Sunday, 19 December 2010

Snow play.

It finally gave up chucking down the white stuff by 8pm with 6 inches on the ground here (or on top of the wheelie bins as below).

So I went out for a walk in the dark. At least I'd get the chance to walk in the snow before other people!

Above: Not a snowberry bush!

Above: The bridge over the River Great Ouse at Castle Mill.

Above: The snow on steps used by horse riders (I assume).

Above & Below: Various animal tracks were visible in the snow. I'm guessing I saw rabbit, stoat, muntjac, badger & fox though I the tracks in the above photo must have been made by something smaller.

Below: Of course I left my own tracks.

Where the path from Castle Mill joins the Willington loop, I began leaving messages -my initials (see photo below), directions to Go Outdoors, a smiley face, the words 'this way' with an arrow pointing over a bridge, at another bridge an arrow pointing at the water with the words 'troubled water' (as in Bridge over ...), the words 'I want more' (as in more snow), and best of all - on a bench covered in snow, the words 'bum here!'

On a short walk to Castle Mill this afternoon I found this Muntjac (see photo below) searching for food in the snow and a surprise Woodcock sitting on the ice in the lock at Castle Mill. It flew away as I reached for my camera!

An update from my dad - he had a foot of snow in the Cotswolds and it took him 3 hours to drive 12 miles from home to M5 junction at Cheltenham! Good news is that despite the snow that his flight from Bristol Airport took off - with him on board - and he's now in Mallorca! With a free upgrade to his room!

Oh, and I won the 'who got the most snow' competition with the little brother in Southampton. Better luck next time Mark!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

It'S NOW everywhere!

It's been snowing for 2 hours now and we've got 4 inches I reckon (most of that in the last hour). The most snow I've seen in Bedfordshire in the 4 years I've been here.

I stayed in bed this morning and was in dispair watching the cricket score on teletext. Aussie score going up and up, England wickets falling as quick as the snow is right now!

I didn't wait around to find out what the end of day total was in the cricket, I headed out. First to buy xmas presents (no I'm not telling you what I got) and bird food. Then I fed the birds at Sandy Smith Nature Reserve. I've put out some nijer seed to see if it will attract the siskins (I'm told it should). They'll need the extra source of food right now as natural food will be scarce in this weather.

A month ago there were 150-200 siskins, that dwindled to about 75 last weekend. Today I reckon on 250+. If it wasn't for the weather, I'd be out ringing.

A walk around the reserve yeilded 13 Meadow Pipits, 11 Fieldfare, a few Redwing, 5 Green Woodpeckers, 2 Kestrels, a chaffinch on the newly filled feeders,a mixture of tits (Blue, Great & Long Tailed) and 2 snipe. I heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Jay.

More xmas shopping on the way home and then back home just as the snow was starting to settle on the minor roads.

I checked in with the folks today, Gloucester has had a bit of snow overnight, it thawed a bit in the sun, then they're getting some more. The Cotswolds had a couple of inches in 1 hour this morning, whether they've had any more I don't know but my dad was packing for his flight to Mallorca tomorrow. Good luck dad - I hope the flight isn't cancelled!

I'll phone Southampton now to see if I win the 'who's had the most snow' competition with my brother (he won the other week).

Sunday, 12 December 2010

2 new species for Sandy Smith NR

The first two birds out of the net this morning at Sandy Smith Nature Reserve were both new species to be ringed on this site. A Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Coal Tit.

In the end, 2 Great Spots were ringed but just the one Coal Tit.

Above: A coal tit.

Above: A Great Spotted Woodpecker

Dunnock 3
Blue Tit 13 (mostly retraps)
Great Tit 3
Coal Tit 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker 2
Chaffinch 1 (2nd of this species ringed on this site)
Robin 1
Siskin 2

26 birds of 8 species.

Above: A female Siskin.

A combination of factors (weather, wind, human error) meant a reduced catch of Siskin today as compared to last time. The flock of Siskin was also smaller than it was (now circa 75 birds - about half the size).

The stonechat was seen again. A curlew was heard (somebody else saw 3 on site in the afternoon). A flock of 25 Redwing went over as did a flock of 12 fieldfare.

A buzzard was heard but not seen. Usually the kestrels are much in evidence hunting nearby. Not today. A jay was heard and the Green Woodpeckers were happily flying around away from the netting area!

The last update on my Bedfordshire ringing (weather permitting) for this calender year should come next weekend. Then it's Gloucestershire ringing.

One for the family

Thanks to Dave Kramer for this photo.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Marsh Tit

Between 8am and 12.30pm today 30 birds of 10 species were caught, ringed and released in 'the rough' at Priory Country Park. New (retrap)

Great Tit 4 (6)
Blackbird 3 (0)
Great Spotted Woodpecker 0 (1)
Blue Tit 4 (4)
Dunnock 1 (0)
Wren 0 (1)
Marsh Tit 1 (0)
Long Tailed Tit 0 (3)
Bullfinch 0 (1)
Robin 0 (1)

Above: This Marsh Tit V670965 (an adult) is only the third caught & ringed at this site (the second this year, the only other being in 1993).

The Bullfinch was first ringed as a youngster on 11th October 2008 (also recaught a few times inbetween) and a retrap Great Tit was first ringed in Box 4 in May this year.

On my last visit (27th Nov.) I retrapped a Blackbird that was first ringed in August 2005 as a youngster.

Now I need to recover from the lurgee - until I go out again tomorrow!