Day 4 – Coal Tit

A Species a Day

The cold’s not going away yet, feel as bad today as yesterday so no venturing into the countryside for me alas. Thought I’d explain the names of the species before today’s entry. So on Day 1 we had Woodpigeon Columba palumbus Linnaeus, 1758 and on Day 2 we had Groundsel Senecio vulgaris L. (I’ve admitted the subspecies name here for simplicity). The non-italicized name at the start is the British English name, the first italicized part is the genus and the second part is species name. Both the same in both the animal and the plant, a genus is a closely related group and the species is an individual of that group; there are other groups above genus but will keep it simple. Think of it as a manufacturer and model of a car; Ford Focus, the model Focus, being made by Ford. The next bit is where zoological classification…

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Day 1 – Woodpigeon

A Species a Day

Today was supposed to be a start with great intentions. Unfortunately New Year’s Eve put paid to it. Not through drink but rather I currently work behind a bar that didn’t close until 02:00am, I didn’t get home until 02:45 so I got up far too late for my intended New Year’s Day walk which would have been an attempt to do the New Year’s Plant Hunt; this will now be done tomorrow. So I had intended to start right out of my comfort zone and write about a plant. But no. Birds it is, a safe territory for me. Although my first bird of 2020 was a singing Robin at 02:40am on my way home from work my first bird seen of the day was a humble Woodpigeon. So that will be species 1. I will explain the technical details listed below (like the random name and date after…

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Day 7 – Black-headed Gull

A Species a Day

Day 7! A whole week’s worth of daily posts. Getting easier to remember to do it but I suspect it will get harder to think what to write about; guess that’s the challenge really. It’s all for me really, all about me actually writing things down so I can discipline myself to write regularly, and you get to read it if you want. Today’s species is one I saw today on my birding ‘patch’ – basically a local area you visit often an gradually you see changes, learn what’s regularly there and when, and what’s a rarity. I find it more rewarding than going further afield to be honest, you get to know your local area.

What: Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus (Linnaeus, 1766)

When: 7th January 2020

Where: Poynton Pool, Cheshire, UK

Who saw it? Me

Where was the record submitted? To eBird https://ebird.org/home (110 individuals recorded)

Is it larger…

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Day 27 – Great Crested Grebe

A Species a Day

Another ‘great’ bird. I think this last week will be mostly about the birds; they’re my specialist area and gives a nice run up to until Friday, my last post of the month. This one is from my local patch again. There wasn’t too many birds around today, nothing unusual or great in number; probably due to contractors felling a tree causing temporary disturbance. A tad frustrating but it gives me an excuse to go out later in the week.

What: Great Crested Grebe – Podiceps cristatus (Linnaeus, 1758)

When: 27th January 2020

Where: Poynton Pool, Cheshire, UK

Who saw it? Me

How did I record it? On eBird (using the app)

Is it bigger than a blackbird? Yes, though hard to judge as grebes spend most of their lives on the water so half their body is underwater.

What is it? A medium-sized duck-like bird that lives in many…

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Day 28 – Tufted Titmouse

A Species a Day

Something a little different today as it’s a species I’ve never seen in the flesh and wasn’t aware of its existence until today! I’ve been watching a few YouTube webcams of bird feeders in America and had no idea what birds were frequenting them which hadn’t bothered me as I quite like the idea of not knowing things (there is so much to learn about in this world!). But I thought today I’d see if I can get at least one of them identified. My physical bird total for the USA is two species, both seen during a layover at Miami Airport in 2018, a House Sparrow, which even now are singing in my garden in the UK as I write this, and a bird I had to jot down and do a crude drawing of; this turned out to be a Boat-tailed Grackle. My knowledge of American birds is…

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1-25.12.2019: The case of the disappearing winter

Košice Patch Birding

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Winter apparently arrived at the beginning of December but then mysteriously vanished shortly afterwards. As you can see from the goldfinch photo above, it looks and feels more like autumn than anything else right now. But the short spell of wintry weather did bring an expected winter visitor; one of two bramblings seen only during that cold weekend, with none spotted since.

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It was cold, but apparently not cold enough for the water rails; even in -5, they didn’t come out to play. I did hear moorhens calling, however, a nice surprise and reassuring to know they are still out and about.

Otherwise, very little else happening on the patch this month. Ravens are active, calling from the trees in Bankov from time to time.

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And there are impressive numbers of fieldfare hanging around, fifty plus on this blustery morning.

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But that’s really it; nothing unexpected or really worthy of…

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Review of 2019

Košice Patch Birding

Common Whitethroat, Rači Potok, Košice, Slovakia, 21.4.2019

On the basis of the year list, it might seem that 2019 was something of a disappointing year; the 93 species spotted is the lowest figure since 2017. However, I think it is in fact the case that this has been my most rewarding year since I started birding. Quality rather than quantity is the real story of 2019 on the patch.

The biggest highlight for me personally was the evidence that water rails were breeding in Rači Potok. I had heard calls before, but had never seen a juvenile until July.

Water Rail, Košice, Slovakia, 21.7.2019

The water rails were also very visible in January on the coldest days. It became almost routine to see them, but I’m very conscious of how lucky I am to get any glimpse of these beautiful creatures.

The juvenile water rail was spotted hanging out with another of the year’s highlights, the group of at least four juvenile

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1-26.1.2020: January delights

Košice Patch Birding

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Still no sign of snow as the end of January approaches. Nothing more than a chilling foggy dampness with occasional freezes this winter; it’s very strange and somehow much less comfortable than if there was deep snow and sub-zero temperatures.

Because of this uncomfortable weather, I was on the patch less often than I could have been; nonetheless I saw most of the typical winter birds and a very nice surprise.

I don’t expect to add too many new species to the patch list in January but this is what happened on an unusually bright January 7th when a flock of gulls flew very high over the patch.

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As you can see from the poor quality of the picture, the birds were extremely high up and there is no way to identify them with any degree of certainty. However, given the time of year and the large size of the…

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