Posted by: atowhee | April 10, 2014

GOOD GREBE!

LITL GRBEThis is the smallest European grebe, Little Grebe. Once widely called “Dabchick” in England.
PARA FEEDINGAn adult Ring-necked Parakeet feeding a fledgling. Dulwich Park. Below an adult Magpie feeding its fledgling.MAGP FEEDINGBLBD FMALAbove female Eurasian Blackbird, dark brown with barely visible chest streaking.
Below an uncommon House Sparrow. This species along with the European Starling is in sharp decline in England.
HOSP IN H-HILL

TUDU BACKTufted Duck male with tuft in tow.

TRKEY OAKThis huge tree is a turkey oak, growing in Dulwich Park for about 150 years. Beneath the oak is a normal-sized park bench with a tall man seated on it. This species is native to southeast Europe and Turkey.
Below: the Eurasian Robin after which our American Robin was named.

RBN ON PST

Posted by: atowhee | April 9, 2014

HERNE HILL GALLERY

BTIT-UP1Blue Tit, tiny member of the chickadee clan.

BTIT-UP2

CHAFF-SING1
Singing Chaffinch, larger than American House Finch. It’s song is like the emphatic trill of the Song Sparrow followed by the buzzy final notes heard from a House Finch.
CHAFF-SING2

DUNN2The secretive Dunnock, but the camera wanted to focus on the limb behind this bird.

SPARHWK-1Sparrowhawk circling over Herne Hill. Near cousin of the American Cooper’s Hawk, most common urban raptor in London. Buzzards, related to Red-tails, found mostly in rural areas as are falcons, harriers and kites.
This hawk appears to be carrying prey.
sphawk with prey

WOPI-FLWRWood Pigeon dining on cherry blossoms.B-FLY1
Eurasian Robin in the grass:
RBN ON GRND

Herne Hill, London, GB-ENG
Apr 9, 2014 8:00 AM. 11 species

Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) 1–photographed in flight
Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) X
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) X
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) X
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) X
Great Tit (Parus major) X
Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) X

Brockwell Park, London, GB-ENG
Apr 9, 2014 11:00 AM. 13 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) X
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) X
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Domestic type)) X
Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) X
Rose-ringd Parakeet
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) X
Great Tit (Parus major) X
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) X
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) X
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula) X
Dunnock (Prunella modularis) 1
Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) 1
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) X
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula) X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 1
Chaffinch singing constantly

St. Albans, Hertfordshire, GB-ENG
Apr 8, 2014 3:45 PM. 7 species

Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) 1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Domestic type)) X
Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) X
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) X
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) X
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula) X
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 1

Posted by: atowhee | April 8, 2014

SUNRAY GARDENS, HERNE HILL, ENGLAND

The lobed toes of the Common Coot.COOT FOOT

COOT NESTNesting coot.

COOT NEST2

MOOR BEAK
Moorhen, little cousin of the coot but with long, slender toes. Noter the lipstick in this up-close facial image.
MOOR1

TFTD-FML-CU
Tufted Duck, female.
TIFTD-FEML
Male Tufted showing off his tuft:
TUFTED
Wood Pigeon on a walk.
WOPI WALX
All these birds plus a passing Sparrowhawk were seen in Sunray Gardens, a small park with a big pond in southeast London.
Sunray Gardens, London, GB-ENG
Apr 8, 2014 10:30 AM. 15 Species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) X
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) X
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) 1
Eurasian Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) X
Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) X
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Domestic type)) X
Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) X
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) X
Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) X
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) X
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula) X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) X
Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) 2
European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) 1

Posted by: atowhee | April 6, 2014

DULWICH GALLERY

GTIT PRCHGreat Tit with a black keel stripe.gtit-clr
Below: Ring-necked Parakeet, now seen all over London. It can be found in urban areas scattered across Europe and Mideast. Its original range is across Equatorial Africa and the Indian sub-continent. It is also known as Rose-ringed Parakeet though only the adult male has the neck ring. It has been breeding in the London area for nearly half a century and there are now about 5000 wild birds of this species in England.

PARA-SIDE1

ImageImageOn the playing fields of Dulwich were Greater Black-backed and Herring Gulls, Magpies and Carrion Crows.

ImageEurasian Goldfinch, badly backlit.
ImageImageImageImageImageImage

Singing Eurasian Robin.cootCommon Coot

londn rat2 Rat in Dulwich, proof they’re not all in American politics or infesting Wall Street.

london rast

Posted by: atowhee | April 5, 2014

NUNHEAD SONGSTERS

Birding in southeast London today there were great songsters at both Nunhead Cemetery and later at Dulwich Park. Myfavoritesobthe day were the Song Thrush which can compete with America’s Mockingbird, and the Blackcap, a warbler that really warbles. American warblers have the looks while the drab Old World warblers (not closely releated) got the great voices. The Blackcap looks like a darker version of the gnatcatcher but has a melodic and liquid song that stops you.BLKCP1

BLKCP-2

BLKCP-3

BLKCP-4 These images are badly back-lit but give an idea of his drab plumage. The Old World warblers are sometimes shy (not this one, nor the Whitethroat or Sardinian) but are not as nervous as American wood warblers. So he sat and sang, like a thrush or Mockingbird. The image shows his drab plumage, and the Blackcap is about the size of a Blackpoll or Hermit Warbler.
Nunhead is a Victorian-era cemetery that has largely returned to the forest that once covered southern England…before the Romans, the Vikings, the Normans, the sheep and the shepherds over-ran the land and chopped down forest. Among the bird voices heard: wren, robin, magpie (more a stutter than a song), tits and the Eurasian Blackbird.
BLKBRD-WORM1 This is a Eurasian Blackbird, near cousin of our Robin. They share the Turdus genus. Along with a love of local species of earthworms as this pictures attests. Both our Robin and the Brits’ Blackbird have those great thrush song voices. And both hop around on lawns a lot, and they are the same size and degree of rotundity. Our blackbirds are Icterids, a family not found in the Old World in any variety.

BLKBRD-WORMS2

BLTIT-BELLY Blue Tit, in the chickadee family.

BLUTIT-1

BLUTIT-2

BTIT-BLLEY2

CRO-SIDE1
Carrion Crow…unlike American Crows these often have whiteish feathers.
CRO-STEP1

CRO-TRIO1

CROW-D

MAGPI-AThe local Magpie, camera shy. It rhymes: magpie, camera shy.

PAPAKEET1
Rose-ringed Parakeet with extra long tail making it an eighteen-inch bird. Now found all over London.
PARAKT-2

PARAKT-3

PIG-PAR Wood Pigeon and parakeet in same tree. Woody is about the size of our Band-tails but much more urbanized. In the days of Gilbert White (over 200 years ago) the Woody was almost hunted out. Now they abound while the house Sparrow disappears from its native land.

RBN-1 The European Robin,, not a thrush.

RBN-02

RBN-3

RBN-4

Nunhead Cemetery, London, GB-ENG
Apr 5, 2014 11:50 AM. 13 species

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Domestic type)) X
Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) 40
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) 15
Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius) 2
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) 10
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) 25
Great Tit (Parus major) 2
Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) 6
Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) 10
Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita) 2
Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) 6
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) 20
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula) 8

Dulwich Park, London, GB-ENG
Apr 5, 2014 5:00 PM. 17 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 20
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 30
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) 6
Eurasian Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) 4
Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) 10
Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) 4
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Domestic type)) X
Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) 50
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) 15
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) 10
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) 8
Great Tit (Parus major) 4
Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) 2
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula) 16
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) 2
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 2
European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) 1

Posted by: atowhee | April 4, 2014

DULWICH BIRDS

After our mid-day arrival at Heathrow I wandered around Dulwich with our London friends, jay-lagged and birding starved. Not a single feather on our loooong BA flight over the pole.blbd-lndnEuropean Blackbird–not related to New World blackbirds but a near cousin to our American Robin in the thrush family.

COOT-MALLRDEuropean Coot and global Mallard

CROEW TOOCarrion Crows feeding in lawn.

CROW-CU-X

PIGEONS Wood Pigeons (native) and
Rock Pigeons (non-native).
Dulwich Park, London, GB-ENG
Apr 4, 2014 3:00 PM. 13 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) 12
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 15
Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) 8
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Domestic type)) 10
Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) 50
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica) 6
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) 20
Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) 1
Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) 1
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) 5
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula) 4
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) 1
Chaffinch, Eurasian Goldfinch
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) 2

Posted by: atowhee | April 1, 2014

APRIL COMES IN LIKE A LION

Cold, gray and windy. No foolin’BL-PH LOOKS
Black Phoebe along the bank of Ashland Pond.
NOFL PRFIL (1280x960)Flicker in treetop.

P1920478 (1280x960)
Purple Finch above, Downy below.
P1920482 (1280x960)

WTS FRM BK (1280x960)
White-throated Sparrow
wtsp side
CAGO FOUR (1280x960)

CAGO MOTORIN (1280x960)

CAGO QURTET (1280x960)

CAGO REFLX (1280x960)

CAGO TRIO (1280x960)

P1920442 (1280x960)
I’ll be in London soon but it’s much easier to find “English” sparrows here.
HOSP-TOO (1280x960)
SOME MARCH BIRDS
nofl front
Pair of Flickers take time out from drumming demo to probe our driveway ???
nofl pair
Mud turtle at rest, of course.
P1920152 (1280x960)

Posted by: atowhee | April 1, 2014

YIPES, STRIPES!

CALIFORNIA SCIENTISTS CALIM TO HAVE SOLVED THE MYSTERY OF HOW THE ZEBRA GOT ITS STRIPES..AND WHY. READ ON:

University of California, Davis
April 1, 2014

SCIENTISTS SOLVE THE RIDDLE OF ZEBRAS’ STRIPES
[editor's note: I presume this is not an April Fool's joke...]

Why zebras have black and white stripes is a question that has intrigued scientists and spectators for centuries. A research team led by the University of California, Davis, has now examined this riddle systematically. Their answer is published today, April 1, in the online journal Nature Communications.

The scientists found that biting flies, including horseflies and tsetse flies, are the evolutionary driver for zebra stripes. Experimental work had previously shown that such flies tend to avoid black-and-white striped surfaces, but many hypotheses for zebra stripes have been proposed since Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin debated the problem 120 years ago. These include:

* A form of camouflage
* Disrupting predatory attack by visually confusing carnivores
* A mechanism of heat management
* Having a social function
* Avoiding ectoparasite attack, such as from biting flies

The team mapped the geographic distributions of the seven different species of zebras, horses and asses, and of their subspecies, noting the thickness, locations, and intensity of their stripes on several parts of their bodies. Their next step was to compare these animals’ geographic ranges with different variables, including woodland areas, ranges of large predators, temperature, and the geographic distribution of glossinid (tsetse flies) and tabanid (horseflies) biting flies. They then examined where the striped animals and these variables overlapped.

After analyzing the five hypotheses, the scientists ruled out all but one: avoiding blood-sucking flies.

“I was amazed by our results,” said lead author Tim Caro, a UC Davis professor of wildlife biology. “Again and again, there was greater striping on areas of the body in those parts of the world where there was more annoyance from biting flies.”

While the distribution of tsetse flies in Africa is well known, the researchers did not have maps of tabanids (horseflies, deer flies). Instead, they mapped locations of the best breeding conditions for tabanids, creating an environmental proxy for their distributions. They found that striping is highly associated with several consecutive months of ideal conditions for tabanid reproduction.

Why would zebras evolve to have stripes whereas other hooved mammals did not? The study found that, unlike other African hooved mammals living in the same areas as zebras, zebra hair is shorter than the mouthpart length of biting flies, so zebras may be particularly susceptible to annoyance by biting flies.

“No one knew why zebras have such striking coloration,” Caro said. “But solving evolutionary conundrums increases our knowledge of the natural world and may spark greater commitment to conserving it.”

Yet in science, one solved riddle begets another: Why do biting flies avoid striped surfaces? Caro said that now that his study has provided ecological validity to the biting fly hypothesis, the evolutionary debate can move from why zebras have stripes to what prevents biting flies from seeing striped surfaces as potential prey, and why zebras are so susceptible to biting fly annoyance.

Co-authors on the study include Amanda Izzo and Hannah Walker with the UC Davis Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology; Robert C. Reiner Jr., of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and the Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health; and Theodore Stankowich with the Department of Biological Sciences at California State University, Long Beach.
ZEBRA FACES

ZEBRA LOOKS AWAY

ZEBRA REARS
My zebra pictures were taken on the dry grasslands of Uganda in 2010. That was before the country’s government decided to follow severe fundamentalist tactics against same-sex relationships. That will inevitably limit the number of westerners willing to travel to the country despite its wonderful wildlife and national parks.
ZEBRA ROLLS-MBUTO

ZEBRA SHOW REARS

ZEBRA TRIO--MBUTO

ZEBRAS TURN

Additional information:
* Read the study: http://www.nature.com/naturecommunications

Posted by: atowhee | March 31, 2014

HOW MANY SWALLOWS MAKE A SPRING?

I’ve now seen four swallow species this spring in Oregon. This morning I added two: two Northern Rough-winged and a Barn. Both were feeding low over the water at Ashland Pond. They had perhaps come north with the gusty wind-driven weather front that’s moving through the area. The two new species were among many Tree Swallows also feeding over the pond.


If you click on the last two photos to enlarge them you’ll see Tree swallow image as one buzzes across the pond, a blur at feeding time.
The Turkey Vultures had been forced dowbn into the4 cottonwoods along Bear Creek by the day’s cold, gusting wind. The male Red-winged Blackbird was displaying over one pond at North Mountain Park. The fungus there grew in small clump while the blossoming henbit formed a Lilliputian forest.

243 Granite Street, Ashland, Jackson, US-OR
Mar 30, 2014 8:00 AM. 10 species

Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata) X
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) X
Western Screech-Owl (Megascops kennicottii) 1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) 1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 1
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) 12
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 2
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) X
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) 15

Ashland, Jackson, US-OR
Mar 31, 2014 10:30 AM. 7 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) X
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) X
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) X
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) X

Ashland Pond, Jackson, US-OR
Mar 31, 2014 2:45 PM
Comments: very gusty. 14 species

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 1 fly over
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 1
Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) 1
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) 1
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus) 1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica) 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis) 2
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) 20
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) 1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula) 4
Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata) 1
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla) 25
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria) 1

Posted by: atowhee | March 29, 2014

THE RETURN OF THE CRANES

The following poem and picture was sent to me by Kirk Gooding, a fellow crane lover. Sandhill Cranes have returned to the meadows around Howard Prairie as they have each year for eons since the lava flows there cooled and gradually were clothed in grass and forbs:

“Constancy”

“Last year,

Two Sand-hill Cranes pecked last year’s seeds

Far out in the stubbled fields.

This year,

They walk along the riverbank,

Discussing the beauty of their shadows.

Next year,

We will wait for them again,

Red crowns bobbing up and down in the mist.”

-Kirk GoodingCRANES--GOODING

HERE IN ASHLAND, OREGON, THE KLAMATH BIRD OBSERVATORY IS SPONSORING OUR FIRST-EVER MOUNTAIN BIRD FESTIVAL. IT IS MAY 30-JUNE 1. WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER, CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD, WESTERN SCREECH-OWL, SANDHILL CRANES ON NESTING GROUNDS, BOTH EAGLES, NESTING OSPREY, ACORN & LEWIS’S WOODPECKERS, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD AND CHICKADEE, HERMIT AND MACGILLIVRAY’S WARBLER, CASSIN’S FINCH AND VIREO, BAND-TAILED PIGEON, BLACK TERN, RED-BREASTED AND WILLIAMSON’S SAPSUCKERS, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE, LAZULI BUNTING, AMERICAN DIPPER, WRENTIT, TOWNSEND’S SOLITAIRE–SOME OF THE BIRDS WE EXPECT TO SEE. WITH A LITTLE BIRDING MOJO WE CAN ADD GREAT GRAY OWL, SOOTY GROUSE, MOUNTAIN QUAIL, NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL, SWAINSON’S HAWK, EVENING GROSBEAK AND NORTHERN GOSHAWK.

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