A weekend of waders!
Birding at the coast brought challenges and delight!
My Birding this week
I spent last weekend (an extra long one here) at the coast in southern Hampshire, challenging myself to learn to identify the waders and shore birds found at Lymington nature reserve.
I soon realised that I wasn’t as proficient at identifying the birds as I thought I was, especially with adults moving out of breeding plumage and juveniles coming into their first adult plumages.
In particular I was caught out by:
a mid-sized brown bird with a bi-coloured bill and legs that were orangey/brown instead of red and barred undertails and
small plovers with dark bills and a white border to a brown crown.
The first bird turned out to be a juvenile Redshank (not the Bar-tailed Godwit I thought it might be) and the second a juvenile Common Ringed Plover (not the Little Ringed Plover I hoped for)!
There were so many Redshanks in and around Normandy Lagoon that after my first identification mis-steps I decided to photograph and video all the ones that seemed a little different so that I could study them better at my leisure.
I was more confident with identifying a beautiful Ruff, and two Northern Wheatears that may have been on passage for their autumn migration.
Over the weekend I chatted with lots of other birders and photographers, learning great bird tips from the more experienced ones, and sharing my knowledge with those less experienced. It felt wonderful to connect with others about the joy of the birds we were seeing.
After the weekend I attended the first of a 2-part training session by BTO Scotland on identifying waders. That session focussed on learning 3 species (Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew) and using those as a reference point to compare with other similar birds.
Although I wished I had undergone the training before my weekend in Lymington, the large number of videos I took will help me review and refine my identification skills.
I highly recommend the course. You can sign up for their e-newsletter to be notified of similar courses here.
The colourful European Bee-eaters of Trimmingham, Norfolk have started their journey back to Africa.
Normally nesting in southern Europe and north Africa, these 8 birds made it up to a disused quarry in Norfolk and successfully reared 4 chicks. This is a rare occurrence in the UK and the long, hot summer we have had no doubt helped them feel at home.
Look out for my upcoming episode with Jenny Shelton of the RSPB about these fascinating birds!
Latest podcast episode
In this week’s episode wildlife photographer and tour leader Boris Belchev tells us about birding in Lithuania, a small Baltic country with 403 species. It’s another in my series of chats recorded at Global Birdfair.
Community notes / Recommendations
In the show’s Facebook group this week, Rhonda asked:
Advice on cleaning out nesting boxes as the season ends? I have removed material inside. One was infested with ants. Should I use cleaner of some sort?
I wasn’t absolutely sure of the answer, and I need to clean my nestboxes too, so I asked the RSPB on Twitter. They sent this reply:
We recommend boxes are cleaned out in Autumn and any unhatched eggs can only legally be removed between Sept - Jan. Using boiling water is a good way to kill off parasites and then allow it to air dry.
If you place a small handful of wood shavings once it is dry, small mammals may hibernate there, or birds may use it as a roost site during the autumn and winter too.
Past guest Jamie Wyver also pointed to this informational video that he made for the RSPB Notes on Nature series (nestbox advice at around 5 mins) but which also includes other helpful information for this time of year.
Reminder: Global Bird Weekend 7th-9th October 2022.
There is still time to join our virtual team of birders around the world for the Global Bird Weekend.
During the weekend we’ll go birding in our own locations and share our checklists with the team account. And in the weeks leading up to the weekend there will be exclusive online events for team members.
Thanks to everyone who has signed up so far. Why not join us?
Keep in touch
I love hearing about your bird experiences or your recommendations for places to go birding.
Tell me about them here:
Video of the Week
This short video shows a preening Northern Lapwing at Normandy Lagoon from last weekend. Note the beautiful plumage that shines in the afternoon sunlight!
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Until next week, happy birding!
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