Friday, 30 November 2012

Dining with Naturalists/Part Two

I'm hoping that the following five guests will bring a nice balance to the table.

Thomas Bewick.  I think it only right that I have one or two local naturalists along and I’ve chosen Thomas Bewick as one of them.  As a youngster I don’t ever remember having been told about Thomas Bewick.  Mind you I don’t remember being told much at school at all about the natural world (or those involved with it).  I’m not so sure things have changed very much even today, although I do think young people are generally more aware of the environment.   I do think Bewick led a fascinating life and I like his prints.  I believe even to this day there are those in most fields who like to have control of information (and think they have a right to) and the science/natural history arena is as prone to this as any other.  I believe very strongly that everyone is entitled to information and it should not be withheld unless there is a very good case to do so.  What Bewick did with his prints was to perhaps for the first time, ensure that the wonders of nature were available to many more people in printed form.  Until then it seems cost inhibited the majority owning such things and therefore sharing the available information.  I get the impression that Bewick didn’t travel very much and have recently read that he didn’t even visit the Farne Islands and relied upon birds being sent to him from collectors.

James Alder.   James Alder died in recent years and I often think of him as a modern day Thomas Bewick.  He’s the third member of the dinner party that I have met and another local man.  In his case, I’ve met him on a number of occasions.  James will certainly keep the conversation going as I remember being with him on one occasion when for three hours he told me of his life story.  A very good artist, James used to spend time as a youngster on the Tyne drawing/painting wildlife and local scenes having been let out of school by a headmaster who had recognised his talent.  A fascinating gentleman, who worked with Royal Worchester Porcelain for some time as senior consultant sculptor of birds and flowers.  His conversation will be varied and I know he was a good friend of Yehudi Menuhin the violinist.  James introduced me through his TV appearances to my favourite UK bird species, the Dipper.  I understand that it was James Alder’s careful study of Dippers that showed that it was often not the nictitating membrane of the bird’s eye that was seen flashing across the eye, but instead it was actually the white feathering around the eye which often confuses people.  I know James travelled quite a bit, but to me it is his careful studies of birds and other wildlife, which may seem common to some, that I remember him most for.  That’s the type of birding I advocate too.  In his later years James was commissioned by both Queen Elizabeth 11 and Queen Mother to produce books of the Birds of Balmoral and Birds of the Castle of Mey.  He also became President of the Natural History Society of Northumbria.

John Kirk Townsend.  I did think of inviting American artist James Audubon along but to be honest what I have read about the guy makes me suspect that at least some of his fame was built upon the backs of others, so instead I’ve chosen a man closely associated with Audubon, and that is John Kirk Townsend.  Townsend was an enthusiastic ornithologist.  He was native to Philadelphia, but crossed the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River in 1834 and also made two visits to the Hawaiian Islands.  He found ne wspecies and no doubt saw species on on the Hawaiian Islands that today are extinct.  He returned with a massive collection of bird and mammal specimens which where used by James Audubon in his preparation of Birds of America and Viviparous Quadrupeds.  It would be good to hear from Townsend about his experiences in North America at that time in its development.  The book John Kirk Townsend written by Barbara and Richard Mearns describes wonderfully the travels of Townsend and is much more than a book about birds.

Peter Scott.  Son of Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon Scott, Peter Scott was amongst other things an artist, naturalist, conservationist, broadcaster and writer.  I remember rather vaguely from childhood a TV programme that Peter Scott presented.  I’m trying to recall the name of it.  Was it called ‘Look?’  Yes it was, and low and behold some  film clips can be seen here   Perhaps best known now for founding the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, he was also Founder Chairman of the World Wildlife Fund.  I remember as a youngster looking at prints of Peter Scott’s paintings of geese, never thinking that I would see such things.  I’m pleased to say since then I have on many occasions and have visited Islay (an area which Peter Scott said was the best place in Europe to watch geese) to watch Barnacle and White Fronted Geese.  As a young man Peter Scott was a wildfowler until he decided that it was better to shoot with a camera and paint and conserve wildfowl.  Of course he won’t be the only person at dinner that frequently used a gun!

Alexander von Humbolt.  Thirty years before Charles Darwin, Alexander von Humbolt travelled in South America on one of the greatest scientific expeditions of the nineteenth century.  Darwin held the man in great esteem.  The trip included the first scientific exploration of the Amazon by Europeans.  Now I must admit to not knowing too much about Alexander von Humbolt but I’m going to make the effort to find out a lot more about him.  It’ll certainly be good to discuss with him his travels in South America during which he mapped out much of the area.  I think there will be a few at diner who wish to thank him!

So if I have added up correctly that is my ten guests.  I’m sure you have noted, not a twitcher amongst them!  Sadly I have had to miss many off the invite list.  Three who nearly made it were Joseph Banks, Georg Steller and Jacque Cousteau.  I’ll have to see how this dinner goes and maybe have another at a later date.

Now I’ve decided to add just one more person to the list.  Yes I know I said no one else could come, but I’m making an exception.

Samuel Hood.  Yes it’s my trusted naturalist friend Sam.  Not quite as experienced and esteemed as the other guests as yet, but there is nothing to say he won’t be in years to come.  Anyway I’m sure the other guests, being the people they are, would find it a great privilege to pass on their experiences to a young naturalist and also to look at some of his photographic images after dinner.  I know Sam will be more than able to hold his own in the conversation around the table.  So you’re in Sam and if the others don’t turn up we will go birding instead.

I think I best order the large Cod and plenty of tartar sauce.  There will be plenty of chips if any of the guests are vegetarian.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Dining with Naturalists

I mentioned in an earlier blog that David Attenborough would be one of the people I’d invite along to my special dinner party and that got me thinking as to which other naturalists I would like along, either from the present day or those from the past.  My only criteria are a) I think I would get along with them and that they would all get along with each other, b) they are all-round naturalists who I can rely upon to share their knowledge and experiences with others and c) I believe they might all like fish and chips.  I’ve whittled it down to ten individuals, three of whom I’ve actually met.  It’s no good anyone asking if they can be invited along too as I don’t have the room for more.

Charles Darwin.  Apologies to David Attenborough, but Charles Darwin would be given pride and place at the head of the table.  I think I’d like him along at an age when he was freshly returned from his voyage on the Beagle.  I’d much prefer to hear about his more youthful adventures on the voyage and his initial thoughts arising from that, than get bogged down in his internal struggles over creationism and religion.  I was many years ago fascinated by Darwin’s experiences on the Galapagos Islands and at one time these islands were number one on my list of places to visit.  Not so now, as I just can’t imagine that they are anything like Darwin found them and that would perhaps spoil the image of them that I have in mind.  It’s easy to forget that Darwin was away for five years during which time he circumnavigated the world in the Beagle.  Not comfortable travelling for a guy who suffered from severe sea sickness.  One area I would still like to visit and that Darwin is closely associated with, is Tierra del Fuego.  This place, would I think, still have me in awe.

David Attenborough.  What an interesting conversation he would have with Charles Darwin and I think the latter man would be very interested to hear about the formers more recent travels, although I’d be interested to know what he made of the changes in the world.  As I had recently promised myself, I have read David Attenborough’s Zoo Quest Adventure in search of the Komodo Dragon and I’m now well into the travels in search of animals in Paraguay, both trips made in the 1950s.  Reading the books gave me the impression that although much older, and wiser no doubt, David Attenborough’s style in describing nature and writing about it doesn’t appear to have changed too much over the years.  His style in the field certainly has changed as has natural History programmes in general.  This event will give me the chance to say more to him than ‘hello, could you please write best wishes Brian and sign the book?’  I’ll have a pile of books for him to sign in addition.  One thing about David Attenborough which I feel is so vital to his success is that his verbal descriptions of wildlife in Britain are equally as exciting and inspiring as his descriptions of more exotic wildlife.  This underlines that travel isn’t a necessity to an on going love and interest in nature. 

Alfred Russel Wallace.  Like Charles Darwin, I’d like Alfred Russel Wallace along as his younger self.  I know he got heavily involved with spiritualism in his later years and I would like the conversation to steer clear of that.  As his original thoughts on evolution where rather over shadowed by Darwin’s I think this would bring an interesting aspect to the table.  There would be no animosity, as I believe the two men got on well.  I’d like to hear of Wallace’s initial trip to South America where he spent four years.  Sadly almost all of his collection from those four years was lost in a shipwreck as he journeyed home.  If he was daunted by this it didn’t stop him going on to make many discoveries in what was then the Malay Archipelago that is now present day Indonesia.  Rather then me going on at length, you can get lots of information here  I’m sure David Attenborough will have lots to share with Wallace about Birds of Paradise.  Now, having noted that Wallace lived until 1913, I have decided that the dinner will next year will be an official recognition of the centenary of his death.  I’m sure he’ll feel very honoured.

Diane McTurk.  Diane McTurk is another of the guests I’ve met and I do think it right to have some female company at the dinner.  This is not a token gesture I hasten to add!  The McTurk family originated from Scotland, but several generations have lived and farmed in what is now Guyana.  Diane was born in Guyana and returned there when it gained independence and has help set up an area of conservation in the Rupununi River area.  She helped set up the Karanambu Trust and Lodge and has become world renowned for her conservation work with Giant River Otters.  For more information take a look here   I stayed at the lodge a few years ago during a trip to Guyana.  The trip had its exciting moments, but also some disastrous ones and the leadership of it left a lot to be desired.  One of the biggest disasters was a friend of mine breaking a leg, and whilst I won’t go into detail about it, I suggest if anyone is going to break a leg that they don’t do it in Guyana!  The few days I stayed at Karanambu was never the less a wonderful experience.  This is where I later found that David Attenborough had stayed in the 1950s and had been helped by Diane’s father.  I believe Gerald Durrell was also helped by Mr McTurk.  I saw Giant River Otters, Black Caiman, Capybara, Bulldog Bats and many birds in the area, including Sun Bitterns and Roseate Spoonbill.  Unfortunately there were no Giant Anteaters, but I did find one later in another area of Guyana.  One of the strangest animals I have seen in the wild.  So it will be good to chat about such wildlife to someone who has lived alongside it for so long.

Gerald Durrell.  I seem to remember Gerald Durrell first came to my attention when I read his My Family and Other Animals, which tells of his experiences on the island of Corfu as a youngster.  This was later made into a TV series of programmes.  The tale gives a very funny and entertaining look at the young Gerald’s early interests in wildlife.   Of course he later became very well known for his work at Jersey Zoo, his travels, writing and TV appearances.  I’m not the greatest fan of zoos and I have been in some pretty dismal ones (one of them happens to have been in Georgetown, Guyana!), but I do appreciate the great work that can be done by them if they are involved with education and conservation and this is certainly the case with Jersey Zoo.  Just as David Attenborough did, Gerald Durrell visited Guyana to collect animals in the 1950s.  Well to be exact in 1950, a few years before David Attenborough’s trip and I know he was in contact with Diane McTurk’s father.  I’m not sure if he stayed at Karanambu (I suspect he will have), but I’m sure I’ll find out when he comes for dinner.  He did write about the trip in a book called Three Singles to Adventure so I may try and get my hands on that before he calls.

That’s five of my guests then.  I’ll take a short break before put up the other five.  I just want to ensure that they are available.  Just to save sometime I might book   the fish and chip cafĂ© at Seaton Sluice for an evening.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sunday Afternoon on Patch

Root-de-doo-de-doo, a-root-de-doot-de doy di
A-root-de doot de dum, a-ree-de-dee-de-doo dee - doo doo ....
There's no one to hear me, there's nothing to say
And no one can stop me from feeling this way - yeah
Lazy Sunday afternoon
I've got no mind to worry
Close my eyes and drift away
Small Faces

18th Nov.  Having received a call from Sam it didn’t take me long to say yes to a walk out on patch today.  I’m afraid I did put it off until 1:00pm when perhaps the best light was already disappearing, but I don’t think it spoilt our afternoon at all.

Starting at the lake we found that numbers of Canada Geese remain high.  Common Gull numbers have now increased and we found one Little Grebe.  There were only two Goosanders on the lake today and we think some are flying between different areas.  Maybe more will arrive soon.  Only one pair of Goldeneye was found.  We decided that the lake wasn’t going to offer much more today so we headed towards the village area instead of doing the circuit of the lake.  This area too was quiet, although we had a nice sighting of Goldcrest in the church grounds as we looked at an interesting grave-stone.  Goldfinch, Chaffinch and tits were in the hedges.  I haven’t seen any sign of Nuthatch in this area since the very cold winter of two years ago.

It wasn’t until we had almost reached the Killingwoth/Holystone wagon-way that things began to pick up with a sighting of circa fifty Lapwings flying in the distance, but gradually approaching us.  They were accompanied by flocks of corvids and Starlings.  These flocks lifted from time to time throughout the rest of our walk.  We also found a flock of at least a dozen Long-tailed Tits moving through the hedge and then another flock further along the road making a total of twenty plus Long-tailed Tits.  Other birds nearby included, Robins, Wren, Blackbirds, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Dunnock.   We’ve wondered about the possibility of Barn Owl in this area, but have never seen one.

Once onto the wagon-way it was initially quite again apart from the Lapwing flock.  Sam caught sight of a Song Thrush.  Things did pick up however.

We had hoped for winter thrushes but other than the Song Thrush we initially found only Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes.  Then we found the first of a pair of Kestrels.  It showed really well at times as it hovered in front of us before perching.  I remembered the the slow motion filming of a Kestrel on the David Attenborough programme on Friday, which had shown so well the movements of the bird as it hovers and just how still the head remains throughout.  This bird today faced away from us and each tail feather could be seen perfectly as they spread out.  A Grey Heron was seen flying to and from the small flash.

As we moved on we found Linnet and at least six Reed Buntings in the hedge along with a single Yellowhammer.  A Greenfinch made its familiar call from above our heads.  I do have quite a good eye for catching sight of birds, but I’m wondering if I’m quite as quick as Sam these days as he caught sight of the Common Buzzard in almost the same place as we had found it along with the Red Kite when we were down this way recently.  The Common Buzzard flew off as it was harassed by a Carrion Crow.  We found it again later.

The view to the southwest was marred only by the electric pylons.  The sky was showing varying tones of blue as the light was beginning to fade.  The Lapwings continued to occasionally lift from the ploughed field.  Three Siskin flew from the hedge and more sightings were made of Reed Buntings.
I heard more Mistle Thrushes in the fields to the left of us, and behind them were at least twenty Fieldfare.  I saw one Redwing with them before we had a small flock of maybe fifteen or so Redwing fly over our heads.

There was no shortage of Magpies about today, but on reflection I seem to remember far fewer Wood Pigeon than I would normally see in this area.  We were almost home as it turned 4:00pm.  It would soon be dark.  One of the last birds I recall seeing was Collared Dove.  This time last year we had watched Short-eared Owls in this area.  I seem to recall it had been the first ones Sam had seen.  There were none today, but having seen so many during intervening period, I don’t think you’ll hear either of us complain.

Sam and I had given a presentation to the Northumberland Dry Stone Wall Association on Wednesday.  We had both being coming down with heavy colds and our voices had hardly gone the distance, so today’s walk in the cool but fresh air probably helped us to recover.  It was certainly cool as we noticed an area unlit by the sun was still thickly covered in frost.  It had been a very rewarding afternoon.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Attenborough Years

17th Nov.  I’m sure I’m not alone in really enjoying the series of programmes currently showing on BBC TV on Friday evening and presented by David Attenborough.  There was some great footage last week of the Spatula Humming Bird and Bird Winged Butterfly amongst much more.  Last night took us briefly through sixty years of Natural History Film making and how things have changed.  All very interesting indeed.

David Attenborough mentioned last night that he had been privileged to live during the golden years of Natural History Film making.  I must say I feel privileged to have lived through the years this man has appeared on our TV screens.  I remember as a very small child watching early Zoo Quest Expeditions on the family very small black and white TV set.  I have no real recollection of the content, but I do have a clear recollection of watching David Attenborough during his travels, so it was good to be reminded of some of them last night.  By today’s standards of course not very highly developed programmes, but at the time very exciting.  It was nice too, to be reminded of some top class BBC productions, such as Civilisation, that came to fruition whilst David Attenborough was involved in BBC administration.  These programmes were made long before dumbing down seem to come into vogue, although no doubt there was also rubbish on the TV even then.

I have some Zoo Quest Expeditions in book form and I intend to have another read of the trip to Borneo which in part appeared last night.  I was hoping to see something from the trip to Guyana as a few years ago I actually stayed in the compound where David Attenborough and crew were based in the 1950s and I met at least one person known to him at the time.  I’ve also been lucky enough to follow a pack of Wild Dogs on the Okavango Delta in Botswana.  Also shown last night.  As a child watching the old black and white TV set such trips would have simply been as likely to ever happen to me as flying to the moon!

The Life series were all excellent but the one that still stands out for me was the first, and that was Life on Earth.  At the time I was taking more of an interest in Natural History and this set of programmes really excited me.  I have watched all of the others of course and have all the accompanying books.  Which reminds me, I need to check out a recent publication where David Attenborough looks at the art and natural history of the Birds of Paradise.

I’ve been lucky enough to meet David Attenborough, if only at a book signing some years ago.  If I was having one of those dinner parties where you could invite anyone along (alive or dead) David Attenborough would be at the top of my list along with Charles Darwin.  What an interesting conversation that would make!  I think I’d like to have Peter Scott along too.  I need a little more time to think of some others.  I'll apologise to Simon King now, as he won't be on the invite list, but Bill Oddie might be as I'm sure he could liven things up.  I actually do respect Bill Oddie's knowledge, much of it self taught and I like people who speak their minds.

I look at today’s presenters and I can’t come up with anyone who may be able to take on the position of David Attenborough.  I suppose it is unfair to expect anyone to do so as we live in a very different world now.  I will look forward to next week’s offering and in the mean time I’ll read once again of the Zoo Quest Expedition to Borneo in search of the Komodo Dragon made in the 1950s.  I see that in the same book details are given of the Zoo Quest Expedition to Paraguay in the same decade which includes a visit the Chaco region.  Sadly on the radio this morning I caught a little of a programme giving details of how the Chaco forest areas are been cut down at a rapid rate and any attempts to at least slow this process for conservation reasons seem to have had little to no success.  As I say, a very different world now!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Walking With Redwings...Prestwick Carr.

10th Nov.  I’d like to thank all participants who supported the RSPB at the presentation and walk at Prestwick Carr today.  We had twenty-seven very keen participants, for whom some, this was an introduction to the Carr.  My thanks go especially to Samuel Hood for all of his help in assisting me and providing images for the presentation.  Thanks also to Cain Scrimgeour and Peter Fletcher for allowing me the use of images and to the volunteers who helped with the catering on the day.  I can’t really comment on the presentation, but I felt everyone went home happy.  The weather could not have been better and if I say so myself, I think we provided a very enjoyable event.

After a bit of refreshment and the presentation we walked down to the Carr from Dinnington Community Hall, catching a nice sighting of Kestrel on the way.  As we joined the ‘bumpy road’ a Great Spotted Woodpecker gave a fly past.  I’d emphasised the habitat, open space and wide skies during the talk and the light was excellent today.  Improving as the sun lowered in the sky.

The first birds of note along the ‘bumpy road’ was a flock of Bullfinches which stayed in front but near to us as we progressed.  We were soon listening to the calls of Willow Tits which gave excellent sightings throughout the time we were out there.  A large flock of Fieldfare flew over the road above us and smaller numbers were seen throughout the walk.  We began to see the Redwings as we moved along the roadway.  Although looking into the light made watching them difficult at times, everyone eventually had good sightings of what were sizable flocks.  A Goldcrest showed really well and numbers of Lesser Redpoll showed fleetingly.

I’d talked about the raptors to be seen on the Carr earlier, but as expected the ones seen today were Common Buzzard (2), Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.  Only the Sparrowhawk was seen in flight.

I was surprised not to see or hear Curlew today, but I believe one of the participants saw at least one in flight.  There were a few Golden Plover in the horse fields and the odd Mistle Thrush.  Sam walked further up the pathway towards the sentry box and found more Lesser Redpolls and there was a small flock of Goldfinch in the hedge-way.  Other birds seen included Grey Heron, Greenfinch, Siskin, Reed Bunting and tits.

We stayed out a little longer than I had anticipated as I thought it a good idea to watch the sun go down.  As the sun set two large flocks of Starlings flew high in the sky.  Large by today’s standards anyway!  One flock in the east and another in the west.  Some of us cast our minds back to the large flocks seen in Newcastle in years gone by and sadly remembered that this species numbers are at least eighty percent down (and dropping) on what they were then!

We’d had some nice sightings during just over two hours on the Carr.  Not a large quantity of species and sadly no Short-eared Owls.  However the day had been about habitat as much as anything and certainly not just about Short-eared Owls, contrary to any rumour otherwise!

Darkness was fast approaching and the guns had stopped firing as we made it back to Dinnington.  House Sparrows called from the bushes.  A Tawny Owl called just before we left the area.  I think those participants new to Carr had been impressed and I hope/think will visit again.  I’m hoping they all had a good day.  I know I did!

I’m looking forward to giving another presentation jointly with Sam next week on a slightly different subject and we are already making plans for next year’s event.

Oh, and yes, I think everyone enjoyed seeing the Exmoor Ponies.  I've learn t a lot about Exmoor Ponies and their use in conservation during my research.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Reminder of Why RSPB Membership.....



6th Nov.  I was at the RSPB Local Group meeting tonight.  It amuses me to note that rarely do speakers not turn up as planned, but when it does occasionally happen, it has been as far as I remember, RSPB staff speakers who don’t turn up! :-)  At least a replacement was sent along and to be fair he gave a good if depressing presentation.  Instead of the depressing news I was expecting specifically about Hen Harriers, we were treated to depressing news about raptors in general and the work of the RSPB investigation team.  Will the sentencing of raptor persecutors ever be stiffened up?  Will there ever be a political shift towards offering more protection to raptors?  Well that remains to be seen, but I do know one thing.  Progress is unlikely to take place without the work of the RSPB Investigations Team and many other people getting off their backsides and making a noise.  I really don’t need a reminder of why I’m a member of the RSPB, but if I did, tonight’s talk would have been such a reminder!

Earlier in the day I had met up with a friend of mine for lunch and spent a couple of wet hours walking down the old rail line into Ponteland Park.  I don’t ever remember having been in Ponteland Park before and the last time I had visited the Diamond Pub I was still in my teens.  I didn’t ask if they remembered.  There were few birds about, but even in the wet and dull conditions there was some autumnal colour left in the park.  I don’t recall seeing much colour this autumn.  In fact I don’t recall much autumn.  We seem to have had a long ‘wet season’ which has turned into winter.  Bird of the day was a Goldcrest seen in the bushes along the old line.  Two parties of Long-tailed Tits were on the move and a lone Song Thrush was found in the same area.  No squirrels were seen, red or grey!

Park Life.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Going Local

4th Nov.  Looking out of the widow early morning I found the sky bright and clear.  By the time Sam and I were on the way to Gosforth Park Nature Reserve mid morning we were met by thickening mist.  As we neared the reserve the mist wasn’t as dense, but some remained until we were about to leave.  We found the pond frozen this morning and the paths resembling a mud bath in places.  Frost lay on parts of the ground until late morning and the air remained chilled.

The highlight at the feeding station was the Kestrel which gave close views and good photo opportunities as did the female Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch.  Tits, Robin and Blackbird were the supporting acts.

Kestrel on a Misty Morning
Despite the mud the walk around the reserve was as always enjoyable.  Three Roe Deer were seen at distance in the woods and again on the race course.  I assumed that they were the same three.  A single Grey Squirrel was seen.  I’m told a Red Squirrel/s was/were  seen the previous day, but we saw none.  I haven’t seen Red Squirrels in the reserve on any recent visits.  I can remember the time when numbers were seen.  Last week I read in the local paper that Grey Squirrels were counted in large numbers in Ponteland recently, in the area frequented by the red species.  The demise of the Red Squirrel seems somewhat inevitable in these areas.

Great Spotted Woodpecker
Jays  and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard during the walk, but little was seen in the way of other birds apart from a large flock of Goldfinch and more tits.  We missed the Bittern which had been in front of one of the hides for at least a half hour.  It had flown shortly before our arrival there.  The ice ensured that the pond was almost clear of birds.  Some Shoveller, Wigeon and Goldeneye flew across.  Grey Herons flew into the trees opposite.

My favorite garden species.
As we cleaned our wellingtons before heading towards St Mary’s Island the Kestrel we had watched and photographed earlier, I think, was mobbed by a Magpie until it perched on top of the lamp post.  It seemed safe there as the Magpie made no attempt to mob or move it from its perch.  Instead the Magpie went and perched on its own lamp post on the other side of the road!  I had noticed that there is no shortage of Magpies in the reserve.  We passed the Bee Hive flash, but saw nothing but a single Mute Swan.

The mist had cleared by now and the light was good.  This had brought out the Sunday crowds.  We watched the waders, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Sanderling, Turnstone, Purple Sandpiper (2), Redshanks and Curlew.  Sam got some good images of Ringed Plover especially, and then we waited for the sun going down and took a number of images of the St Mary’s Island and the lighthouse.  There were numbers of photographers out tonight.  White cloud was gathering in the east and slowly changed colour as the sun dropped.  Guillemots, Razorbills and Eider Duck were on the water.  Rock Pipit and Pied Wagtail were amongst other birds seen and heard.  A skein of forty-five to fifty
Pink–footed Geese flew southwards high over the wetland.  We saw nothing of interest on the wetland, but by now the light was going.  A lone Eider Duck, head tucked in, floated with the tide near to shore.

Clear evening as the tides comes in.
5th Nov.  I stopped at Killy Lake on my return from some business in Benton.  The sun was already setting so I didn’t have much chance to look at the birds.  I did idle away a few minutes counting Canada Geese.  My total came to one hundred and twenty-eight!  I had been too quick in announcing that the Great Crested Grebes had left.  If they had, another return was made as Sam saw at least one of them on Saturday.  As I walked home the flocks of corvids were flying to roost and some were dropping onto the grassed roundabout and covering the trees in the centre of it.  This as always was a pleasant event on a clear evening.