Friday, December 06, 2013

Eating Pigeon

A pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus) in London are well known for their Feral Pigeon (Columba livia domest.) eating habits. This one managed to escape but dropped into the middle of the lake as it succumbed to fatal injuries inflicted by one of the pair. The gulls were unable to eat the bird in the water but waited patiently for 30 minutes until it drifted back to the shoreline. By this time the pigeon was extremely weak and a final lunge seem to finish it off.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cormorants fishing

More to come at:

No image on this blog or related sites may be used, copied, or re-posted without permission or payment.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Italian Gulls

I was in Italy recently having a 'normal' holiday... binocular-free. Of course I added Italian Sparrow to my life list and enjoyed seeing Blue Rock Thrush on Rome's Colosseum. In Venice, we came across a small square where a fish market stall was being set up with the catch being gutted and cleaned over a street drain. This was attracting Yellow-legged Gulls. While Lisa wrote her postcards, I took a few photographs and made some sound-recordings (no microphone with me) using the built-in mics on my small handheld device. Life in the square was noisy with locals, tourists and gulls! 

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Venice, Italy, 28/09/13

Ad Yellow-legged Gull, Venice, Italy, 28/09/13
Ad Yellow-legged Gull, Venice, Italy, 28/09/13

                         Long call from an adult at a small fish market stall.

                          Mewing calls from birds scavenging around a small fish market stall.

                          Calls from squabbling birds scavenging around a small fish market stall.

Waiting for scraps of fish being gutted at the market stall

Juvenile/1st-autumn Yellow-legged Gull, Venice, Italy, 28/09/13

4th-autumn Yellow-legged Gull, Venice, Italy, 28/09/13

2nd-autumn Yellow-legged Gull, Venice, Italy, 28/09/13

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Venice, Italy, 28/09/13

3rd-autumn Yellow-legged Gull, Venice, Italy, 28/09/13

Friday, July 12, 2013

Woodlark Music

Here is an excerpt of a ten minute recording I made of a Woodlark (Lullula arborea) which was was singing on the wing at a considerable height. Not only is it quite beautiful to listen to, the resulting sonograms look like music!

Selection of strophes/phrases from a 10 minute recording of a Woodlark (Lullula arborea) in aerial song-flight

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Nightjar Sounds in Surrey

Last weekend I took the bike on the train down to Surrey to observe and listen to Eurasian Nightjars (Caprimulgus europaeus). Arriving an hour before sunset a Woodlark was singing its endless song in the sky and a Dartford Warbler was giving a few bursts of scratchy warbles form the heather. About 40 minutes before sunset I heard a couple of short churrs from pine woodland. Just as the sun disappeared, when conditions were still warm with little wind, several Nightjars emerged to feed and display over the heathland. For the next hour I was surrounded by calling, churring and wing-clapping birds. Watching these mysterious birds float buoyantly around in the half-light against a warm sunset with the scent of pine and aromatic heathland plants made for a memorable summer experience. But then it was a race back in the dark to catch the last train to Waterloo.

Territorial male churring song from sandy heathland with pines.

Territorial churring song followed by wing-clapping display flight.

Calls from a male in flight.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Duetting Scops Owls

Earlier this month I was birding in Extremadura in western Spain, camping on the edge of Monfragüe National Park. Each morning I woke to the sounds of Hoopoes and Iberian (Azure-winged) Magpies. In the evening after sunset, Eurasian Scops Owls (Otus scops) began 'singing' and one evening I managed to locate a bird about 600 metres away on the road to Malpartida de Plasencia. 

Dehesa habitat around Monfragüe
What was most interesting was that from a distance it sounded like a single bird, but on getting closer it didn't sound like a typical Scops Owl. In fact, what I was hearing was both a male and female in perfect, overlapping synchronisation. Have a listen to the sound recordings below (and click the sonograms for a larger image). The male is producing the lower frequency sound at 1.23-1.94 kHz, with the female at 1.41-1.61 kHz.

Duetting pair with almost perfect synchronisation; the female is producing the second, quieter, shorter and higher-pitched part.

Detail from the above sonogram showing the duet detail: Male song in blue Female song in red

At times the female would drop out of the duet, and the sound clip and sonogram below shows the male vocalising alone. It appeared to produce a slightly longer note when not duetting.

Song/territorial call from the male.