100 days of sketches and notes from Gilling East

Jonathan Pomroy

100 days of daily sketches and notes from Gilling East. At least 30000 words and 7 sketchbooks filled and somewhere near 300 watercolours. Lockdown has pushed me to stay very local with my observations. I have gained so much through this project creatively, but it has also increased my awareness particularly of tiny, but precious areas of habitat. I can plot bird territories in all the local hedgerows and woods. I have come to know individual plants and watched them burst into leaf and flower, I have watched the whole transformation from early spring to mid summer. All the common summer migrant birds have arrived culminating with the dramatic screaming of swifts around the eaves again. I have seen so many wonderful skies. All this using less than a quarter of a tank fuel in my car. I could have seen far more species by travelling but I don’t think…

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THE LAST SONG…OF OUR TRIP

Towheeblog

On our Malheur Field Station birding trip in mid-June we glimpsed brief flashes of flying Sage Thrasher, time and again.   Not one would post or pose when a camera was around.  Only a couple times we heard one sing, far away in the sagebrush, unseen. The final day on our way west, Albert Ryckman and I pulled into Chickahominy.  There on the entrance sign was our singing Sage Thrasher. He sang from the right end of the sign, then moved down and sang from the left end.  In the passenger side nearest the sign I shot some images without moving toward the open window.  The songster was fifteen feet away.  He flew off to the fence, came back, turned his back and continued to sing.   By now Albert was out of the car, getting good shots…of back and shoulder and nape of neck.  The loud, complex melodies poured forth. Please…

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SEWER PONDS AND NEST BOX USE

Towheeblog

The dog and I birded the Yamhill Sewer Ponds for the first time in weeks.  Nesting season is well along now.  One family of Canada Geese with six gangling youngsters in mature plumage but with the svelte outline of youth.  Over a dozen young Mallards, all looking like the females.  One young Violet-green Swallow, already showing the iridescent back and the white slash on the butt, but still sporting the fluffy, soft head feathers.  Yet when the bird took off it flew like a real swallow, speed, pointy wings, arcs and sudden reversal of direction.   After those head feathers molt off, presto: full violet-green effects.

There are about two dozen nest boxes along the pond fence.  As best I could tell: at least six used by House Sparrows, two by violet-green, one by Tree Swallows.

I saw a single Spotted Sandpiper, probably a nest on one of the berms.  A…

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CHIMNEY AND SWIFTS, NOT CHIMNEY SWIFTS

Towheeblog

I sit and watch.  They circle and swerve and veer off in some random arc.  They disappear from my limited view of a slice of the sky. One may come low over the fence behind me then sharply angle away over the neighbor’s trees.  One rare moment and a swift drops out of nowhere to go into our chimney.  I miss that nano-shot.  So I begin shooting the top of the chimney,  Within less than half a moment out comes the bird, having fed the young inside.  There is never more than a single frame, even though my camera is shooting constantly.  By the time the adult swift hits the opening it is already at high speed.  Swiftly they move:

We can hear the swiftlets while in the room where the fireplace opens.  There may be as many as six in the nest, a normal number for this species.

WENNERBERG…

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SEWER PONDS AND NEST BOX USE

Towheeblog

The dog and I birded the Yamhill Sewer Ponds for the first time in weeks.  Nesting season is well along now.  One family of Canada Geese with six gangling youngsters in mature plumage but with the svelte outline of youth.  Over a dozen young Mallards, all looking like the females.  One young Violet-green Swallow, already showing the iridescent back and the white slash on the butt, but still sporting the fluffy, soft head feathers.  Yet when the bird took off it flew like a real swallow, speed, pointy wings, arcs and sudden reversal of direction.   After those head feathers molt off, presto: full violet-green effects.

There are about two dozen nest boxes along the pond fence.  As best I could tell: at least six used by House Sparrows, two by violet-green, one by Tree Swallows.

I saw a single Spotted Sandpiper, probably a nest on one of the berms.  A…

View original post 123 more words

June 21st- swift solstice

Jonathan Pomroy

As big southerly movements of swifts were recorded down the east coast of Yorkshire over the last two days the non breeding birds have been absent from this area. However yesterday evening, the lightest and longest of the year some swifts appeared and performed some awe inspiring flypasts. Up to four carried out high speed turning passes by the nest boxes on the back of our house again and again. These are the evenings I try to savour for the eight or so months of the year when I cannot see a swift. The evening saw a beautiful sunset turn to twilight with high cloud streaks ahead of an active weather front approaching from the west.

Today saw heavy occasionally thundery showers in the afternoon. Our swiftlets have had a great start and are growing very fast now. They are starting to grow downy feathers and in warmer periods the adults…

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IN THIS ECONOMY, IS IT STILL RELEVANT TO STUDY BIRDS?

BRAKES AND BEAKS

Locally, people are mostly clueless as to why some would dedicate their lives in studying birds.

Everyone has their brief encounter with birds although the effect, of course, varies. Some would just shrug and move on upon seeing these flying animals, others would feel challenged and develop a need to conquer them. A limited few will become curious about its origins, the colors of its feathers, the reasons behind their existence and their ability to fly. For generations, birds inspire people to get to know more about the world they live in and there have been countless people who have dedicated their lives in what started as simple bird watching and eventually forming what we now know as ornithology — the science of birds.

Before, it was just about the taxonomy based on morphology: identification and naming, mostly, and understanding the classification of each species through their color, sizes, beak…

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Feathers – The end of the Line

Hermanus Bird Club

Feathers has been running for nearly a month and when it started there were 11 participants (or maybe there were 13, but some dropped out so early, I can’t remember who they were!).  It ends today with the publishing of the last three full images and the final scorecard.  Well done to the four members who finished the course.  You might even find your days a bit empty without the quiz to look at and puzzle over!

Gavin and Cynthia Turner are the overall winners, followed by Ed and Sally Meyer, Johan and Imogen Groenewald and John and Sheelagh Bowman.  I have also put the percentage positive answers on the spreadsheet and these show that Coerie would probably have been overall winner had he pursued the course, as he got no less than 93% of his entries correct, followed by the Turners with 88%.

I have to admit that it…

View original post 60 more words

Feathers – The end of the Line

Hermanus Bird Club

Feathers has been running for nearly a month and when it started there were 11 participants (or maybe there were 13, but some dropped out so early, I can’t remember who they were!).  It ends today with the publishing of the last three full images and the final scorecard.  Well done to the four members who finished the course.  You might even find your days a bit empty without the quiz to look at and puzzle over!

Gavin and Cynthia Turner are the overall winners, followed by Ed and Sally Meyer, Johan and Imogen Groenewald and John and Sheelagh Bowman.  I have also put the percentage positive answers on the spreadsheet and these show that Coerie would probably have been overall winner had he pursued the course, as he got no less than 93% of his entries correct, followed by the Turners with 88%.

I have to admit that it…

View original post 60 more words