Please, do not hamper a young bird's life by picking it up, and taking it home with you. It is calling its parents to help them in locating it.
After fledgling from the nest, the parent birds will keep feeding it, and look out for it, until it will be able to look after itself.
And the reason you cannot see a parent is because of your own proxomity to the young bird. And while you are ebating if or not you should take the bird home, you keep the parent from giving it well needed nutrition in the form of a meal!


The photos on this blog are all taken by me. If there is any picture you might want to use for any other than personal use, please drop me a line to the email address shown in the sidebar on the right.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Another side to my Blue Tits

This morning I had a Blue Tit flying against my window, resulting in the victim flying back onto the fence, where it hang in the mesh for about 10-15 minutes. However it was what happened around this little bird which had me watch in pure amazement.
It had been feeding with its mate in the planter before its accident, and before you knew it the mate flew up and started pulling at the wings of the one in the fence, flying about its mate nervously, wanting the other to "wake up". It was really touching to watch.

I knew that Rooks are known to comfort each other when one has been in a fight and lost. I've often observed this before where one of the two will seek comfort by the other and they will touch with their beaks and get really close together too.

The one who had flown into the window; it 'hung' in this position for almost 15 minutes.

Its mate flying worrying around the other and started pulling wings and the window-flyer started waking up at last.

Before you knew it, other Blue Tits arrived! And not just to feed; no they were well aware of what had happened here and they too started flying around the little window-flyer. (who was getting a bit nervous itself now too.) It was very sweet to see that this little bird got so much attention from the other three. What is even more strange is that I have only seen the other two Bblue Tits once since summer. And what made them come down here? Was it coincidence, did the other one call out, or did the other two sense that their friend was in trouble?

What was also strange today, was that I saw one Rook feed the other! Bit early for courting, isn't it?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Clouds and Waders at the bay

It was bright mostly across the bay today while clouds were hiding several hills and mountains,, and two species of Gull were enjoying themselves in the air, one near the pier (no fish or leftovers on board) with the other around the 'corner of a headland'
I hope that perhaps Andrew or Pete can ID my Gulls. At first I thought they were Terns, as I thought I'd spotted a black cap, but the season is a bit off for this, I guess.

An Oystercatcher, Redshanks and what I think was a Whimbrel, were busy foraging before the tide would coming in.

Is this the remnant of a bag of coal? those white 'threads look vaguely familiar, .

This Rook took up a nice position when it was half thinking of jumping down to the planter(birdtable) and was also watching a few Coal Tits.

This Rose is for Tricia who enjoys-November- Roses so much! It was growing at the Rectory in the hedgerow. I think that as a garden escapee it has mingled with the Holly and Brambles in the Hedgerow and is by now quite wild too

Monday, November 24, 2008

A few of the garden birds and the promised Corvids for Border.

The link to this blog at Birdwatch Ireland's page is clearly working and thus, a great thank you to Niall Hatch at Birdwatch.
Some Corvid photos for Border; even the Rooks and Jacks have diminished in numbers.
This Rook was not happy with the way things were going, apparently, and I love the way they spread their wings when calling out at simultaneously. To get good detail of them is something I am trying to catch every time, and this time at least some underwing is good visible.
As you can see, JJ is looking as smart as ever and his/her black cap is standing out more and more. It is funny that, with the windows closed these days, he keeps looking at it and is probably waiting for the usual greeting before breakfast/lunch, tea, dinner and supper. However, when out on the estate or in the village, I often call out to (what could be, but with many around it is hard to tell) him, and, or talking to him, and I have no doubt that the locals think I am loony.

Just a few birds out in the garden, 2 days ago. These, and their many mates, keep coming, whatever the wind is doing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

3 East coast reserves with access.

Niall Hatch at Birdwatch Ireland has send me details of two Nature reserves on the East coast which are, in one way or another accessible to wheelchair using birders.

I am compiling a list, using a Google document, hoping that this way it will be accessible to you, the readers of Birding on Wheels, and that way you can add your own information. At least I think that is how it works. I've no real experience with Google docs.

Also, Niall has given me contact numbers for the different ferry companies between (our) mainland and Cape Clear, the South western tip of Ireland, host to numerous rare species which often stand on the island.

One of these told me in late 2005/2006 he was planning to adapt his boat that spring. Later on, after another email, I understood his plans had not resulted in action yet.

The reserves which Niall has listed as being accessible, are:

The Wexford Wildfowl Reserve on the North Slobs.
This reserve, 10km north of Wexford town, check the The Heritage Ireland Website is listing an email address as well as telephone numbers, as contact details.
It has accessible hides, accessible visitor centre and wheelchair toilet. With many migrating Geese wintering here in Ireland, this reserve is well worth a visit between September/October and March.

Another accessible Reserve on the East Coast, not yet open to the public, is the East Coast Nature Reserve, owned and run by Birdwatch Ireland. The hides and visitor centre are being constructed at the moment and both will be wheelchair friendly. Niall will also suggest to get manual wheels and scooters for hire. None of others

However, top of the class of Irish Reserves has to be the Belfast Harbour State: it sounds as the birders heaven, to me.

Bear with me, that while trying to find a good link of this site, I first came upon Wild Belfast, then the Victoria Park Reserve, next in line was Belfast Lough, which looks like it is part of the latter and in the next sentence it is not.

Anyone, who is reading this, and who has been there, feel free to explain the location of the Belfast Harbour Estate, to me.
Anyway, the site(s) sound incredible appealing to me and I wish I had transport, this sounds like a very interesting birding/wildlife(ing?) city.

Getting back to the Belfast Harbour Estate; It is wheelchair accessible, and something Darlene will like, if the name of her website is anything to go by;
And I quote Niall here: "They have a fully wheelchair-accessible (and extremely comfortable) heated and double-glazed hide with extremely large, low windows and excellent views over the reserve ponds
(Niall, if you are reading this, I do love your choice of words!) It sounds really nice and I would love to hear from anyone who has been here and experienced this extremely comfy reserve.

Robin, Great Tit and Blue Tit in my garden. The Robin has claimed its pot of peanut cake, not allowing any-bird near. Whenever the Great Tit feeds on its own, the army of 4-5 Coal Tits arrive, start attacking the Great Tit, who then tries to hurry up. The Blue Tit, which usually chases the CTs, is bombarded similarly. She will start eating so fast as I had never seen her do before! The head kept going up and down so in rapid speed.

In the garden of rehabcare, I met this little flower, as well as Nasturtiums and white Roses.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hooded Crows, Rooks, and an Oxford dictionary

The Hooded Crow photos are still from our stay in Bantry. The ten Hooded Crows visiting the harbour and its nearby area were hard to photograph most times, with the sky overcast during those days, yet sometimes I got lucky. Nothing special, just the best Lumix and I could do.

One of the difficult things in Corvid photography, apart from the Jay, is that often you end up with a fairly 'dead' photo when all you've got is a black head and no visible eye. I'd love to meet up with a Chough one day to get that funny Red Eye into my photo.
The Jackdaw has its own remarkable eye ring, of course. To illustrate this, I got you another original of our top model, JJ. And it seems he has no trouble in finding ways to amuse me.
Just a taster of more photos to come:

And the 'blue' eye of the Hooded Crow, which isn't blue at all, but it was reflecting the sky in this way with the Sun shining onto it. It adds a kind of sparkle to it.

This spring I passed an area at the harbour in town where the recycling 'banks' are situated and it was these Rooks which were taking advantage of the many people which would still leave their bags of household rubbish there. God knows what the birds-and other local wildlife- are getting hold of! Just thinking of all these fast food containers, convenient food packaging and other chemical harbouring solids, makes me shiver. Mind you, it could also have been the litter from one of the late night walkers or fast food fan across the harbour and that it had just been dropped casually.
I cook without salt myself, and only use black pepper at a later stage. I might be married to a salt addict for 28 years, this does not mean that I would have to add it to my food from the start.
The Rooks were eyeing each other and this food wrapping which was lying in the middle of the road. It was amusing to watch them, how they were waiting for the other to make the first move and trying to take it from the opponent, once one had made that crucial first move.

I love how the bib of the Hooded Crow stands out in this photo; one of its most prominent features. It always reminds me of my ink days, when I used to draw or and also paint with black Indian ink. It was not rare to end up with big marks on paper suddenly, and it was not too far removed from the Hooded Crow's bib.
I wonder if size is a mark of strength for the females when choosing on a strong father for her brood?
The Irish name for Hooded Crows is also Grey Crow which does not really describe him, in my view. However, if you'd compare it with a Carrion Crow, then yes, yuo'd soon talk of the grey one. But with no Carrions here, was there a need to distinguish it with its own, comparable name? or is it from the Celtic language and was it used in other Celtic areas where you do see the two in the one area sometimes, like in certain places in Scotland. On our island we do not see the 'Black' Crow at all. Or, if so, it might be on one or two places on the east coast.

When we moved to Ireland, in 1983, we had only one dictionary with us, a wonderful Oxford English dictionary in hardback, which I had bought 8 years earlier in the UK somewhere. Why I had not brought a Dutch-English one, I have no idea. I had only a few Dutch books with me, a few real treasures. (most are lost now.) We only had a small second hand Peugeot to pack with all we were going to need for one year. A year later I went to pak the rest of our stuff, giving a lot of it to friends in Holland before the big truck came to take it away.

My mum-also an-English-language freak--(who had bought the same Oxford when we were in England together) sent me a set of Dutch/French & French Dutch and the Dutch- English/ English Dutch in paperback. The mistakes in the Dutch-English is amazing and one day, when I've got the time, I will compile a list of certain mis-translations which I have met up until now. One of these is on the Hooded Crow, which is translated as "Spotted" Crow.
Whichever way I look at them, I cannot spot any spot on them.

The Rooks at home are really very predictable- they will hop from one divider on the shelf to the next, looking down onto the planter (birdtable) casually and innocently, before hopping bacck and to and fro for another two or three times.
The temporariry addition of Cyclamen to the planter-whose visual effect or obsatruction does keep cats from jumping up, has been making life difficult for the Corvid family. The Rooks, the Jackdaws and the Hooded Crows, they all had to take a step back.
JJ has come daily though. He would manage to throw the plants over, resulting in me having to get outside again every time he had been here.
The idea is that the Cyclamen go into a windowbox for on the shelf, which would then 'lift' that dark area, whenever it has been raing and the wall gets dark and grey.
Wet weather has prevented me from doing so though.
Instead, dear readers, here is a little .
Rook-video nothing special.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Staying safe when you go birding on wheels

Most of us can still remember we have to walk(to school) on the right side of the road, and should be facing the oncoming traffic. In countries where they drive on the left, of course- in others like on the European continent, it is simply the other way around.

In fact, I'd trouble every time I returned from a holiday in the UK, and I was crossing the road. I would automatically look to the right first, and this has created some near misses more than a couple of times.

Once I decided on doing a post on road safety for wheelie birders, I asked both the RSA or road safety authority in Ireland(RSA) and the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) on to which side of the road we should stick to when going for a spot of birding or (other) wildlife watching.

This is the reply from the RSA
and that of the IWA was very much similar. I would like to add though that on narrow or on busy roads, I switch to the left whenever I am approaching a bend in the road.
Not that I am criss-crossing constantly, but I find it very dangerous to stay on the right when there is a bend to the right coming up. The oncoming cars have no idea that I am there, yet if I change to the left hand side, they can see me from the (right) side and drivers on the left side, coming up behind me, can see me also.

It is not only bends which makes me change sides though:
these do too,

The (Cork)county council fails to see that the edge of the road on the right side is about 80 cm further to the right than that it is, as used by vehicles on this road at the moment.
And if I as a wheelie go over this road and keep as much to the side as is possible, I am also 80cmto the left of there where you can see a bit of even-ness on the road, almost 1.5 metres from the grass!

When I was in Bantry, I thought it best to keep to the pavement along the N71, the main Cork-Kenmare/Glengarriff road when I was looking for a bit of autumn colour. However, the problem with these pavements is always- you might be able to get up onto one, but will you be able to get off it as well?? And with the pavement running out of town, I had absolutely no idea, and this kept milling in the head while I was going down.
I was on my way to the Abbey. At the other side of the road, a kind of large pond was created which is tidal and gives the idea of a nice lake there where the Bantry boat club has its clubhouse.

Here you get a glimpse of the cemetery which looks out onto the bay, and being on a slope, the view must be excellent! Lovely birding from there too in your days of peace.

a new life waiting for the wind.

A friend had suggested the gardens of Bantry House as an alternative for miss Lumix (my camera) but I wanted to show her that access is hopeless along all the gravel paths.
I might not get into the gardens, I was taken by this lovely 'Hobbit tree'

Bantry House is on the slope here, where it still has a very large gun outside, facing the bay.

These are across from the road, from the Abbey, a picture of The Sugar Loaf Mountain near Glengarriff, and a house on the island.

Here you can see the Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Hungry Hill Mountain which stands at the end of the Beara Peninsula, which lines the Bantry Bay on the north side.

The council has started making a walkway along Bantry Bay, 'just' around the town so to speak from the old pier to New Town. Although they had started building this, work has stopped because of disagreement over ownership of the land. In short, this can take a long time to be finished.
It would be a safe way to go birding, although I have no idea how easy the access will be at the other end. I still have to enquire if it is accessible anyway.
I had planned to go and take a look, that afternoon, after returning from the Abbey. However, with fingers like icicles, I needed a glove first. So after finishing my drink in the hotel, I went to the shop first. I told the girl there, colour is no issue, but I need to be able to operate the camera. So for € 7.-- I got a pair, of which the left-hand one is up at Rehab, seeking a left- handed one hander.
It was by then already past four and as you can see in my last picture, the evening was setting fast.
And the next day I totally forgot. Only when seeing this photo upon my return home did I spot the walkway which I had failed to investigate.