Fish feast for Zoe…and other news in Bird World

25 November 2022

Good Morning Everyone,

I hope those of you that celebrated Thanksgiving had a lovely celebration. It was another warm day in the garden. Today it will be 6 degrees C. The sky is a beautiful blue and the sun is bright. There should be a lot of activity in the garden. I am quite enjoying watching the Starlings and the Sparrows flit about their lives enjoying the Butter Bark and the soft suet. It is hard to imagine that they are both vulnerable and in decline and on The Red List in the UK but, as I am told by many, their lives are so precarious and the Avian Flu last year could rear its ugly face again this year.

I just think that the Starling below is quite stunning. The so called ‘white’ spots on their bodies during the non-breeding season actually look silver in the sunlight. That coupled with those magnificent rust and rust tipped ebony wing feathers make them stand out and yet, if you don’t know they are there, they blend in quite nicely with the bark on the branches of the Lilacs.

Dyson has been coming for peanuts for several days but, instead of running about storing them, she has stopped and taken the time to eat several before scurrying about. She is really adorable. I notice that her colouring is also changing. Some of the youngsters have great tufts coming out of their ears now. I will see if they will sit still long enough for me to get a photo for you soon.

Junior was about today along with a least one of the three fledglings but Mr Crow and his family were not about. I wonder where they found food. It always scares me if I see road kill as I know they will chance it to get some food. I wish everyone would stop and if they see road kill get out and move it to the side of the road, way off the shoulder, if it is safe for them to do so.

The Australian Nests:

I cannot possibly tell you how quiet it has gone in Bird World now that all of the Australian birds have fledged. You might already guess that Xavier and Diamond are taking good care of Rubus and Indigo and that Zoe is screaming her head off for a fish. Dad went out and came back with nesting material. What in the world is up with the fishing in Port Lincoln?

Cilla posted a prey transfer for Indigo that took place yesterday in Orange.

Dad brought in a fish for Zoe at 09:56. She ate the entire thing. The fish tail went down at 10:21:08. Dad ‘appeared’ to have a crop. Mum was sitting on the ropes as she is above. Will Mum get anything to eat?

With Dad appearing to have a crop and Zoe getting a fish, what is there for Mum? Has Dad decided now that the chick has fledged, his duty is only to feed it and him and Mum can fend for herself? It is certainly common at other nests.

Mum did not sit around. She has proven herself today. She brought in a nice fish for her and Zoe at 13:30:31 and another one at 14:39:40. Indeed, Mum was on the nest with Zoe and flew off quickly as if the fish had skimmed the water near the barge. Isn’t this just excellent! Everyone will have had a good feed today.

Indeed, Mum was just finished feeding Zoe the 1330 fish when she spotted the next one. We will have to start calling her ‘Eagle-eyed Mum’.

Off she goes!

Zoe and Mum are having feasts today while Dad sits on the perch. Good for Mum. She is going to make sure that her and her daughter are well fed.

In his book, After They’re Gone. Extinctions, Past, Present, and Future, author Peter Marren says of the Ospreys, “To survive the Sixth Extinction, it may help to be useful- useful to humankind, that is” (164). Marren continues on the following page, “In Britain, nesting ospreys and sea eagles attract tourists and hence income to places that need it” (165). Every place that has wildlife should heed Marren’s words. They should consider the environment and rush to bring it back to life because those beautiful animals and birds and the landscape that is cared for and respected will help with the economy in the future. Indeed, my granddaughter is looking for a place for a holiday to see birds and animals. It would be truly sad if I had to tell her to go to a zoo!

Making News:

a little change from plants- hen harrier looking for dinner.” by island deborah- New Book ‘Song of the Sparrow’ vig is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Well, to tackle this entire issue of the vulnerability and extinction of the Hen Harrier, Hen Harriers will be bred in captivity and released in England on the Salisbury Plain. Twelve birds, six males and six females, have been brought from France and Span to establish the breeding pairs. This is a project between Natural England and the International Centre for Birds of Prey. Their goal is to release 100 birds over the next 5 or 6 years.

Fantastic. You can read more about this intervention to increase biodiversity here:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/nov/23/hen-harriers-to-be-bred-in-captivity-and-released-on-to-salisbury-plain?CMP=share_btn_link

I have become increasingly aware of these magnificent birds over the past year and have devoured as many new books on them that I could. There are a couple that I have quite enjoyed and will mention if you or someone you know is interested in the life and the plight of these magnificent birds of prey. They are Bowland Beth. The Life of an English Hen Harrier by David Cobham, The Hen Harrier’s Year by Ian Carter & Dan Powell

Hen Harrier male (Circus cyaneus) illustrated by the von Wright brothers. Digitally enhanced from our own 1929 folio version of Svenska Fåglar Efter Naturen Och Pa Sten Ritade.” by Free Public Domain Illustrations by rawpixel is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The problem is the illegal killing and the destruction of the land that supports these beautiful birds. So when will the courts begin to crack down on those who persecute the raptors?

A nauseating story is coming out of County Down, Northern Ireland of a lovely Buzzard found with a plastic bag around its neck hanging on a tree. Unbelievable. Just look at that face and that gorgeous plumage.

Inquisitive Buzzard” by John C Williams is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Here is that Story.

Dead buzzard found hanging from a tree in County Down – Raptor Persecution UK

Each year the Raptor Persecution UK puts out a report on the killing of raptors and, sadly, this year – 2022 – has been the second highest record in history. What a tragedy and why is this happening?

RSPB’s 2021 Birdcrime report reveals second-highest figure on record – Raptor Persecution UK

Fieldfare on a cherry tree” by hedera.baltica is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

No 15. The Red List. The Fieldfare

FF 031 ~ Fieldfare~” by Mike Hazzledine — British Biodiversity is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Fieldfares are a large member of the thrush family. The name Fieldfare comes from the Anglo-Saxon meaning ‘traveller of fields’. Look at the image above. They have the most beautiful light steel-blue-gray heads and wings. Their back, which you can see in the image below, is the colour of a beautiful Horse Chestnut. Their tails are black. Their ivory breast is spotted with a deep espresso tinged with chestnut. A peach wash makes a gorgeous collar. Their back end is a grey and they have black legs with touches of black around the eye. The female looks very similar to the male but has slightly more chestnut than the blue-grey and some consider the colouring more ‘dull’ on the female. There is an image of a female feeding her nestlings below. Make up your own mind if she is dull!

The decline of the Fieldfare from a handful of breeding pairs to now only one or two brings much sadness to many British birders. The author of the entry in Red Sixty Seven, Nick Acheson, writes about Joe Harkness another author whose book, Bird Therapy, speaks to the joy that birds bring to all of us. In writing about the Fieldfare, Harkness says that he is elated when two Fieldfares visit his garden during the winter’s snow and ice. Acheson says that Harness’s joy comes “not from the beauty of the birds, though beautiful they certainly are, not from their rarity, for per se they are not rare at all (globally). His joy comes from their shining witness, perceived – this once – in a place of domesticity.” Indeed, Fieldfares are not found in fields despite their name and do not frequent gardens but are mostly seen on the wet hawthorn hedgehops, Buckthorn bushes in the sand dunes along the sea.

Fieldfare” by Linton Snapper is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Fieldfare is not a thrush but it can be found spending time with flocks of thrushes during its migration from Northern Europe to spend time in Britain in winter. In the Scandinavian countries, they are known as Birch Thrushes or Bjorktrast. There they feed on berries until they arrive in Britain in mid-September where they roam the country side, the fields, the hedgerows and the gardens looking for food. In particular, they will search for berries from the Rowan, Hawthorn, and Holly. In farmlands, they feed on invertebrates and earthworms.

Fieldfare on a cherry tree” by hedera.baltica is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

The decline of the Fieldfare is due directly to the steep decline in insects. Studies in Europe have shown that the biomass of insects in Germany has declined by 75%. The decline is serious in other countries and this is due directly to the use of pesticides. Climate change is also playing havoc with these lovely little birds. Milder temperatures in the northern countries and then quick freezes have cost the lives of nestlings. Many Fieldfare have also chosen not to migrate which is one reason there is the decline in numbers in the UK. Of course, the Northern European countries are not the only ones that are using pesticides. In the UK, there are similar issues and declines in birds that depend on insects for their food source.

Oh, thank you so much for being with me today. Take care all. See you soon!

Thank you to the following for their posts and streaming cams where I took my screen captures: Charles Sturt Falcon Cam and Cilla Kinross, Port Lincoln Ospreys, Openverse, The Guardian, RSPB, and Raptor Persecution UK.

3 Comments

  1. Linda Kontol says:

    Good afternoon Mary Ann and thanks so much for the newsletter. The picture of the starlings are gorgeous. They just shine! Beautiful birds indeed. The little squirrel is adorable. Thanks for these and all the photos today of all the birds.
    So glad all is well at Port Lincoln and all is well with Indigo and little Rubus.
    Have a good afternoon and hope to hear from you soon! Take care!
    Linda

    1. Oh, thank you, Linda, for your comment. I am so glad you are enjoying the images of the garden birds. I cannot believe how beautiful those Starlings are in the sunshine. They look like someone dipped them in silver sometimes and then, in a wink, there are pinks and purples….I am also glad that I finally found some food that they like! It looks as if the rest of the Australian gang is fine. Zoe has eaten a huge fish that should have been enough for 3 all by herself. Need I say more?

      1. Linda Kontol says:

        It’s all so amazing! Thank you Mary Ann and have a good evening.
        Hope to see you here tomorrow
        Linda

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