Monday, 28 November 2011

Best yet

Dropped in to see the owls at Maidwell on the way home from uni again this afternoon - my route home almost goes straight past the site (or straight past if I take a longer route) so it would be rude not to! So getting on site at an earlier time than usual of 1.20pm I was rather pleased to immediately see several Short-eared Owls floating around doing their usual business of hunting, sitting and fighting. Very nice. A conservative count would say I saw 6 birds with a couple more way off in the distance but I suspect I saw more. A couple of the previously mentioned sitting birds did the decent thing and sat within range (ish) of the cameraphone and as the light was much better than previous attempts the results were much better. The best yet infact. Although admittedly that isn't much of an achievement.

 Oh go on then, lets crop one to death:

I enjoyed cropping the pants off that other image so much im going to do it again:

but you can make out its ear tufts - educational and amusing!


The other day I noticed a juvenile greenfinch under the feeders that had clearly been on the pies:




Now I know first winter birds of many species are larger than their parents - I believe the tactic focuses on the theory that juvenile birds need larger fat reserves to get them safely through the tough times of winter because they're amateurish at feeding and stuff but I've personally never seen such a big Greenfinch!

Friday, 18 November 2011

The big smoke. Life tick!

Hooded birder smoked loads of narcotics today. Loads.

I didn't really, I went to London to visit Kew gardens and to become the Hooded botanist for the day! I shall explain further - my Biodiversity and Conservation class went on a fieldtrip to Kew today for a guided tour around their herbarium and to look at the plants and whatnot.
If I liked plants as much as I like birds this would have been like leafy heroin for me, I imagine it would be like the reaction I had when taken to Slimbridge for the first time as a bird mental 7 year old. Said reaction involved pant-wetting, high-pitched gibberish and four grain bags being emptied within the first 5 minutes.
Unfortunately the gardens didn't quite have the same effect today but it was still damned interesting - for those who don't know what a herbarium is (which included myself until this morning) its basically a library of plant samples. Kew's is massive. 7.5 million specimens massive. These plant specimens range from recent to over 400 years old and there are even specimens collected from tombs of Egyptian Pharoahs! We were also lucky enough to be shown some of the actual specimens that Darwin himself collected on the HMS Beagle which was frigging cool!
Anyone thats been to Kew will know its a truly huge site so what was my life tick? Ring necked Parakeets! Admittedly im somewhat less excited about seeing these birds for the first time compared to others i've recently ticked but it was nice to finally catch up with them. One bird did cause enjoyment by mobbing a Sparrowhawk, im somewhat surprised it didn't end up as lunch! Most common woodland species were seen/heard around the grounds too so it wasn't a bad day all in all!

Autumnal stuff

Fancy greenhouse

Inside fancy greenhouse

Cactus House

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Distractions but a patch tick!

Apologies for the lack of recent posts but in my defence I haven't been out birding much in the past fortnight due to a number of reasons. Such as sorting out tedious car related issues, working on my dissertation and generally being rather busy. But who am I kidding, the main reason for the lack of birding has been the recent release of computer gamery from two of my all time favourite franchises - The Call of Duty series and the legendary Football Manager.
So little birding has been achieved in the last fortnight so what have I done? Leicester City qualified for the Europa League after four seasons of hard graft and I have a KDR (kills to deaths ratio) of 1.48 on COD and have just prestiged for the first time. Im not sure why im even writing those words on a bird blog.......

Hooded birder went birding! Ok it was only a quick jaunt down to Jubilee but after this recent influx of Whitefronts to the UK, the enormous feral goose flock that haunts the floodplains of Jubilee Park were certainly worth a look over incase a couple of bonafide wild geese had attached themselves to the happy throng. They hadn't. There was this though......

100% wild Snow Goose - please note tactic of shooting through reeds for enhanced appearance of wild and rare.
And please note further the use of a poor camera so the nice shiny ring on its leg isn't noticeable.

This however was certainly wild enough to be allowed and was definitely a patch tick! Hooded birder wins.

unrEGRETtable. poor I know.....

The wilds of Jubilee Park also threw up single Grey Wagtail, Reed Bunting and 5 Wigeon on the pool, a flock of around 12 Linnet were knocking around and there was a couple of Common Gulls in with the BH gulls. Flyover Sparrowhawk and Buzzard were also seen and I've resolved to visit the place more often. It is afterall less than a mile away and certainly has potential to throw up decent birds. Whether it will or not however is another matter.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Collection of the best/worst

Here at Hooded birder incorporated we strive to bring you the very latest in crappy phonescoped images and today we are pleased to publish 3 brand new images of Short Eared Owls which will im sure you will agree are absolutely aweful.
Feast your mince pies on these badboys!


Sunday, 6 November 2011


Oh dear reader what a treat I had in store for you on Thursday! After a morning doing non-birding related activities I planned to head over to Rutland to meet mother dearest who was on the Egleton reserve for an afternoon taking in the avian delights of what is surely the best (or largest at least) nature reserve in central England. You lucky lucky readers were going to receive a blow by blow account of the trip, hopefully encountering such birds as the Yank Wigeon, the long staying WRS and maybe even a delightful SEO over lagoon 1 in the fading light and drooling over the collection of aweful brilliant photos taken.....such a plan wasn't to be however as this happened en-route:

Not an ideal situation
So the birdmobile is dead. Well not officially yet, but it doesnt take a genius to predict that it will be declared dead in the near future. Badtimes. This was my first ever car and lasted the 7 years and 60,000 miles of ownership like a true trooper and has been the main method of transportation for the many birding trips I've been on in the last two years. Rene the Renault may you rest in peace.....
Anyway, hire car (provided by the other persons insurer cus it was their fault innit) has now arrived and distractions such as a friends wedding (congratulations Mr and Mrs Francis!) are now out of the way so I can go birding again! To be fair I could have easily walked to the "local patch" - a place I haven't visited since about August, but that idea was quickly rejected on the grounds that its crap and im lazy.
So I think i'll start off again this afternoon with some SEO's! It does seem to be shaping up to be a good year for them, certainly the best since I've started birding so I plan to binge on them like a hungry shmackhead whilst they're around incase a pesky cold snap makes them bugger off like last year!

EDIT: Back from owling and am pleased to report 5+ Short eared Owl and a single Little Owl were seen. Even more pleasing was the total lack of people in Golfs ignoring give way signs and ploughing into innocent motorists. Most pleasing of all was the fact that my good non-birding friends Hayley and Jack came along for the ride too and had only ever seen 3 wild owls ever and thus trebled their owl encounterage in one afternoon! By my estimates I'd need to see around 750 owls in a single day to achieve the same feat! And as for Mr Riddle....he'd need to see at least 6.4billion owls I reckon.