Marsh tits, parakeets, starlings and sanderlings

On 16 February 2013, to Meijendel nature reserve.

Before we departed, the song thrush singing in a parking lot treetop. A carrion crow drove it away to sit on the treetop itself.

At the Meijendel parking lot, jackdaws and rooks on trees. A chaffinch on the ground.

A blackbird. A great tit.

Then, a special bird. A marsh tit. It moves so fast among the branches that it is impossible to make good photographs of it.

Ring-necked parakeets, Meijendel, 16 February 2013

Next, a ring-necked parakeet couple. Less and less of these parrots are by now in the big flocks sleeping, eg, on the island in the pond of The Hague city centre. Ring-necked parakeets nest early in the year. The two birds here inspect whether a hole in a tree is fit for a nest. They seem to like it.

Starling, Meijendel, 16 February 2013

Much to the disappointment of a starling couple, which would have liked to nest there as well.

Ring-necked parakeet female, Meijendel, 16 February 2013

There are still icy patches on the footpaths.

At the hide, the water in the lake is still frozen. One of us speaks about seeing a bittern in the reed beds, but it may be wishful thinking. Others think they hear cranes. Wishful thinking as well? Is the sound really geese?

Another starling couple. This time with a nest hole which is unambiguously theirs.

Starling singing, Meijendel, 16 February 2013

The male spreads his wings and sings.

Starling sitting, Meijendel, 16 February 2013

A bit further, two marsh tits. A blue tit.

The next lake is mostly frozen as well. A lone coot swims in the open water part.

Three Canada geese flying over head. They land in one of few ice-free lakes, south of the path to the sea. A female common pochard.

A dunnock singing.

This looks like a good spot for counting birds in my fifteen minutes for the international Great Backyard Bird Count, organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA.

In these fifteen minutes, 10:36 to 10:51, I count: one female common pochard. Nine mallards. Ten great cormorants. Two mute swans. Fifteen coots. One dunnock. One great tit.

Then, on to the far western dunes, where one has a view of the sea. Over twenty sanderlings. Some resting; some running frantically along the floodline.

Three oystercatchers. Scores of adult and juvenile herring gulls.

Two great crested grebes swimming in the sea.

As we walk back, a buzzard sitting on a bush. Later, a kestrel flying.

Tulostoma fimbriatum fungi. A species which does not mind winter cold as much as many other fungi species.

Versatile Blogger Award, thank you TheGirl!

Versatile Blogger Award

Many thanks to The Girl of the really interesting literary blog The ReporterandTheGirl for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award!

Rules of the Versatile Blogger Award:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Thank and Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 bloggers for this award.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination by linking to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by ping back.

Seven things about me:

1. Not so long ago, I activated the Rating feature on my blog.

2. Top rated posts on my blog so far are:

3. My top rated pages so far are:

4. Here are the WordPress figures on sharing of my blog posts so far. Thanks everyone!

Just a note: WordPress doesn’t count shares from smart buttons, just the standard share links.

Top Sharing Services

These services have been used most often to share your posts on your site

Name Shares
Twitter 1350
Facebook 395
Press This 101
Tumblr 21
Pinterest 6
Email 3
StumbleUpon 1
LinkedIn 1

5. These posts on my blog got the most shares

Title Shares
Günter Grass poem on Greece and austerity, English translation 21
Dutch war crimes in Indonesia, photos 14
Kemp’s ridley turtle saved in the USA 10
Noam Chomsky on Obama, Romney 10
Saving Canadian turtles’ lives 8
Donald Trump’s sons butcher African elephants (?) 7
Somali police rape woman, then jail her 6
Jaguar and ocelot in Arizona, USA 6
Python skin trade, crime and fashion 6
British Thatcher aide accused of child abuse 6
The world economy in 2013 5
Year of the beech marten and fire salamander 5
450-million-years-old equator discovery 5
Bahraini king’s sexual harassment of Lebanese singer 5
Paralympians join action against Atos corporation 5
HSBC bankers helped drug gangsters, al-Qaida 5
Boy raped by priest, then castrated 5
Kenyan boy saves lion, cattle lives 4
‘Extinct’ Australian echidna still living? 4
211 Paraguayan parrots rescued 4
British hares declining 4
‘Give criminal bankers’ money to homeless people’ 4
New lizard species discovery in Australia 4
New elephant, rhinoceros discoveries 4
Sperm whale, humpback beaching update 4
Bulgarian graffiti helps birds 4

6. Akismet has protected my blog from 65,565 spam comments so far.

7. This morning, the song thrush sang again opposite my window.

My nominees for the Versatile Blogger Award (sixteen, one more than fifteen 🙂 ):

1. Salman Khan

2. Everything under the sun and more

3. auburnskull


5. I sense, therefore I reflect

6. Ashley Jillian

7. Spread Information

8. Bell Night

9. Uncensored Stories

10. craftedincarhartt

11. gwenniesgarden

12. Filippa Levemark’s Blog

13. poet4justicedotwordpressdotcom

14. Inspired Vision

15. just after words

16. Fun girls live better!

Saving English woodland birds

This video from Cornwall is about bullfinches; one of the British woodland birds species.

From Wildlife Extra:

Work to save woodland birds to take place in Worcestershire

Rare birds to benefit from woodland work

February 2013. Work to improve habitat and protect declining woodland birds is about to take place at two Worcestershire nature reserves.

Funded largely by a Woodland Improvement Grant, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust is about to undertake thinning and ride widening works in two woodlands. Trench Wood (near Sale Green) and Monkwood (near Grimley) have both been the focus of previous forestry work and wildlife gains have been recorded.

James Hitchcock, conservation officer for the Trust, explained “The work we’re undertaking is part of the long-term restoration of both these woodlands. Visitors to the woodlands have become used to work of this sort over the last few years. The areas we’re working in and the type of work we’re doing this year, however, are very much focused on trying to halt the decline of woodland birds like spotted flycatcher, marsh tit and lesser spotted woodpecker.”

Marsh tit and spotted flycatcher

As we have lost woodlands and our traditional woodland management methods have faded, numbers of woodland birds have declined. Once common, birds like the marsh tit and spotted flycatcher now have red status – severe decline in numbers and whose population is globally threatened.

While there are a number of factors contributing to this decline, re-instating coppicing in woodlands can help. Coppicing involves cutting down trees almost to their base – the trees spring back to life with strong new growth, which can be cut again on a constant cycle. By managing on rotation, woodland managers can ensure there is always a range of habitat for wildlife.

Thinning trees also ensures there is a broken tree canopy, which means more light reaches the ground and allows a variety of woodland plants and wildflowers, such as bluebells and wood anemones, to thrive.

Woodland rides

The Trust will also be widening some of the rides that run through the two woodlands. As with coppicing, this promotes the growth of wildflowers – from primroses to common vetch. An astonishing 90% of a woodlands’ biodiversity can be found along woodland rides and edges.

James continued “As with the decline in farmland birds, the drastic plummeting of woodland bird numbers is worrying. But it’s not all bad news. We’ve been working on improving both these woodlands for several years and last year we recorded the return of spotted flycatcher in Trench Wood. This shows that what we’re doing is working – we just need to do more of it.


“While we’re hoping the work will help these three birds in particular, there are many more that will benefit from the work – garden warbler, blackcap, willow warbler and woodcock, for example. And it’s not just birds – butterflies and other invertebrates will benefit too. Some of the work may look a bit drastic to the eye but it really is necessary for the long-term benefit of wildlife in these two beautiful woodlands.

“Along with encouraging visitors to keep dogs on leads and not straying from the paths, this work really gives us a great opportunity to give these birds and all our wildlife a real helping hand.”

Both Trench Wood and Monkwood were once owned by the LG Harris Brush Company. They were both purchased by the Trust, with help from Butterfly Conservation, in the 1980s primarily because of their importance for insects.

LG Harris actively managed both woodlands to produce timber for brush handles. In so doing they planted many non-native trees but their management techniques created favourable wildlife habitats and, although the methods of management were markedly different, the woodlands retained much of their ancient character.

James added “Much of the maintenance of the woods is done by our volunteer groups. Volunteers across the county are vital to our work and I’d encourage anyone who’s interested to get in touch – it’s a way of finding out more about managing for wildlife as well as a great opportunity to get outdoors and get healthy.

“Not only will the work directly benefit the woodland and the wildlife but any profits made from the sale of the timber will be ploughed directly back into more conservation work on our nature reserves.”

Work is expected to begin on 25th February and will last for approximately two weeks. The Trust is advising all visitors to Trench Wood and Monkwood to heed any notices on site and follow diversions where necessary.

May 2013. With the imminent release of the draft Environmental Statement for the London to Birmingham phase of HS2, the Woodland Trust sets out its expectations for the document: here.