Monday, 25 August 2008

Birds By Thorburn Jigsaws

These Wentworth 250 piece jigsaws take 4 or 5 hours from beginning to end. The edge pieces are a challenge as straight edges can also be found in the middle of the jigsaw. Potentially, there are no corner pieces - this is the case most of the time. There can be corner pieces - but again, it can throw you because 'corner pieces' can be found anywhere in the puzzle (including in the middle of the edge). The whimsies also make it interesting. These puzzles are certainly not the type of puzzles you would do if you wanted to methodically work it all out!

Above: Goldcrest, Wren, Dipper, Nuthatch etc.
Below: As above but with whimsies taken out

There are only limited numbers of Jigsaws with birds by Thorburn, and I think I have them all - with one left to complete (cuckoos, hoopoe & bee-eater).

Above: Waxwing, Golden Oriole + Flycatchers
Below: As above but with whimsies taken out

A Cetti's Warbler

On Saturday 25/08/08 along with two other members of the Ivel Ringing Group we caught the second juvenile Cetti's Warbler of the year on this site (proving breeding for the species in Bedfordshire for the first time). Luck was on my side - I put the ring on!

Above: The Cetti's Warbler can be identified by counting the tail feathers - it only has 10 tail feathers (12 is the norm).

Above: Trying to take flight!

Above: Me & the 10 tail feathered Cetti's Warbler.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Priory Country Park (09/08/08)

The sheep pen at Priory Country Park produced a surprise.

Above: A kingfisher being weighed

Above: Errol Newman (my trainer) weighing the kingfisher.

Above: When in the hand, the kingfisher cranes its head from side to side (almost all the way round) making it difficult to time the photograph (especially as there is a slight delay on the camera).

Above: A close up of the view most people get when in the field!

Wash Wader Ringing Group Mini Wash Week 3

Wash Wading continued (again).

Above: The keeping area

Above: A knot being released (they hung around for about 20 seconds before flying off).

Above: The back of a summer plumage Dunlin (there are two distinct races & you can tell from the feathers at the bottom of their back which race they are from - I forget which is which!).

Above: The tide retreated rapidly and in the distance you can see two things (a ship wreck) and on the tide line, a mass of feeding wading birds (1000's).

Above: The WWRG.

Wash Wader Ringing Group Mini Wash Week 2

Wash Wader Ringing continued.

Again, for the same reasons, we had to hide under a tarpaulin for nearly 2 hours. I was more comfortable this time because I led on my back. Unfortunately, I missed the birding spectacle unfolding in front of me because I wasn't allowed to look (doing so would have scared the birds off). At one point there were 5000 Knot on the island + Dunlin + Oystercatcher.

Above: Knot (top) and Dunlin (below) fly past while we are ringing their friends!

Above: A Knot in summer plumage

Above: A Knot in winter plumage

Above: Dunlin in the keeping area.

Above: Me with a Dunlin in the hand.

I plan on going again (depending on available transport!). It was a very enjoyable weekend & there are many species of Wader I want to catch up with! See my 3rd WWRG post for a few more photographs.

Wash Wader Ringing Group Mini Wash Week 1

The Wash Wader Ringing Group is known around the world in the 'ringing world.' For more information about it please visit

At the beginning of August & on the high tides, they have the traditional mini-wash week (Saturday to Tuesday catching). I only had transport for Saturday to Sunday morning catches before picking my Dad up at the airport on Sunday evening so I took in 3 tides.

It was a highly interesting experience from beginning to end. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted the photographs of the first catch of Sanderling from the camera before I copied them. I did manage to keep a short film of a cannon net firing) and if I can work out how to, I will put it on the blog somewhere. The Sanderling catch (we were up at 3.15am) on the Saturday morning and film of us ringing the birds will be on BBC1's The One Show on 5th September.

The second catch was on Friskney marsh on the Lincolnshire coast. What I wasn't expecting was to have to hide under tarpaulin for 2 hours waiting for the birds to come in & for optimal catching conditions before the tide came in too far!! As you will see from the photo's below, there is no cover near where we were catching the birds.

It is absolutely necessary for us to be near the cannon nets when they fire because we are catching in/near water with a rising tide. This is so we can sprint to the nets once they are fired and make sure that the birds are safe. We also needed to make sure we were far enough away & hidden from view of the birds so that they don't fly away. This was achieved by hiding under a tarpaulin.

Above: Getting ready to hide under the tarpaulin. We were under there for nearly 2 hours! It was very uncomfortable lying on my front & therefore I was slow & stiff on the sprint to the nets. I learnt not to lay on my front! We caught 11 Redshank on this occasion.

Above: Friskney Marshes - we caught 11 Redshank out in the middle of the marsh.

Once the birds were caught, a very swift retreat was in order as the tide was still rising!

Above: A Redshank with a ring on its leg.

Above: A happy grin!

On the Sunday morning (up at 4am), again on the Lincolnshire coast, we had a catch of c.80 Dunlin & c.80 Knot (see next post) & 1 Curlew Sandpiper. Had the wind direction & tide been absolutely optimal, we could have caught 2 or 3 times as many birds).

This was near Gibraltar Point & right on the edge of the salt marshes. For a while, at high tide, we were totally isolated on a small island! We would not have been there had the expected tide been higher - we knew before hand the height of the tide & knew we would be safe.

Above: I briefly handled this Curlew Sandpiper still in summer plumage.

Otmoor Nature Reserve 26/07/08

While my Dad was in Italy, I had his car & on Saturday 26/07/08 I went back to Gloucester for a 'quick visit.' I have been planning for a while to stop of at Otmoor Nature Reserve (nr Oxford) with my dad & this was a 'recce'. It was a really nice place - well worth a visit (despite the intense heat). The first bird I saw was only my second ever turtle dove. I heard it 'purring' as soon as I stepped out of the car. Later on I saw my 3rd ever Turtle Dove (see photo below). The other main highlight was a Brown Hare (see photo below) that sat just 3 metres from me!

Above: A great spotted woodpecker at a feeding station.

Above: One of my favourite birds, a common tern (no rings on it)

Above: The Brown Hare

Above: You can just about tell that this is a turtle dove and not a collared dove! I'm surprised the photo is this good as it was at it's zoom limit.

Above: A relaxed Speedy (my mum's Whippet).

Broom GP Terns 21/07/08

My second to last trip to Broom this year (for Tern ringing that is). The last trip was 1 week later - approximately 38 Common Terns were individually colour ringed this year.

Above: A colour ringed Common Tern