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Jul 29, 2015

No longer longer fun...

This blog entry is my last.   I know, I know, I've said this before a couple of times, but this one is really the last.   An annoying foot problem is limiting my ability to go birding the way I like to, which also limits my ability somewhat to take my own photos of local birds.   This forces me to find photos elsewhere, which I do, and for which I always credit the photographer and whoever is publishing the photos which I download for this blog.   This blog has no commercial value, no advertising or no revenue source for me.   It's always been just for fun.   And now I am running into 'cyberworld' rules and regulations that I have no understanding of nor any interest in.   I've had a good a run at it.   I've written 1,096 blogs, including this one, have had 821,401 hits, as of a few minutes ago, and have drawn several hundred submitted comments over the past eight years.   It was an interesting and educational experience for almost all of that time, but I'll repeat that it was mostly fun.   If you were a regular viewer, thanks for coming along for the ride.   The last BarrytheBirder photo credit I am giving is to myself for the photo above left.   I took the self-portrait by photographing my reflection in the driver's side rear-facing mirror in my 13-year-old, faithful, bird-watching Jeep.   Good birding, folks.
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Jul 28, 2015

English gulls are ferocious in Cornwall...or so it seems

Photo: BBC
Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull
are the seashore culprits
Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls are the latest avian villains in south-west England, according the British newspapers who have recently called them killers.   Apparently, the gulls have attacked pensioners, children, dogs, even a tortoise.   The latest attacks, reports the Guardian newspaper, have left a 66-year-old woman requiring hospital treatment and a four-year-boy was traumatized after his finger was badly mangled.   Local authorities are fighting back by painting lampposts with anti-gull paint that gives off a deterring glow, hoisting multicoloured flags and erecting netting.   Some restaurants have provided diners with umbrellas and water pistols.   A spokesperson for the British Trust of Ornithology says the gulls have young at this time of year that they are keen to protect.   Overall numbers of the two suspects species are down 30% and 48%, leading some observers to wonder if humans are taking things their own hands and eliminating way or another.   In Newquay, Cornwall, a gull nesting on a house roof killed a Yorkshire Terrier family pet.   The dog's owner, a mother-of-four children, said it was like a horror show.   She couldn't believe so much blood could come out of such a little dog.   The mother does not let her children play outside now, unsupervised.   Pictured below is a woman being attacked by a Herring Gull in Perranporth, Cornwall.

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Jul 27, 2015

First Ospreys in Scotland in 150 years

 Photo by BarrytheBirder
100th Osprey chick born at Rutland Osprey Project
The 8-week-old Osprey chick pictured below is one of 15 to have flown from eight nests in a record-breaking summer for the Rutland Osprey Project.   It is the 100th Osprey chick born at Rutland and it was photographed as it prepared for its first flight.   The successful population restoration of the Ospreys to central England's skies has happened for the first time in 150 years.   Ospreys have been extinct in England since the mid-1800s.   Between 1996 and 2001, 64 six-week-old Scottish Ospreys were released at a reservoir in a combined effort between Anglian Water and the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust.

Photo: Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust
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Jul 26, 2015

Flamingos look particularly grand in flight

Photo by Tian Guangyu / Corbis
Lesser Flamingo
Phoenicopterus minor
The photo above was taken by Tian Guangyu of Lesser Flamingos during their migration to Lake Bogoria, in the Great Rift Valley of western Kenya, in Africa.   While the Lesser Flamingo is not the most widespread in the world, it is the most numerous of the six Flamingos species in the world.   Some may think of the flamingo as slightly awkward, when standing, but it very grand and graceful in flight.

Photo by Philip Perry /
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Jul 25, 2015

"Hope you're hungry, little fella".

Photo by Paul Miguel / Rex Shutterstock
A Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata), also known as the Red-throated Diver feeds a large fish, which seems longer than the loon chick which it is feeding.   The scene played out offshore in Iceland.   I doubt the loon chick could even keep the fish above water, let alone think about swallowing it.   Ahhhh, the challenge.
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Jul 24, 2015

Blue Jays interaction

Photo by Janice Sommerville/Nature Photographer
Greeting or confrontation?
My wife Linda bought this photo-print by Janice Sommerville recently while driving with a friend, in the countryside near Brooklin, Ontario.   The photographer describes the photo content as an 'interaction'.   I'm not sure if the interaction is agreeable or aggressive, but it is certainly eye-catching.   Now, to find a frame...
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Jul 23, 2015

Pigeons on the pill

                                                                Photo by Colin Varndell
Most large cities in the world have a problem with too many pigeons.   But a town in Spain is making its pigeons go on birth control pills in hopes the numbers of pigeons will plunge.   Badia del Valles, about 15 kms. north of Barcelona, in Catalonia, in northern Spain, has installed dispensers containing the pigeon pill, Ovistop, with grain each morning.   The dispensers will be in operation until the end of the year.   The town's website says three automatic dispensers will spread the necessary dosage every morning, to the hungry birds.   It is predicted that the pigeon population could be reduced by 80% over five years.
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Jul 22, 2015

Mothers and babies

 Photos by BarrytheBirder
A female Wild Turkey and four chicks were unfortunately too far away for me to a get a crisp photo, even with a 300 mm. telephoto lens.   I was a bit excited however, because I'd never seen this bird with chicks so young.   They were constantly on the move, foraging in a freshly cut field.   Nearby, in the bottom photo, a mallard mother takes a break, with her ducklings on a log; once again too far away for a sharp photo.

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Jul 21, 2015

Old names for some of today's north american birds

Photo by BarrytheBirder
Chipping Sparrow was called Hairbird
A couple of years ago I wrote a blog which gave old and obsolete names for some well-known North American birds.   The information was taken from a list produced by Richard C. Banks of the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Centre at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.   I thought it might be interesting to return to that list for some other common birds and the names they had early in the last century and the one before.

American Bittern         -    Dunk-a-doo
Green Heron                -    Fly Up The Creek or Shite-poke
American Bittern         -    Bog-pumper or Stake-driver
American Woodcock   -    Bogsucker
Cedar Waxwing            -    Cherry-bird
Philadelphia Vireo        -    Brotherly Love
Horned Grebe               -    Hell-diver
Black-necked Stilt        -    Lawyer
Least Sandpiper           -    Oxeye
Yellow-billed Cuckoo   -    Rain Crow
Bobolink                        -    Rice-bird
Anhinga                         -    Snakebird
Snow Bunting               -    Snowflake
Chuck-will's-widow      -    Twixt-hell-and-the-white-oak
Northern Flicker           -    Yellowhammer

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Jul 20, 2015

Wading birds seen in flight

Photo by Kallol Mukherjee
Bronzed-winged Jacana
Metopidius indicus
I came across this online photo by Kallol Mukherjee in National Geographic's Wild Bird Photographs of the Week #75.   What a wonderful photo of grand-looking birds.   It occured to me that we are so used to seeing wading birds, like Jacanas, standing or foraging in water or atop floating vegetation, that how they look in flight doesn't usually cross our minds.   Jacanas are found in tropical zones worldwide and have huge feet with claws that let them 'walk on water' or so it appears.   The Bronzed-winged Jacanas, pictured above, breed in India and south-east Asia.
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Jul 19, 2015

The striking colours of the European Roller

Photo by Attila Kovacs / EPA
A European Roller (Coracius garrulus) is pictured above with a frog in its beak near Pusztaszer, 90 miles south of Budapest, in Hungary.   This bird grows to 32 cm or 13" in length and it feeds on frogs (as seen above), large insects, small reptiles and rodents.   The combination of its largish size and colouring, which is mainly brilliant blue with an orange-brown back and black flight feathers, means that this bird is quite attractive and conspicuous. 

Photo by John Hunt / Wild Images / SAKERTOUR
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Jul 18, 2015

Fishing in Spain

Photo by Fernando Sanchez de Castro / Alamy
Here's a very attractive photograph of a splendid bird, the White Stork (Circona circona) fishing in a river, in Tietar, Spain, west of Madrid.   The White Stork is a large bird with black and white plumage and red legs and beak.   It is found throughout Europe, Africa, India and south-western Asia.   Perhaps this particular stork has poor eyesight as it seems to be peering very closely at the surface of the water.   Or perhaps its targeted prey is very small...still, a lovely photo.
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Jul 17, 2015

Lagoons to replace 670 hectares of England's southern shore

Photograph: Crossrail / The Guardian
Wallasea Island to disappear
Global warming and rising sea levels are behind the the creation of Europe's largest man-made nature reserve, on the south coast of England in Essex.   In anticipation of rising sea levels, the 400-year-old farmlands making up the island of Wallasea will have their dykes breached and tidal flow will flood the land into widespread lagoons.   The lagoons will be re-dyked at higher levels to protect coastlines against rising sea levels.   The higher dykes will utilize excavated material from beneath the city of London, which is building new transportation tunnels, stations and shafts.   The 20-year project, which began in 2006, is the work of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.   In addition to protecting a huge chunk of coastline from wave surge, the new mudflats, salt marshes and shallow saline lagoons will create huge benefits to wildlife, including birds.   Species expected to return to Wallasea in big numbers are Avocet, Redshank, Lapwing, Brent Geese, Dunlin, Wigeon and Curlew.   It will also draw new colonizing species such as Spoonbills and Black-winged Stilts (see photo below). Similar projects are located in West Sussex, including Medmerry.   Low-lying coastlines world-wide should draw inspiration and insight from projects like Wallasea...the sooner the better.

Black-winged Stilt photo by Steven Daly / Andalucianguide
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Jul 16, 2015

Last email from an old friend

The video, highighted below, was the last email sent to me by an old friend who I knew for the past 60 years.   My friend passed away yesterday.   The video has had wide exposure and I thought of sharing it in my BarrytheBirder blog on a number of occasions.   Now, as a tribute to my old friend Donald, I am sharing this short but remarkable video clip of a bathing bird. 

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Jul 15, 2015

Now on centre court...

Photo by Glyn Kirk / AFP / Getty
A Pied-wagtail (Motacilla alba) showed up at Wimbledon last week and walked across the grass at centre court.   The RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) says of the wagtail that when it is not standing and frantically wagging its tail up and down, it can be seen dashing about over lawns in search of foods.   It should be no surprise then to see a peckish wagtail on the green grass of Wimbledon.
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Jul 14, 2015

A tasty treat for sparrows in China

Photo by Wang Xibao / Xinhua Press / Corbis
Sparrows forage on lotus flower
Here is a pretty picture, indeed.   It was taken by Wang Xibao at the Zizhuyuan Park, in Beijing, China.   The two sparrows appear to be sharing and eating the reproductive central parts of the lotus bloom, such as the carpel (including stigma, style and ovary) plus stamen and anther.
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Jul 13, 2015

The Bee-eater and the bat

Photo by Shuki Cheled / Rex Shutterstock
This European Bee-eater in Nahala, Isreal, has captured a bat but it would surely appear that the bat is much too large to be swallowed by the bird.   European Bee-eaters of course eat bees and sometimes dragonflies.   The bee-eater pictured above can be as long as 30 cms., but I don't believe it could swallow anything as large as the bat pictured.   At most, it might be able to dissect the bat, in part, and consume some of the creature.   Or perhaps it could share its catch with its partner or other bee-eaters.   The bat in the picture looks lifeless, so perhaps the bee-eater pummeled it into lifelessness, as it does with bees to protect from dangerous stings.
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Jul 12, 2015

Loon continues to lead national bird voting

Photo of Ron Sadler carving by Barry Wallace
Voting in the Canadian Geographic Magazine and Royal Canadian Geographical Society's search for a Canadian national bird continues.   Latest tallies of the top five birds, chosen from a list of the 50 most popular choices are as follows:

                    Common Loon - 8,099
                    Snowy Owl         - 6,150
                    Gray Jay              - 5,760
                    Canada Goose   - 2,408
                    Chickadee           - 2,131

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society goal is help designate an official bird for Canada by 2017, the country's sesquicentennial.   Anyone can vote for one of the more than 450 bird species in Canada by going to the National Bird Project website. 

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Jul 11, 2015

National Geographic's PROOF

Images photographed and created by Cheryl Medow

Great Blue Heron with Chicks
Balancing on a branch, the Great Blue Heron was photographed at the Venice Rookery in Venice, Florida, along with the chicks in a nest.   The background was photographed in Big Fork, Montana.

Grey Crowned Herons
Each Grey Crowned Heron was photographed on an Acacia Tree near Richards Camp in Masai Mara, Kenya.   Mount Kenya was photographed from a Cessna.

PROOF: The stories behind the photographs
Proof is National Geographic's online photography journal.   It showcases the voices of National Geographic photographers and editors to offer behind-the-scenes look at the visual storytelling process, as in the ethereal, multi-imaged, Cheryl Medow photographs above. Proof also features work from emerging photographers, books, galleries and portfolios from across the web.   Its aim is to present an ongoing conversation about photography, art, journalism, and the people who create it.   To see more of Cheryl Medow's sublime bird portraits, go to Google, type in national geographic, go to Photography, and click on Birds, Reimagined.   The thoughts behind Medow's expressive, composite photos is described in detail.
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Jul 10, 2015

Robin likes the neighbourhood

                                                                                    Photo by Barry Wallace
My wife's sister Margaret put up a birdhouse on the side of a small stable that she and her husband built, hoping to attract some small birds.   The colourful birdhouse that resembled a small church attracted House wrens and they took it over.   Before long an American Robin decided a spot of the eavestrough, immediately above the wren's church birdhouse was the perfect spot to join the immediate neighbourhood.   It wasn't long before young birds arrived in both nests and the next-door neighbours are getting along fine.
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Jul 9, 2015

One BIG omelette

 Photos by Roy Mangersnes/Rex Shutterstock
Fox steals 32 eggs in one night
Eider Ducks in a nesting area in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway, have had their eggs stolen recently by an Arctic Fox.   The foxy egg thief managed to steal 32 duck eggs in one evening by raiding the ducks' nesting site at Longyearbyen. The town of   Longyearbyen, on Svalbard Island has the distinction of being the world's northernmost settlement of any kind with greater than 1,000 permanent residents (the 2008 population was 2,040).   The Norwegian island of Svalbard is surrounded by the Greenland Sea, the Norwegian Sea, the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.   But the remoteness of the location does not afford the ducks the protection from predators that they would prefer.

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Jul 8, 2015

Sea Eagle chick swallows two double-pronged fishing hooks

A Sea Eagle chick was discovered recently tangled in fishing line in its nest in Scotland.   The 6-week-old was rescued by a naturalist and taken to the Scottish SPCA.   Veterinarian Romain Pizzi, at the charity's rescue centre in Fishcross, Clackmannanshire, saved the bird's life by performing difficult endoscopic surgery to remove two double-pronged hooks (see photo below) from the young bird's belly.   It had been eating a fish that still had hooks in it.   A minority of irresponsible fishermen often leave fish carcasses with line and tackle attached.   The naturalist, Lewis Pate, who discovered the young eagle has urged all anglers to consider the welfare of wildlife and clear away any lines and tackle after use, which otherwise could cost an animal it's life. 

Photos from the Daily Express
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Jul 7, 2015

Water-whirling Willow Warbler

Photo by Mohd Korshid / National Geographic Your Shot
(Phylloscopus trochilus)
If you're going to have a bath then give it your all, seems to be what this Willow Warbler is saying as it splashes in a pool of water at Al Ahmadi, Kuwait, in eastern Arabia.   Large numbers of Willow Warblers pass through this mid-east country during long seasonal migrations. The photo was submitted by Mohd Korshid to the 2015 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest.
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Jul 6, 2015

No need for wordy embellishment...

Photo by melbert_mole/Guardian Witness

Jul 5, 2015

Dorset heatwave sends everyone into the water

Photograph: Jeff Moore
A heatwave in southern England this past week had man and beast trying to cool off in the best way they could.   In Dorset, where temperatures reached 26C, the beaches on the south coast were jammed with people looking to cool off.   Nearby, other creatures were seeking relief also, such as the Starlings jammed into a birdbath in the photo above by Jeff Moore.
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Jul 4, 2015

Robin successfully nests in porch planter

 Photos by Nancy Wallace

The two photos above appeared in a blog I wrote back on June 19.   They were taken by my sister-in-law and show a robin's nest in a small planter on a porch of her and my brother's house in Parry Sound.   Well, the robin prevailed, finished and occupied the nest, and laid three eggs.   She is pictured below sitting on those three eggs and they will probably be hatching very soon.   Presumably, the herbs are only available for picking when the robin occasionally leaves the nest.

The finishing touch is this patio umbrella to protect the nest and the baby robins from soaking rain or broiling sunshine.
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Jul 3, 2015

Downy Woodpecker feasts at finch feeder

Photo by BarrytheBirder
Downy Woodpecker
Picoides pubescens
Normally, our hanging finch feeders don't have seed holes large enough for bigger birds to get at the contents.   Our feeders, however, are old enough to have had their seed ports worn down and enlarged a bit.   Enough so that slightly larger birds, such as the Downy Woodpecker above, can get their bigger beaks into the tube and help themselves to all the Niger Seed they want.   Birds are as opportunistic as humans and seem to know that nothing ventured is nothing gained.   Bon appetit!

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Jul 2, 2015

More El Nino effect reported

Photo by Ricardo Arduengo / AP
El Nino blamed for exposed fish nests
An aerial shot captures a white heron taking flight over exposed fish nests, that normally sit inches below the waterline in La Plata reservoir in Tao Alta, Puerto Rico.   Experts say water is drying out due to El Nino, the warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean that affects global weather.   Meanwhile, the heron probably finds the fishing even easier than normal, at least until the dugout nests are emptied of fish or are dry.
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Jul 1, 2015

Owls and wind turbine blades

Photo by Dave Kemp
Megan Treacy, writing on the care2 website, says one of the most commonly heard complaints about wind turbines is that they're loud.   She reports that researchers at the University of Cambridge, have come up with a prototype coating for wind turbine blades that could make them a lot quieter and they owe the advancement to one of nature's greatest hunters, the owl.   Owls employ remarkable engineering in their wings, which other birds do not have, that allows them to fly and dive on prey in silence.   Much of the noise in any wing originates in the trailing edge because of turbulent air passing over the wing surface.   The owl's amazing wings however smooth the passage of the air with a downy covering on a flexible comb of bristles on the leading edge, and most importantly, a porous and elastic fringe of feathers on the trailing edge that dampens sound.   Researchers have come up with a porous coating of 3D-printed plastic that might replicate the effect of the owl's fringe that scatters sound.   Wind tunnel tests have shown a reduction of 10 decibels.   Tests of the coating are planned for operational wind turbines to see if power output can be improved while keeping the noise down.   Once again, nature prompts science.
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