My latest column in Birdwatch (the one with the Sabine’s gull on the cover) discusses whether we should like pheasants or not – I’d like them more if they weren’t full of lead.

I wrote in BBC Wildlife a few months ago about pheasants too – now there are lots  of letters on the subject in the October issue (the one with David Attenborough on the cover).  The pheasant hasn’t got many fans it seems.

But talking of fans, it was nice while sitting outside the visitor centre at RSPB Titchwell, waiting to be bought and brought a bacon sandwich, to be spoken to by another birder who said ‘I very much enjoy reading your column in Birdwatch every month – even though I am a farmer’.

We then had a nice chat about his new telescope, how many spoonbills there were on the marsh (16 early in the day – and they weren’t all asleep as they usually seem to be) and farming.  The nice farmer said it had been a terrible year with low wheat and sugar beet yields.

I wonder whether the nice farmer saw a yellow-browed warbler later that day (see page 15 of Birdwatch) – I didn’t but we heard one several times and it seemed impossible that the little blighter could remain invisible, but it did.

Birdwatch‘s October target bird is the Richard’s pipit, a bird which I have seen abroad but not in the UK.  But there must be lots around as one has been found in my ‘home’ county of Northamptonshire.  If they are here they must be everywhere.

My ‘best bird’ recently was adding raven to the garden list as three flew over mobbing a buzzard.  Later a red kite drifted past.  Signs of progress.


11 Replies to “Birdwatch”

  1. We, too, often have Red Kite and Buzzard and, occasionally, Raven over our house in east Oxfordshire. As a keen contributor to the BTO Garden Birdwatch I don’t record them as they never land and I wonder what criteria others use to include them on the GBW list. I could convince myself that they are using my garden as a “resource” as they often seem to have a good look down!

  2. Bit shocked about that last paragraph. Counting the fly overs. I don’t even allow myself the wagtails on the roof next door. May have to start Mark Avery Standard parallel list.

  3. Richard I’m surprised, I was at friends house after visiting Otmoor, as we pulled up to his village I could see about ten Red Kites circling, one by one they were dropping into peoples back garden, ok they were encouraged by people throwing scraps out for them, later that day whilst having a bar-b-q one sat on his roof waiting to be fed!
    Back to your point Mark, is progress really being made? Sure there’s plenty of good farmers out there, there always has been in my opinion, but you can look at the recent killings of Golden Eagles in Scotland, the relentless persecution of Hen Harriers or look closer to home in Northants, remember those Red Kites that were found poisoned a few years back or how about down the road from you and the Lapwing that was shot dead on Summer Leys scrape this summer?
    If progress is being made then sadly it’s too small/slow compared to the number of crimes committed against nature, I think your talk about Pandas this week my highlight that if you /someone else talks about the species’ and habitats that are under threat in China alone.

  4. Douglas, I live a mile south of Otmoor as the Kite flies and see many but don’t put out suitable food for them. The Kite officionados recommend that they’re not fed as it inhibits their dispersion and is not usually a suitable diet anyway!

    Mark, will there be anywhere for us to see a transcript of your Panda discussion. It would be a good read. I’ve got a panda in the garage but it comes from Italy not China!!

  5. I had always assumed that your garden list was of birds seen from and in your garden. Flyovers certainly therefore count. My French garden list is 121 and includes 15 raptor species all of which fly over most of them regularly.

    I remember years ago when we lived in the Lowestoft area getting a Franklin’s Gull on my garden list by standing on our wall and leaning outwards whilst holding on to a tree with my left hand. Using my right hand and with one eyepiece of the bins I could just see it following a plough at the end of our road.

    It is where your feet are that counts in my book.

    Getting more balmy every year.

    1. Derek – it is, but that’s global warming for you, and you are getting barmier every year too.

    2. Derek, remember your great talks about India and your local patch in France at our local group meetings! Your blog is good too!

      Probably wouldn’t go as far as you to get a garden tick but flyovers are certainly counted. Have to be a bit careful about reporting to the BTO though, they’re a bit finicky!

  6. Never understood the bit about actually being in the garden. We have a list for our house in France but nothing counts if seen from the terrace unless there is a glass of wine to hand.

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