Out birding

I’ve just come back from a day in Norfolk – that’s why this post is a little after 1800.

I like birdwatching!  I went birdwatching yesterday, I went birdwatching today, and I expect I will do some birdwatching tomorrow.

Most of my birding today was at the RSPB nature reserve at Titchwell – I like Titchwell (partly because they do very good bacon rolls but also because there are always birds there).  One issue with Titchwell is that it is difficult to go to Titchwell without meeting sonme people I know – and that’s very nice, very nice indeed, but it does cut into the birdwatching (unless they show you some birds which quitye often happens). Today I met three groups of people I knew which was really lovely.  It was slightly odd sitting in the cafe at Titchwell waiting for the arrival of a delicious bacon roll (almost the first meat (2 lapses) I’ve eaten since 12th Night) and hearing a man at the next door table saying ‘We had Mark Avery talk at our conference in Sussex on Saturday. He just stood up and talked without slides or notes’.  I wonder4d what was going to come next but apparently I got away with it! The group talked about Hen Harriers on Winterwatch, Chris Packham. Mountain Hares being shot on grouse moors and Gavin Gamble’s e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting which they said they were going to sign but hadn’t got around to it yet!

But the main reasons for liking Titchwell are that it is an attractive place, that it is a very familiar place to me (my first visit was probably around 1971) and that there are always lots of birds.  What did we see today? Long-tailed Ducks on the sea were good birds, Red-crested Pochard on the freshwater were, well, birds, I missed the Water Pipit, there was a good variety of ducks and waders and a couple of Marsh Harriers were over the reedbed.  But seeing the sea is a treat for those of us hailing from Northants, and the sunshine was good.

On the way home I stopped in at Eldernell on the Nene Washes and saw several Short-eared Owls, a couple of Barn Owls but not the six Cranes that I saw there yesterday evening.  But I overheard a few birders hoping to see a Hen Harrier and bemoaning their rarity these days.

Birdwatching makes me look harder, at least at some aspects of the natural world, and so I see more. And being in touch with birds is being in touch with how the seasons are changing.  Anyway, whatever it is, I’m hooked and have been for decades.

I use the excellent Birdtrack to record my birdwatching records because that means i know where they are, and can have a look at them pretty easily, but they also help uild up a picture of seasonal and annual changes in bird numbers. If you don’t already use Birdtrack then do, please, consider using it from now on.

I couldn’t help but notice (it’s there on the screen when one logs in, in red letters and numbers!) that I’ve entered 92 bird species onto Birdtrack in 2018 – that seems quite good to me although I’m not really sure why (although last year it was only 50 species by this date!). There will be a few species missing – eg Tawny Owl because I’ve heard a few but I don’t often bother to put them in as casual records – but I guess I’ve seen about that number of bird species. And I couldn’t help notice too, that Lee Evans has seen 184 species – twice as many as me. Phew! I must get out more.





14 Replies to “Out birding”

      1. Oh yes. There is a nature reserve in Ambridge, and Kisrty, environmentalist, met a guy in the bird hide whose a border and goes hunting. They had a chat. He opined that areas managed for hunting can also be good for wildlife. She then mentioned that some of the activities that take place on shooting estates that are not good for wildlife such as raptor persecution on grouse moors! Btw The Archers has great background bird song during scenes. Appropriate to the season, location and time of the day. Plus there are two bloke birding enthusiasts who compete over their bird lists. There’s even a Peregrine nest site on on Saint Stephen’s.

        1. This is what the on-line plot summary says: “Kirsty is surprised and somewhat uncomfortable to find Philip Moss, who she attacked at the village meeting, repairing a broken panel at the hide. Philip does his best to mend bridges and appear friendly, but Kirsty won’t let things go, and she criticises Philip for riding to hounds. He gently explains his point of view, which is that hunting is a good way of managing the countryside, and tells her that he put up owl boxes at the kennels. Coldly, Kirsty says they will have to agree to disagree.”

          Not an entirely neutral summary, I suspect, and Philip appears to have in common with the National Trust a strange belief that legal trail hunting is a good way of managing the countryside.

          Must try to listen – and this being the Archers I suspect the matter will not be left there.

  1. Think maybe the abuse Gavin Gamble gets for his petition is unwarranted as surely he has kept persecution in the wildlife sections public eye with of course your continual use of your blog to highlight the persecution and asking people to sign his petition.
    Wonder from one comment saying I thought petition was the be all of conservation,whyever should I not encourage Gavin through a time that it seemed to me he was feeling the heat that some were unfairly heaping on him.
    If indeed it helps his career then good luck to him plenty of others have benefited from similar things and one more conservationist in print will only be a good thing.
    Certainly Winterwatch went further in my opinion than BBC have allowed before and put facts out there for people to take on board.

  2. I agree – Titchwell is where I chose to finally join the rspb – superb site and volunteers. Bit put out when the recruiter told me “we can’t do much with that level of donation” (they only relented when I explained I was from “the north” and that was what I could afford). I agree – have recently picked up on mountain hare culling (countryfile/Tom Heap) and raptor persecution (winterwatch) on BBC, which I’m sure is due to the spotlight shone by you, Chris and others. Tide is turning.

    1. Recruiters are paid on results and usually get a significant chunk of the first year’s subscription. Chances are you’ll get phone calls encouraging you to up your contribution. If I’d been the recipient of that comment then I’m afraid I’d have walked away:( I’m afraid I’m still minded that any I join get the standard advertised rate for the first year and then I might make one offs to particular projects etc. The politics and finance of using external recruiters is a potentially interesting ‘debate’?

      My day’s tally included Woodcock, Snipe, Goosanders, Marsh Harriers, Buzzard, Tawnies, Kestrels, Barn Owl and a stunning male Hen Harrier as the grand finale to a great day – no bacon butties though (homemade cheese & onion quiche). Neither RSPB or a WT reserve either, just an excellent local patch!

      1. Not always – there are lots of other methods of recruitment and indeed, most staff are encouraged to ask for memberships, too – it’s only the agency employed recruiters who are commission based (and is obviously a profitable way to recruit members for the RSPB). You can also opt out of getting phone calls and the like, which they should mention when you sign up.

        And pushy membership asks I completely agree are way out of line – people should be encouraged, not demanded of.

  3. I have been addicted to birding since I was a child a very long time ago (I’m 67) but have not done as much lately as I would like. Moving house from North Yorkshire to mid Wales so have been sorting, packing and more sorting and packing. Been out twice in the last fortnight, a day at Frampton with my usual birding buddy Ian and met up with our friend from Shetland birding Mike who actually lives on the Essex/ Herts border. We had a brilliant day together. Last Sunday went for a walk in Mid Wales having moved the tropical fish down on Friday didn’t see much different or exciting but it felt good. Will be there permanently from Monday.
    Watched Countryfile, first time for ages without getting annoyed at poor BBC research, Hare culling is an abomination as is raptor persecution, one day we will win is all I can say and hope. Yes it will be down to Mark , Chris, Findlay, Ruth who inspire and lead us in the right direction and countless others who stand with us when it is needed, we cannot loose and in the end the grouse pleasure killers cannot win.

  4. Was up in the forest yesterday [which Mark wanted to be sold off!] watching raptors and looking forward to Golden Eagles once they release them this summer. The amount of clear fell is amazing with many plastic tubes ready to protect the new planting. This area has the lowest human population in England and most of Scotland with no shooting estates any where to be seen. The breeding list is very impressive and you know once you are up there you have the place to your self.

    Cones suggest an eruption this year in Crossbills but few ever mention Siskin which also benefit from all this seed. Saw many feeding and singing in the short burst of sun but the weirdest sighting was of a [ground] Jay hunting voles in the long grass well away from trees! Recent work on Roe Deer show a population that can sustain even Lynx adding carrion for the eagles, Ravens and many more. With so few sheep farmers up there the future seems certain to have a brilliant future.

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