Showing posts from January, 2020

30th January 2020: Reflections: Tick or Freak?

The Canada goose - introduced in to parks in Britain so definitely 'plastic'? Reviewing tweets for nature sightings in Dorset each day to add to my Nature of Dorset database I detect that some birds are treated with a degree of disdain by experienced birders who consider them to be, amongst other printable adjectives, “plastic”. In other words, they are not real birds, they are not real ticks for a list.
I want to say at the outset that I have no problem with birders keeping lists; it is what birders do and is part of the excitement of bird watching and, whilst I have never been a lister myself, I can understand the motivation behind it. My reflections here are whether these “plastics” should be included in records, in particular, should I include them in the Nature of Dorset database.
I would suggest that there are three categories of “plastics”; releases, reintroductions and escapes. What qualifies a bird to be included in one of these categories is a moot point.
Releases are th…

Reflections: A Winter Warbler Land

The presence of a blackcap feeding on fat balls in our garden today set me thinking about why there seem to be so many being recorded this winter. Along with chiffchaff rarely a day goes by without reports of these two warblers that in general you would expect to be in Africa by now.
When I first got interested in nature back in the 1970’s the issue of why most blackcap and chiffchaff migrated south for the winter while some chose to remain here was the subject of some speculation. I remember that one theory was that the rise in the popularity of feeding birds in gardens meant there was an increasingly adequate food supply for these species and there was no need for them to risk life and limb making the perilous journey south.
After a lot of research we seem to be far wiser now and have established that the birds we see here in winter are not the same ones that spend the summer here. Our summer birds do migrate south and are replaced by incoming birds from north-eastern Europe, especial…