Sunday, 31 May 2020

Colley or Box?


Looking back eastwards from White Downs earlier this week and already this autumn's birding was on my mind. Set out before us are the three 'peaks' on the North Downs that are within my uber patch. I have vis-migged from all three, but not often enough to be able to have a firm idea as to where is best. Obviously the time of year and the weather conditions play a part in which one demands my attention. Last autumn I spent more time at Box Hill and had some success (with thrushes) whereas Colley Hill fared better for finches. Ranmore didn't perform well at all. I plotted the main flight lines at the time and repeat them below.

October 2019 - Box Hill migrant flight lines (mainly thrushes)
October 2019 - Colley Hill migrant flight lines 
The questions that are really taxing me at the moment are these. Colley Hill is further east than Box Hill. Have all (or at least most) of the birds that pass Box Hill westwards along the scarp passed Colley Hill on the way? Do birds follow the River Mole and then come in towards the scarp and completely ignore Colley Hill? Have those birds that appear along the crest of Box Hill come all the way along the downs or do they filter in from the plateau to the north? Does the Mole Gap make Box Hill a better site than Colley Hill? Does the gap at Buckland act as a conduit for birds to move up or down it? And do birds that move west past Colley Hill sometimes get enticed to move over and pick up the Greensand Ridge before arriving at Box Hill and miss it altogether?

Colley Hill is an easier site to watch from - cleaner skyline, less visual background interference. Box Hill, as already mentioned, has the (assumed) attraction of the River Mole breaking through the downs at the Mole Gap. But the gap doesn't necessarily make for a better vis-big spot.... or does it?

What is really needed is half a dozen birders prepared to spend the autumn manning watchpoints along this section of the downs. Synchronised counts could then establish numbers at each watch point, direction of arrival and direction of departure. It would also shed light on how many birds come down the gaps or head up it. There is much to learn and a great deal of good birding to be had. But I'm a realist - it isn't everybody's cup of tea. So this autumn will most probably see me birding solo, going to Colley or Box Hill, and at the end of the session wonder whether or not I had made the right choice.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Better images in Blogger!

Two identical images of a Corn Bunting appear below. Both have been loaded onto this post, with Blogger's automatic default settings imposed. The bottom picture has gone through a simple manual tweak which I hope you can see has improved the image greatly.



This is how you can improve the quality of your images on Blogger. As you are composing your post, and have uploaded your image(s), click on the HTML tab (arrowed below).


Now you will see the underlying HTML code (below). All of your written words still appear as you have typed them, but the pictures that you have uploaded appear as code. The code contains numbers that are instructions as to how large, and at what resolution, the picture will appear and where it sits on the page. I have highlighted each of the Corn Bunting pictures with a red box. Everything is identical bar one thing - which I have circled in purple - the 's' figure. Blogger will set this at a bog standard 640 or 400. All you need do is alter this to 1600. It's as simple as that. Your images will now appear sharper.

Thursday, 28 May 2020

Basking skipper


My first Large Skipper of the year came courtesy of this male at Headley Heath two days ago. I was quite pleased with these images, capturing him basking in the sun. Today I added Meadow Brown to the year's butterfly list, a single at Canons Farm, my earliest ever by four days.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Plum Pimpernel


I do love the colour variation in the flowers of Scarlet Pimpernel, with the intense blue being a firm favourite. However, on farmland at the base of Denbies Hillside I came across a plum - or mauve - coloured flower, the first ones that I have seen. The photos most probably do not do it credit, but it stopped me in my tracks. It was so good I went back for seconds later in the visit. No colour correction has been made to the images, the bottom photograph has a 'normal' coloured plant alongside for comparison.


Tuesday, 26 May 2020

A close dragon


An afternoon visit to Headley Heath was fairly uneventful, although a couple of Garden Warblers were seen and heard in amongst the many Blackcaps, at least four Willow Warblers were on territory, my first Large Skipper of the year was on the wing and, at the 'Starfruit Pond', there were many Broad-bodied Chasers in action, including one that kindly kept posing for me on a close branch.


Saturday, 23 May 2020

#MVBirdRace 2020


For the past six years, a group of mid-Surrey birders, loosely based along the River Mole valley, have held an annual bird race in late-May. Due to the ongoing lockdown it looked as if this year's bird race might fall by the wayside. However, David Stubbs (now of Norfolk, formerly of Buckland) stepped in and put together a rescue package. Instead of teams madly thrashing around the defined Mole valley area for the day, individuals were invited to bird from midnight to midday, on foot or on bicycle, venturing no further than 5km from home. Many took up the challenge and a number of teams were then formed, with the final competitive totals being derived from the member's cumulative score. I found myself together with two Surrey stalwarts - Steve Chastell and Robin Stride - under the name of The Three Tringas. It would be grossly unfair to Steve to suggest that this was a coming together of the old boys, but it was not too far off the truth.

This morning was a cool and blustery affair, with sharp showers starting to get a grip towards noon. It didn't make for ideal birding conditions, but everyone took it on the chin and just got on with it. The area covered went beyond the Mole Valley. A few of the competition's original participants had moved away from the area, and some of the others do not live within the defined borders, so wherever you were became the place that you birded from. This did of course skew the results, but that was neither here nor there, it was very much about the taking part. Given the wide-ranging geographical spread, most individuals recorded between 55-60 species and team scores were largely c80-85 species - apart from one team that is, that Robo-birder collective 'Linnet to Win It' who trounced us all. We could look for excuses - they had better habitat, possess younger ears and eyes, etc, etc - but they just know their stuff and the area incredibly well.

My own total was a meagre 56 species with a combined score of 85. I spent half the morning at Canons Farm (the hoped for Yellowhammers all present and correct) and the rest of it on Epsom Downs (where two pairs of Red-legged Partridges performed.) Nothing unusual came my way, but a pleasant time was had, with just a touch of masochism to keep me alert and on my toes.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Ptycholoma lecheana


My year's aim of finally getting to grips with the 'microlepidoptera', and in the process record my 1,000th species of moth, has taken a bit of a hit owing to the Covid lockdown. Now that travel restrictions (within reason) have been loosened, I feel able to visit sites within the county. I also dusted down the MV last night and ran it for the first time this Spring in the back garden. This striking Tortrix, Ptycholoma lecheana was the highlight, a new species for me. It is not uncommon, so I would suspect that I've overlooked it in the past. Is the 1,000 target still on for 2020? I doubt it.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Lockdown 50

It's a ND&B tradition to post musical lists now and again, so, here in all its glory is my 'Lockdown 50' - just tracks that have been played throughout this testing time, some glorious, some soothing, some... well, I'm sure you get the picture. In no particular order, no more than one per artist:

Harvest Moon - Cassandra Wilson
Outdoor Miner - Wire
Sketch for Summer - Durutti Column
Final Day - Young Marble Giants
Seek It - Richard Hawley
Young Love - Mystery Jets
Les Fleurs - Minnie Ripperton
Stay High - Brittany Howard
Song 4 Mutya - Groove Armada
I Just Want to Celebrate - Rare Earth
Don't Talk to Me About Love - Altered Images
Clarence in Wonderland - Kevin Ayers
Fox on the Run - Sweet
American Woman - The Guess Who
Good Souls - Starsailor
Spell - Hot Chip
Never Let Me Down Again - Depeche Mode
In The Street - Big Star
I Saw the Light - Todd Rundgren
The Crunch - The Rah Band
Sylvia - Focus
Medicine Show - Big Audio Dynamite
A Kissed Out Red Floatboat - Cocteau Twins
Picture Book - The Kinks
It's Getting Better - Cass Elliot
Ordinary World - Duran Duran
Northern Lights - Renaissance
Pump it Up - Elvis Costello
Street Life - Roxy Music
What is Life - George Harrison
Caravan Girl - Goldfrapp
Golf Girl - Caravan
Alexandra - Laura Marling
TooTime - The 1975
Free Man in Paris - Joni Mitchell
Mountain Energy - The Fall
Careering - PiL
Dumb Waiters - The Psychedelic Furs
(Get A) Grip - Stranglers
Love Will Tear Us Apart - June Tabor, Oysterband
Heroes - David Bowie
Perfect Day - Lou Reed
Steady - The Staves
I Know What I Like - Genesis
Joanni - Kate Bush
Jesus Was A Cross Maker - Judee Sill
Afternoon Delight - Starland Vocal Band
Outer Space - John Grant
The Sea - Sandy Denny
Wichita Lineman - Glen Campbell

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Broad-bodied Chaser


Hot and drowsy, with just the scratching of Whitethroats and the dribbling juice of the Blackcaps to trouble the thick air. A few Common Buzzards, the odd Red Kite and a Sparrowhawk to disturb the clear, deep blue. Spring seems sprung. Summer has unfurled its intent.

I had a brief encounter with a female Broad-bodied Chaser at Canons Farm this afternoon. It kept alighting on a small area of vegetation in a woodland ride, but was terribly wary, allowing me snatched images. The backlit picture pleased me, far more than a standard frame filler would have - you can appreciate the structure and fretwork of the wings to a greater degree. These ancient insects are wonders to behold, art nouveau with wings.

Monday, 18 May 2020

Cydia ulicetana


It's not rare, very small and hardly colourful, so Cydia ulicetana is doomed to be a moth that gets little attention, although somebody has made some effort and given it an English name - Grey Gorse Piercer. Can be found in numbers on a gorse bush near you now! I think it has a lot going for it myself...

Saturday, 16 May 2020

Hidden pockets


I might not live by the sea, or alongside a reservoir, or close to a major river valley, but I cannot complain about the area around my home. Within a 20-30 minute walk I can be at Epsom Downs, Epsom Common, Banstead Woods, Banstead Downs, Priest Hill, Howell Hill, Canons Farm and the banks of the (modest) River Hogsmill at Ewell. These may not be places that are associated with birds, but at these sites I have seen Little Bittern, Ring-necked Duck and Dotterel (among others) and have experienced some amazing days of migration. However, what it lacks in birding prowess is more than compensated by the tremendous list of plants, butterflies and moths that can be found - nationally notable species in profusion! No, I cannot complain.

And then there are the many areas off the beaten track, in between the named sites above - pockets of farmland, grassland, copses and horse paddock, criss-crossed by footpath and, at times, abandoned to the wild flowers and accompanying invertebrates. Both pictures here are from the ex-agricultural fields at Howell Hill, that run all the way to Priest Hill. Although I didn't loiter here this afternoon, these fields have an interesting flora and I will return in the next few days to have a good look. Within such places there are hidden gems, it just needs a bit of effort and luck to unearth them. And you never know - that Bee-eater or Black Kite might just deign to coincide a fly past with such a visit.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Gall time


ND&B can become a dumping ground for all sorts of random observations, and this post is a good example of exactly that. These striking galls on Lime caught my attention this afternoon and Michael Chinery's trustworthy gall guide tells me that they have been caused by Eriophyes tiliae, a gall mite.

You live and learn...

Thursday, 14 May 2020

The plant and the ladybird


One of the pleasures of being  - or at least attempting to be - an all-round naturalist is that you tend to nose around at anything and everything as you idly wander. In doing so you can be handsomely rewarded. This afternoon I went on a 'birding stroll', (I'm still adhering to local lockdown and not driving anywhere.) I found myself at Park Downs, Banstead, a delightful place that has a fine fauna and flora. It is also peaceful, one of my bolt-holes. As I wandered down the edge of a field I noticed several plants of White Bryony starting to unfurl across the path and into the hedgerow. My eye was drawn to a distinctively coloured insect, the unmistakable browny-red of the Bryony Ladybird. And there were more, all resting on the leaves of its food plant and a quick check of the other plants by the path revealed at least 12 insects on show. There could have been many more but I didn't want to disturb them by checking underneath the leaves.

This species was not recorded in the UK until 1997 and has settled quite happily in the London area (particularly Surrey) with outlying records from Oxford and Coventry. May is a particularly good month to observe them, so it is well worth checking any White Bryony plants (photos attached for reference if you do not know it). They are easy to find in my area, but I do not take them for granted, and have grown quite fond of them.



Wednesday, 13 May 2020

(Not) a Cryptic Fern


The latest 'thing' in macro-moth identification is to go through your old images of The Fern (Horisme tersata) and see if you might have already recorded the newly separated Cryptic Fern (Horisme radicaria). My only image couldn't be a more obvious tersata if it tried, lacking the very obvious apical streak with accompanying paler area above. As Shaw Taylor used to say "Keep 'em peeled..." *

* If you are under 55, ask your parents who he is and why he used to say such a thing...

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Painted Lady


A few weeks ago, while this blog was knee-deep in the #BWKM0 challenge, this Painted Lady alighted on a Choisya bush in the front garden. At the time there had been very few reported nationally, which made the sighting all the more notable. What was also arresting about this particular butterfly was how fresh it appeared, with hardly a scale out of place. I have seen just one more since.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Flying Kites



Even though Red Kites have been a virtual daily occurrence over the garden since the beginning of March, they have started to ramp up their appearances elsewhere, with southern coastal counties enjoying a rush of these delightful raptors today. It has become an annual event, this late-Spring wandering of the Kites, seemingly meandering between Kent and Cornwall in ever increasing numbers. I had six over Banstead today, each and every one showing wing moult, missing their innermost primaries. Apparently second calendar-year birds moult their flight feathers earlier than adults. The birds pictured here can be aged as 2CY on plumage alone, but the question is, are all - or most - of the birds on the move at the moment youngsters?  I must read up on it.

Friday, 8 May 2020

Birthday bluebells


We cannot go to the Bluebells, so the Bluebells have had to come to us, via gouache and brush. Normally a birthday walk for Katrina, but today having to make do with a view through a picture frame. Happy Birthday xxx

Thursday, 7 May 2020

That's all folks!

#BWKM0 ND&B garden challenge
49th and final day 

Firstly, a big thank you to everyone who took a hold of the baton and ran with this challenge. It was started in response to the Italian ornithologists who created the #BWKM0 hashtag as a way of coping with their lockdown (by organising a coming together of birds, birders, gardens, balconies and windows.) And this is exactly what our challenge has also been about - a 'virtual' meeting of the birding fraternity during troubling times. As much as there are observers who will have recorded higher percentage scores than others, such competitiveness has been but a sideshow to the genuine spirit behind the challenge, one of camaraderie wrapped up in a celebration of our shared passion. So, to use a well-worn cliche, there are no losers here, only winners.

As for the highest percentage scores - there was a flaw in my method of trying to 'equal out' the gardens - because birders who posted a low baseline score were able to do so by not having birdied much in their garden beforehand - this enabled those scores to be surpassed with ease. Apologies if this was not the case with you, but I'm sure you'll understand my thinking. Because of this, I have used 50 species as a 'starting baseline minimum'. These are the gardens that appear as the 'highest scores' on the graphic. I have worked out everyone's percentage scores and they appear on the table below. As previously stated, this was all a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously!

The hope is that we have found some solace in this 'coming together', made new friends and enjoyed the birding. On a personal note, I have been touched by the number of positive messages received from a large number of you. It has been a privilege to organise and collate all of your observations into these daily posts. Stay safe and thanks for sharing your experiences!

A last bit of tidying up from today's observations. Richard P (Charmouth, Dorset) added Arctic Skua to our overall list. Garden firsts came from Stewart S (Howick, Northumberland) - Coot; Wes A (Capel, Surrey) - Spotted Flycatcher; Arjun D (Wallington, London) - Ringed Plover; Jono L (Wanstead, London) - Little Grebe; David S (West Raynham, Norfolk) - Lesser Whitethroat; Mike P (Malling, Kent) - Sand Martin; Josephine S (Leatherhead, Surrey) - Moorhen and Pheasant. All of these have been added to the final graphic.


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The final numbers
Alphabetical order by first name. The first figure is the garden score as on March 20th. The second is the total between then and today (May 7th).

Alastair F (West Mainland, Orkney) 100/66 (66%); Arjun D (Wallington, Surrey) 74/70 (94%); 
Benne A (Tirana, Albania) xx/40; Benno W (Goodnestone, Kent) xx/43; 
Bernard B (Ruckinge, Kent) 107/67 (62%); Bob S (Worcester Park, Surrey) 86/37 (43%); 
Callum M (Hemel Hempstead, Herts) 64/61 (95%)Cheech A (Langley Vale, Surrey) 31/39 (125%); 
Chris P (Claygate, Surrey) 43/42 (97%); Daniel W (NW London) xx/xx; 
Dave B (Chatham Islands, Pacific Ocean) 30/29 (96%); Dave P (Shoreham, W Sussex) 55/46 (83%)
David S (West Raynham, Norfolk) 87/64 (73%)Debbie S (Portland, Dorset) 155/53 (34%)
Dylan W (Thanet, Kent) 111/61 (54%)Ed S (Farncombe, Surrey) 79/83 (105%);  
Gavin H (Bridport, Dorset) xx/53;  Geoff B (Chessington, Surrey) 69/30 (43%)
Gill H (Tenterden, Kent) 60/36 (60%)Gordon H (Redhill, Surrey) 80/46 (57%)
Ian K (Leigh, Surrey) 62/42 (67%);  Ian S (Sidcup, Kent) 113/52 (46%)
Ian W (Merton Park, London) 86/52 (60%)Isaiah R (New Malden, London) 76/59 (77%)
John P (Banstead, Surrey) xx/xx; Jono L (Wanstead, London) 83/71 (85%)
Josephine S (Leatherhead, Surrey) 40/44 (110%)Justin T (Charmouth, Dorset) 59/32 (54%)
Mark D (Dorking, Surrey) 61/61 (100%); Mark H (Littlestone, Kent) 131/82 (62%)
Mark N (Stutton, Suffolk)  77/62 (80%)Martin C (Lydd, Kent) 140/92 (65%)
Mathew B (Wrotham, Kent) 33/53 (160%)Matt P (Pulborough, West Sussex) 126/113 (89%); 
Michael D (Craster, Northumberland) 106/64 (60%)Mike P (Malling, Kent) 70/66 (94%)
Mike R (Battle, East Sussex) 97/55 (56%)Oscar D (Chiswick, London) 68/72 (105%)
Paul D (London) 84/44 (52%); Pete B (Shadoxhurst, Kent) 101/54 (53%)
Phil B (Ramsgate, Kent) 54/30 (55%); Rebecca G (Balham, London) xx/15; 
Reuben B (Tufnell Park, London) 45/45 (100%); Richard F (Pinner, London) 63/35 (55%)
Richard P (Charmouth, Dorset) 101/87 (86%) Robin S (Cranleigh, Surrey) 101/57 (56%)
Sam B (Enniskeane, Cork) 67/69 (102%)Seamus E (Thornton Cleveleys, Lancs) 67/48 (71%)
Sean M (Pinner, London) 50/43 (86%)Seth G (Uig, Skye) 64/58 (90%)
Stephen R (Harrogate, Yorks) 66/47 (71%); Steve C (Guildford, Surrey) 66/39 (59%)
Steve G (Banstead, Surrey) 92/70 (76%)Steve T (Ewell, Surrey) 59/51 (86%)
Steve W (Hawes, N Yorks) 91/64 (70%)Stewart S (Howick, Northumberland) 131/79 (60%)
Stuart C (Walkern, Herts) xx/63; Sye W (Aston Clinton, Bucks) xx/45; 
Tony B (Woodford, London) 69/55 (79%); Wes A (Capel, Surrey) 96/91 (94%)

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If you fancy a further challenge, then why not join in 'Curlew Feathers' garden bird race on 16th May. Click here for details.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

And now, the end is near...

#BWKM0 ND&B garden challenge
DAY 48

If you've made it this far into the challenge, then well done, 48 days is a big commitment. There is now just the one more day to go. So, give those optics one last clean, prepare yourself for one more birding session and let's see if you can add another species (or two) onto the 'lockdown list'. By 18.00hrs tomorrow evening it will all be over and we can then take a well deserved break.

These 48 days have been an eye-opener for me. I've discovered ornithological aspects of the garden that I was either unaware or at least had little understanding of. There are viewpoints from the house that give me sweeping views across the neighbourhood that are ideal for vis-mig - views that had not registered as such before. My Spring Chaffinch passage is more prolonged (and heavier) than I realised. Wildfowl obviously pass over my little bit of Surrey each night at the end of March and the beginning of April. Common Buzzards and Red Kites have kept on moving eastwards throughout the period, with 300-400 Common Buzzards and 75 Red Kites as bare minimum totals. If I had made an estimate prior to the off I would have cut them by two-thirds. Each and every one of us can look back on this exercise and pick out such highlights. There are many in our 'collective' that have fallen under the spell of 'noc-mig' recording, and as many others who just sat out in darkened gardens using just their ears. Both groups were amply rewarded.

Some of us were fortunate enough to be visited by genuine rarity. We all had moments of elation, either brought on by garden firsts or surprising observations. The first Swifts brought out a rash of joyous comments from participants, belying the fact that we were all destined to have them over the garden. The common is not always top-trumped by the rare.

Please try to get your observations in by 19.00hrs tomorrow and I will upload the final post of this challenge by 20.00hrs. 

Good luck!#

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OUR COMBINED TOTAL (BRITISH ISLES GARDENS) IS 185 SPECIES   Still to be recorded are: Arctic Skua, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Whinchat.

Our oversea's gardens (New Zealand and Albania) add an additional 26 SPECIES  

You can find the combined #BWKM0 list by clicking on the right-hand tab above.

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ENTRIES
Our 'garden collective' stands at 61

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Garden firsts
Arjun D (Wallington, London) - Common Sandpiper

There have been 214 garden firsts across the competition.

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Visual interlude - #27 The colour of nature
Diminutive Sheep's-sorrel, minute of flower but potent in mass. This rusting of the Dungeness shingle is caused by its mass flowering each April and May. On this particular evening a rainstorm inland threw an inky blue into the visual mix. Big skies, big colours.
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How are we getting on?
Alphabetical order by first name. The first figure is the garden score as on March 20th. The second is since then (as up to date as I am aware).

Alastair F (West Mainland, Orkney) 100/66; Arjun D (Wallington, Surrey) 74/70; 
Benne A (Tirana, Albania) xx/40; Benno W (Goodnestone, Kent) xx/43; 
Bernard B (Ruckinge, Kent) 107/67; Bob S (Worcester Park, Surrey) 86/37; 
Callum M (Hemel Hempstead, Herts) 64/61; Cheech A (Langley Vale, Surrey) 31/39; 
Chris P (Claygate, Surrey) 43/42; Daniel W (NW London) xx/xx; 
Dave B (Chatham Islands, Pacific Ocean) 30/29; Dave P (Shoreham, West Sussex) 55/46; 
David S (West Raynham, Norfolk) 87/64; Debbie S (Portland, Dorset) 155/50; 
Dylan W (Thanet, Kent) 111/59; Ed S (Farncombe, Surrey) 79/83;  
Gavin H (Bridport, Dorset) xx/53;  Geoff B (Chessington, Surrey) 69/30; 
Gill H (Tenterden, Kent) 60/36; Gordon H (Redhill, Surrey) 80/46; 
Ian K (Leigh, Surrey) 62/42;  Ian S (Sidcup, Kent) 113/52; 
Ian W (Merton Park, London) 86/51; Isaiah R (New Malden, London) 76/59; 
John P (Banstead, Surrey) xx/xx; Jono L (Wanstead, London) 83/70; 
Josephine S (Leatherhead, Surrey) 40/44; Justin T (Charmouth, Dorset) 59/32; 
Mark D (Dorking, Surrey) 61/60; Mark H (Littlestone, Kent) 135/81
Mark N (Stutton, Suffolk)  77/62; Martin C (Lydd, Kent) 140/92; 
Mathew B (Wrotham, Kent) 33/53; Matt P (Pulborough, West Sussex) 126/113; 
Michael D (Craster, Northumberland) 106/64; Mike P (Malling, Kent) 70/64; 
Mike R (Battle, East Sussex) 97/55; Oscar D (Chiswick, London) 67/64
Paul D (London) 84/44; Pete B (Shadoxhurst, Kent) 101/53; 
Phil B (Ramsgate, Kent) 54/30; Rebecca G (Balham, London) xx/15; 
Reuben B (Tufnell Park, London) 45/45; Richard F (Pinner, London) 63/35
Richard P (Charmouth, Dorset) 101/86;  Robin S (Cranleigh, Surrey) 101/57; 
Sam B (Enniskeane, Cork) 67/69; Seamus E (Thornton Cleveleys, Lancs) 67/48; 
Sean M (Pinner, London) 50/43; Seth G (Uig, Skye) 64/58; 
Stephen R (Harrogate, Yorks) 66/47; Steve C (Guildford, Surrey) 66/39; 
Steve G (Banstead, Surrey) 92/70; Steve T (Ewell, Surrey) 59/51
Steve W (Hawes, N Yorks) 91/64; Stewart S (Howick, Northumberland) 131/77; 
Stuart C (Walkern, Herts) xx/63; Sye W (Aston Clinton, Bucks) xx/45; 
Tony B (Woodford, London) 69/54; Wes A (Capel, Surrey) 96/90

THE CHALLENGE WILL END AT 18.00hrs TOMMORROW

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Breeders

#BWKM0 ND&B garden challenge
DAY 47

Having been keeping a close eye on the garden over the past seven weeks, I have quite a good idea of what is breeding (or at least attempting to breed) in, or close to, our house. I've never been one to show an interest in nests, eggs, or breeding behaviour, having firmly nailed my colours to the ornithological masts of identification and migration. However, when needs must... species observed in territorial behaviour, nest building or carrying food were:  Sparrowhawk (one pair), Common Buzzard (two pairs), Kestrel (one pair), Feral Rock Dove, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon, Ring-necked Parakeet, Tawny Owl (two pairs), Green Woodpecker, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Blackcap, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch (three to four pairs) and Goldfinch.

I would normally expect Great Spotted Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest, Nuthatch and Chaffinch to be breeding, but they appear to be missing this year.

No real surprises, although the Greenfinch total is the highest for quite a few years. I did get a little paternal towards some of those birds nesting in (or adjacent) to the garden. The drama of one particular morning was based around a Magpie harassing a cat that was climbing the nesting tree. After 15 minutes of trying to get further up the tree to see why the crow was so insistent that it shouldn't, the cat decided that a few blows to the head, and a possible fall, were not worth it.

Goldfinch courtesy of Dylan W
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OUR COMBINED TOTAL (BRITISH ISLES GARDENS) IS 185 SPECIES   Still to be recorded are: Arctic Skua, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Whinchat.

Our oversea's gardens (New Zealand and Albania) add an additional 26 SPECIES  

You can find the combined #BWKM0 list by clicking on the right-hand tab above.

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ENTRIES
Our 'garden collective' stands at 61

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Garden firsts
Josephine S (Leatherhead, Surrey) - White Stork, Sand Martin

There have been 213 garden firsts across the competition.

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Visual interlude - #26 Froward Point, Devon
I don't need to write much. A footpath that demands to be walked. It gets more memorable the closer you get to the sea. I really must return one day.
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How are we getting on?
Alphabetical order by first name. The first figure is the garden score as on March 20th. The second is since then (as up to date as I am aware).

Alastair F (West Mainland, Orkney) 100/66; Arjun D (Wallington, Surrey) 74/67; 
Benne A (Tirana, Albania) xx/40; Benno W (Goodnestone, Kent) xx/43; 
Bernard B (Ruckinge, Kent) 107/67; Bob S (Worcester Park, Surrey) 86/37; 
Callum M (Hemel Hempstead, Herts) 64/61; Cheech A (Langley Vale, Surrey) 31/39; 
Chris P (Claygate, Surrey) 43/42; Daniel W (NW London) xx/xx; 
Dave B (Chatham Islands, Pacific Ocean) 30/29; Dave P (Shoreham, West Sussex) 55/45; 
David S (West Raynham, Norfolk) 87/64; Debbie S (Portland, Dorset) 155/50; 
Dylan W (Thanet, Kent) 111/59; Ed S (Farncombe, Surrey) 79/83;  
Gavin H (Bridport, Dorset) xx/53;  Geoff B (Chessington, Surrey) 69/30; 
Gill H (Tenterden, Kent) 60/34; Gordon H (Redhill, Surrey) 80/46; 
Ian K (Leigh, Surrey) 62/42;  Ian S (Sidcup, Kent) 113/52; 
Ian W (Merton Park, London) 86/51; Isaiah R (New Malden, London) 76/59; 
John P (Banstead, Surrey) xx/xx; Jono L (Wanstead, London) 83/70; 
Josephine S (Leatherhead, Surrey) 40/44; Justin T (Charmouth, Dorset) 59/32; 
Mark D (Dorking, Surrey) 59/60; Mark H (Littlestone, Kent) 135/80
Mark N (Stutton, Suffolk)  77/62; Martin C (Lydd, Kent) 140/92; 
Mathew B (Wrotham, Kent) 33/53; Matt P (Pulborough, West Sussex) 126/113; 
Michael D (Craster, Northumberland) 106/64; Mike P (Malling, Kent) 70/64; 
Mike R (Battle, East Sussex) 97/55; Oscar D (Chiswick, London) 67/64
Paul D (London) 84/44; Pete B (Shadoxhurst, Kent) 101/53; 
Phil B (Ramsgate, Kent) 54/30; Rebecca G (Balham, London) xx/15; 
Reuben B (Tufnell Park, London) 45/45; Richard F (Pinner, London) 63/35
Richard P (Charmouth, Dorset) 101/86;  Robin S (Cranleigh, Surrey) 101/57; 
Sam B (Enniskeane, Cork) 67/69; Seamus E (Thornton Cleveleys, Lancs) 67/47; 
Sean M (Pinner, London) 50/43; Seth G (Uig, Skye) 64/58; 
Stephen R (Harrogate, Yorks) 66/47; Steve C (Guildford, Surrey) 66/39; 
Steve G (Banstead, Surrey) 92/70; Steve T (Ewell, Surrey) 59/51
Steve W (Hawes, N Yorks) 91/64; Stewart S (Howick, Northumberland) 131/77; 
Stuart C (Walkern, Herts) xx/63; Sye W (Aston Clinton, Bucks) xx/45; 
Tony B (Woodford, London) 69/53; Wes A (Capel, Surrey) 96/90

THE CHALLENGE WILL END AT 18.00hrs ON THURSDAY MAY 7th

Monday, 4 May 2020

End of term feeling

#BWKM0 ND&B garden challenge
DAY 46

I'm getting that 'end of term' feeling now, as we are only three days away from the 'wrapping up' of this birding enterprise. I have ear-marked Thursday as an all-day session to say farewell to the competition. Last chance for that big surprise to come along and put the icing on the cake. And somewhere, hopefully, a Whinchat will pop up and be welcomed onto our combined list.

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OUR COMBINED TOTAL (BRITISH ISLES GARDENS) IS 185 SPECIES   Still to be recorded are: Arctic Skua, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Whinchat.

Today's additional species: Arctic Tern (Alastair F)

Our oversea's gardens (New Zealand and Albania) add an additional 26 SPECIES  

You can find the combined #BWKM0 list by clicking on the right-hand tab above.

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ENTRIES
Our 'garden collective' stands at 61

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Garden firsts
Richard P (Charmouth, Dorset) - Hobby
Steve T (Ewell, Surrey) - Redshank, Lesser Whitethroat

There have been 211 garden firsts across the competition.

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Visual interlude - #25 Dungeness Bird Observatory, Kent
I first walked through that front door in April 1976 and have stayed at the observatory for close on 700 nights since. In 1979 I acted as assistant warden to Nick Riddiford, spending some of the happiest months of my birding life. I used to ring back then, and it was an enormous privilege to handle the birds under one of the best tutors around. I've been lucky to also befriend those wardens that came after Nick, namely Dorrian Buffery, Sean McMinn and David Walker. It is one of my happy places, not just the shingle itself, but the modest building at 11 RNSSS, Dungeness, Kent.
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How are we getting on?
Alphabetical order by first name. The first figure is the garden score as on March 20th. The second is since then (as up to date as I am aware).

Alastair F (West Mainland, Orkney) 100/66; Arjun D (Wallington, Surrey) 74/67; 
Benne A (Tirana, Albania) xx/40; Benno W (Goodnestone, Kent) xx/43; 
Bernard B (Ruckinge, Kent) 107/67; Bob S (Worcester Park, Surrey) 86/37; 
Callum M (Hemel Hempstead, Herts) 64/61; Cheech A (Langley Vale, Surrey) 31/39; 
Chris P (Claygate, Surrey) 43/42; Daniel W (NW London) xx/xx; 
Dave B (Chatham Islands, Pacific Ocean) 30/29; Dave P (Shoreham, West Sussex) 55/45; 
David S (West Raynham, Norfolk) 87/64; Debbie S (Portland, Dorset) 155/50; 
Dylan W (Thanet, Kent) 111/59; Ed S (Farncombe, Surrey) 79/83;  
Gavin H (Bridport, Dorset) xx/53;  Geoff B (Chessington, Surrey) 69/30; 
Gill H (Tenterden, Kent) 60/34; Gordon H (Redhill, Surrey) 80/46; 
Ian K (Leigh, Surrey) 62/42;  Ian S (Sidcup, Kent) 113/52; 
Ian W (Merton Park, London) 86/51; Isaiah R (New Malden, London) 76/59; 
John P (Banstead, Surrey) xx/xx; Jono L (Wanstead, London) 83/68; 
Josephine S (Leatherhead, Surrey) 40/42; Justin T (Charmouth, Dorset) 59/32; 
Mark D (Dorking, Surrey) 59/60; Mark H (Littlestone, Kent) 135/80
Mark N (Stutton, Suffolk)  77/62; Martin C (Lydd, Kent) 140/92; 
Mathew B (Wrotham, Kent) 33/53; Matt P (Pulborough, West Sussex) 126/113; 
Michael D (Craster, Northumberland) 106/64; Mike P (Malling, Kent) 70/64; 
Mike R (Battle, East Sussex) 97/53; Oscar D (Chiswick, London) 67/64
Paul D (London) 84/44; Pete B (Shadoxhurst, Kent) 101/53; 
Phil B (Ramsgate, Kent) 54/30; Rebecca G (Balham, London) xx/15; 
Reuben B (Tufnell Park, London) 45/45; Richard F (Pinner, London) 63/35
Richard P (Charmouth, Dorset) 101/86;  Robin S (Cranleigh, Surrey) 101/57; 
Sam B (Enniskeane, Cork) 67/69; Seamus E (Thornton Cleveleys, Lancs) 67/45; 
Sean M (Pinner, London) 50/42; Seth G (Uig, Skye) 64/57; 
Stephen R (Harrogate, Yorks) 66/47; Steve C (Guildford, Surrey) 66/39; 
Steve G (Banstead, Surrey) 92/70; Steve T (Ewell, Surrey) 59/51
Steve W (Hawes, N Yorks) 91/64; Stewart S (Howick, Northumberland) 131/77; 
Stuart C (Walkern, Herts) xx/63; Sye W (Aston Clinton, Bucks) xx/45; 
Tony B (Woodford, London) 69/53; Wes A (Capel, Surrey) 96/90

THE CHALLENGE WILL END AT 18.00hrs ON THURSDAY MAY 7th