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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mummy..... I'm hungry..

Apart from house Sparrow Fluffers, we've got a few other youngsters as well. These two species are my current favourite. (And the Willow Warblers of course.) And although I do have a couple of love Sparrow fluffs, I've got no time to look for them at the moment.

JJ has already learned that a new generation will be the new star. I'm not saying he/she has accepted the younger one. In fact JJ has started to become a wee bit annoying when she/he gobbles up almost all available food in the planter. Until now it was a club of 4 youth from last year, which were OK with each other. These days, however, it is fights all the time between these four juvenile Jackdaws from last summer.

1-year-old Jackdaw. Corvus monedula.

This little Robin is trying to look big- you got an adult's suit on, only thing is, you still got your yellow gape! So, if you do not look like the adult you're trying to portray, you might as well beg for food! A free meal is always handy.

Juvenile Robin, Erithacus rubecula

Willow Warbler (juvenile?)

Last week during my ride I heard several Chiffchaffs, either in or about the gardens or in and around the fields. At the other side of the hedgerows anyway and out of view for this birder.
It was lovely listening to them anyway. Isn't that part of the enjoyment? And although the calling/singing of Chiff chaff, Chiff chaff, can get a tat boring, you always hope that one bird will vocalise its own version with a few more musical notes in-between the calls.

While in the bathroom this morning I was hearing the lovely song of the Willow Warbler, which came not from the garden but from behind the wall somewhere. Most likely from the Hawthorn hedgerow behind us. A little while ago, I spotted two small birds flying from said, Hawthorn into the mesh of the fence. Then they flew over the school yard where they more or less tumbled in the air a couple of times; kind of figure eights in the air, not for show. Actually, I think they were only learning to fly. and if so, a lot of practice they will have to do before August/September when these tiny Birds will make the long trek to Africa.

This youngster has started training for tat big trip already, and is flying all day long over the school yard, through our garden, the little field behind the village hall, back over the garden, school yard, field, past my window, little field, and so on.

Barn swallow, Hirundo rustica

Friday, June 12, 2009

Stonechats breeding at the bay.

Around us, we have mostly fields, beside the seascape of Dunmanus Bay. There, and along the bay (opposite the landscaped gardens along the road.) Or there where it has been left to be a little friendlier to birds. the planting is mostly scrub like Gorse, and Heather.
I've always thought that it would be perfect habitat for Stonechat, (Saxicola rubicola) and at one time, I did think I heard one near the coastal road. Getting confirmation was my next goal. Preferably a photo. Usually it is only either waders or water fowl down here at this point of the bay, yet I had also seen Chaffinches and a Robin here regularly. Something else was about too, it seems: just last month I spotted this little bird. These photos were all I was able to get and I had some doubt on getting an ID for this lovely little bird.

In fact the bird looked much like a Pied Flycatcher, a little migrant from Africa, which favours mostly Oakwoods, and so I wondered what it would be doing here in a small copse
e of Scots Pine trees and scrub at the bay. Was it still en rote to its breeding place? Was it breeding here?
Too many questions arose in my head, so I sent the photo to Niall Hatch, at Birdwatch Ireland. I was hoping he could confirm that it was a Pied Flycatcher.
The email I received from Niall, resulted in mixed emotions:
Would I spot a Pied Flycatcher around here, it would be either coming or going, but not staying. Apparently these have not been seen breeding, here in county Cork.
It seems that only a small number of Pied Flycatcher pairs breed in Ireland, and these are all in county Wicklow (East coast) near Oak woodlands.

It seems that the fledgeling of the Stonechat is very much unlike the orange breasted male and the paler female, but has dark wings, a greyish head and a very light breast.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jackdaw disease claims two more victims.

A few months ago I reported on this sick Jackdaw.

It only reappeared once more, a day or two after I had posted it. Hopefully that it had not been able to infect any of its flock mates.
Somehow it did. Or at least, the disease has cropped up again. Currently I have one bird which has lost almost all its head feathers.

Another one has it too, though less profound: a small patch, yet the same symptom as the other two. And this one too, will have a very bare head soon.

It is really sad, because instead of simply enjoying to see them feed and hobble around, in front of my window, I find myself scrutinizing every Jackdaw head I see, in an effort to spot another bare patch. but why, I ask myself?
I cannot do anything about it, although I'd love to warm the sick birds, as they are hunched up even more, in their effort to save energy. Now do Jackdaws already have that typical "hunched" style, as soon as they land, rest or think of their next move.

Also, I worry about these poor birds. The suffering they are going through, of which we have no idea. We've had hail, heavy northern winds, days of rain lashing down, and low temperatures, for the time of year. Imagine the impact this will have on a bird which has a weakened immune system (I think) and which has trouble staying warm.
And all this is apart from all the energy it needs to find food. The energy it looses once in the air; being swept from one side to the other. And then top it all with the fact that your 'flock-mates don't want you around any more, and fight you off from the main feeding areas.
I think I need to think about something else if I want to get some sleep now.

How long will JJ stay unaffected? Or the busy parents, next door.

However, talking (healthy) Jackdaws, there is still one who has escaped the disease until now, as is as expressive as ever. So, I added some pictures of this proud bird. After all, it is almost 1 old!
Not only that, there is very active breeding going on next door, so soon we will post pictures of the new fledglings into the garden. I can hardly wait.

Jackdaw, Corvus monedula;
"Thought I heard something..."

"Or perhaps not?"

"Let's concentrate on the food first."

"Now, did I imagine this, again? Did you hear it too?"

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Swallows at my feet and in my hair, but what about my right to vote?

Early yesterday morning, I smiled when I spotted this gorgeous looking Blue Tit, which had taken advantage of the opportunity of a bath before breakfast. I hope that their brood has been successful. the proof is still to come when they come to bring the kids. (or not at all)
One of the three regular male House Sparrows is trying to woe one of the local ladies, as in the second picture.

Blue Tit, Parus caeruleus.

male House Sparrow, Passer domesticus.

female Chaffinch, Fringilla coelebs.

After the UK citizens went to the pole yesterday, it was the turn of the Irish today. Last time I was only allowed to vote in the county council election. For some reason, they said that I needed to be an Irish citizen to vote for the EU Parliament. Never having heard such rubbish, I returned home, where I phoned the regional contact. He told me that there had indeed been made a mistake, and that I'd best register anew with Cork county council. This year I made sure that everything was in order, although I had not counted on receiving two polling cards (my maiden name is a double name, and in Holland married women only get a passport on their maiden name, not their married name.)
The school, next door serves as the village's polling centre, and I was anxious. The school's building had to grow with the fast growing population of the village, and last summer an extension was added. My interest was not so much in the extension; I wanted to see if I would be able to get inside. The entrance used to be a glass door, all level with the ground and would have been perfect, had the corridor behind it been wider. As it was, there was noroom for me to go in and turn right or left. This meant that I was unable to vote in here from 1994 when I first got my wheels.
I was always given my ballot papers outside the door, and this has never really been any problem before, but it makes you stand (sit) out from the rest when other villagers walk past and into the building.

The French doors' style entrance has been replaced by a smaller door, about 10cm above the ground. Behind it it has been opened up, into a kind of hallway, wide enough on all accounts to let someone in wheels turn left or right into one of the (class)rooms.
So it would have been perfect, hd there been a little (portable perhaps)ramp. For 10-15cm you don't need a big long ramp, yet it is too high for those using powered wheels. Isn't it ridiculous that in this age we, wheelers, are still confronted with these kind of obstacles? Unfortunately, it is very sad that even with building regulations, going back to about 1997, existing buildings often escape the rulebook when extensive work is being carried out.

Asking one of the other voters, if she could ask an official to come out, who then took my 2 cards and my passport with the proper names, to let him see which one he thought he should take.
It was not him however I saw come out again, but a different man, who approached me with the welcome words:

"You cannot vote here." In answer to my look of surprise, he continued while he took the book out, and started to read out:
"Under no circumstances should a ballotpaper be brought out of the polling station (or room or whatever, I was not listening, nor interested in the remaining text)

I tried my best in saying that Danny never had had any problem in letting me vote outside, and he even tried telling me that I had never voted here before! because Danny had been on the left hand side for anmd dealing with, Dunbeacon (other, south, side of the village) while he himself had always dealt with the village and this side. I cannot remember how many elections we've had since 1987, since we'd first moved into this village, but I have voted more than a few times here at the school.

Anyway, it was soon apparent that I'd make no progress with the guy and after taking my passport and unused polling cards, I turned first looked at my house, over the wall, behind the tall fence of the basketball cage, and then at the little football field behind the hall, the other building on the school yard.

I often talk about our local Swallows, and all those which skim above my garden and the ones which dash past my window. Youo see, it is not the river where they go and feed, as I always thought and said. It is this little field, a busy diner for Insects like flies first and then an equally busy restaurant for swallows and other birds mad about the Insect haven. The birds were calming me down, but what I really wanted was my camera. Despite the fact that I could see the window frame in which my camera sat waiting patiently for me, about 2metres from me, I still had to go around, first going down half the hill, before going up again to my house. Around 500m, or so. How easy life is when being a Crow, LOl!
Was back soon, intending also to photograph the relevant text, for when I start writing letters about this discrimination.
Not seeing any of the officials about, I was not going and sit here and wait and then to be humiliated again, so I decided against it.

Parking myself on the playground next to the field, I first observed the birds, and watched how they flew almost perfect figure eight, dipping down behind my back as they arrived from my garden, and from there they just skimmed above the grass, flying only just above the ground. It was impossible to see how they could possible feed, or at least forage, while they were flying, they never disrupted their flight! And it was not just a few Swallows performing this circus act for me, it was not easy counting them, with them flying in/off, but at one time I was able to see there were 8 birds flying the 8 at the same time. At the 2 single zeros, they would sometimes fly in pairs, then one would rise up just before the crossover of the 'zeros' and would keep on flying, only above the other one this time. It was almost looking like a courtship dance of some sort or another. It is a pity that only with elections I can get into the schoolyard in relative peace. At other times a chain blocks my way and at schooltimes, it is far too noisy.

here's a few pictures of those beautiful little birds

a little "wildflower and refuse bin garden? The hedgerow on the right has been fenced at the school side, but also along the other side where the factory is. I am not sure why it is done, but it serves the wildlife of course. Nowhere is it tight against the stems of the Hawthorn, which make up the predominant part of the hedgerow, and birds can move about freely too. It also means that they are not disturbed by footballs and other flying objects near schools and kids. I can see the Hawthor from my kitchenwindow, even though two layers of fencing have been put up between us.

And this Robin, smelling the suet in my planter, I think
Robin, Erithacus rubecula

And at last, the Swallows: the only way to take these was by almost continuously press the shutter. They were so incredibly fast. A pity that I am not good at taking pictures in flight.

Barn Swallows, Hirundo rustica.

The Europeans of the 15 member states are voting for their MEPs this week, all around the continent. On this
Barn Swallows, Hirundo rustica:

It was very strange to see them come up into the air so to speak, just in front of my feet. (too fast!) and I've had a few feet in my hair at several times. However I've got them flying into my hair on the road also sometimes, when they do this "dip" on the road.