Archive for the ‘Bird Fair’ Tag

 1st – 21st August 2014: catching up with the non-birdy stuff   Leave a comment

 

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We have decided to splash out on a couple of items for the house including having solar panels installed.

 

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With an east/west facing roof and some very tall trees in our neighbour’s garden our house isn’t ideal for solar, but we decided to go ahead anyway. Modern panels are more efficient than their predecessors in capturing indirect sunlight but we never even reach 50% of what the panels are capable of generating in ideal conditions.

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Once the workmen had gone I could resist climbing the scaffolding to get this view of our garden.

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Some months ago I posted a picture  of the old Peugeot when it had reached 111111 miles and asked the question of whether it was time for a new car.  Now its done a few more miles and the answer to the new car question is …. yes!



 

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For the first time in my life I have bought a brand new car, a Nissan Qashqai Tekna and I am very pleased indeed. It is lovely to drive and is full of extras such as parking cameras, auto dipping headlights and does up to 75mpg although I’ve only averaged 55 so far.

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The car got its first outing when we went up to Derby to see my brother and family and then on to the BirdFair in Rutland. It was hard to use features like cruise control as traffic was awful and it was stop/start all way. The BirdFair, known as the ‘birders Glastonbury’ was excellent as always and attracted about 22,000 visitors over the three days and raised about a quarter of a million pounds for Birdlife International’s conservation program. I spent a lot of time catching up with old friends and acquaintances as well as attending a few lectures and quizzes.

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We attended a couple of quizzes run along the lines of Mastermind. One, the Bird Brain of Britain chaired by Bill Oddie was hilarious, mainly on account of Bill’s constant ad libbing with the questions and answers. We also went to a talk by Mark Beaman, Birdquest’s managing director, celebrating how the company has shown it’s clients over 10,000 bird species, some 95% of the world total. Mark’s talk was very interesting and highlighted a particularly difficult event in Arctic Siberia some 17 years ago.

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We normally attend for just one day but this time we stayed overnight so we could go to the evening talk entitled ‘listening for life’ by my friends in the Sound Approach. Killian Mullarney (L) and Mark Constantine (R) gave an account of how the Sound Approach was formed and what it has achieved. Mark surprised many taking the microphone into the audience and to get impromptu sound bites from unsuspecting friends and colleagues.

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We had planned to meet up with our American friend Patty Scott at the BirdFair and then bring Patty back to Poole with us for a couple of days of birding and ringing. Patty had already spent several weeks in the UK visiting friends and was staying with Rosemary Foster, an old friend from previous Birdquest trips, at her place near Grantham in Lincolnshire. Rosemary kindly invited us to stay there as well, so we spent a night at her lovely 16th century farmhouse.

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This was the view from our bedroom.

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Patty is a ringer (or bander as they say in the States) and was keen to come to Dorset to see some UK species in the hand. We spent two very pleasant mornings at Durlston (more in the next post). On one day we visited Corfe Castle on our way back.

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The original pre-Norman castle was built of wood and became infamous when an English King, Edward the Martyr was murdered there in 978AD. The stone fortifications seen today were built by William the Conqueror.

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The castle was sold by Elizabeth I in 1572 to her Lord Chancellor, it was then sold on to the Bankes family in 1635 who owned it until l982 when it was bequeathed to the National Trust.

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The castle was held by the Royalists during the English civil war and was destroyed by Parliamentarians in 1645. Sappers lay gunpowder under the enormous keep, the resultant explosion and caused the left hand side to subside by several metres.

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Today the castle is a major tourist attractions, its ruins dominate the skyline on the way into or out of Purbeck. Various medieval crafts are being demonstrated  in the marques below.

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For once I could look down on the Swanage to Corfe steam railway . One day I’ll get round to travelling on it.

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As well as visiting Durlston and Corfe Castle, Patty and I also went over to Portland Bird Observatory as another friend, Birdquest leader Pete Morris and his family we staying there for the week. Pete and his two boys Jack and Josh were off hunting bugs, Patty is chatting to his wife Nina. On the next day Pete, Nina and the boys came over to Durlston to see us ring some birds.

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As well as Portland and Corfe Castle we took Patty to Tyneham, the village that was evacuated during the war so troops could prepare for D-Day. The village has remained deserted ever since. This is the school room restored to look just like it did in the 40’s.

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BirdFair season always sees friends from the Sound Approach or the old Dorset birding scene visit Poole, either just before or after the Fair. We have had three pub get togethers in the last three weeks, the first to meet up with former Dorset birder James Lidster who now lives in Holland, the second to meet Killian Mullarney, Rene Pop and Arnoud van den Berg of the Sound Approach and the third to catch up with another Sound Approach member, Magnus Robb. Patty also came along for the third get together and was able to participate in a discussion of the appropriate English name for a new species of owl(you will have to wait for the publication of ‘Undiscovered Owls’ to find out which one!) In the picture above Killian talks to Nick Hopper whilst Margaret is chatting to Mo Constantine and Cecilia Bosman off picture.


5th – 6th October – Dorset’s first Bird Fair at Durlston Castle   Leave a comment

Throughout this week I have been continuing our ringing program at Durlston.  Most of the birds ringed were Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs but we had one or two surprises – like the Sparrowhawk shown below.

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This Sparrowhawk can be aged as a first year by the brown fringes to the coverts and mantle. The pale yellow eye darkens with age and becomes a rich orange in an adult.

 

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On the 5th October Dorset’s first Bird Fair was held at Durlston Castle. Compared to the Bird Fair held at Rutland Water every August, this was a very small scale affair with just a dozen or so exhibitors. Several bird walks were organised, as well as series of talks and we gave a ringing demonstration. This was very well attended with over 30 people. We were very busy that morning, with close to 200 birds ringed and I had to do the demonstration by myself, taking  just a few birds to show to the public on the patio outside the garden, whilst the rest of the ringers checked the nets and ringed the majority of birds within the garden.

After the public and most of the ringers had departed we caught a couple of Wood Larks. Whilst not a rarity, this scarce breeder is seldom trapped for ringing and I have never seen one in the hand before.

 

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Short crest, short tail, white edges to the primary coverts and alula, a distinctive face pattern and vocalisations all separate this species from the commoner Sky Lark

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As well as the ringing demonstration several moth traps were run. A number of interesting species like these Convolvulous Hawk-moths were caught.

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At least a dozen of these large moths were trapped over the two days, here are nine of them.

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… but the star moth was this beautiful Crimson Speckled, a major rarity from southern Europe. Sorry its still in the plastic container, no one wanted to take it out of the pot in case it flew off.

 

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There were also a series of talks from invited speakers, however the venue used was quite unsuitable. Unable to fully exclude daylight, the projected pictures were very washed out and the area used was only divided from the rest of the room by a movable partition, so the conversations of those attending the exhibitors stalls drowned out the speaker. On Saturday I attended two talks other ringing group members, Sean Walls talked about modern bird tracking technology and Paul Morton gave a presentation on the Birds of Poole Harbour educational charity. Both talks were well attended with around 25 people but this was not the case on the Sunday. Margaret and I turned up about midday and attended a couple of talks before my presentation on the Birds of New Guinea. I only had six people, including Margaret, for my talk, all of them friends.

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Durlston Castle was recently redeveloped as a visitor centre, centered around a restaurant. The Sound Approach and Dorset Bird Club’s exhibition stands were in a small room above the restaurant, accessed by this ornate spiral staircase.

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The location of the exhibition room wasn’t ideal, as many passers by wouldn’t even know it was there but it was a great place for ‘vis mig’ ie watch the visible migrants like Swallows and Meadow Pipits passing.

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The view to the north, Peveril Point, Swanage Bay, Old Harry and in the distance Bournemouth seafront.

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In conclusion Dorset’s Bird Fair was a mixed success, Saturday’s events were well attended but this was not the case on Sunday. A better venue is needed for talks and there needs to be more information available on what is going on, but all in all, a very successful event.

Posted October 10, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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