Thought for the Day

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only will tune in."
- George Washington Carver

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Sunday, 13 November 2011

Crossbills, Bramblings and Wagtails

It's worth checking out your local stands of Beech for Bramblings at the moment. I discovered a small flock above Withens Clough last Monday in pretty poor weather conditions. I had intended to look for the Crossbills that had been reported in Sunderland Pasture but the mist and drizzle made it a no goer, so discovering a flock of Bramblings en route was a welcome diversion.
A return visit on Saturday in order to try for better pictures came to nowt. Although I had a few sporadic flyovers of what may (?) have been bramblings, I wasn't able to locate the 20 - 30 strong flock of last Monday. There is still mast on the trees, but it is difficult to say how much of it still bore seed, and how much had already been plundered.
Driving home, I was cosidering posting a heads-up for winter wagtail roosts, when I drove straight into one.......Tescos car park at King Cross. I don't know how many birds are coming in to roost as many were already in bed when I came across them. I would estimate around 150 but this could be wide of the mark.
I counted 200 going into a larger tree by the Woolshops on October 14th 2007 and in Manchester in the late 90's I seem to remember around 500 going into a single tree outside the BBC.
This time, the birds were congregating on Tescos roof, probably around 4.00 - 4.15 and going into the tree between the car wash and the zebra crossing. There was plenty of traffic, people using the crossing and two guys making plenty of noise washing cars right next to the tree, but the birds did not seem the least bothered.
Standing beneath the tree, watching the birds jostling for position, I could almost reach up and touch them. Amazing site!

Friday, 28 October 2011

The Twite Recovery Project

Towards the end of the summer, I was asked to produce a video for the Twite Recovery Project which is a joint venture between RSPB and Natural England to help halt the decline of our "Pennine Finch". This video has now gone live on the Pennine Prospects You Tube channel and is currently being used to encourage local landowners to become involved in the project.
Pennine Prospects aim is to support the regeneration of the South Pennines. The company is owned by the key local authorities, water companies, Natural England and voluntary/community sector and is focused upon protecting the built, natural and cultural heritage for the benefit of the area’s residents.
The loss of upland hay meadows in favour of "improved" silage fields has been one of the key factors in the decline of the Twite throughout the South Pennines.
The Twite has bred in the uplands of Britain for at least 8 thousand years. However, over the last 14 years, numbers have nosedived by over 90% in England, and now there are only about 100 breeding pairs, living in about 20 colonies - mainly in the South Pennines. Most seed-eating songbirds feed their chicks on insects, but Twite and their chicks are unusual in feeding almost entirely on seed. The Twite Recovery Project is working with farmers and landowners to help restore and maintain hay meadows close to the moorland edges where the Twite nest, thus providing essential food sources for this charming little bird, in an effort to help reverse its fortunes and save it from further decline

Life in the Field

It's been quite a while since my last blog. The last few months have been particularly hectic, with most of my free time spent out in the field filming local wildife, improving my climbing and swimming skills, and learning to SCUBA dive.
Spring and Summer provided a host of material with more time spent filming at nest sites than during previous years.
Insects featured heavily on my itinerary, and I even managed to squeeze in a trip to the Farne Islands.
As a result, I have numerous projects on the back burner......most will find their way into a series of DVDs that I'm working on, and others will appear on thebaldibis You Tube Channel. In the meantime, here is a little teaser that I threw together recently.
So sit back and enjoy.

Thursday, 24 February 2011