Thursday, 9 February 2017

seasonal bird counting

Early February days of middle winter. Today a cold north east wind for seasonal bird counting.


Tree sparrow - photo Mike Hill
Mist nets garlanded the garden at the weekend for our second annual bird-ringing. A house full and 80 birds caught, little, kicking bags brought into the utility room, measured, noted, ringed and released. Cameras. Questions. Several birds already carried rings from last year: old friends. A male blue tit, tiny in the hand sang lustily. A huge mistle thrush shat extravagantly over the floor and cupboard doors. A sparrowhawk alighted on the nets hoping to feast on birds that hung like washing - escaped before we could catch it. BTO pig latin bird name abbreviations  GREFI; GOLFI; LESRE; CHAFI.
During a garden tour a woodcock exploded from the safety of brambles: our first garden record. 
Siskin. Great tits. A small band of long tailed tits. A tree sparrow - a chocolate headed gem - all found their way into the nets. Next day, dunnock, robin, blackbird shinily ringed competing beneath the bird feeders. Bird bling.

Why did our garden wrens disappear for the hour of the RSPB garden bird count on the previous Sunday? And why should this absence rankle more than the count of abundant fieldfares?

Finally the Farmland Birds Survey. My wounded knee on its first journey behind the wheel for a month twitched and tightened. Farm tracks glistening, siren-voiced quagmires.  A bundle of 20 linnets rolled ahead of us. 
Biomass digestate like crumbly cake spread onto fields in clouds of steam. Chequered feral pigeons. A brambling. Birds sheltering from the knife sharp wind hidden from view. A kestrel disdained the conditions and faced the wind.

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