Friday, June 2, 2017

Pennine flank birding !

I live on the eastern flanks of the Pennine chain at the western end of South Yorkshire  ( OK, read it again slowly ! ).  You can gain a feel of the sorts of habitats available by looking at the map I posted in a previous recent entry. And it was to parts of this area that Matthew and I directed our attention this morning. Early on it was a bit murky at higher levels, but visibility was still acceptable.

The first surprise was near to home. A Little Owl flew from a perch on telegraph wires to "take on" a Blackbird in a nearby mature tree , perhaps a good indication of a breeding territory  and a good record for the local patch. On to Whitley Common , where numbers of Lapwings, not that large but with some youngsters, was particularly pleasing.   Ingbirchworth Reservoir held 4 Common Shelduck, 4 Grey Heron, a Cormorant, 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 8 Grey lag Geese and at least 7 Great Crested Grebe, and that was without walking round.  Scout Dike Reservoir held precious little, and so we moved on.

Immediately previous to the chosen  " breakfast cabin " Matthew had a Hobby from the car, which I couldn't see,  £$$%%**, damn.  Restored with cholesterol and strong tea and coffee we moved on to Langsett Reservoir, setting aside the temptation to go for the much visited local Wood Warbler and even the  Pied Flycatchers, and explored some woodland I doubt gets that many visits. I can understand why perhaps, but it was worth it in some senses, although we didn't unearth anything ! The reservoir had shown around 40 Canada Geese, a Mute Swan and a Mallard brood, but little else.   Scrutiny over a local moorland provided Common Buzzard and Cuckoo.

On to Broomhead. The environs of recent international and national  bike races of prominence and, as a consequence, improved road surfaces !  A longer scouring of local woodlands provided a good selection of expected and typical species , but no Crossbills as we had hoped for.   Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, titmice, Nuthatch and a pleasing number of Song Thrushes in song was sufficiently satisfying plus a Grey Wagtail collecting food nearby to the local reservoir.  

And so a long morning came to an end, but a satisfying one at that !

New Indian photographic field guide.

Strangely enough I've never actually been to the Indian sub-continent and for no good reason either !  This book now justifies a reason to plan not one, but several, visits!

The title is a long one! " A Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh " by Grewal, Sen, Singh, Devasar and  Bhatia.  And for those of you whose minds immediately raise a query, yes, the Andaman Islands are covered too !

This book provides precisely what is "claimed on the tin" in the form of 4000 coloured photographs of high quality covering every distinct species  and sub-species in the specified area ( some 1375 in all ). A distribution map is provided for most of the species alongside brief details of Voice, Range and Habitat coupled with a succinct description of the bird itself.

The photographs! They're superb!  It would be difficult to make a Yellow-bellied Babbler look "sexy"  but page 498 presents a bird which creditably holds its own amongst a plethora of more colourful, resplendent individuals !  It would also  be wrong to select a favourite, in fact, it would be nigh on impossible given the selection available. Make your own choices!

At nearly 800 pages this is not, in my opinion,  a Field Guide for the field unless used judiciously.  In addition to weight, I doubt it would stand up to repeated "thumbings through" or inclement weather as the binding is a little bit flimsy. However, as a reference book at the end of the day it is an absolute essential for every trip For heavens sake don't forget to pack it !.

Published by Princeton University Press ( ISBN 978-0-691-17649-7 ) , but , in the UK, simply contact Wildsounds.