Monday, August 12

Pallid Swift's gone,

I'm gutted my Pallid Swifts that's breed successfully under my roof tiles have now departed  "The Swift's " have been very faithful to the area around my house I've seen them every day for months and watch there aerobatics and seen their courtship, mating,  feeding and the comings and goings and watched the young birds take their first flight it's been great to watch it's a bit sad there on their way south  

Have a lovely day
Cheers Bryan 

Tick tock tick tock the clock is ticking

The Inglorious 12th

IT is time to dig out the tweeds, dust off the gun and make for the hills, the 12th is upon us.

Unless you are a member of the rich elite, it may have passed you by but one wildlife expert argues the start of the grouse shooting season on August 12 should be a concern for us all.

In his book Inglorious, Mark Avery claims the practice of driven grouse shooting hits us all in the pocket and is an ecological disaster, devastating wildlife and birds of prey.

Driven grouse shooting is where beaters flush birds towards the guns and they are slaughtered in their hundreds and thousands.

As Mark puts it: “A load of rich people stand waiting while a load of poor people, beaters, walk across the hills with flags and whistles and chase a load of helpless birds past the rich people who then shoot at the birds 

Driven grouse shooting was introduced under Queen Victoria at the Balmoral Estate.

A petition has been launched to ban the practice but David Cameron, who regularly holidays on the Isle of Jura as family of the landed gentry, is unlikely to be the premier to answer the call. But Mark, a former conservation director of the RSPB, said: “In time, driven grouse shooting is doomed because it is an unsustainable land use and carried out for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many.

Driven grouse shooting happens only in the UK, although the bird is hunted in countries such as Russia and Scandinavia. Many hunters consider there to be no sport in it as, unlike shooters taking their chances in the hills, the wildlife is easy target practice.

Mark said: “It is more to do with how much money you have and what kind of gun you can afford. You don’t have to know anything about the hills or the ecology of the bird. You just have to stand there.

“It is like an arcade game, except you dress up in tweed and get to stay with a duke or a lord. There is a lot of snob value. If grouse hunting was only “walked up” shooting, there would not be the demand for the volume of birds, so there would be no need for the level of persecution of wildlife.

In January, an estate worker who killed a rare bird of prey became the first gamekeeper in Britain to be jailed for a wildlife crime against raptors. George Mutch, 48, was filmed catching birds in two traps on Kildrummy Estate near Alford in Aberdeenshire in 2012.

Named and shamed
Goshawk Killer George Mutch, 

Covert cameras set up by the RSPB showed him killing a Goshawk by taking it out of a trap and hitting it with a stick. He was also filmed putting a Buzzard and another Goshawk into white sacks.

But the level of prosecutions bears no relation to the level of persecution.

Birds such as Hen Harriers, Peregrine Falcons and Golden Eagles are considered by estates to be pests as they eat grouse.

“What we do know is that over significant areas of Scotland’s uplands and, in particular, areas intensively managed for driven grouse shooting, birds such as Hen Harriers and Peregrine rarely breed successfully, despite an abundance of suitable habitat and prey. Every year, birds of prey confirmed as being illegally killed are found on Scotland’s grouse moors.

A more accurate way to assess the impact is to compare bird numbers with what they should be.

The Hen Harrier population in Scotland should be around 1800 pairs but is actually 500.

Grouse shooting for a party of six, over three or four days, can fetch more than £35,000.

For that premium, shooters can demand in excess of 1000 birds a day and any wildlife which infringes on this numbers game, including birds of prey, is to be obliterated.

To get very high numbers of grouse, the heather has to be burned every few years, the moor drained and all predators killed – including foxes, crows, stoats and birds of prey.

Mark said: “Anything that eats a Red Grouse before a rich person can shoot it is seen as a problem.

Vast quantities of our taxes are being paid to upland landowners through farming schemes, grants and subsidies.

A study by Leeds University showed that intensive management of our uplands for driven grouse shooting is a source of peatland degradation and increased carbon emissions. It is also linked to pollution of watercourses, reduction in aquatic biodiversity and probably of increased flood risk.

Polluted water coming off grouse moors needs specialised treatment and that cost is passed to water companies and the consumer.

Mark said: “People who live in cities want to go to the countryside and see Golden Eagles, Hen Harriers and lots of wildlife. Instead, they see landscape burned to within an inch of its life and where a lot of natural wildlife is missing.

“We are all being robbed of our wildlife for centuries, for a so-called sport where people just shoot birds for fun. Driven grouse moors are places where your protected wildlife is killed and your climate damaged too.

“We shouldn’t tolerate this Victorian land use now we have 21st-century information.

The death toll peaked in 2010 with 46 kills, including 21 Buzzards, four Red Kites, two Golden Eagles and a White-tailed Eagle, which was a gift to Scotland from Norway.

The east of Scotland has the greatest shortage of birds of prey, in places like Deeside and Angus, and there are also shortages in the south, where there are the most grouse moors.

The birds are killed largely by gamekeepers through shooting, nest destruction, spring traps and poisoning.

The number of a recorded bird of prey crimes in Scotland decreased from 23 in 2013 to 19 in 2014 but the crime is largely hidden. Ian Thomson, head of investigations for RSPB Scotland, said: “We don’t know what proportion of actual incidents are discovered.

Hopefully,  time is almost up for this mindless killing for fun.
Tick tock tick tock the clock is ticking.

People can't just assume its OK to kill for entertainment

Tick tock tick tock
Tick Tock
Times up.

It's not acceptable in 2019 to killing for fun


Friday, August 9

No Tea Break. No 1st or Even 2 Breakfast

With signs of migration and fledged birds on the move, we thought it was time to have a look at Yecla 

We were set off before sunrise John Edwards, Ian Emmett, and myself.  About 20 minutes up the motorway the sun came up and what a sunrise it was incredible the whole sky was on fire, it was a beauty, now if I only had my camera with me, I've got to stop doing that and be more prepared.

Arriving at Yecla it was a pleasant temperature and nice to be away from the stifling 37  degrees heat of the coast, there been a population explosion of Rabbit at Yecla, I've never ever seen so many?  It going to be good for raptors in due course.

The first bird seen Juvenile Woodchat and throughout the course of the morning, we saw plenty of adults and juvenile.

 The same for Black-eared Wheatear with moulting male and females and just out the nest fledged birds. Northern Wheatears both male and female we're seen and one juvenile bird.

Newly fledged Black-eared Wheatear

  A trio of Black Wheatear put on a show for us.
In the distance was a Cronking Raven, a surprising absentee from to days visit was no Chough, Jackdaw or Calandra Lark which is always on the list for this area???

Thekla's lark

Thekla's lark,  Crested and Short-toed lark seen, a few little owls,  Rock Sparrow, Tree Sparrows, and a few Stone Curlew.
Stone Curlew

Moment of the birding day was at least 3 adult male Golden Orioles flying around a pine tree belt, Magic!

Perched on an electric pylon was a male Lesser Kestrel,  Sand Grouse were often heard but not seen. 

With the heat rising we headed to a known Golden Eagle site and after a few minutes two birds showed gliding along a ridge using the thermals, it would have been nice if they came a little closer but we always want more.  Plenty of bee-eaters which at now starting to gather together before making there move south.

Regular readers of my blog may have noticed we didn't stop for any tea or first or even second breakfast and the reason forgot the tea bags  "unbelievable" how are we going to manage I said  "NO TEA"   John searched again. NO TEA  John replied.   I said to John you've let me down, you've letting Ian down, and most of all you've let your self down, John was gutted "NO TEA"

And so we missed our tea breaks, its become famous an essential part if our birding day,  you won't believe how many good birds that were spotted during our tea breaks, and so I kept on moaning about our no tea break and no 1st or even 2nd breakfast

10. unbreakable rules of making a cup of tea
3. The milk goes in last, never first
4. Teabag must remain in for at least two minutes and no more than five
5. Don't squeeze the teabag
6. Take the teabag out before drinking it
7. Put the bag in the bin
8. If someone makes you a cup, don’t complain about it
9. If you're making a cup of tea, offer everyone a cup of tea
10. If you’ve made a cup, drink It

Nothing like a bit of banter

Enjoy your day 
Cheers Bryan 

Sunday, August 4

Crazy days Birding

John and I and visiting birder Ian who had also joined us for today's birding adventure.
  Today we got lucky.

Ian had a wish list of birds to see,  it was no tail order, but to be honest, Ian was more than happy just being out there birding, and taking in the spectacular mountains views.  And together we achieved 100 percent of his to see a list. 

So we had discussed a route which could yield best results and no surprise Trumpeters Finch was a must-see species. and another return visit to Montnegre 

And so within a few minutes of arriving Trumpeter Finch was on the list with great views of Juveniles, Females and Adult Male.

Trumpeter Finch

 A great start to the day and the sun was only just up.  Rock Sparrow a few Woodchat Shrike, Black Wheatear,  Grey Wagtail,  Crested Tit,  Spotted Fly,  Reed Warbler, quite a few Red-rumped Swallow, House Martin, Crag Martin, Swallows, and Crossbill on the track up through Montnegre and onto Tibi.


 Maigmo Mountain
Highlights we're
Jay, Short-toed Tree Creeper, Bonelli's Warbler, a single Alpine Swift, which flew past and didn't return.

Crested Tit

A quick cupper and sandwich and we were off back down the motorway to La Marina for Rollers, which showed well in several different locations.

European Rollers

 And also a few Gull-billed Tern, we birded Santa Pola Salinas and end up at the Clot de Galvany. All the usual suspects we're there.

Purple swamp Hen

 but a bit surprised to see a Sandwich Tern sat on one of the logs and on another log a whiskered Tern just outside the hide.

Sandwich Tern

I've not included every species seen but it was a substantial list of birds. we started birding at 7.15 and finished after 4 in the afternoon.

Whiskered Tern 

Ian added 3 lifers to his bird list.

Good days birding with John and Ian and with luck we'll out and at it again next week.

Have a good day.