Sunday, 28 July 2019

20190728 Drawing Birds Tip No1

20190728 Wader head topography.

Drawing Birds Tip No1:

Learning bird topography off by heart is one of the most useful steps to take towards the sketching and note taking for birds in the field.
Feathers grow in tracts or zones around a birds body and artistically help to give it shape and form. Refer to the introduction in any worthy field guide for examples of topography.

Initially looking at the head concentrate on the feather zones within it but not on individual feathers or fine detail. Draw out each zone as isolated irregular trapezoids, filling in feather patterns and colour notes for each one. This is ideal for use in field ID descriptions. See A.

Constructing the head from these zones will help give the bird a solid and 3 dimensional look, the object of any observational drawing on a 2 dimensional surface... Noting combinations of colour and feather patterns within each feather zone of interest can then become more refined. See B.

20190728 Wader Influx days at NWT Cley Marshes

20190728 Little Stint
Adult in summer plumage, a stage not often seen on the NNCoast.

20190728 Little Stint

20190728 Green Sandpiper
2 of a flock of 5 birds that pitched down in front of Dauke's hide,
 only to be flushed by an overly protective Avocet parent with 3 young in this corner.

20190728 Green Sandpiper
20190804 Green Sandpiper

20190804 Green Sandpiper
Roosting on beach of scrape.
20190805 Curlew
Wattling Water

20190822 Common Sandpiper
Juv missing tertials

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

20190716 Little Ringed Plover NWT Cley VC Car Park

20190716 Little Ringed Plover
NWT Cley Marshes VC car park.

Early on the morn of 20th June I was flagged down by the warden on my way into the Cley Marshes Reserve and advised that Little Ringed Plover appeared to be nesting in the main car park. He had been alerted the previous afternoon that adults were about the car park and two eggs had been laid.

Upon inspection this morning two cool eggs were still in a shallow scrape of dried stems but the adults were nowhere to be seen. The species normally lays four eggs before incubation commences so things could develop either way.  Much to his and NWT's credit the warden proceeded to rope off this section of the car park.
By the 22nd four eggs had been laid, an adult was securely sitting on the nest and even more of the parking bays were roped off! Over the next  few weeks public interest grew and grew even to rival that of the Cromer peregrines.

Working on a three week incubation period I made a diary note to check for hatching early morn from the 14th July onwards. On 16th July synchronous hatching duly occurred see above, all four chicks were mobile by midmorning.  A great success story for all involved.

20190716 Little Ringed Plover
2 chicks had hatched early morning.

20190716 LRP
Male patiently waiting nearby on the much maligned car bay logs.

20190716 LRP
First chick and first to go walk about.

Friday, 12 July 2019

20190206 Peregrine Falcon Cromer Church

20190421 Cromer Parish Church of St Peter & St Paul, Museum and North Norfolk's first Peregrine Falcon eyrie...? .
Shot from proposed site for the local bird clubs viewing and interpretation area.
Cafe in the church has live CCTV of the nest atop the tower, see below.

       The grand recovery of the Peregrine Falcon in the British Isles over the last few decades is a conservation success story of resilience and adaptability. Its position as supreme apex predator and an 'ecological barometer ' is undisputed. Pairs now set up breeding sites within our major towns and cities on tall manmade structures.

A pair have finally taken to Cromer Church of St Peter and St Paul in the centre of town and three if not four eggs have now been laid. It is well worth a visit as the local bird club have provided the birds with an ideal eyrie scrape, also with cctv watching every event within the box. The monitor to view the live footage is in the church lounge and there is soon to be a WiFi feed for the video. Activity about the eyrie will reach fever pitch when the young hatch but at present the female is peacefully incubating the eggs. Peregrine Falcons frequenting this area of coast line and the Cley Reserve are in the main immature birds but adults are seen on occasions. A large immature bird, probably therefore a female,  has overwintered  and is still present on the Cley Reserve. The Cromer pair are not thought to hunt here as there is no need to fly the 17Kms as prey is plentiful in and around the Cromer territory.

On April 26th the tercel was observed repeatedly still-hunting from the tower, launching after prey over the sea and town. A supreme demonstration of avian hunting skills.

20190413 Peregrine & Feral Pigeon.
Atop Cromer Church Spires against early morning light.
The top of the eyrie box can be seen between the railings.

20190206 Peregrine
Tercel surveying Cromer for pray items.
About 30 Feral Pigeon still about the tower??
20190206 Peregrine
The pair have been reported on site 17th March after going missing for a couple of weeks.
20190323 Peregrine
Male atop church tower. Pair have returned hopefully to nest.
Olympus 75-300mm MKII from RAW, cf f4 prime above.

20190323 Peregrine
Female atop church tower spire.
Probable descendants of the Norwich Cathedral birds,
 hence the choice of religious monument and fixation on Feral Pigeons as the main prey source.... hopefully.
As yet hunting has not been witnessed over the sea.
Noted only 4 Feral Pigeons on tower today....
Olympus 75-300mm MKII from RAW.
20190404 Peregrine
Tercel grooming on North side of tower. Hopefully the falcon is on the nest.
Only 5 Feral Pigeons sitting on East side of tower.
20181231 Peregrine Falcon 
1st winter bird seen hunting about the Cley reserve this winter.
Adult birds not frequently seen in this area which is 16km from Cromer.
20190421 Tercel circling early morning from North Lodge Park.
Also seen plucking food cashed Feral Pigeon on SW spire.
2 eggs have now been laid.
20190421 Song Thrush Carcass.
During search for plucked feathers at the base of the tower I came across this Song Thrush eaten through from the back to its flight muscles.
This mornings plucked feathers were from a Feral Pigeon previously cashed.

20190421 Water Rail Carcass.
Further searching produced this Water Rails carcass behind a bench against the tower. Again the body muscles had been eaten away leaving head, legs and wings.
The local bird club had observed on CCTV that Woodcock and Water Rail were taken. This indicates the birds are hunting at night and probably over the sea as these species migrate.
Woodcock is a favoured prey species of the pair on Norwich Cathedral, a full moon and street lighting help no end in the hunt. 
Noted the amount of humanoid rubbish around the church, see above. What chance cleaning up the sea and atmosphere if our towns and cities are strewn with garbage...??
20190426 Peregrine pair
Both birds hunting this morning, the male launching from the tower and once from a holding circuit over the pier.
The female hunted by soaring high to the west but was mobbed by 4 Herring Gull.

20190426 Peregrine in eyrie nest box.
A nest monitor is set up in the Church lounge courtesy of the local bird club.
20190426 Peregrine over sea.
0830hrs Tercel launched from the tower low out to sea way beyond end of pier to attack prey which had just hastily ditched into the water before this shot.
He circled over the area but the Dunlin sized prey was not seen again. 
The prey was spotted from the tower at about 0.5Km range by the Tercel!

20190426 Peregrine Falcon
Tercel poised for the next prey target to enter his kill zone.
20130506 Peregrine Falcon
Using an old Ravens nest in a disused quarry, Plym Bridge, Devon.
20190414 Racing Pigeon
Lost on a salt marsh and very tame. Due to become a Feral Pigeon in one of our coastal towns...
Ideal prey but so far no colour rings found at Cromer eyrie....
By the 18th June a foot with a bright green colour ring was found in the eyrie. See below.
20190426 Fieldfare
Discarded carcass at base of tower with only tail and rump feathers removed.... 
20190603 Peregrine Falcon
Female with 3 downy young at a week old...!!
Shots from in Church monitor.
20190603 Peregrine Falcon
20190618 Peregrine Falcon
All three chicks doing really well by the 18th June.
Falcon with left wing of Jackdaw and about to leave the eyrie having fed the young.
The young have now been rung, BTO ring right leg and numbered orange ring left leg.
44: 531g probably male, 45: 851g female and much larger than other two, 46: 562g probably male.
20190618 Jackdaw right wing?
Left wing still at the eyrie above.
Found here at the base of the tower with minimal body parts attached.
20190618 Magpie primary feathers.
Several in grass today, as corvids are added to the diet...
20190618 Woodpigeon P9.
20190701 By the 1st of July the three chicks have left the eyrie box and were sitting on the tiled roof of the tower.
 Note Black headed Gull feathers and 3 colour rings with feet of racing pigeons.
The variety of prey increases with each visit.. 
20190710 By the 10th of July 2 juveniles, the larger female and one male, were about the outer ledges of the tower.
Flying and perching practice underway.

20190710 Large female 'orange 45' performing most of the calling and leaping about the tower.

20190710 Tercel and young watch as big 45 demonstrates landing skills.
20190710 Big45 attempts to perch on vertical face of tower.
3rd sibling cowers on ledge just above.
 201908 Female 45 has reportedly be seen at the Cley reserve taking prey in August.

20200103 Peregrine Falcon juvenile Orange 46
Found on the Bayfield Estate in a water meadow.
Power lines run along this part of the Glaven Valley and the bird was found to have a broken neck...
 It was otherwise intact and well nourished.
Statistically this males survival chances are considered to be small being the youngest and smallest chick of the brood.
Many thanks to Colin Blaxill for this info.