birds

Back to Nonsuch Park: Twitching Challenge Round 4

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A bit of a belated post as I’ve been busy lately (see next post!), but I headed back to my old local park to walk my mothers dogs (on 23rd March), and while I was there I though I’d do my first twitching challenge in a while. Here are the results of round 4…

  • Woodpigeon (sound, sight) – 2 points.
  • Coal tit (sight) – 1 point.
  • Magpie (sight, sound) – 2 points.
  • Green woodpecker (sight, sound) – 2 points.
  • Carrion crow (sight, sound) – 2 points.
  • Great tit (sound) – 1 point.
  • Chaffinch (sight, sound) – 2 points.
  • Ring-necked parakeet (sight, sound) – 2 points.
  • House sparrow (sight) – 1 point.
  • Robin (sight, sound) – 2 points.
  • Wren (sight) – 1 point.
  • Blackbird (sight) – 1 point.
  • Greenfinch (sound) – 1 point.
  • Great spotted woodpecker (seen, heard) – 2 points.

Total: 21 points. Not bad for an hour while walking the dogs, and not having been to Nonsuch park in a while. Although it is spring and there were a lot of birds around – I heard a lot more, but there are still a lot of bird calls I don’t know, so I guess its a sign I should be trying to learn more! Until next time…

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Twitching Challenge Round 3

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It’s time for round 3, here are the results…

  • Blue tit (sound) – 1 point.
  • Woodpigeon (sound, sight) – 2 points.
  • Chiffchaff (sound) – 1 point.
  • Magpie (sight, sound) – 2 points.
  • Green woodpecker (sight, sound) – 2 points.
  • Carrion crow (sight, sound) – 2 points.

A respectable 10 points carries on the trend of beating the previous weeks’ scores. Pretty happy with the Green woodpecker spot and managing to recognise its call, but the cacophany of different bird songs in the park is still so overwhelming it’s hard to pinpoint ones I’ve only learnt recently or am still trying to learn. I’m also happy I’ve managed to identify the blue tit by its alarm call, which is  a similar “churring” sound to the magpie’s so I’ve never managed to identify it before.

Twitching Challenge Round 2

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It’s well past time for round 2 of my Twitching Challenge, so here are the results…

  • Carrion crow (sound, sight) – 2 points.
  • Magpie (sound, sight) – 2 points.
  • Woodpigeon (sight) – 1 point.
  • Song thrush? (sight) – 1/2 point.
  • Chiffchaff (sound) – 1 point.
  • Blackbird (sound) – 1 point.

So a total of 7 1/2 points leaves me just about beating my score for round 1. The half a point for the song thrush is because I was 90% sure, but it was only around for a second before it flew off so I can’t be 100% sure. The chiffchaff is frustrating me a little as I can hear it everywhere, but its so hard to see one! I think I need to start taking some binoculars out with me… It also started raining half way through, and apart from anything I hadn’t brought much in the way of protection from the elements for my camera so I didn’t hang around for too long – I’ve learned quite a few more birg songs using the Chirp+ app, so I know round 3 will be more successful, I can feel it already!

Results!

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So last week I heard back from UWE about the results of my MA interview and… I was successful! There’s not much else that I can say at this point apart from the fact that I’m obviously really excited, and if you want to hear more about how the course is you’ll have to stick around and try not to get bored of my blog before I start the course in October!

Other than that, last week was my training for my new job fundraising for the RSPB down in Hove – a fun 3 days learning about some of the fantastic work the RSPB do, practising trying to persuade members of the public to sign up, and finishing with a visit to Pulborough Brooks to see some of the resultsof successful conservation. Pulborough Brooks is a reserve down in East Sussex, and it has some really nice wetland, woodland and heathland habitat bursting with life – the sounds of nightingales (amongst a chorus of other birds) followed us down the path, and a young rabbit sat grazing not 2 metres from us as we walked by a clearing in the woods. By far the best thing about our visit in my opinion though, was a large pool in the middle of the wetland area of the reserve, alive with a diversity of  bird species using the water in different ways. Mallards and shelducks bobbed along the surface, house martens swooped down to catch insects flying above the water, Canada geese sat in the surrounding foliage, a lapwing waded in the shallows; all centred around a small island where a solitary spoonbill stood preening itself, occastionally stumbling down the banks to feed – walking awkwardly as it moved its head from side to side.

Now until recently I’ve never really been much of a bird watcher, but I’ve been getting into it a lot more and I’d like to get better at identifying different birds. So, starting next week I’m going to set myself a challenge: every fortnight I’m going to go down to Nonsuch Park and identify as many birds as I can by both sight and sound, trying each time to identify more than the time before. Hopefully this will motivate me to improve my bird identification skills, as well as learn some of the bird calls and songs I don’t know. So far, apart from the obvious pigeons and crows, I only really know the robin (because I see them so often), the chiff-chaff (its call is its name), and the great tit (sounds like its saying “teacher”), so I’ll have to get listening to more BBC Radio 4 Tweet of The Day to expand my knowledge of the aviary lexicon, as it were.