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Showing posts from August, 2015

Schrödinger’s Pipit

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A Tree Pipit, flying over this morning, got me musing on quantum physics.

As poor old Schrödinger’s cat found out…quantum mechanics tells us that Measurement determines reality.
Until last year the highest number migrant Tree Pipit, at sites in Lancashire, was in the tens. Peter Alker, who rings birds at the nearby Billing Hill made a special effort to record and ring Tree Pipits – playing back calls to entice birds down. He noted 133 and 'blew the previous record out of the water'  There are far more Tree Pipits flying over than get recorded.

I've, personally, seen the same thing. During my Cheshire Garden days I regularly sat out in the garden to document the overhead  migration of Meadow Pipits. As my 'season' started in mid September I saw very few Tree Pipits.  Then one year I started in August, specifically to see if there were any 'Tripits' - there were...I started to record Tree Pipits.
There is a vast world of nature ‘out there.’  Then there is the r…

Careful what you wish for

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This is almost  certainly a  case of 'careful what you wish for'. The other  day, on a Lancashire  Moth forum  I was bemoaning my small catches. Although, still on the paltry side compared to those who operate 'weapons grade' traps, 102 moths last night is my largest catch. Inevitably, most (75 in fact) were the dreaded Yellow  Underwings.

'Dreaded' - because there are so many of them and they are what we scientists term 'big and ugly'.  They also have the habit of escaping into the house requiring a SWAT team to bust in and catch them (on the command of "go! go! go!")(obviously). 



Not just the bog standard LYU (as they're dismissively referred to) - if you want  a  small one there's the Lesser YU, if you want  a  even smaller one there's the Least YU. If you want  a smaller one with a broad border there's the Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing - which always strikes me as a comically tortuous name. 

How nice of nature to prov…

Invis Mig

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It seemed like a good morning to kick off the the Autumn vis mig season. Vis migging is the, fairly niche, birding pursuit whereby an observer stands (sitting is also permissible) at a 'migration watch point' and records the number of birds flying over.

So I went to the Beacon and without a fanfare or brief, but rousing, speech, I declared the vig mig season officially open.

My notebook, however, remained unsullied by any records.  My  stubby pencil remained resolutely in my fleece pocket. There was nothing to  trouble the scorers.

Both the numbers and range of  species,  that I didn't  see  were  impressive. Pride of place however goes to the huge numbers of Swallows and Martins that I didn't observe winging their way to southern climes. Such an awe inspiring sight to avoid  seeing.

I did  however  see  one  Lesser  Black Backed Gull flying south as well as a Siskin...er.. that's it.

As  soon  as  it  became obvious that I had backed the wrong horse viz-a-viz nich…

Reeling in the mist

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When I looked out of the window this morning  I could see it was going to be one of those very beautiful  photogenic dawns. I rushed out of the house with the intention of taking some landcapes. With the right combination of morning light and mist, the view from the Beacon towards Winter Hill, can be stunning. The features in the landscape such as trees, hillocks and windmills, sometimes look as if they're floating in a sea of cloud. And on special mornings there's a beautiful washes-of-colour, layered effect like a watercolour painting...

I got the camera and tripod in place, thinking that getting some great shots is going to be like shooting fish in a barrel (or falling off a log if you prefer). Almost inevitably I'd left the memory  card at home.

So, maybe just very slightly ignoring a couple of the lessons I'd learnt at a recent Speed Awareness Course (so that'll be sticking to the speed limit then - ed), I drove back to get the card. Of course, when I got bac…

Fómhar is here

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I’ve always  thought the seasons were wrong. Mid-December feels  a lot more like  Winter  than Autumn . Early March and even February, in some years, feels like spring.
So too with the beginning of Autumn.  The 21stof September -  the equinox  -  the Astronomical and Cultural start - seems much too late in the year. The meteorological Autumn starts at the beginning of September which is more like it.
I personally like the Gaelic calendar –Fómhar -Harvest is - August, September, October.  Birders often see signs earlier – July or even June sees the start of the 'Fall’ migration.
I’ve been away on holiday for the last 10 days and on returning to the patch it seems the year has turned. The Swifts have gone, flowers have been replaced by seed-heads.
A Willow warbler was singing – but around this time of year it becomes quieter and much less enthusiastic.  This could be sub-song from a young bird – but it always seems to me to express a slight balefulness – a touch of sorrow that Spring h…