June 19, 2019


For anyone watching  'Springwatch'  over the past few weeks, you will have heard them discussing remote monitoring devices.  Last year  they concentrated on remote mammal  cameras, this year they have concentrated on audio. As usual the BBC have focused on the expensive top end of the range, but for many years as regular readers will have noticed  I have been achieving very good recordings with more modest equipment.
Samples here   available here     https://m.soundcloud.com/rarehare

Originally I started collecting  bird song for my own entertainment using a cheap Olympus dictation machine.  They were audible but hardly did the birds any justice on replay.

I set up 3     Audiomoth    recording units  around the Wirral,  unfortunately the one sited at RSPB Burton Point had the micro card removed .  As it was a high grade camera micro card I suspect a bird photographer.  This theft upsets me more than it should because as a group, I thought birders would be respectful of  another bird enthusiasts research.

There still lingers  essences of  an evening chorus as well as a dawn chorus, but more spread out as birds go to roost at different times. In the mornings most birds awake  on or around the first dawn glow.

Despite a week of continuous rain the robin and blackbird have never stopped for breathe.  Each taking a turn as the other pauses.

 The robin just sang and sang and sang  and the Blackbird trill phoned all over his patch of territory which is very clearly defined by trees and aerials.   
As an ambulance passed by he made an excellent reproduction of the siren.  But the songs  are nearly over. The Robin has already lost his tail so the moult has started.  The 6 week grand silence is about to begin.   So now maybe  good time to go through the hours of recordings collected over the past few months.

Colour of rain
Juvenile birds  have progressed from eating 3  fat balls a day  to handling bird seed now and the goldfinches appear  to have started to leave so pressure on the nyger seed is less..  This will be great relief to the purse all round

I have also been fortunate to be part of an extensive Phase 1 Habitiat Survey over more than 100ha of farmland in Wirral over the past few weeks.

Many old field boundaries and ponds (previously Marl Pits) that are shown on 1840's Tithe Maps are still in evidence today.  The old field boundaries comprise : woody species - rich hedgerows containing large mature pendunculate oaks some of which scored highly suitable  for bat roosts.   

Native Bluebell were also recorded as common in some hedgerows and small broadleaved woodland.   This turned out to have been a very enlightening and encouraging rediscovery of hidden areas in Wirral.

May 22, 2019

Long long spring

Yet another storm! although it is a while ago now.    But we used  to call these events ' just a  bad spell of weather' now we have name them all.  We knew this one was coming because all the gulls moved inland  into nearby fields the day before. The gulls are much more reliable than any weather forcast.   Despite the torrential rain and heavy winds the blackbird nobely continued to sing through it all as if he relished it all.

Noticebly the rape seed flowers  folded up during the rain so the fields were less colourful. Once the sun came back they reblazed with vibrant yellows and greens.


Native Bluebells in ancient woodland

May blossom has  now replaced the buckthorn in the hedgerows heralding  an amazing show of wild flowers and tree blossom, this season. After last year's dreadful weather we are having a wild flower extravaganza along the verges and woodlands far  more vigorous than for several years. Bluebell and cowslips standing straight and tall in vistas of pale yellow and blue.

Cuckoo Flower favourite of Orange Tip butterfly

Whilst sitting under our lilac tree lamenting the loss  of our baby blue tits, (watched the adults empty the nest of bodies)  probably the result of  the recent cold weather,  I was surrounded by a charm of chinckling goldfinches young and old who had it made successfully through.  The feeders are staying full as everyone seems to have moved on with  their young to greener pastures for the summer.
Blue tits are not ones for having second broods like blackbirds so they will call it quits for this season.

On a much planned visit to Sefton Park where many twitchers hangout photographing obliging kingfishers. (Of course they were not there) Despite the torrential rain I was delighted by the many recently hatched birds taking their first tentative steps into the big pond of life.

Coot nest building

The trees have all finished flowering and are rapidly producing nuts and clusters
of seeds. The spring season for  trees once started moves quickly so as to give them time to replenish their energy before closing down for the winter months.

Currently I am fortunate to be  involved in a H1 Habitat Survey for the first time. Although physically demanding it has been a wonderfull learning curve in observing spring up close and personal in   areas of the Wirral countryside that is mostly closed off to the public,  hence the climbing of many 6 bar gates. I must add this is no mean feat for someone of my age. ( I did have to call a halt after the 7th scramble.)   It certainly provided much entertainment to the fields full of bored sheep and cattle.

More to follow on this next time........................

April 13, 2019

It is enough

It is enough that birds are................

There is so much to rapture over  this spring and time to stop and stare.   After the tiny two week rushed spring we had last year, after the great freeze,  it is the more enjoyable for being missed. . On the bus here today we passed several vibrant crimson and pink cherry trees which had blossomed full in the space of 3 days..... There are not words adequate to describe their radiance.


As a photographer and artist there is always the urge to capture the moment but we all know that is near impossible. So this year is a year of absorbing holy moments and sealing them inside oneself. In this way my representations may hold a better truth.  Although there is a danger that the moment becomes an end in itself.

It is enough that nature is as it is............if only we could leave it alone.

The blue tits are back in their ancient mansion under the bedroom window.  The male fiercely seeing off all other visitors to the garden and defending the fat balls from allcomers.  The beautiful beige fox is still pottering around at night and the blackbird and robin are  well into evening and dawn chorusing.  Come May the dawn chorus will be in full flow so I will be able to give the Audiomoth a good run. (Will explain in the next blog).

International Dawn  Chorus Day ....4th/5th May is a  live streaming event of all the birds singing from around the world. This celebration of birdsong is available at http://soundtent.org/

Spotted my first swallow  yesterday so summer is coming.