Archive for February, 2007|Monthly archive page

Disappearance of American Honeybees

Honeybees are disappearing from 24 US states at startling speeds.

No one is sure of the cause of the disappearance but the rates of disappearannce range from 30 – 70%. The crisis threatens numerous crops.

Various theories are being investigated. It could be due to use of pesticides banned in Europe, it may be due to bees being raised to survive a shorter offseason, to be ready to pollinate once the almond bloom begins in February. This could have lowered their immunity to viruses.


Patch Birding

I stayed local Saturday.

I popped down to Amwell Gravel Pits. The Little Bunting was seen at 7:15 I was in bed at the time and it wasn’t seen whilst I was there. It’s a nice feeling when you can say “oh already seen it” 😀 Didn’t seem to be as many Reed Buntings this week.

There were 3 Water Rails showing incredibly well. Goldenye and usual ducks and Geese. The Lapwings were joined by a Redshank and a Ringed Plover. 2 Buzzards overhead

Wandered down to the hide. Lovely close up views of Blue and Great Tit. But it was particularly nice to see Lesser Redpoll. Off to the other lake which had a number of female Goldeneye and a drake but no Smew.

Wandered back through the woods for a nice mixed flock of Siskin, Redpoll and Goldfinch and also a Treecreeper.

I briefly popped into Rye Meads but it was awfully quiet.

Hedgehog Cull

As some of you aware for the past few years Scottish National Heritage have been culling Hedgehogs on the Island of Uist. There were reasons for this in that Hogs were eating the eggs of threatened waders and were not native to Uist (they were introduced in the 70’s – more of man poking his nose in).

A rival group have maintained that the Hogs should be relocated. For the past few years SNH have been culling Hogs whilst another group have been relocating Hogs. SNH has said that Hogs could not be relocated successfully. Well since new research has shown that Hogs can be suceesfully relocated SNH have suspended the cull.

Cambridgeshire (and Welney)

I arrived at Deboo towers for a Days birding with Dave & Joy. Our first stop was the Ouse Washes where we joined for the morning by Birdforum member HelenElizabeth2 (hello, very nice to meet you). On the way to the washes we had Grey and Red Legged Partridge as well as Corn Bunting.

Although nothing “rare” about we had some very nice birds. From the “visitors centre” we had Brambling (3), Yellowhammer, Tree Sparrow and Stock Dove. The reserve was very flooded so we only went to the Welches Dam hide, I was rather chuffed to spot a brief view of a Barn Owl on route. At the hide there were Meadow Pipit and the Dave found us two Water Pipits!

On to Welney via the indirect route as the road was flooded. We soon nabbed the 6 Bean Geese. HE2 left us for family duties and the 3 of us popped into the reserve for Whooper Swans and a female Pochard. The rather nice nice Tufty/Pochard hybrid is back I see. Not much else about though. After Brunch we went to Needingworth to twitch an American Wigeon which played hard to get. We also tried various bith of Fen Drayton to find a Smew to wind HE2 up with no luck!

I think the group managed 68 birds of which I saw 64 (12 of which were new for the year).

We popped in to a pub in Over which was out of food so had to settle for crisps!! Boo hiss!! But the owner came out and offered to do us sarnies which was rather nice of him. The accompaning chips were rather nice.

Birding Hyde Park and St James Park

I went to London on Saturday to do some sightseeing. As expected I was early so I went to Hyde Park.

Lots of birds about and the “list” was:

  1. Great Crested Grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Grey Heron
  4. Mute Swan
  5. Greylag Goose
  6. Canada Goose
  7. Mallard
  8. Shoveler
  9. Pochard
  10. Tufted Duck
  11. Pheasant
  12. Moorhen
  13. Coot
  14. Black-Headed Gull
  15. Common Gull
  16. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  17. Herring Gull
  18. Yellow-Legged Gull
  19. Feral Pigeon
  20. Wood Pigeon
  21. Collared Dove
  22. Ring-Necked Parakeet
  23. Great Spotted Woodpecker (4 in same tree!!)
  24. Wren
  25. Dunnock
  26. Robin
  27. Blackbird
  28. Mistle Thrush
  29. Blue Tit
  30. Great Tit
  31. Magpie
  32. Rook
  33. Carrion Crow
  34. Jackdaw
  35. Starling
  36. Chaffinch

disappointingly no House Sparrow’s. A few Grey Squirrels about.

St James added nothing to the day list. I can’t tick Red Crested Pochard when the lake had Emperor Goose, Bahama Pintail, Male Eider and Black Swan!

Photos on main blog. 


An Afternoon at Rye Meads

Given the sun was out  I spent a couple of hours at Rye Meads. The reserve is still terribly quiet. Although Blue and Great Tits are calling and prospecting boxes and a pair of coots were getting friendly. First Pochard, Lesser Black-Backed and Herring Gulls for the patch year.

  1. Little Grebe
  2. Cormorant
  3. Grey Heron
  4. Mute Swan
  5. Shelduck
  6. Gadwall
  7. Teal
  8. Mallard
  9. Shoveler
  10. Tufted Duck
  11. Pochard
  12. Moorhen
  13. Coot
  14. Green Sandpiper
  15. Black-headed Gull
  16. Herring Gull
  17. Lesser Black-Backed Gull
  18. Wood Pigeon
  19. Collared Dove
  20. Wren
  21. Robin
  22. Dunnock
  23. Blackbird
  24. Blue Tit
  25. Great Tit
  26. Magpie
  27. Rook
  28. Carrion Crow
  29. Chaffinch

Little Bunting @ Amwell Gravel Pits

I decided I really ought to have a look for the Little Bunting. Weather was rather poor but was enlivened by two very showy Water Rails and a Snipe walking across the “gap”. The Bunting eventually showed. Eye Ring, head stripe, patch tick!

The rain made it unpleasant and I wandered off after the Bunting (twitchers eh!)

Tragedy hits Whooping Cranes

A juvenile Whooping Crane found with a flock of Sandhill’s is the sole survivor of a group of 18 which followed ultralight aircraft from Wisconsin to Florida, in the latest phase of one of the world’s most famous conservation projects.

Apparently all 18 were feared dead when a storm struck their enclosure. No one knows how Number 15 escaped.

The Wisconsin-Florida migration flock currently numbers 64 and no 15 is expected to go back with his elders.

I first heard about the Whooping Crane migration project via a rather good TV program. Any one wanting more info on the project click ====> HERE

Death determines amount of sex butterflies engage in!!

Scientists studying the Hypolimnas bolina species, common to the Pacific and SE Asia, have discovered that a die off in male butterflies actually increases promiscuity in females. Apparently as males died off females mated more often to improve their chances of being impregnanted!

First Butterfly of the year

I saw my first butterfly of the year yesterday 31st Jan! Actually two of them went fluttering past the office yesterday lunchtime.

I must say I am looking forward to Butterflies and Dragonflies coming back I have the camera to get some shots this year!