Sunday, 31 January 2010

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

With the home garden "seeded" in the morning with RSPB seed mix scattered on the frosted ground, and a bowl of mix in place in a large overturned planter. The water bowl had been frozen overnight so thawed and topped up with a little luke warm water. Our neighbour has just erected a new bird table this week and laid out seed and kitchen scraps. Between us we seem to be keeping a fairly small but stable population of birds fed within the local vicinity.

For the purpose of the count I had agreed with my neighbour to count the bird activity in both gardens and submit the combined size and structural details to the register (approx size 1/2 tennis court, with both evergreen and deciduous shrubs, flowerbeds, lawn and "wildlife space"). The bird count was undertaken from 08:15 - 09:15.

The usual suspects appeared over the hour: singles of woodpigeon Columba palumbus, dunnock Prunella modularis, robin Erithacus Rubecula and songthrush Turdus philomelos; 3 blue tit Cyanistes caeruleus. 7 individually identifiable blackbird Turdus Merula consisting of  4 ♀♀ and 3 ♂♂ were also present over the hour the highest number together at any time being 5 for the purpose of the count.

Birds seen but not included in the count as they were "flyovers" or on adjacent rooftops: carrion crow Corvus corone; collared dove Streptopelia dacaocto; a single stock dove Columba oenas! feral pigeon Columba livia; bh gull Larus ridibundus and herring gull Larus argentatus. Another individually identifiable ♂ blackbird was also in the local area. A great tit Parus major and a probable second songthrush were also noted in a near distant tree.

5 house sparrows Passer domesticus were adjacent on their usual colony rooftops although unable to be included in the official count, they did grace the gardens some 45 minutes after the count closed.

An unexpected visitor to both gardens which momentarily flushed the birds half way through the count period was an urban fox Vulpes vulpes which then more surprisingly turned up 20 -25 ft high up settling on a rooftop amongst the overgrown ivy.

Across the rooftops towards the ivy fox hole

Vulpes vulpes

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Garden birding

The recent thaw has seen the numbers of redwing Turdus iliacus and fieldfare Turdus pilaris greatly reduced within the city.  Although yesterday I noted circa 35 - 40 redwing with sev. blackbird Turdus merula and sev. starling  Sturnus vulgaris feeding in the flowerbeds and on the lawns of Southsea Common, winter thrush have not been seen over the house for a couple of days.

A single fieldfare was last seen holding its feeding territory in the garden on the morning of the 13th January but was not seen after that.

Instead, today the garden featured at least three individual blackbirds (1 x male and 2 fem birds) a songthrush Turdus philomelos and 3 wood pigeon Columba palumbus; a robin Erithacus rubecula was also noted in next doors garden but during the briefest of garden birdwatches it did not migrate across the fenceline. The seed mix bowl was empty by mid afternoon today. The "orchard" has barely been touched.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Alpha garden thrush

Whilst in other gardens the fieldfare Turdus pilarus and redwing Turdus iliacus made up sociable groups feeding on berries and roosting in the trees, in this garden a single fieldfare maintained a private feeding station by chasing off all other birds both from within the garden and from adjoining shed roofs and garden bushes.

Singles of dunnock Prunella modularis and starling Sturnus vulgaris made brief visits and did not receive harassment.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Snow brings Turdidae influx to central Southsea

Turdus pilaris

Turdus pilaris

Turdus pilaris

Turdus iliacus

Turdus iliacus

Turdus philomelos

Day 3 of snow in Southsea, Hampshire and the thrush population is continuing to be boosted by an influx of birds including fieldfare Turdus pilaris and redwing Turdus iliacus.

Blackbird Turdus merula is a scarce visitor at the best of times in this urban garden although last winter's count of five Scandinavian (probably) migrants was a personal record; albeit lasting only as long as the unharvested grapes and holly berries. This latest cold snap has seen four thrush species in the garden in the passage of one afternoon, with a single songthrush Turdus philomelos completing the quartet. A passing robin Erithacus rubecula adding extra value.

Fieldfare photographs courtesy Alison Hogan

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Nail fungus (Poronia punctata L.); New Forest

UK BAP lists the Nail fungus as probably the rarest fungus in Europe restricted to the New Forest and only a few other places in the south east of Europe. Listed as Endangered on the UK Red List and Indeterminate on the IUCN Red Data List.

The fungus grows on horse and pony dung particularly where they have fed on unimproved grassland or hay meadows. Once widespread in UK its rarity is due to changes in agricultural practice - both the loss of unimproved grassland and heathland; and the reduction of horse use in farming. For more information see:

This specimen was found on Longcross Plain Nr Fritham. However, I can't claim to have found it, as it was spotted by a friend whilst we were out walking. 

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Titchfield Haven - birding highlights

Panurus biarmicus

A visit to Titchfield Haven brought good views of a small flock 9(10) of bearded reedlings Panurus biarmicus feeding on Phragmites australis just inside the south gate.
Unusual for this site a flock of golden plover Pluvias apricaria roosted amongst lapwing Vanellus vanellus on the south scrapes northern bank. The scrapes themselves were completely frozen over leaving the waders to roost in all but single specie flocks on the small islands, whilst BH gulls Larus ridibundus flocked directly on the ice. 3 avocet recurvirostra avosetta were also noted.
A single bittern Botaurus stellaris was seen in flight heading up river at around 13:10 mobbed by two BH gulls.
Branta leucopsis from Knightsbank hide
Arenaria interpres Hill Head harbour
Recurvirostra avosetta single bird on north scrape with Vanelluss vanellus

Friday, 1 January 2010