Serin, but no cigar

posted 7 Apr 2014 14:03 by Andy Birder

Friday afternoon I received a call from Ben that he had just seen a Serin in a local garden, and as it was on my patch he had kindly enabled it for me to go and have a look.  I was on site within 20 minutes and the bird was already being watched but had just departed ('groan') however it soon reappeared and started feeding at surprisingly close quarters - it was at this point it dawned on us that the bird was actually bearing a white 'open' ring on it's left leg.
After our initial grumblings re: bad luck and a good bird having to be 'thrown' away we started to consider the bigger picture. What if this bird had happened to have 'lost' its sporty anklet, either prior to this sighting or subsequently - would you (and why would you) consider an unringed Serin, at the beginning of April, on the East Anglian coast, as an escape? 
Even worse, what if I had had a fly over bird calling whilst viz-mig-ing?  I certainly wouldn't be wanting to throw that away due to the possibility of an escape having just gone over!
Moreover, now if there is a fly over Serin somewhere along the coast here, if this bird isn't where it currently resides, can you be sure it's not this cage jumper?!!!!
.............where's that bloody worm can lid!
"Brief views of Serin today, but managed a couple of shots"


April 4th 2014 viz-mig

posted 7 Apr 2014 12:28 by Andy Birder

Sidestrand 0700-0900
Foggy with drizzle wind SE 1
Meadow Pipit 703e
Redwing 1w
alba wagtail 4e
Swallow 1e
Redpoll 1e
Grey Wagtail 1e
Linnet 150e

31st march 2014 viz-mig and alba wag

posted 7 Apr 2014 11:39 by Andy Birder   [ updated 7 Apr 2014 12:10 ]

Sidestrand 0745- 0915
Redpoll 4e
Goldfinch 5e
Meadow Pipit 16e
Black Redstart female on cliff
Chaffinch 22e
Grey Heron 2e
alba wagtail 3e
Linnet 130e

Before leaving home this morning an alba wagtail ('Pied' type) dropped into our garden at the pond and spent the next ten minutes feeding. I was chuffed to see that it was a White Wagtail, very likely a second calendar year male.

clean grey mantle with no hint of any black, and conversely a jet black crown and nape with no hint of grey should indicate a male bird. The browner outer greater coverts and inner tertial (s) are older feathers and indicate a 2c/y (I think!)

the upper rump between the tertials just visible, and appear to be the same grey of the mantle rather than blackish as in British yarrellii.  Though this White Wagtail from Poland doesn't totally conform to this therory

25 March 2014 viz mig

posted 7 Apr 2014 11:35 by Andy Birder

Sidestrand 0700-0930
Chaffinch 12e
Greenfinch 10e
alba wagtail 4e 1w
Common Crossbill 16e
Siskin 7e

Sounds like a plan

posted 27 Mar 2014 15:40 by Andy Birder   [ updated 27 Mar 2014 15:43 ]

I've recently read more than one forum thread discussing identifications of contentious species like Parrot and Two-barred Crossbills, and the minute plumage details that make or break the case.  The thing that  astounds me is that, despite reading phrases like "the bird was calling very loudly today and was definetly species x" , very few people appear to attempt to record these calls, songs etc supplying themselves, and others, with some tangible references.  It maybe that folk beleive that you need to  cart around parabolic mic set ups complete with car battery powered recording systems, which is certainly not the case. 
 I reckon nearly all birders now have a very usable bird recorder in their pocket at absolutely no extra expense - a smart phone. 
So once you've finished uploading your 7 different bird alert apps, I would highly recommend that you download the free PCM recorder app (iPhone and Android) to your phone, and then download the sonogram-making Raven Lite 1.0 to your PC/Macbook and start 'seeing' your bird calls. 
It really is as easy as this, and if you have a serious interest in birds, once you start, there will be no going back, you will be hooked!

Common Crossbills (Type C 'glip')  The recording above was made using PCM recorder on a Samsung Galaxy 2 phone, the sonogram was then created using Raven Lite.  Although the recording will not win any Wildsounds prises, it is sufficient to identify the birds flying over conclusively as Common Crossbill.  Alternately, if these were Parrot Crossbills that had just flown  over, the recording should be good enough to show that species call pattern.

Black redstart

posted 20 Mar 2014 13:03 by Andy Birder

We were recently graced with a Black Redstart in the garden for the evening, after I had spent most of the day digging half the garden up! I must have been my usual unobservant self, because the bird was down on the turf within 5 minutes of me jacking it in for the day, it must have been sitting on our roof waiting!

What a pilaeta of sh.......

posted 20 Mar 2014 12:46 by Andy Birder

Been hearing those bloody Bullfinches again!
The other morning when walking the devils, I heard the 'chainlink' call I refered to in an earlier post, which when seen as a sonogram, resembled the call given by europea.  Further along our walk I heard a different 'group' or pair (didn't see them) that were giving the more standard pilaeta sweet toned, clear 'pue', that I knew that when I looked at the sonogram, it would be flat and long: it was. 
The other call came up as I expected, looking like  a short line in Arabic.
Not convinced that I have a sedentary population of europea within the midsts of Northrepps Village, I decided to have a closer look in comparison with known europea calls.
Although basically similar looking in structure to the sonograms shown in 'The Sound Approach', on closer inspection shows the Northrepps call type is very different from known europea type.
The europea call (below left) is short (approx. 0.15secs.), with the extremes of the frequency ranging between 2.250 and 4.150 Htz. This in 'real life' makes the call sound flatter, less sweet, with a slightly naisal timbre.
The Northrepps call in comparison, is longer in duration (0.35 sec.)and has a frequency limited to between  2.750 and 3.900 Htz , and because of this, although the call has several 'elements' to it, the call  sounds clearer, and sweeter, swinging it back to pilaeta. 

 Comparison sonograms of europea and 'untypical' pilaeta.

Ultimately I think this confirms that, despite my best efforts, my winter Bullfinches are (unsurprisingly) British pilaeta rather than fanciful europea, but I have certainly now got my 'ear' in regarding the latter.  

Mews, Parrots and Woodlark

posted 25 Feb 2014 12:12 by Andy Birder   [ updated 25 Feb 2014 12:18 ]

Spring movement has definitely started here on the north Norfolk coast with the first evident movement of finches on February 18th with 38 Greenfinch E at Sidestrand in the first hour of day light.
Common Gull have featured once again this month with birds noted at opposite ends of the scale, proving how variable these birds can be, and generally these observations are fairly random and by no means concentrated.
Common Gull Larus canus. Adult. Sidestrand.  This bird shows a distinct rectangular shape to the black outer primaries caused by P8 being fully black up to the primary coverts and P7 appearing to nearly reach there.  The 'bayonet' on P6 looks long as well as a solid, thick band on P5.  A good candidate for heinie but presumably within the variation of canus? 

Common Gull. Larus canus. Adult. Little Melton, Norwich. A random stop whilst at work, I noticed this bird flying off a roost on a pig field.  The amount of white in P8 is striking, especially when compared to the bird above. Superficially resembling the Nearctic counterpart brachyrhynchus 'Mew Gull', there is little else to suggest anything  other than canus

A fabulous hour on the cliff before work yesterday morning (24th February) had a handful of finches moving, but was first punctuated by a cute WOODLARK going east along the cliff giving good views as it passed by...

I then had a group of 18 'Crossbills' go east over Overstrand and Sidestrand.  Caught between photographing them or seeing if I could get any flight calls recorded, I opted for the later.  I'm glad I did, because the sonogram, I think, is pretty conclusive that these were in fact PARROT CROSSBILLS!

Note the frequency peak just above 3.5Khz with the 'thicker' part of the call on the downward 'curve' of the distinct, lower case 'n' shape (especially at 8.6 seconds)

Glossy Ibis

posted 5 Feb 2014 14:37 by Andy Birder

By good chance I had an appointment in Ormesby on Monday, which meant I had to virtually run-over a couple of Glossy Ibis that have taken up temporary residence at Martham ferry. Not knowing where to look I was scanning distant fields and creeks, until I noticed another bird further down the bank seemingly 'scoping his feet! I then had the best views I've ever had of glossy Ibis, either home or abroad.

Parrot Crossbill, at last!

posted 26 Jan 2014 12:35 by Andy Birder

Its taken me nearly 3 months and eight visits to finally connect with the Parrot Crossbills that have been frequenting Holt and Edgefield, but yesterday on a murky, misty morning they finally fell. 
4 birds were watched as they fed almost completely silent (gggrrrrr!) in a Scots Pine extremely unobtrusively.
I say almost completely silent, one bird did give a snatch of song with some call like notes thrown in. 
The most noise they did make was from the regular dropping of mullered pine cones, one of which I managed to retrieve, straight from the loxia's beak, as it were.

Parrot Crossbill, male.  The large, blocky, sledge hammer shaped head is enhanced by the fact that the bill appears to 'run in' to the forehead without sloping

The bill doesn't seem huge in relation to the build of the head, which does appear to big for the body!

This pine cone was dropped by one of the feeding birds, the lower exposed seed scale had been sliced off.

1-10 of 332