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Birding in the time of Coronavirus

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Old Monday 20th April 2020, 20:24   #126
Jos Stratford
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The Whinchat I would have to check but it might be my first Polish record, this used to elude us for years here and I don't know if we ever broke it. They are much more common in the Czech Republic (and I presume also southern Poland, where we were only very rarely stopping by).
Whinchats are common in good habitat in north-east Poland, and indeed are a common breeder across Lithuania to the north.
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Old Monday 20th April 2020, 20:36   #127
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Whinchats are common in good habitat in north-east Poland, and indeed are a common breeder across Lithuania to the north.
This statement had me thinking (because you have clearly a lot of firsthand experience here) and so I looked it up - and I am really sorry, I had the English names switched and meant Stonechat! Whinchat is indeed quite common.

Apologies!
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Old Monday 20th April 2020, 20:58   #128
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Ah yes, Stonechat is rather rare - and in Lithuania it is, more or less, an occasional visitor and sporadic breeder
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Old Monday 20th April 2020, 21:08   #129
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It's the opposite here: Stonechat very common throughout the year, Whinchat only during migration. And, Jos, you can borrow a Firecrest anytime if you lend me a LSE, or a Caper, or a Woody....
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Old Tuesday 21st April 2020, 11:55   #130
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News reached me that a Short-toed Eagle was observed a few days ago above my aforementioned patch - which means that it could have been visible from my window, had I been looking :) Probably the first ever record for Warsaw - in Poland they actually breed, but in a remote part and very small numbers. It's a fascinating little location here, even Blyth's Reed Warbler was recorded several times.
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Old Tuesday 21st April 2020, 12:55   #131
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Cold spring....windy many days. Have been out a few times but mainly bird in the backyard. Hummers should start showing up soon, ...warblers too
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Old Tuesday 21st April 2020, 17:44   #132
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Even though the closure of all accomodations doesn't affect us directly as we would be sleeping in the wild anyway, we get the idea of it (to not spread the virus between unevenly affected regions) and voluntarily play along and stay in Warsaw and do day trips. This way at least I get to discover the overlooked local gems. Today I went to a really random patch at the edge of town, between an oxbow lake, some grasslands and woods and a weirdly abandoned romantic-style park with a huge pond. Let's pretend I keep an "lockdown and after" list, then the additons would be Yellowhammer, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Mute Swan, Mallard, Greylag Goose, Lapwing, Common Tern, Jay, Savi's Warbler, Kestrel, Gray Heron, White Wagtail and I forgot Blackcap from yesterday. Nothing groundbreaking, but still extremely pleasant and again completely devoid of people despite being (just) inside the city limits.
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Old Tuesday 21st April 2020, 19:55   #133
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Very quiet today, as the weather was even gloomier than yesterday. Also in the afternoon we attended an online lecture on waders identification organised by EBN Italy - not that we expect to be able to see any waders in the near future, but you never know!

Specie were the usual: Black Redstart, Great and Marsh Tit, Magpie, Tree Sparrow, the usual pair of Jays, Chaffinch, and I heard a Firecrest again, let's hope it stays around!

Good to hear you are out and about again Jan. Keep us posted!
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Old Wednesday 22nd April 2020, 18:53   #134
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Only 5 species seen/heard today as the rain was relentless - a good thing as it was long overdue: Great Tit, Jay Chaffinch, Blackbird and Magpie.

Sorry folks, not very entertaining, I know, but maybe tomorrow it will be better, sunshine forecast and I'll drive to my mum's, so fingers crossed!
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Old Wednesday 22nd April 2020, 19:11   #135
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Well it's all relative - what would people here give for some rain... the Biebrza park is burning, marshes are low, crop yields threatened. Well at least it's nice to go out. Today I drove 45 minutes to the Bug river, the closest "big birding" spot. Added a plenty of species: Raven, Chaffinch, Woodlark, Green Sandpiper, Cuckoo, Merganser, Ruff, Gadwall, Crane, Bittern, Black-headed gull, Coot, Garganey, Whinchat (for real this time), Hoopoe, Sedge warbler, Barn Swallow, Great Cormorant, Great Egret, White Stork

The mosquitoes are just about beginning to come out, not biting yet, but the best week of the year (green but not bitey) is coming to an end quickly.
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Old Wednesday 22nd April 2020, 20:09   #136
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More rain is needed here too. The last proper rain we had (before the last three days) was in November. And no snow either. So it has been very welcome, but it's still not enough. More is forecast for next week.
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Old Wednesday 22nd April 2020, 20:12   #137
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More rain is needed here too. The last proper rain we had (before the last three days) was in November. And no snow either. So it has been very welcome, but it's still not enough. More is forecast for next week.
You mentioned your House Martins arriving and then disappearing: could that be because they can't find mud for nest-building?

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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 13:24   #138
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Could be, but they have been doing the same thing for the past three years, and last year, for example, we had a very wet spring - I can't remember the year before. Previously we had a few pairs nesting in the building opposite (some nests are still there) and hundreds around town. 🤔
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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 20:34   #139
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The morning dawned bright and windy, and as I prepared to set off I was hoping that the day would bring new species for my semi-lockdown list. My targets were Marsh Harrier, Hobby and Turtle Dove (a Red-footed Falcon would have been nice, too). Needless to say I dipped on all of them, although a distant blob seen from a stretch of a road where I couldn’t possibly stop could well have been a Marsh Harrier. Nonetheless on the way back there were a couple of nice surprises.

The Swifts were back after the rainy spell, and I saw a Coal Tit and a Marsh Tit around the feeders. Leaving town several House Martins were flying around a building where they usually nest. I saw 4 Buzzards in half an hour, all perched by the side of the road and the last three in the same 3 km of road. I also heard a couple of Cirl Buntings, Cetti’s Warbler, Greenfinch and Nightingale and saw Jay, Wood Pigeon, House Martins, Swallows, Corn Buntings, 8 Little Egrets in a field, a Zitting Cisticola, Serins and Goldfinches. When I reached my mum’s town there must have been a million of Swifts around and several Jackdaws.

On the return trip, the field where I had seen the Zitting Cisticola held uncounted Cattle Egrets, probably around 30 and I also saw a flyby Mallard, incredibly a new species for my list. The first surprise was where I was hoping to see Turtle Doves, on a bramble branch by the side of the road a cracking male Subalpine Warbler, which would have been impossible to see in normal conditions along a busy road, immediately after another Corn Bunting and the only Stonechat of the day. I stopped for a few minutes on a bridge as the stream below sometimes has Little Ringed Plovers and Stone Curlews. Instead I got a Little Egret and a Cormorant. Soon after the only Kestrel of the trip and a few km from home a singing Mistle Thrush another Cirl Bunting and a last Buzzard.

Could have been better, could have been worse, but it was surely better than staying at home, the only problem is that it gave me a taste for more!

Also quite a few orchids around, mostly green-winged orchid (I think)
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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 20:46   #140
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A nice selection indeed, fortunate indeed you have a mother in another town 👍
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Old Friday 24th April 2020, 10:13   #141
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Still in "full" lockdown here and we're lucky to have a reasonable garden away from the city but the frustration is mounting. We have a wren building nests (still) and I've spent time in a portable hide trying to get a picture to do justice to a lovely bird.
He's become used to the hide now and deafens me by landing just above my head and then singing loudly in my ear!
This morning it was so bad that I was reduced to capturing images of woodies flying over the garden until, at last, a brief chance of the wren as he returned to a nest with more bedding.
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Old Friday 24th April 2020, 10:17   #142
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A good selection indeed - interesting combination of southern and highland vibes!

Here, we are more limited to the "lowland marsh" vibes :) I couldn't go out yesterday because our neighbors got mental and we had to have a mediation session with the house owner. I am still not sure what them putting a stone under my front viper and an empty PET bottle under the rear one was supposed to signify and I probably never will.

On the flip side, that finally forced me to wake up early and go in the morning and for the first time in like six weeks also my wife was outside with me. We went 40 minutes in a different direction to a small reserve, which we found on the spot that has been nicely renovated with new boardwalks into peat bogs - amazing! We added Common Snipe, Common Whitethroat, Dunnock, Yellow Wagtail, Buzzard, Black Woodpecker, Skylark, Thrush Nightingale and Rook.

Sadly during the trip our car started to show weird problems with oil pressure so we had to put it to a repair shop and with my bike having been stolen, I have lost all mobility - considering the unappealing state if public transportation in the times of corona. Back to window birding for a while.
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Old Friday 24th April 2020, 15:21   #143
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You mentioned your House Martins arriving and then disappearing: could that be because they can't find mud for nest-building?

John
On my patch swallows and House Martins arrive first, but most are just passing on their way to their final destinations. Then most of them, except a few HM, are gone. But soon they are replaced by Sand Martins which arrive last and they do stay in my area (coastal clay cliffs).
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Old Friday 24th April 2020, 19:31   #144
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... This morning it was so bad that I was reduced to capturing images of woodies flying over the garden ...
I know it's bad when I start counting Collared Doves, Hooded Crows, Magpies and Blackbirds...
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Old Friday 24th April 2020, 19:35   #145
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... Thrush Nightingale ...
Well done! I have never seen a Thrush Nightingale! Sorry about the car, and the bike. I have a borrowed car at present, my bike is still functional, but it can only be used for "necessary" travel: i.e. shopping etc. like any other means of transportation.

Very slow today. It was windy and not much was around: Swifts, Black Redstart, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, White Wagtail, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Tree Sparrow, a few passing House Martins, but also, just before dinner, first a female than a male Common Redstart, one of my favourite birds!

Pianoman: yes they do that here, too, but until a few years ago they used to nest in the building across the road, too and in other places around town and now they are a rare sight.

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Old Friday 24th April 2020, 20:12   #146
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We are far enough east that thrush nightingale is the default here. I honestly struggle with the ID - visually there isn't much difference and even the voice is hard, so unless I am particularly suspicious, I put every bird as thrush nighingale here.
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Old Saturday 25th April 2020, 06:41   #147
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Its really weird, I am certainly not a sharp or very capable birder (genuinely) when it comes to precise visual detail or identifying song, but one thing I have generally been able to do is judge the difference between Thrush Nightingale and Common Nightingale, though its not that we have lots to compare of course here in UK. Probably the best bird I have found in UK was a Thrush Nightingale at Spurn. I just knew instantly what it was due to the heavier and slightly slower song.

Getting back to migration, House Martins have arrived back here at my house and have been here over a week but they are just flying high and not really visiting nest sites, not even the old mud nests that are still here under my house eves. Only other birds we see are Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed Tit, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch, Starling, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, and Buzzard overhead. Some more regular than others. Collared Dove just seen frantically chasing a Magpie that I suspect has been raiding it's nest.

Our local spot at the end of the estate is a small meadow that holds Bullfinch, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, as well as those species mentioned above, along with Blackcap and Whitethroat. Occasional Swift and Swallow overhead, along with Canada Geese flocks. Green Woodpecker has been heard. Goldcrest in winter.

Oh for something exciting! Still, I do enjoy the short ten minute walk.
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Old Saturday 25th April 2020, 19:44   #148
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... Oh for something exciting! Still, I do enjoy the short ten minute walk.
... I know that feeling, but I tell myself that there's always tomorrow! I do enjoy my walks too, and today's was pretty productive. Today and tomorrow are EBN Italy's "Big Day in Lockdown", a team birding contest. The Big Day is held every year with three-people teams from the same province, with sightings restricted to the same province. This year people do the same only each one from home, so it pays to have team members in different habitats. There was no one else in our province so we were allowed to team up with two birders in the Florence area.

Let's see what happens!

Meanwhile today:

The day started very well, with a Hoopoe calling close by and a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers chasing each other on the trees right in front of our kitchen window. Swifts and a few House Martins above, Blackbirds, Tree Sparrows and Collared Doves around and a Cuckoo calling too. Also heard Great Tit, Coal Tit, Chaffinch and Firecrest. A male Common Redstart flew across the window and its cousin Black Redstart sung from the roof at the back. A brief walk around the block produced Blue Tit, Greenfinch, Blackcap, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jay, Starling, Robin and two unexpected species: Long-tailed Tit (seen only once last month) and Cirl Bunting, seen/heard on my drives to my mum’s but never in town, so an addition to my lockdown list.

G also heard Bee-eaters and Woodlark and saw a Hobby, but it was out of town so it doesn’t count.

Last edited by 3Italianbirders : Sunday 26th April 2020 at 08:03.
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Old Sunday 26th April 2020, 19:45   #149
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So today was the big day, and even if I didn’t see anything new (oh for something exciting, as Nick said), the total was 32 species, 7 more than yesterday, with some very good sightings (some of which I shared with the reluctant teenager that I had managed to prise from her bedroom/device) like a close by Firecrest and Common Redstart and Great Spotted Woody in front of the window. The total for our team should be around 55 species, but the day is technically not over so we’ll know the overall result tomorrow. Two species that I hoped to get and failed were Marsh Tit, that has disappeared from the radar (last sighting on the 23rd) and Bee-eater, which was seen by one of my team members. Also the prolonged absence of BOPs is really starting to get to my nerves!

Anyway, here’s my list (in chronological order, first seen to last), tomorrow I'll post the one of my team:

1. Great Spotted Woodpecker
2. Common Swift
3. Collared Dove
4. Coal Tit
5. Blue Tit
6. Great Tit
7. Firecrest
8. Blackbird
9. Magpie
10. Blackcap
11. Robin
12. Wood Pigeon
13. Hooded Crow
14. Chaffinch
15. House Martin
16. Common Redstart
17. Swallow
18. Starling
19. Jay
20. Short-toed Treecreeper
21. Tree Sparrow
22. Black Redstart
23. Greenfinch
24. Nuthatch
25. Long-talied Tit
26. Cirl Bunting
27. Cuckoo
28. Chiffchaff
29. White Wagtail
30. Hoopoe
31. Serin
32. Wren

Last edited by 3Italianbirders : Sunday 26th April 2020 at 20:04.
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Old Sunday 26th April 2020, 20:02   #150
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Haven't missed out on shorebirds yet. But there was one spot in town where a lot of shorebirds showed up. Photographers were after the avocets but we left them alone. It was the birders that all wanted to come 6ft away and talk loudly to you. I had to look at one guy's pictures on his camera as he usually helps me out.

Generally have avoided the areas with picnickers and fishermen.
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