Saturday, July 19, 2014

Birding England, July 12-18, 2014

Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula
Dunnock Prunella modularis
Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis
Linnet Carduelis cannabina
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Long-tailed Tit Aegithalos caudatus
Common Magpie Pica pica
Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis with nesting materials
Common Whitethroats Sylvia communis
Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis
Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes
 Last  week I was camped out in the tall weeds on the bank of the River Misbourne (more of a trickle, really), just waiting for something to happen.  After 20 minutes of unadulterated nothing, the quiet scene exploded into chaos.  I glanced to the left and my jaw dropped as a Eurasian Sparrowhawk flashed past my face at eye level and a distance of perhaps two feet.  Its wings were pulled in tight, and it radiated power and speed, like a menacing hood ornament.  By the time I turned my head back to the right, a life-or-death struggle was in full swing on the riverside ten feet off.  The Sparrowhawk was half in the water flapping wildly, and was being attacked by a shrieking Moorhen.  The altercation lasted only seconds, but as the Sparrowhawk lifted off I noticed a small set of extra legs dangling beneath the raptor. The Moorhen called nervously for its missing chick for another few minutes, until amazingly, I noticed chunks of feather with bone attached floating down the river from the direction the Sparrowhawk flew.  This episode ranks highly on my list of intense birding experiences.
  On July 12th, I went on a trip to Dunstable Downs, and was very impressed with the array of 'small bird' action on the scrubby downs.  Whitethroats were observed still feeding juveniles that looked large enough to feed themselves, while other Whitethroats were engaged in nest-building activites. I'm guessing Whitethroats have two broods in summer?
  Nearby, a dead tree was the locus of activity for a dizzying collection of finches, including Eurasian Bullfinch, Linnet, and European Goldfinch, with some Great Tits and Willow Warblers sprinkled in for good measure.
  Yesterday in Amersham, I spotted a flyover female Mandarin Duck, which seemed odd, but apparently there's a feral population in the area.

59. Linnet (Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire, July 12, 2014)

60. Eurasian Bullfinch (Dunstable Downs, Bedfordshire, July 12, 2014)
61. Long-tailed Tit (South Bucks Way, Amersham, July 13, 2014)
62. Eurasian Sparrowhawk (South Bucks Way, Amersham, July 13, 2014)
63. Goldcrest (Wendover Woods, July 16, 2014)
64. Mandarin Duck (Amersham, July 18, 2014)

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