Sunday, 23 March 2014

Analysing Bird Song, Counting Deer and Photographing Waders At Keyhaven Salt Marsh

My mobile is geriatric. At very nearly three years old it is starting to slow down and display signs of gentle senility. I have resisted the urges of Vodafone to upgrade to a newer, flashier model because, on the whole, I can not get excited about mobile phones and don't like changing things until they have broken. It seems wasteful otherwise. They are useful things, but they are not, for me, a fashion accessory in any way so I tend to make do long after the model I have has become obsolete, and then the young person who serves me when I do eventually go in to get a new one looks at me with pity and incredulity.

All of which will make you shake your head and say 'rubbish!' when you read that I have succumbed to the charms of an I-Phone, and it arrives on Monday, and I am Quite Excited About It. You may be less inclined to shout 'rubbish!' though when you read that my main reason for i-phoning is that there is a very good bird-song ID app you can get for it (which we have on L's Ipod Touch and which I have been using all weekend) which records the song/s and analyses them and provides you with a long list of all the calls it has detected.

So, birdsong analysis. I've been out recording our feathery friends at home and an interesting mix returned in the results. All the usual suspects were there- Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Collar Dove, Sparrow- all those I know we have in the garden, but also on the list was chiff-chaff, black-cap, goldfinch and greenfinch, and although I have seen them about periodically I didn't know they were here in any permanent way, so that's exciting. I shall be recording birdsong wherever I go now for comparison purposes. Roll on Monday when I can have my own app and not have to fight L for his!

Last week, college's practical was surveying deer on a 1000 acre site in Dorset. We arrived at 3.30 and left at 7pm. In between we were stationed around the farm in pockets of woodland sitting high up in the trees on deer-related chairs.
It was freezing and Ben and I spent much of those 3 plus hours whispering (in case any deer were about) and generally catching up on what we'd both been doing. We didn't see huge amounts, and at 6pm Fi and Callum texted from a nearby tree to inform us they'd seen a grand total of 9 deer, a couple of squirrels and a buzzard, and were also freezing. At 6.40 we headed back to the landy, collecting Jack from his tree en route. He was also gibbering from the cold so he and I went for a run across the field to warm up: this was an interesting experience in wellies, hats, gloves, scarves and winter coats across lumps of chalk...

In the end Ben and I saw a grand total of 10 fallows as well as a Sparrow Hawk who swooped silently down out of the trees behind us and glided across the green ride in front. No photo sadly, but I did get one of this male pheasant...

 
A highlight of the evening for me was this beautiful hare, who appeared just as the light was starting to fade (hence the slightly blurry shot) and hopped right past the chair. I haven't seen a hare close-up in ages and it was a real treat.

 
There was also a badger sett in the wood. You can tell it's a badger house by the 'D' shape of the entrance holes....
 

The badger paths between holes and out of the wood were well-used....


Sunset was like a bonfire on the other side of the trees...


All in all a good and interesting, if chilly and slightly sedentary experience.

A walk with the dogs late yesterday afternoon took us through a farm where these gorgeous calves were as interested in us as Poppy was in them....


And these fantastic turkeys were also Quite Curious too....

 

The farm had 'dog gates' by every stile...


And the light was looking Rather Lovely on the dandelions and daffs growing in the churchyard...



More sunlight today so we headed down to Keyhaven and the Salt Marshes where there were a number of Waders wandering across the muddy shoreline, the tide being out.
My favourite was this Curlew- you could hear them all out in the marshes, such an eerie call. Isn't that beak amazing?




There were also Redshanks, both in groups and hunting solo....



Herring Gulls (correct me if I'm wrong)...


A Little Egret fishing....



A group of Busy Little Turnstones (for whom I have a significant soft spot)....I only realised they were there by the racket they were making flipping their stones over to look for Interesting Things to eat. They are perfectly camouflaged against pebbles and Very Friendly, the dear little things....


There were also plenty of Black-Headed Gulls....


I'll leave you with some shots taken around Keyhaven and Hurst Spit, which is now fully mended after the spring storms.


I love the sky in this shot

Boat across the Salt Marsh. It feels like a view that hasn't changed much in centuries....

Tide coming in

A lone Redshank looking for food.
Wishing you all a good week ahead,

CT :-)

20 comments:

  1. I'm a total convert to the world of smart phones now and my Moto G phone has things about it that are 'better than an i-phone' apparently. All I know is that I'd now never go back t my geriatric phone. I wonder if there's an android birdsong ID app.....I'm off to look right now! Have a lovely week.....xx

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    1. They are convenient things. Hope you find an android app for the moto x

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  2. Love the waders, especially the curlew and little egret. And, of course, the pheasant. I have been in fight breaking up mode today. :(
    I want to get a niger seed feeder. Is it worth it at this time of year, or do the birds only make use of it in winter?

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    1. Hopefully you'll have small pheasants before long....

      Yup, worth getting a niger feeder - our goldfinches typically turn up feb/ march and hang about for a few weeks/ months afterwards. They are sporadic visitors but they do come. You'll likely get greenfinches too with nigers and possibly siskins as well.

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  3. Great photos again and what an interesting couple of days you have had.

    I love your hare, and the curlew beak!

    The clouds have been amazing today and must have been even better over a sparkling sea.

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    1. That curlew beak is an amazing thing- it looks too long to be real somehow. The hare was such a treat, and so close to us. Just wish we could have seen the badgers as well. It's been ages since I last saw some in the wild. :-)

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  4. Ha Ha Congats on your I phone and new bid song app .
    I am always taken with the contrast of the black headed gull .

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    1. I'm looking forward to seeing what else I can get for it. There is a good plant and tree id app too... :-)

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  5. Hi CT. you certainly had a great time and saw plenty. Great collection of deer and birds seen. Nice to see the yellow of spring again. Have a great week.

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    1. Hi Margaret :-)

      Yes, a lovely weekend and the deer survey was fun to do, if rather chilly! Have a good week too.

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  6. I have only seen a hare close up once in my life and that was last year when we had a weekend break in Suffolk. We were on a late afternoon walk and it appeared all of a sudden from a field. It stopped in the road, looked at us, then lolloped onwards. I was surprised at how big it was. I knew they were bigger than bunnies, but even so...! Xx

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    1. They are whoppers next to bunnies. Very spiritual creatures, I always think x

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  7. I love the sound of a bird song app for ID - now that has got me interested in new technology! I could do with it, too - there's a bird song I'm currently hearing on some of my walks that I can't ID at all. I can't see the bird, either - it's always hidden which is frustrating.
    That is a shame it was so cold for your deer survey, but what a wonderful sight of the hare. I love all the photos but especially the curlews, the egret and the lovely turnstone.

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    1. It's more or less the only thing that gets me interested in technology (that, and being able to listen to audio books on them as well). You can also get plant and tree id apps...

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  8. How great that the farm had such good dog access, they can often get stuck by stiles if there is no way through. I am always so amazed by your countryside knowledge - I know, the title of the blog gives it away! - you really are so very knowledgeable though. Hope that you like the new phone and app. I got a new phone recently after having my old one for 10 years, it cost 99p and only makes phone calls and sends texts, so I think that you are very brave to make this big step! xx

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    1. That's very sweet of you, Amy :-)

      99p for a phone sounds a bargain! x

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  9. Your new phone sounds very tempting. I have an ancient pay as you go just for emergencies and daughter has a few natural history apps of mine on her i or smart phone. I forget which it is or are they the same thing? Sadly, she is rarely with me when I'm out on reserves so apps go to waste :(

    I love the wader and bird photos. I've just realised belatedly where Keyhaven is - I think we've seen it when we get the ferry from Lymington to the IofW. It looks a wonderful place for birding :)

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    1. Smart phones run on android operating systems and I-Phone on IOS (that makes it sound convincingly like I know what I'm talking about, but I haven't a clue really, I'm just regurgitating what M has told me!). This one wasn't massively expensive as these things go- the phone was free and the contract about £17 a month (which is what I pay for L's smart phone and only a few quid more than I way paying for my ancient one).

      The phone has arrived but the sim card isn't connected yet so I can't actually use it as a phone. Tomorrow, probably... HOWEVER, I have already downloaded ID apps for birds, wildflowers, trees and mushies, and that's just the start! Really looking forward to trying them all out. It's a countryside i-phone!

      You would have seen Keyhaven and Hurst Spit on the ferry- the isle of wight is a stone's throw across the water. Well worth an hour's stop off next time if you're down this way. Especially at low tide, although there are always birds about regardless of the state of the sea :-)

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  10. Great photos and very interesting stuff CT. I'm so happy to see that your course is getting you out and about, which also means we get to enjoy some great trips with you too!

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    1. Yes, lots of interesting things to learn about and see :-)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x