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Birding in the time of Coronavirus

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Old Tuesday 24th March 2020, 18:18   #51
opisska
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The terrible Siskins do that here! If you look at the photos in the first post we have tied those plastic saucers that you put under potted plants underneath out tube feeders precisely to prevent the spillage. Still they manage to throw a lot of seeds on the ground.
Nono, that's a misunderstanding, we like them doing it! They basically do the pigeon-feeding part for us. Only if it gets too much, I wave my hand in the bed and they flee. Basically gesture-operated bio-automation :)
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Old Tuesday 24th March 2020, 18:20   #52
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Despite the cold (wind even stronger than yesterday, max temperature today 3.5 C with windchill around -8) fewer species today, probably because of the swarm of Siskins (50+) that chased away everything that dared to get close to the feeders. Only 3 species of Tit: Coal, Marsh and Blue, one or two Chaffinch, Blackbird, Magpie, Collared Dove and a couple of Hawfinch! I didn't stay long because it was too cold even sitting in the car!
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Old Tuesday 24th March 2020, 18:24   #53
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Nono, that's a misunderstanding, we like them doing it! They basically do the pigeon-feeding part for us. Only if it gets too much, I wave my hand in the bed and they flee. Basically gesture-operated bio-automation :)
Well the thing is that our feeders are basically on a patch of ground that doesn't belong to us and we are always afraid that the owners will complain about the mess. Also, even if Siskins and other finches will gladly eat them off the ground, Tits won't or they will only if there's no alternative. If they remain on the ground there is also the risk of them rotting.

Sometimes. I wave to make the Siskins go away for 5 minutes, so that the Tits can have their share too...
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Old Tuesday 24th March 2020, 18:37   #54
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Well the thing is that our feeders are basically on a patch of ground that doesn't belong to us and we are always afraid that the owners will complain about the mess. Also, even if Siskins and other finches will gladly eat them off the ground, Tits won't or they will only if there's no alternative. If they remain on the ground there is also the risk of them rotting.

Sometimes. I wave to make the Siskins go away for 5 minutes, so that the Tits can have their share too...
That is indeed true, do you know why are the Tits so specifically against eating from the ground? Our ones have at least learned to eat from the windowsill, but t took them a looong time to get there!
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Old Tuesday 24th March 2020, 20:20   #55
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Coal Tits and Marsh Tits will feed on the ground, even if it's not their first choice, Blues are a bit more recluctant and I have never seen Great Tits on the ground. I don't know if it has anything to do with shyness, as Coals are the boldest species here, followed by the other three in the order above. Even if Great Tits are the biggest they are really shy and wary of approaching the feeders if there is a lot of traffic or if they see the shadow of a human lurking in the garage. Coal and Marsh Tits are the most numerous and frequent visitors (apart from the Siskins ) and sometimes they come to feed even if one of us is refilling the feeders, while Blue Tits are a bit more cautious but are the only ones who will stand up to the Siskins.
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Old Tuesday 24th March 2020, 20:41   #56
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Interesting. In a park on Warsaw, I have seen Great Tits feeding from my wife's hand. As long as it's not on the ground, they don't seem to be particularly shy here :)
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Old Tuesday 24th March 2020, 21:01   #57
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You have to bear in mind that all wildlife in Italy is shier than in most other places as they are regularly being shot at. This said, I don't know why Great Tits in particular are shier. If I had to bet on a Tit feeding from my hand it would be Coal Tit, or maybe Siskins would do it. I'll give it a try!
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Old Wednesday 25th March 2020, 05:50   #58
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Here both Blue + Great Tits are fairly tame + see both feeding on/near the ground not infrequently.
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Old Wednesday 25th March 2020, 16:48   #59
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More wind and cold, with snow forecast overnight. Also more Siskins, which meant having to refill the feeders three times today, as they went through a tube in a couple of hours, even if we have put out also a nut feeder, fat balls and more sunflower seeds scattered on the ground (Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Hawfinch are not too fond of the feeders) with assorted kitchen scraps (mostly finely chopped cheese rinds and biscuit crumbs). Still a couple of Hawfinch around, a lone female Chaffinch, 3-4 Goldfinches and the usual three species of Tits: Coal, Blue and Marsh. No Great Tits today, at least we didn't see any. Also the usual Magpies, Hooded Crows, Collared Doves and Blackbird.
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Old Thursday 26th March 2020, 16:26   #60
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The forecast was right and we woke to 8-10 cm. of snow on the ground and a few snowflakes still drifting around.

The feeders were obviously very busy, with 60+ Siskins and we had to refill them twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon.

Other species seen were: Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Marsh Tit, Great Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Hawfinch, Collared Dove, Magpie and Hooded Crow.

The feeders are just to the right of the third photo. That's the car (borrowed - it's a long story) I sometimes use as a hide.
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Old Thursday 26th March 2020, 16:57   #61
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After several days of rain, which was very welcome, the skies have cleared and birds have appeared. Today I saw several new sightings. A kestrel, white storks, pallid swifts, house martins, black kites, a griffon vulture and a booted eagle. Not bad for an afternoon from my terrace.
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Old Yesterday, 17:06   #62
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The news today is that, after the cold spell, we are nearly out of sunflower seeds for the feeders. We had 10 kilos left at the beginning of the week and we assumed they would be enough as usually by the end of March bird traffic peters out. The problem is that we buy them in bulk from a tiny seed-feed shop near my mum's and it's still not clear if I'll be allowed to go. This morning I bought the last half kilo packet of the stripy kind (not as good as the black ones) from the local pet shop and that's finished too. There's probably another kilo left of the original 10 and still loads of Siskins (probably around 40 today, less than yesterday) at the feeders. So tomorrow morning I'll call the police and try to understand if I can drive to my mum's and then stop to stock up on seeds.

A good variety of species today, with all four species of Tits: Coal, Marsh, Great and Blue (the Great Tits had disappeared but have come back with the cold weather), Blackbird, Collared Dove, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Black Redstart, Tree Sparrow, Magpie, Hooded Crow, and Green Woodpecker (heard only); no Hawfinch unfortunately - I doubt they'll be back before next winter. I also saw a Goldfinch as I was going to the shops.

Edit for Jan: I saw Great Tits on the ground today! Possibly because the feeders were full of Siskins!

Last edited by 3Italianbirders : Yesterday at 17:22.
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Old Yesterday, 18:01   #63
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The news today is that, after the cold spell, we are nearly out of sunflower seeds for the feeders. We had 10 kilos left at the beginning of the week and we assumed they would be enough as usually by the end of March bird traffic peters out. The problem is that we buy them in bulk from a tiny seed-feed shop near my mum's and it's still not clear if I'll be allowed to go. This morning I bought the last half kilo packet of the stripy kind (not as good as the black ones) from the local pet shop and that's finished too. There's probably another kilo left of the original 10 and still loads of Siskins (probably around 40 today, less than yesterday) at the feeders. So tomorrow morning I'll call the police and try to understand if I can drive to my mum's and then stop to stock up on seeds.

A good variety of species today, with all four species of Tits: Coal, Marsh, Great and Blue (the Great Tits had disappeared but have come back with the cold weather), Blackbird, Collared Dove, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Black Redstart, Tree Sparrow, Magpie, Hooded Crow, and Green Woodpecker (heard only); no Hawfinch unfortunately - I doubt they'll be back before next winter. I also saw a Goldfinch as I was going to the shops.

Edit for Jan: I saw Great Tits on the ground today! Possibly because the feeders were full of Siskins!
Hope your police are understanding!

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Old Yesterday, 18:17   #64
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Hope your police are understanding!

John
Thank you John, I do hope so. The official declaration (downloaded from the Gov's website) I have to fill out and carry with me states as one of the valid reasons to leave your council of residence as "assisting relatives in need", so I should be ok, but fingers crossed anyway!
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Old Yesterday, 19:33   #65
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Thank you John, I do hope so. The official declaration (downloaded from the Gov's website) I have to fill out and carry with me states as one of the valid reasons to leave your council of residence as "assisting relatives in need", so I should be ok, but fingers crossed anyway!
Do all Italians have home computers and printers? If you need to print a travel declaration and carry it with you, how do folk without access to a printer manage?
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Old Yesterday, 19:36   #66
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I put them on a flash drive and take it to someone who can print it. Library can do it here and there's a shop in the town that will do it too.

Friends are handy as well.
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Old Yesterday, 20:06   #67
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Thank you John, I do hope so. The official declaration (downloaded from the Gov's website) I have to fill out and carry with me states as one of the valid reasons to leave your council of residence as "assisting relatives in need", so I should be ok, but fingers crossed anyway!
Make sure you add ‘purchasing essential pet food’ for all your parrots and budgerigars.
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Old Yesterday, 20:12   #68
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Do all Italians have home computers and printers? If you need to print a travel declaration and carry it with you, how do folk without access to a printer manage?
Good question. No, not everyone has a printer and in that case you can copy out the declaration and it will do. Or police are supposed to carry them too and you can fill them out when you are stopped.

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I put them on a flash drive and take it to someone who can print it. Library can do it here and there's a shop in the town that will do it too.

Friends are handy as well.
Yes, that was another way of doing it until they closed down copy centres etc. Libraries have been closed for weeks, but I think there may still be a tobacconist in town who does copying/printing.

Last edited by 3Italianbirders : Yesterday at 20:15.
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Old Yesterday, 20:15   #69
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Make sure you add ‘purchasing essential pet food’ for all your parrots and budgerigars.
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Old Today, 17:45   #70
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So I went to my mum's today and had no problems with the police. I had all my paperwork ready as I drove by one checkpoint but they were busy with another car and they didn't stop me.

Sightings were a bit underwhelming but the day was damp and overcast so it was somewhat expected.

Most common species, especially on the journey out, were Jay, Wood Pigeon, Chaffinch, Jackdaw, Hooded Crow, Magpie and Collared Dove. Also a couple of Buzzards, Goldfinches, and Serins (mostly heard, but some fleeting views too). I had good views of one Grey Heron, a couple of Little Egrets and some Great White Egrets in the usual ditch and some House Martins in the same little town. Further on a White Wagtail, a Kestrel on a wire and a Corn Bunting.

Another Kestrel was soaring as I looked out of my mum's living room window and a Great Tit was singing by the car as I got ready to go back. On the way I stopped at the feed shop to stock up - see photo below (20 kilos altogether) and then I headed for home. Same Kestrel on the same wire, then a glimpse of a Green Woodpecker and (maybe) the same Grey Heron in the same ditch. The usual Italian Sparrows by the side of the road. As I looked at the first Swallows around a farmhouse where they nest each year I saw a bird of prey in the distance which could have been a Red Kite, but when I found a place where I could safely stop the car I couldn't locate it, so it remains an UFO.

Back at the feeders, a few Siskins, Coal and Marsh Tits and Blackbird.
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