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Posts Tagged ‘birds’

The sea is a mysterious place – millions and millions of gallons of water home to marinelife both above and below the sea’s surface. I am at my most relaxed and chilled when I am on a boat watching anything from dolphins to birds. And a bird you can almost guarantee to see is the Gannet. It is huge, very white and definitely my favourite.

Image of a Gannet by Richard Towell Flicr

Its’ long body, pointed wings with black tips and summery yellow head make it unmistakable. The bill is the Gannet’s most important tool. When they find a shoal of fish they hold their wings back and become a straight, pointed dagger. Dropping at speed, they plunge the water, catch their fish and rise to the surface to eat their prey within seconds.

This year I went out on a boat to see thousands of Gannets breeding on the small island, Bass Rock, in Scotland. It was certainly a sensory experience. The smell (very smelly and fishy!), the sight (a spectacle), the sound (a grating cacophony) and the taste (seasalt on your lips).

If you’d like to see your own Gannet watch from a coastal vantage point looking out to the horizon, get out onto a special boat trip or if you don’t like boats watch young Gannets currently still in their nests at Bempton Cliffs in Yorkshire.

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What a day of birding! I’ve actually got that many records to sort out I have completely lost track of the species count and I’ll have to update you in the morning! (Somewhere around the 320 mark – I think!?)

We’ve had The Urban Birder describe his ultimate birding experience with the elusive Wryneck; Bird ringing lessons from Ed Drewitt and early morning excerpts from the dawn chorus – not to mention some amazing tips on attracting garden birds from The Wildlife Garden Project and a birds-eye view of Bristol from Brian the Robo Falcon.

What’s on tomorrow?
Tomorrow we’ll be exploring the wonderful world of worms and the magical land of molluscs with an amazing amount of alliteration. So prepare for some mucus filled fun with mollusc tales from under the sea and the weird cult of wormcharming, plus learn how to make a desktop wormery and monitor the worms in your back garden.

See you tomorrow!

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If you get up a bit early, wrap up warm and head outside, there is a whole amazing world of sound waiting for you. See how our early birds got on at Bristol BioBlitz: one of our Meet the Species accredited events.

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The Goldcrest is the UK’s smallest bird weighingjust 6 grams!

Films by Rachel Henson and Neil Manuell

Music by Bernd Rest

Wildlife Footage by Gerald

Film commission by Discovering Places, National Trust and Natural England and part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad

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This time Laura tells us all about sorting out your bird feeders to attract feathery friends to your garden!

Click here to find out more about the Wildlife Garden Project

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ARKive species - Black grouse (Tetrao tetrix)Black grouse males gather at traditional sites in the morning to perform complex displays known as ‘leks‘. During the display, the males raise their tails and inflate their necks whilst producing the soft ‘rookooing’ call. Females sit in vegetation close to the lek to watch the performance. Males with the best display obtain dominance and gain access to more females

Help us tick off our remaining bird species by recording your sightings through iSpot!

ARKive video - Male black grouse displaying at lek

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Ornithologist (bird expert) Ed Drewitt gives us an overview of the urban peregrine – the once persecuted predator that we have welcomed back into our city homes.

The Peregrine is a bird of speed, power and grace. And wherever you are in the UK it is likely there is one in a town near you. As natural sites have become saturated with nesting Peregrines new breeding birds have moved into towns and cities, trading in rocky crags and sea cliffs for tall office blocks, cathedrals and pylons. In some cities such as Bristol you are more likely to see a Peregrine than a Sparrowhawk, Kestrel or Buzzard.

Urban Peregrine – photo courtesy nebirdsplus

Crow-sized, they can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour in a lightning speed dive in which they strike prey with their sharp talons. It is often assumed they just eat pigeons – in fact these only make up half of the diet in urban places. Peregrines also dine on birds from woodland and garden birds to small gulls and wading birds. When the daylight fades and street lamps switch on, Peregrines work a night shift catching nocturnally migrating birds such as Woodcocks, Little Grebes and Water Rails.

Peregrine in Flight – photo courtesy Larry Meade

Look out for Peregrines on tall buildings in town and cities – they perch towards the top on a ledge or gargoyle. In flight their wings look fluttery and effortless.

Click on these links to check out Ed’s appearences doing extreme bird ringing and visiting the urban peregrines of Bath for the BBC.

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