Sunday, 5 January 2020

BTO- Garden Birdwatch 2020.

Today (5th January) marks the start of the weekly Garden Birdwatch for 2020 and marks the start of my 17th year of participating in this project.

The years have passed by quickly. I have at times thought of giving up doing the weekly counts of the garden birds and other wildlife that is present as it is quite repetitive, then a bird I have not seen in my garden for a while pays a visit and it then ignites my interest to carry on!

Today for example a male Blackcap put in a short appearance in one of the apple trees, a bird that has not been a regular visitor since winter 2015. Apples spiked on the trees were regularly enjoyed by normally a single male Blackcap. They were a delight to watch!

Having records dating back to 2003 is useful in that I can check the reporting rate, dates and numbers of species I have recorded, sadly some species have seen a remarkable decline in just my garden! House Sparrows and Starlings are two species that I now rarely see in my garden.

Starlings are at times seen to fly over my garden in small numbers though at one time the feeders in my garden where a thriving stopover with birds counted in good numbers! Not anymore sadly. On checking my records the decline is noticeable from Autumn 2011, few have been recorded since.

House Sparrows are more of a rarity in my garden though they are seen to be thriving in small flocks locally to me, thankfully! My records show a startling decline from summer 2007.

Today I have recorded in my garden in order of appearance: Blackbird x2, Carrion Crow x2, Magpie x2, Blue Tit x1, Woodpigeon x6, Coal Tit x1, Great Tit x2, Blackcap (m) x1, Wren x 1, Robin x1, Jackdaw x2,  Redwing x1.
As the week progresses I will add any new species and also increase the count of a species already recorded if a few more arrive. I am hoping that a few of the small flock of Redwings that are sighted frequently these last few days atop of a neighbours tall tree will spot the spiked apples and visit!

A photo attached of the Redwing in my garden taken through a window, not a clear image but that does not matter as the sighting of the Redwing was more important and enjoyable than a good photo!

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Happy New Year to one and all.

My first post of 2020!

First 3 birds seen in my garden this morning.
1. Blackbird
2. Carrion Crow
3. Jackdaw

First bird 'heard' only was .....a Robin, surprise surprise!! I did see him/her later in the garden.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

A welcome visitor to my garden!

A welcome surprise greeted me when I checked the images on my Camera Trap!
Foxes are the normal visitors captured on the camera throughout the night and the occasional Hedgehog and Cat!
I did not expect to see a Tawny Owl! I have added images taken over two nights. The food is what is put out for the foxes, normally put out every other night or less frequent so they do not rely too much on the food. The Owl actually took a slug from the dish!
A few images taken over the 2 evenings.

There were 2 Owls that visited....whoopee!!!
A blurred image but clearly 2 Owls in the image.



Tu-whit tu-whoo.


Saturday, 6 April 2019

Chaddesley Wood 24/03/2019

A morning of '1sts of the year'!

First Comma Butterfly, Bee-fly, Lesser Celandine and Bluebell. Each one a pleasure to see in the sunshine! Common Buzzard, Blackbird, Robin, Blue & Great Tits seen and heard and a Chiffchaff singing it's name! Not an abundance of sightings but still an enjoyable walk!

Spring has sprung at last!

                                          Spot the Bee-fly! A good camouflage.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Continuation of...Iceland...the 'land of fire and ice'. Reykjavik. 7th March -11th March 2019.

After the awesome sights and excitement of the 'Golden Circle Tour' attractions a trip to the 'Blue lagoon' for a relaxing bathe in soothing waters was to be the next 'Bucket list' tick!


Thanks are extended to my Daughter for the Blue Lagoon images!
The thermal water was so relaxing and a complimentary drink from the bar in the lagoon and a facial mask added to the relaxation of the lagoon, both were included in the ticket price ,which wasn't cheap but worth it for the experience.
The lifeguards looked a little out of place as they were dressed for the cold conditions, it seemed quite surreal in a funny way to feel so warm in  the thermal water and then to see the lifeguards warmly wrapped up against the cold weather.
The water appears blue because of the presence of the mineral and algae content, in fact you cannot see the bottom of the pools because of the milky blue water. 
Did I mention that it was snowing on the way to the lagoon and whilst bathing in the water? Well it was and apart from snow falling on the journey to the airport for our flight home the weather had over the 4 days been sunny, very cold but sunny!

It was decided that our last full day would have to be a Whale Watching trip in the morning followed by a leisurely walk after lunch to the central shopping area.

The boat we were aboard 'Andrea' left Reykjavik's Old Harbour and headed for the Whale Watching area in Faxaflói Bay.


A boat similar to the boat that we were on.
 No particular reason for this image other than I like it.
 Long-tailed Ducks and Eider Ducks, with the latter seen in decent numbers on the water.
 Cormorants in a great number, easily 300 +! I have never seen such numbers of them before and doubt I will again!


Northern Fulmars were a regular sighting.

'The English name fulmar and the official name fulmarus originates from an old Icelandic name fúlmár meaning foul gull. This is related to its nasty habit of regurgitating a stinking stomach oil when disturbed. However one can not but admire their elegant and seemingly effortless flight.

The above is taken from a passage on Northern Fulmars in Birds of Iceland.

Cormorants on a mission!
I personally managed to see 5 sightings of  Minke Whale...well the dorsal fins mostly! Harbour Porpoise swam close to the boat.
Andrea departed from Reykjavik Old Harbour for a whale watching themed cruise in the Icelandic waters of Faxafloi. Facing a westerly swell, we headed toward the feeding grounds where we hoped to find cetaceans. Once we passed Grotta lighthouse we sighted a pod of Harbour Porpoises on our starboard. We managed to get a glimpse of their small triangular dorsal fins before losing them in the blue wetness of the bay. We then encountered many seabirds that were searching for food: Kittiwakes, Cormorants, Northern Fulmars. Along the way we carefully looked out for cetaceans, until a wild Minke Whale appeared. It was roaming erratically, swimming back and forth, making frequent 180° turns. We tried keeping track of this animal and managed to see its back and dorsal fin a few times. As we kept on looking we noticed a second animal further out, which we consequently approached and observed. When our time started to run out we turned eastward with the intention to retrace our path to the city. During our way back, no less than two more minke whales decided to show up, to our greatest delight. The Andrea finally docked in Reykjavik Old Harbour after a pleasant whale watching themed cruise in Faxafloi bay.
– Etienne Menétrey
Above is the Special Tours blog post of our Whale Watching trip on the 10th March 2019
My one and only image of a Whale! It was a good trip and pleasantly warm(ish) on the viewing decks in the sunshine.
Miscellaneous images.
I am reliably informed that these are a Herring Gull and what looks to be a Juvenile Glaucous Gull (possibly a hybrid, Glaucous x Herring)
 The weather on the trip could not have been better...warmer maybe ;-) ....luckily it was glorious sunshine in the main!
Boats in Reykjavik Old Harbour.

                                                      The harbour at night.
Birds in the harbour.
Eider Duck (female)

                                                        Eider Duck (male)
Female Eider Ducks feeding in the harbour. It looked like a muscle that the Eider finally managed to enjoy!
                                         A pair of Red-breasted Mergansers.
A Redwing tidying up loose crumbs at a Hot Dog stall! I struggle to see them at home sometimes never mind at a Hot Dog stall! A totally unexpected encounter and humorous.

Our tour guide pointed out the 'forest' in the image!! More than 6+ trees is a forest in Iceland! ;-)

Icelanders take a majority of their vacation trips inside their own country. Pictured are typical holiday homes in 'warmer' areas of Iceland.
It was lovely to see the Icelandic horses, they are certainly not short of space and are extremely hardy!
This was purely a 'tourist' trip though of course birds were never far away in most places we visited.
Birds seen in no particular order:
Long-tailed Duck, Northern Fulmar, Cormorants (which could have included Shag), Kittiwake, Eider Duck, Common Guillemot, Razorbill, Greylag Geese, Whooper Swan, Red-breasted Merganser, Redwing, Starling, Raven ( seen regularly), Glaucous Gull (juv) and Herring Gull.
If I ever have a return trip to Iceland I think it would have to be a 'Birding' trip now that I have done the 'touristy' trip!!
Iceland: The people we met on the trip were very friendly and helpful/informative, the scenery was absolutely awesome and the weather was extremely kind!
Iceland 'rocks' in more ways than one! 
It was a splendid holiday in great company and one I will remember for a long, long time.




Monday, 25 March 2019

Iceland...the 'land of fire and ice'. Reykjavik. 7th March -11th March 2019

Well what a trip it was!! One which will be remembered for a long time to come and a few items 'ticked' off my bucket list! The hotel we stayed in is close to the city's attractions, situated near the harbour and a short walk to the central shopping district with many bars and restaurants. The hotel had it's own bakery, the 'Donuts' were delicious with the Creme Brulee being the favourite!

I shall start with the Northern Lights.
The coach trip on the first evening was organised by the 'City Breaks' company we travelled with, namely Jet2. I have to say that they gave useful and very informative information on each tour we had booked with them.
The Northern Lights did appear for us on what was a clear night but with the naked eye they appeared as white/grey shapes in the dark sky. My camera did not capture the lights very good at all, luckily my Daughter has the next model up from mine and with the camera set up on a tripod she captured some super images. My thanks are extended to her for the use of a couple of these images added to this post.
The evening was a good one and definitely worth wrapping up warm for and the hot chocolate organised by the tour operators went down a treat!

The 'Golden Circle Tour' the following day was most enjoyable. Spectacular scenery was enjoyed throughout the day as we travelled to the venues on the tour.
Gullfoss Waterfall was the first stop on the tour. I have since read that in Icelandic, Gull means Golden and Foss means falls/waterfall. Due to the sediment from glaciers, the water has a brownish colour and sometimes when the sun shines on the water it can take on a golden hue. Hence the name 'Golden Falls'.
The waterfall is located in the canyon of the Hvítá river in southwest Iceland.
Alighting from the coach it was obvious that this was one place where thermals and baselayers were in a league of their own and definitely a must!! It was so cold, due in the main to the spray from the waterfall.I do not think I have felt 'instant' cold like it before. I have to say it was well worth the 'freeze' as the two-tiered waterfall was a sight to behold.
Gullfoss Waterfall is unique because you view the falls from above and it appears that the waterfall is actually going underground! It is a very interesting perspective making Gullfoss one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls.

A couple of interesting information notices.

 The next stop was to the Geyser Hot Springs to see the lively 'Strokkur' (the churn)
which spouts water 30 metres into the air every few minutes! It is the greatest active geyser on site.




There are around thirty much smaller geysers and hot pools in the area, including one called Litli Geysir ('Little Geysir').
It was an awesome experience to see the Strokkur spouting the water to such amazing heights.
Lunch was to be taken at 'Fridheimar Tomato Farm' and what a treat it was too. I have never tasted tomato soup like it! A delicious soup with home baked bread, an added bonus is that you can eat as much as you like! Fresh Basil is growing on each table to add to the soup if desired along with sour cream and cucumber relish.  A farm to table experience and lovely to come into the warmth of the greenhouses.
Amazing greenhouses full of tomatoes, heating is geothermally transferred .

They also breed horses at the farm. Lovely to see  several  Icelandic horses in a paddock outside!
National Park Thingvellir
'Thingvellir has been a National park since 1930 and was named a World heritage site by UNESCO in 2004. When Viking settlers arrived in the 10th century, it was the site they chose as the meeting place of Althingi, the world's oldest parliament.'
The above is reproduced from the itinerary of the tour.
 The park sits in a rift valley caused by the separation of 2 tectonic plates, with rocky cliffs and fissures.
Path between the North American Plate and Eurasian tectonic plates. It was a long walk but well worth it and a memory to treasure!

 Fault in the landscape caused by the continental drift between the tectonic plates.

The Drowning Pool


An awesome Park and a world away from my local park!
To be continued.