back.

Friday, 4 November 2011

My Kikinda Town!

With the International Conference on the Survey, Monitoring and Conservation of the Long-eared Owl (to give it the official title) over I had time to reflect on the phenomenon that is the amazing parliament of Long-eared Owls that gather in Kikinda, northern Serbia.

In the town square there were already nearly 200 birds gathered - and winter hasn't really even kicked in yet. They can expect to see at least three times that number by January!

Kikinda can truly claim the title of Long-eared Owl Capital of the World!
Two birds as seen through my bins (binscoping)
Strange fruit
Spot the LEO
I can see you!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Serbia bound

The view from a reclined passenger seat - cold Serbian fog!
Jeez! Was I lucky today.

I got to Heathrow airport 10 minutes after the check-in desk had supposidly shut. Expecting to be told that I had missed my flight to Belgrade to attend the International Long-eared Owl Conference, I was surprised to learn that the flight had been delayed by an hour and that I had plenty of time to chill. Result!

Arrived in chilly Belgrade at 6pm their time and I was driven to Kikinda (the small town with the immense Long-eared Owl population plus the site of the conference for which I am keynote speaker) via Novi Sad. It turned out to be a four hour slog.

I have to stay up and write my speech tonight but I am also excited by the prospect of seeing loads of roosting LEO's tomorrow too!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Ghosts of Gone Birds - The Launch

Artwork by Ralph Steadman
Went to the launch tonight of the Ghost of Birds Gone exhibition at the Rochelle School of Art in Shoreditch and what an amazing night it was!

Met loads of people that I knew (and didn't know) and saw some fantastic art. The whole concept of Ghost of Gone Birds is to raise an army of creatives to get the world to understand that we desperately need to conserve our birds and other wildlife.

If you get the time come and take a look at the art.