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Old Sunday 2nd December 2007, 22:05   #26
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Great to have you on board Calum and hope your obvious knowledge and experience will help this thread prosper. Good sightings today for you, 3 GND's was great, but I'm sure we feel a bit deflated by the result at Pittodrie.

Look forward to you producing some sound recordings this winter for the thread
Did you have to mention the score, I had forgotten ALL about it

As for sound recordings,I have the kit, just have to read up on it.

Glory,glory
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Old Monday 3rd December 2007, 20:03   #27
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Torness

Good to seeing other upping the virtues of our local nuclear power station!!

For those of you with young kids I thoroughly recommend a trip here: the prom is great for them to learn to ride bikes on; at low tides the rocks between the prom and Thorntonloch are great for rockpooling; the walls provide some shelter from the ever present biting wind; the lifeboat in the harbour is another attraction; the fishermen at the warm water outflow and the harbour are generally happy to show off any fish or lobsters they have caught; my kids find the lighthouse at the end of the walk has magical lollypop providing powers!!

As for the birding, the mixed habitat has recently provided great views of curlew, peewits, a short eared owl, great crested grebe and many others. I'm not great with my LBJ's or rareties but apparently its good for them too.

As for the blonde cop with the shooter, out of respect for my Mrs I'll make no comment but I know who you mean
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Old Monday 3rd December 2007, 20:08   #28
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sorry about rubbish english, on goblet of wine no.3!!.

First line should begin: "Good to see others upping"
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Old Monday 3rd December 2007, 23:07   #29
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As for the blonde cop with the shooter, out of respect for my Mrs I'll make no comment but I know who you mean
Glad you have taken all the sights onboard.

I seem to have a thing about female coppers, the stunning barmaid at my local left to become one, sadly I never got the chance to try out her set of handcuffs on me

Strangely a pint at the local has never been the same since.
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Old Tuesday 4th December 2007, 12:06   #30
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Good to seeing other upping the virtues of our local nuclear power station!!

For those of you with young kids I thoroughly recommend a trip here: the prom is great for them to learn to ride bikes on; at low tides the rocks between the prom and Thorntonloch are great for rockpooling; the walls provide some shelter from the ever present biting wind; the lifeboat in the harbour is another attraction; the fishermen at the warm water outflow and the harbour are generally happy to show off any fish or lobsters they have caught; my kids find the lighthouse at the end of the walk has magical lollypop providing powers!!
I totally agree. I had many happy childhood days at Dunbar harbour clambouring on the rocks and hiding behind the sea walls to avoid the biting wind. I must take my kids one day.
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Old Saturday 8th December 2007, 16:17   #31
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Back to Torness

Child chauffering duties meant I could not get out till late morning and it was back to the hot spot that is Torness(in the birding and not radiation sense) in pursuit of my bogey bird that had been seen there yesterday. A couple of birders were looking into a stubble field from the Skateraw road but the only visble birds were numerous skylarks. I decided to go to the quieter Barns Ness end. So after a look around the lighthouse I walked up to the field. Here there were obviously many more birds though it wasn't easy to keep out of sight. 5 snow buntings flew over giving their distinctive rippling call. I had almost worked my way to the end of the field when I saw just 20 yards away my target, a lapland bunting(a lifer)- I was really struck by the rich chestnut colours.

Off then to Torness where again I met with the machine gun toting constabulary-more human in their approach this time-still to meet the nice blonde mentioned in previous posts.... Never quite sure if they are bemused or amused when they see me. Again it was beginning to pour down and the wind was picking up so it was time to head home
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Old Saturday 8th December 2007, 18:40   #32
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Thanks Mark for your Devilish post, glad you got your lifer.

I stayed in and listened to the game on the radio up in Inverness, due to the crap weather, boy was that a thrill
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Old Friday 14th December 2007, 19:13   #33
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Ferny Ness and the local patch

Well I was up early today with the first of a batch of 255 student studies to mark. The only diversion was both the male and the female local sparrowhawks making unsuccessful passes at the feeder and sitting for a while on the apple tree.

So after several hours graft and as my concentration waned and as it was a fine if cold day decided to head out. The wind was dropping so I set out for Ferny Ness just past Longniddry. The big surprise was that the sea was almost completely calm and there were lots of birds about. A first scan produced about 20 red breasted mergansers. There were about 10 long tailed ducks calling and splashing about. Lots of common and velvet scoter and a couple of razorbills. West into the bay were the familiar shape of about 20 slavonian grebes. They were almost directly into the low sun so I walked round to the south side of the bay. Here I could see them well though distantly and one looked different in shape-I walked out across the sand out to the point and looked again. There 50 yards out was a bird I've not seen before-a grebe with peaked head, white extending well up the back of the head, fine bill and a bit smaller and more compact looking than the neighbouring slavs-a black-necked grebe-a lifer for me. Had great views before I headed back. Met the ex-warden from Musselburgh as I was leaving with digiscope in hand walking out to the point so maybe there will be a pic on the SOC site soon.

Otherwise back at home the mistle thrush just up the road continues to chase all comers from his berry trees-he even gave me a rattle and a beady eye as I went up Arthur's Seat on Wed am. I always regard Musselburgh as my local patch but Arthur's Seat and Holyrood Park is my real local,local patch. It does get good birds from time to time but not too often. Some snow bunting had been seen so up I went Crow Hill-the path up the south edge is not well known-it has great views and 2 stonechatswere at the base of the final climb. Just past the summit I heard a trilling as two dogs flushed five snow buntings down the hill towards Dunsapie. I went down the hill only to find the birds being flushed back up the hill by 2 walkers. Up I went again and the same process happened again. By now my quadriceps were complaining bitterly so I sat down and five minutes later the small calling flock alighted just 20 yards away. Nice to get such close views of these lovely birds and a local patch tick. Going down the hill were 2 more stonechats. And for final entertainmemt the mistle thrush was being driven to the edge of psychosis by a small party of bullfinches trying to nick his berries......
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Old Saturday 15th December 2007, 17:56   #34
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The weather was bliss today, a cold crisp morning with no wind and blue skies with sunshine, a million times better than last weekends storm lashed trials.
A great day to get out and about, whether there was no decent birds or not!

Started the day off with a look at Belhaven Bay, not much their(as usual) so it was on to nearby Seafield Pond, where a fine 1st w male Scaup showed alongside the Wigeon,Tuftie's and Mallard's.
The 2005 Aythya hybrid has also returned to this spot after a years absence, thought to be Pochard X Red Crested Pochard.

Next was a search of the Belhaven and Tyninghame saltmarsh for any lurking Shorelark's or Lap Bunt's, plenty of Skylark's but nothing out of the ordinary except a fine male Merlin on prey and the usual winter flock of Twite, c150 birds noted.
Offshore, 2 Slav Grebe's( unusual on the Lothian North Sea coast, but becoming more regular it seems these days) and 4-5 Red-throated Diver.

Next on the agenda was Scoughall, Kingfisher perched on rock's on the shoreline and a Peregrine making a pass at the assembled Crows and Lapwing in the fields was about it.

Time was getting on so we made our way to Seton Burn through the fields,2nd w Med Gull present, although admittedly I didn't see it as I was back in the warm confines of the car asleep at this point!

Musselburgh was disappointing on the Gull front so it was off home, ran a hot bath, switched the tranny on and got the last fifteen minutes of the Hibernian v Falkirk game whilst soaking up the heat, 1-0 up excellent this is bliss when the f*****s scored an equaliser to ruin a good day!!
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Old Sunday 16th December 2007, 19:39   #35
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This weekend's great weather had me thinking about doing some sound recording, Crossbill's in particular.
This is a new venture for me so it was basically about learning how to use the equipment and so on, that's if I could find any Crossbill that is!

An area I always scored with Crossbill whilst doing Lothian year listing in previous years is the Harperrigg area, not too far away from my house in west Edinburgh, so off I went.

Arrived at the reservoir and parked up by the fishing hut, I was glad to see there was no sign of the numpty whom I had words with the last time I was up there, the notice on the door stated that he wasn't due back until the start of the fishing season in March.

So it was a quick undisturbed look at the res with the scope with quite a few duck and Cormorant on show, the water level was incredibly low due to the new flood prevention scheme for the Water of Leith, and I thought that came from the many bars around Easter Road too(home of Hibernian for any of you uninitiated out there)

Anyway enough ramblings, I then headed west along the road towards Colzium farm until I came to the forest tracks of the Colzium forest, where I entered the forest.

I encountered a flyover Xbill straight away, but as usual I was not ready for it, but at least there was birds around.
I had several other flyover's and managed some recording's, I then managed to find a flock of 13 birds perched close by where once again I managed some recording, unfortunately they then moved a short distance into the forest, out of sight and earshot!
I remembered that when I was in Finland in March of this year that Xbill's, and about anything else for that matter, responded to Pygmy Owl recording's
Now obviously I am no Pygmy Owl, and did not have a recording to hand,so I did some pishing!
It worked a treat the birds flew back to were they originally where and settled down to feed, I got recording's of the bird's calling away, the sounds of the wings as they flew from branch to branch, as well as the sound of cones dropping from the canopy.
The highlight was when they were spooked by something as they exploded out of the trees, wings whirring, cones dropping and a cacophony of sounds emanating from the birds as they came straight over my head.
Mission accomplished!

A quick look at Bavelaw on the way home produced Whooper Swan and good numbers of Mallard and Teal.
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Old Sunday 16th December 2007, 20:38   #36
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This weekend's great weather had me thinking about doing some sound recording, Crossbill's in particular.
This is a new venture for me so it was basically about learning how to use the equipment and so on, that's if I could find any Crossbill that is!

An area I always scored with Crossbill whilst doing Lothian year listing in previous years is the Harperrigg area, not too far away from my house in west Edinburgh, so off I went.

Arrived at the reservoir and parked up by the fishing hut, I was glad to see there was no sign of the numpty whom I had words with the last time I was up there, the notice on the door stated that he wasn't due back until the start of the fishing season in March.

So it was a quick undisturbed look at the res with the scope with quite a few duck and Cormorant on show, the water level was incredibly low due to the new flood prevention scheme for the Water of Leith, and I thought that came from the many bars around Easter Road too(home of Hibernian for any of you uninitiated out there)

Anyway enough ramblings, I then headed west along the road towards Colzium farm until I came to the forest tracks of the Colzium forest, where I entered the forest.

I encountered a flyover Xbill straight away, but as usual I was not ready for it, but at least there was birds around.
I had several other flyover's and managed some recording's, I then managed to find a flock of 13 birds perched close by where once again I managed some recording, unfortunately they then moved a short distance into the forest, out of sight and earshot!
I remembered that when I was in Finland in March of this year that Xbill's, and about anything else for that matter, responded to Pygmy Owl recording's
Now obviously I am no Pygmy Owl, and did not have a recording to hand,so I did some pishing!
It worked a treat the birds flew back to were they originally where and settled down to feed, I got recording's of the bird's calling away, the sounds of the wings as they flew from branch to branch, as well as the sound of cones dropping from the canopy.
The highlight was when they were spooked by something as they exploded out of the trees, wings whirring, cones dropping and a cacophony of sounds emanating from the birds as they came straight over my head.
Mission accomplished!

A quick look at Bavelaw on the way home produced Whooper Swan and good numbers of Mallard and Teal.
Fascinating story Calum, especially about the Pygmy Owl/pishing-will be interested to see how soon you can get the software going and some interpretation of the recordings. Have got my daughters minidisc player- just waiting to see if Santa will produce a mic.....
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Old Sunday 16th December 2007, 20:54   #37
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Fascinating story Calum, especially about the Pygmy Owl/pishing-will be interested to see how soon you can get the software going and some interpretation of the recordings. Have got my daughters minidisc player- just waiting to see if Santa will produce a mic.....
Cheers Mark,

I listened to my recording's when I got home and it seem's that my suspicion's of two different flight call types from two different groups at the time might be correct.
Hopefully I can get both of these as a sonagram,once I have worked out how to do it,and see if this is a fact or not.

Hope Santa is good to you, if he is I would recommened Colzium as there are plenty of birds up there at the moment, I had at least 30 today.

cheers and good birding

PS Collin's MUST go, too many duds signed in the summer for me as well as some shocking tactical play.
Mc Gee for Hibs!!
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Old Monday 31st December 2007, 20:43   #38
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With two weeks off work due to holidays I was looking forward to some decent birding, however birding lately can only be best described as grim.

Three solid days resulted in just a Scaup, Kingfisher, Med Gull and a couple of Lesser-black backed Gulls entering the pages of my notebook.

Fortunately the Calvary arrived in the shape of Spotted Sandpiper in Forth and Cattle Egret in Dumf & Gall, both Scottish ticks and both duly collected.

Back to the bread and butter, but still quiet in the last few days so it was off sound recording Xbills again.
Saw at least 42 and managed some recordings.
Afterwards I headed off to Cobbinshaw were a very distant duck caught my interest!
It was small,almost Grebe like at that range and through the low drizzle and gloom the head shape and what I was sure was white cheeks had me thinking redhead Smew, a closer look was needed!
I set off around the fields surrounding the res until I re-found the Smew a lot closer.
By then the weather had set in for the day, so a rather wet, drookit, but otherwise happy birder set off for home!
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Old Wednesday 2nd January 2008, 18:01   #39
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Black-necked Grebe, BL-throated Diver, Red-necked Grebe as well as 15+ Slavonian Grebe at Ferny Ness,Gosford.
Two Nuthatch in Gosford estate.
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Old Saturday 5th January 2008, 19:53   #40
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Shorelark, Slav Grebe, c120 Twite and 6 Greenshank Tyninghame.
Jack Snipe and 35 Common's Belhaven
Hundreds of large Gulls between Belhaven and Whitesands, mostly in flight over the storm lashed shoreline, but no sign of any white wingers today, but there's always tomorrow
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Old Friday 11th January 2008, 20:50   #41
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Well after a heavy week at work and terrible weather I looked forward to today off-until I got a court summons on Tuesday meaning I had to remain at home on standby-thankfully at 1pm I got permission to stand down. So there was time for a first wander round Musselburgh this year. And it must have been really cold in the last few days because this normally frost free seaside spot was largely frozen apart from one small part of one scrape.

After the incessant rain, wind and sleet of the last few days it was good to have a calm day. A kingfisher did his usual party piece at the esk mouth. Goldeneye reached a record for me of 135. 10 or so longtailed ducks, 10 or so slavs, 50+velvet scoter were the highlight on the sea with some being so close in that I could capture them with a 400mm lens.

The scrapes were crammed with wigeon and teal on the one free bit of watern with the bonus of a male gadwall

Nothing outof the ordinary but just so damn good to get out in clear calm fresh air after the last few days
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Old Saturday 12th January 2008, 17:39   #42
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Harperrig and Bavelaw area

I decided to have my first look at Harperrig having read Calum's reports. It was a fabulous cold clear winters day and when I arrived the road down to the fishery car park looked too icy to go down so I parked off the main road. This was fortuitous as I heard loud "tooping" as soon as I reached the first set of conifers barely 50 yards down the track. I got decent views of about 20 crossbills for 3-4 minutes and even remembered to try and take a picture. Harperrig was 95% frozen over and 60 mallards and nothing else vied for the little patch of unfrozen water. I walked up towards the main forest and had fly overs of 4 & 6 more xbills. I got brief views of another 10 at the edge of the main forest before it was time to move on.

I went to a favoured spot from last year-an area of set aside near Buteland farm. There were several hundred finches and buntings flying into the field and up to the few low trees. Probably about 15 bramblings,20+ yellowhammer,20+reed bunting with the majority being chaffinches and smaller numbers of other birds. A little further along were 15-20 twites

Time to head then to Easter Road-a raucous atmosphere and superb result as we thrashed our bogey team ICT 3-0-a great start for the new manager, Mixu A fine end to a good day
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Old Sunday 13th January 2008, 21:32   #43
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Hi Mark,

Good to see you connected with quite a few Xbill's, did you get any recording's ?

Weekend's birds for me was Black-necked Grebe still of Ferny Ness on Saturday and redhead Smew still at Linlithgow today, as well as a fly-over Raven which is very unusual for there I suspect.
Went for seconds of the Spotted Sandpiper at Kinneil, just outside the Lothian border, but as we were so close we decided to go.
We found a nice 1st w Glaucous Gull also.
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Old Monday 14th January 2008, 19:33   #44
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Hi folks,
I've just found this excellent thread full of great excursions to the coast. I remember what that was like, before I became desperately addicted to crossbills.
Great photos! Makes me all nostalgic for Musselburgh. It's only 10 miles away but I haven't been for ages. How sad is that?
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Old Monday 14th January 2008, 21:28   #45
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Hi Mark,

Good to see you connected with quite a few Xbill's, did you get any recording's ?
No-I ordered a mic and was then got told it would take the shop 2 months to get another of the type in. Could have tried elsewhere but treated myself to a USB turntable instead so I can put my old vinyl onto the hard drive. Still it comes with audacity so I am getting used to that. Feel a bit ambivalent about a mic TBH. Though I am OK at song call and often find it easier than id by sight, part of me says just get on with concentrating and learning calls/song-the other half says , well recording what you hear is a good way to learn-so I don't know..........
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Old Monday 14th January 2008, 21:57   #46
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No-I ordered a mic and was then got told it would take the shop 2 months to get another of the type in. Could have tried elsewhere but treated myself to a USB turntable instead so I can put my old vinyl onto the hard drive. Still it comes with audacity so I am getting used to that. Feel a bit ambivalent about a mic TBH. Though I am OK at song call and often find it easier than id by sight, part of me says just get on with concentrating and learning calls/song-the other half says , well recording what you hear is a good way to learn-so I don't know..........
Enjoy the turntable and the sounds from years gone by, I still have Freebird by Leonard Skinnard on 12" picture disk from years gone by, sitting in the garage. There was nothing like it , spinning round on the deck full blast, as well as earlier stones & U2 albums
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Old Sunday 20th January 2008, 11:58   #47
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Back to Harperrig

This week produced a bonus in the form of a female blackcap-a first ever for my garden and especially good coming in winter.

Today I went back up to Harperrig-It was sunny when I left but cold and raw with the sun trying to break through low cloud and a gentle but raw wind. A hour+ walk round the forest and I was about to give up when 10,8 and 5 crossbills flew into the sitka spruce just past West Cairns. What seemed odd to me was that they seemed to be chewing at the buds at the top of the trees(see pic 2) rather than the cones. Anyway views for 3 or 4 minutes and then off they went. Another 5 flew over calling on the way back.

Unfortunately the birds were into the light so the pictures were poor-though the silhouettes look nice-artful some might say if being charitable, just plain c**p if being more objective. Hmm....

Nothing of interest amongst the 100 or so geese feeding at the resevoir edge-couldn't believe how low the reservoir was given the recent rainfall
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Old Sunday 20th January 2008, 20:23   #48
Acanthis
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Originally Posted by markgrubb View Post
Today I went back up to Harperrig-It was sunny when I left but cold and raw with the sun trying to break through low cloud and a gentle but raw wind. A hour+ walk round the forest and I was about to give up when 10,8 and 5 crossbills flew into the sitka spruce just past West Cairns. What seemed odd to me was that they seemed to be chewing at the buds at the top of the trees(see pic 2) rather than the cones. Anyway views for 3 or 4 minutes and then off they went. Another 5 flew over calling on the way back.

Unfortunately the birds were into the light so the pictures were poor-though the silhouettes look nice-artful some might say if being charitable, just plain c**p if being more objective. Hmm....
Mark, I've got a load of shots like that too! Sad to say they're among my best xbill shots.
Good weather this weekend for crossbilling. Unfortunately I had a relation staying so couldn't slope off to the hills. Tomorrow though I'll be in the far-east (Dunbar ) all afternoon so I might get over to Tyninghame, John Muir CP, or down to check woods between Coldingham and Co'path hopefully.
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Old Wednesday 23rd January 2008, 23:23   #49
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We missed each other it seems Mark.
I was up there from 11.30-3.00pm on Sunday.
I walked both forestry tracks just after the house with the incessant barking dogs, I encountered around 20-30 Crossbill's all on the right track.
Managed to record a few more flight and excitement calls, although I have been too busy to do anything with them so far.
An interesting point was that in a previous post in this thread I mentioned how well pishing worked on Crossbill's, we'll i've gotta say they ignored me this time, or at least the vast majority did!!
I had read somewhere in Birdforum that another member had a similar experiance, so perhaps some types respond well to pishing, but other's dont, just a thought.
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Old Sunday 27th January 2008, 09:52   #50
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An interesting point was that in a previous post in this thread I mentioned how well pishing worked on Crossbill's, we'll i've gotta say they ignored me this time, or at least the vast majority did!!
I had read somewhere in Birdforum that another member had a similar experiance, so perhaps some types respond well to pishing, but other's dont, just a thought.
I hate that. It's usually a pair sitting there quite the thing, ignoring you completely, while you pish till you're blue in the face. Ever done that and then realised your being watched by a walker or somebody? I have! Talk about cringe with embarassment!!
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