Sunday, 7 October 2018

Birds of Europe - All seen in the garden once again.

As always, I hope that my identification is correct, please let me know if there should be any mistakes.
Common blackbird (Turdus merula) male.
French name -  Merle noir

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), females.
French name - Moineau domestique.

European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris), male.
French name - Verdier d'Europe

Greenfinch and sparrow having an altercation.

European robin (Erithacus rubecula).
French name - Rougegorge familier

Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
French name - Tourterelle turque

House sparrow female taking a look at a daylily...

and in take-off mode sending pollen flying everywhere.

Common blackbird, juvenile.

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Monday, 1 October 2018

Birds of Europe - Mostly seen in the garden, you will recognise the pot holder that they use as a bath!

As always, I hope that my identification is correct, please let me know if there should be any mistakes.

Common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus).
French name - Pigeon ramier.

House sparrows - both females - (Passer domesticus) and a Eurasian blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus).
French Names - Moineau domestique and Mésange bleue.

Eurasian jay (Garrulus glandarius). Seen in the Dordogne though they are local as well.
French name - Geai des chênes.

As above.

Eurasian siskin (Spinus spinus).
French name - Tarin des aulnes

House sparrow - male - (Passer domesticus).

Common redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus).
French name - Rougequeue à front blanc.

As above looking a little bedraggled after its bath. 😉

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Wild Bird Wednesday

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Birds of Europe - seen in our French garden or overhead.

As always, I hope that my identification is correct, please let me know if there should be any mistakes.
I am not adding details today as these are all pretty common birds and easy to look up if necessary.

Great tit (Parus major), female.
French name - Mésange charbonnière

Barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)...

French name - Hirondelle

As above.

Common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs), male.
French name - Pinson des arbres.

European greenfinch, (Chloris chloris), male...
French name - Verdier d'Europe.

As above, female.

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus), Mrs giving Mr an earful!!
French name - Moineau domestique.

as above and making up again. 💗😉

Eurasian blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus).
French Name - Mésange bleue

 Greenfinch and sparrow having an altercation.

Common or Eurasian Cranes (Grus Grus) flying South.
French name - Grue Cendrée.

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Monday, 17 September 2018

Birds seen in our garden in France

As always, I hope that my identification is correct, please let me know if there should be any mistakes.

Common Blackbird (Turdus merula) is a species of true thrush. Both these photos are of the male. Its wonderful fluty song accompanies dawn and dusk in spring.  It feeds on fruits, earthworms which it flushes out in a very skilful way, and will eat sunflower seeds in winter. Very territorial in the breeding season, it is more gregarious in winter and small groups feed together. The nest is a masterpiece made of grass and mud, and lined with soft vegetation. The female builds the nest in about three days, in the fork of a tree, a hedge or a shrub.  Incubation is by the female, although sometimes the male replaces her for short moments.

The adult male has black and glossy plumage overall. Bill and eye-ring are yellow. The eyes are dark brown and the legs are blackish. The female is a bit more reddish-brown, slightly mottled with a paler tinge on the underparts. Her throat can be paler, separated from the face by an indistinct buffy-brown malar stripe. Bill is brownish with a yellow base. Eyes and legs are dark brown. 

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto). It is gregarious and you can see groups of several birds at bird-feeders in winter.   The construction of the nest does not lead to an artwork, but rather to a small loose platform made with some coarsely woven twigs, from where the eggs often fall. Incubation by both parents lasts about two weeks. The nest is usually in a tree, shrub, against the trunk, not always well hidden. Both sexes are similar, although the female may have a slightly browner head.

European green woodpecker (Picus viridis). I believe this to be a female.  Ants are their favourite food, it extracts ants and pupae from the deep galleries, thanks to the stout bill and long tongue. The tongue may be extended up to 10 cm in order to explore the galleries. Ants are caught with the sticky tip, but it also takes various insects, earthworms and snails, also plant matter such as fruits, berries and some seeds are also consumed.  It breeds in cavities, a hole in a tree or in a large branch. Both male and female excavate the hole, and this work may last two to four weeks. The cavity is situated in a dead tree or in soft living wood, at 2 to 10 metres above the ground. The nest includes a circular or oval entrance, a tunnel, and the nest-chamber is dug into the soft part of the wood. Most of the wood chips are removed from the hole with the bill. The floor of the nest is covered with wood chips. The female lays 5-8 eggs. Incubation lasts 14 to 17 days by both sexes. The male incubates mainly during the night. Chicks are fed by their parents by regurgitation.

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus). I think everyone knows most of the facts about the sparrow, this is a female

Common chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs). This is a male I am sure everyone knows this bird as well, but did you know that the nest of a Chaffinch tends to be in a tree or shrub, made from moss, grass and feathers, all bound with spider's webs in a neat cup shape, and lined with wool and decorated with pieces of bark.

As above.

Eurasian blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) a well known little bird of the tit family, here it is on our window sill. It is a very common sight in our garden and will visit our feeder all through winter though we seldom see them in summer. It thinks nothing of tapping on the window if food is low 😉

Common wood pigeon (Columba palumbus), it is the largest of the Columbidae European species. Very well known. It feeds both on the ground and in trees. It consumes plant matter and invertebrates, and is able to reach fruits in trees. The nest is placed between 1, 5 and 2, 5 metres above the ground in a tree fork, on a branch, or in a creeper.  It is made with twigs and lined with grasses and leaves, and finer twigs. It is often reused and may become bulkier after several broods. The incubation lasts 16-17 days by both parents.

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Wednesday, 5 September 2018

The last photos on South African birds until I get more from Christelle - or we go for a visit!

These are photos again taken by my friend, Christelle Miller, during 2018.
Thanks go to Christelle for allowing me to use these photos on my blog.
As always, I hope that my identification is correct, please let me know if there should be any mistakes.

Red-headed finch (Amadina erythrocephala). The male has a red head while the female has a brown head.  I wonder if the bird at the back is a young male as there are tinges of red seen on the head.  It feeds on the ground, and on the wing, mainly feeding on invertebrates and seeds. It is monogamous unless its mate dies. They create a nest on the ground, laying between 2 to 5 eggs which are brown in colour. The preferred habitats are woodlands and arid areas including grasslands. You will normally see the Red-headed Finch in flocks.

Black-winged kite (Elanus caeruleus) also known as the black-shouldered kite. It breeds in savannahs, semi-desert grasslands, steppes and cultivated plains with thickets. In dry areas, it needs the vicinity of the water. It perches on exposed places from which it hunts small rodents, birds, reptiles and large insects. It may hunt from a perch, but often by hovering in mid-air with skill and little effort. When a prey is selected, it drops silently onto it, feet-first, with wings in a high V position, generally hunting at dusk. They build the nest themselves, and they build a new nest each year in the same area, and even in the same tree. The nest is a small structure made with thin twigs. It is a flat and loose structure and is usually located in a large tree, often in a thorny one.  The nest is built by both adults. The male brings most of the material, and the female works it into the nest. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs, at intervals of 2-3 days. Incubation lasts about 25 to 28 days, mainly by the female, but the male feeds her on, or close to the nest during this period. Eggs hatch at 2-3 days intervals, that means that a complete brood may take a week or more to hatch. Despite the wide variation in the size, older chicks are rarely aggressive to the younger.  Young reach their plumage at about 3 weeks of age. They may fly at 30 to 35 days when food is abundant. Young return to the nest between their flights, and are fed by adults away from the nest.  If food resources are good they might breed twice during the year

Hadeda ibis (Bostrychia hagedash) for info see Post 14 and Blacksmith lapwing or blacksmith plover (Vanellus armatus). The Blacksmith feeds mainly on the ground feeding on Invertebrates and Aquatic life forms. The preferred habitats are grasslands.  You can expect to see them in flocks, pairs or as single birds. It creates its nest on the ground and the female lays eggs which are yellow in colour and number between 1 to 4.

Wire-tailed swallow (Hirundo smithii). The male and female have the same plumage and colours. It feeds on the ground mainly on invertebrates. The preferred habitats are woodlands and grasslands but it is also at home in wetland areas. You will normally see them in pairs. It is monogamous unless its mate dies.  They construct neat half-bowl nests placed on vertical surfaces near water, such as below the ledges of cliffs or man-made structures, such as buildings and bridges. They collect mud with their beaks to line their nests with. The average clutch consists of 3 - 4 eggs in Africa. Unlike many other swallow species, which nest in colonies - the Wire-tailed Swallows are solitary and territorial nesters.

Purple-crested turaco (Gallirex porphyreolophus). This bird is a fruit-eater. Its glossy and colourful plumage makes this bird very attractive for humans and has been hunted in the past for their beautiful red flight feathers. Both adults are similar. The juvenile is duller.  It feeds on fruits from numerous plant species picking the fruits by perching at the end of the branches. This bird does not feed on the ground, except in captivity. The small fruits are swallowed whole, whereas the larger items are cut into pieces with the bill. It takes both wild and cultivated fruits, and some buds. They are often seen singly or in pairs, and occasionally in small groups of 4-5 birds....

It is a poor flier, but it moves with great agility from tree to tree in the canopy, alternating flapping and gliding. It takes flight with a short downwards glides and some fast wingbeats to the next tree. Then, it climbs and clambers back to the canopy with short hops, leaps and bounds. The nest of the Purple-crested Turaco is often placed high in tree or shrub, about 20 metres above the ground. It is a flat structure made with sticks and twigs and usually flimsy. This platform is well concealed among the thick vegetation. The female lays 2-3 glossy white eggs. Both adults incubate for 22-23 days. At hatching, the chicks are covered in thick greyish-brown down. They are fed by regurgitation by their parents. The adults clean the nest regularly. At about three weeks of age, the young move out of the nest and climb about in the nesting-tree. They are able to fly at 38 days old.

Brown snake eagle (Circaetus cinereus). For more info see post no 16.

There are nine species of baobab tree in the world: one in mainland Africa, Adansonia digitata, (the species that can grow to the largest size and to the oldest age) Some of Africa’s oldest and biggest baobab trees have abruptly died, wholly or in part, in the past decade, according to researchers.
The trees, aged between 1,100 and 2,500 years and in some cases as wide as a bus is long, may have fallen victim to climate change, the team speculated. 
Note the African fish eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer) in the smaller tree on the left. For more info on the Fish Eagle see post no 18

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Monday, 27 August 2018

More Birds from Southern Africa

These are photos again taken by my friend, Christelle Miller, during 2018.

Thanks go to Christelle for allowing me to use these photos on my blog.

As always, I hope that my identification is correct, please let me know if there should be any mistakes.

Cape rock thrush (Monticola rupestris). This large stocky rock thrush measures 19-21 cm in length. The summer (breeding) male has a blue-grey head, orange underparts and outer tail feathers, and brown wings and back.  Females have a brown head. The plumage below is a rich orange. The outer tail feathers are reddish.  Juveniles resemble the female but can be identified by the buff spots on the upper plumage and the black scaling on the plumage below.  The average clutch of eggs consists of 2-3 eggs placed in a cup nest typically situated in a rock cavity or on a ledge. They feed on insects and other small animals. They may take berries.

Black heron (Egretta ardesiaca) also known as the black egret. It is well known for its habit of using its wings to form a canopy when fishing.  See photos below.

The black heron feeds by day but especially prefers the time around sunset. It roosts communally at night, and coastal flocks roost at high tide. The primary food of the black heron is small fish, but it will also eat aquatic insects, crustaceans and amphibians.

The nest of the black heron is constructed of twigs placed over water in trees, bushes, and reed beds, forming a solid structure. The heron nests at the beginning of the rainy season, in single or mixed-species colonies that may number in the hundreds. The eggs are dark blue and the clutch is two to four eggs.

Goliath heron (Ardea goliath), also known as the giant heron, Both sexes are similar. Juveniles resemble adults, but they are duller. They live in varied wetlands, lakes, marshes, mangroves and sometimes river deltas. It walks slowly in deeper water than other herons, or it stands in shallow waters, on floating vegetation, watching in the water at its feet, searching for prey. When prey appears, it spears it with an open bill. This heron may capture large fishes, with weights about 2 to 3 kg, and it carries them to the shore to eat them quietly.  They are often seen singly or in isolated pairs. It usually nests solitary, but sometimes in mixed colonies with other heron species. It breeds from June to January. The nest is large, made with sticks and is located in trees, low bushes, on rocks or islands in mangroves, but also on the ground in reed beds, always very close or above water.  The female lays 2 to 3 pale blue eggs. Incubation lasts about four weeks, shared by both parents. Chicks are tended by both adults, but often a sibling dies under aggressive acts from the oldest. Young need about six weeks to fledge and perform their first flight. It is generally a nocturnal bird, also seen at dusk, feeding in wetlands. 

Kori bustard (Ardeotis kori). It is Africa's heaviest flying bird, the male can weigh up to 19 kg, the female is usually half the size of the male. They live in open grasslands and lightly wooded savannahs. It is omnivorous and feeds on insects (locusts) which are a large part of its diet. Chicks are fed mainly with insects. It can eat also small mammals, lizards, snakes, but also seeds, berries and plants. It doesn’t migrate as much as other birds. It moves only if it needs food or water. It flies only when necessary, because of its weight. Its flight is strong with slow flapping wings. It takes off with very heavy wing beats, but once in flight, it flies quickly and strongly. Nesting, the female prepares a shallow scraped depression in the ground. She lays 1 to 2 pale olive eggs, mottled with brown. Incubation lasts about 23 to 24 days, only by the female.  Chicks can follow their mother some hours after hatching. Young remain with her after the fledging period, at about five weeks.  They reach their sexual maturity at about 2 years.  This species produces only one clutch per year.

African openbill stork (Anastomus lamelligerus).  It has an unusual bill well adapted to the feeding behaviour of its species. These birds feed mainly on large aquatic snails of the genus Pila, and this type of bill is used to extract the mollusc from the shell. Adults are similar though the male is larger. It frequents mainly extensive freshwater wetlands, and it is often found in marshes, swamps, margins of lakes and rivers and rice fields. It nests in colonies of varying numbers of pairs. They nest in trees, usually over water, and sometimes in reedbeds. Female lays 3-4 oval, chalky-white eggs. Incubation is shared by both sexes and lasts about 25-30 days.  At hatching, the downy chicks are black with a normal bill. The gap will develop over several years.  They are fed by both parents and fledge about 50-55 days after hatching.

Immature Bateleur Eagle [I Think] (Terathopius ecaudatus). The Bateleur spends most of the time in the day on the wing, soaring effortlessly. It flies almost the entire day, until the cooler hours of the evening. It may fly well over 300 km every day, during 8 to 9 hours. During the day, it sometimes perches in a tree, close to carrion, where it may try to pirate smaller raptors. When not in flight, the Bateleur perches or stands on the ground usually near water......

Bateleur eagles pair for life and they reuse the same nest year after year. It is a sociable species, but the pair is territorial and lives alone in most areas. The female lays one chalky white egg in the dry season. Incubation lasts about 52 to 59 days, mainly by the female, but the male sometimes assists her. The male feeds the female close to the nest, or sometimes it gives her food by an aerial pass.  Chicks are fed by both parents. The young leave the nest about 110 days after hatching, but parents continue to feed it for another 100 days. It is independent at 4 months of age and has a longer tail than adults for stability, which helps it during the first flights.

Magpie shrike (Urolestes melanoleucus), also known as the African long-tailed shrike. It feeds on the ground and in foliage mainly on invertebrates and fruits. Living in woodlands, grasslands and riverine areas. You will normally see the bird in pairs or flocks and not often as single birds. It often performs co-operative breeding, with the breeding pair and some helpers, usually young birds from the previous brood. The female lays 3-5 buff or yellow eggs with darker spots. The incubation lasts 16-20 days by the breeding female. She is fed by the male, and occasionally by other members of the group. The chicks are fed by both parents and one or more helpers, and then, the young of the first brood feed the chicks of the following clutch.  The nestling period lasts between 19 and 24 days, and the young are able to feed themselves during the second week after leaving the nest. But they still depend on adults for up to 8 weeks, during which the parents feed them at a decreasing rate.

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