Monday, 31 January 2011

Packing for my next wildlife tour

I had a lovely morning doing a Bristol dinosaur workshop at a private school today - normally I'm in Bristol City Council schools so it was very interesting working with year 3s from this school. Incredibly bright and I was able to ask more challenging questions than I normally would. It was a cold morning, minus 2 degrees Celsius and on my way back to work I checked on the berry bushes in Henleaze for any waxwings - sadly none were there!

While topping up my bird feeder this morning some redwings were calling in the nearby trees - hopefully they nipped down to peck on the apples I'd just put out (before the jackdaws flew away with them!!!). Sadly the sunshine which graced Bristol over the weekend was not to be today. Yesterday I had a glorious afternoon at Bristol Zoo with Andy - all the animals seemed bright and energised (or may be that was just me!).

This evening I've been packing ready for some tour leading with Naturetrek on the Somerset Levels and then nipped off to the Bristol Ornithological Club's committee meeting. I'm looking forward to the nature tour beginning tomorrow evening in Wells - especially as the great white egrets and starlings have been showing so well. I'd better not speak too soon!!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The Big Garden Birdwatch

Yesterday I did the Big Garden Birdwatch with a friend Liz - we spent an hour 2.15pm to 3.15pm looking out of my flat window while chatting, enjoying tea and cookies!!! As expected, some birds I've seen recently such as coal tits and dunnocks didn't make an appearance. However, over the hour we finally concluded that at least 9 chaffinches were feeding on the lawn (they were a bit jittery and kept flying back into the trees!) while at least 2 great tits and 2 blue tits fed on the feeder. A few jackdaws came down to pinch some old sandwich I had put out and although there were no starlings in the garden a few small flocks did fly by! 2 male and 2 female blackbirds fed on the apples and half an hour after the Big Garden Birdwatch 2 mistle thrushes sat in a sycamore tree!

If you haven't done it yet, there's still time today - just spend an hour watching your garden or local park and record the maximum number of each type of bird you see. Then submit the sightings to

And yes, the following day the dunnocks did reappear, singing with full vigour!

Full totals:

Blackbird 4
Blue tit 2
Chaffinch 9
Great tit 2
Magpie 2
Robin 1
Woodpigeon 2
Jackdaw 4
Carrion crow 2

Friday, 28 January 2011

Radio Bristol and the Big Garden Birdwatch

The past few days I've been busy helping to promote the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch, on BBC Radio Bristol! Listen out for me also on the weekend - I'll be Doctor in House with Faye Dicker on Saturday 10-11am talking about what we can do for nature this spring while on the very early morning show I'll be chatting with Nancy Jackson about counting birds!

Today I'm in a school in Cheddar, Somerset. Very cold but at a great school! In between giving dinosaur workshops I'm watching the redwings just outside the classroom feeding on plenty of worms on the grass!
A few siskins flew overhead earlier.  

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Ringing ducks in Devon!

An awesome day ringing ducks with the Axe Estuary Ringing Group today! At 7.30am we gathered for a briefing before waiting for the ducks to begin feeding on the grain. Bang! The cannons fired and that was our queue to run to the nets to bag the ducks. Shelducks, wigeon, shoveler, teal, was looking like a good catch! Everyone worked together as a team and by late morning we'd ringed and processed just under 60 ducks including 8 shovelers and 3 wigeon. It was a great opportunity to be part of the team and really get to grips with the shelducks as well as the other species. The shelducks were also being colour ringed with bright yellow ID leg rings.