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  #101  
Old 09.02.2008, 15:25
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Re: Bird watching

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Something our daughter asked me a couple of days ago following a discussion about flamingo's. What colour are they when they are newly hatched. I guessed white because they haven't eaten any shrimps by then but would like to give her the definitive answer.

Dunno about newly hatched ones, but the young ones at the Zoo are grey just like young Swans and yes I believe its due to their diet.
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  #102  
Old 09.02.2008, 21:56
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Re: Bird watching

As far as I remember, the pink comes from the carotenoids from the minute molluscs they filter out of the mud when feeding.

Forgot to mention last Sunday's walk by the Aare. Apart from some Common Teal and a few Wood Pigeons returning, we saw a couple of very nice birds. I'd mentioned to Mrs Boris about Dippers being seen well up river. She'd not seen one before. Luckily, just upriver from the zoo, I saw a brown-grey lump detach itself from a rock in the river and fly just past us up the stream. We saw it land just out of sight on the bank near us, so Mrs Boris had a look and there was a Dipper. She got a really good look at it before it cleared off. To top it off, we saw another one just opposite the zoo and it dived into the river like a stone.
They're lovely little birds - a grey brown on the back and head and warm brown underneath with a white breast. They sit on rocks in fast-flowing upland rivers and jump right into the water. They have quite broad backs and this helps them to feed. They face into the current and the water pressure of the flow hits their back and pushes them down on to the bottom. They then walk upstream underwater and root about under pebbles for invertebrates. To me, that's more impressive than Kingfishers.
In Britain and in more easterly parts of Europe, Dippers have red undersides and look a bit like Robins with the breast and underside round the wrong way.
Didn't get a photo, but here's a link to one:
Dipper
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  #103  
Old 10.02.2008, 08:48
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Re: Bird watching

This cheeky bastige arrived and started eating our lunch a few months ago in Australia. In the higher resolution shots you can see the hairs on his tongue.
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  #104  
Old 10.02.2008, 16:03
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Re: Bird watching

I see a lot of buzzards near where I live and was wandering whether the local farmers actually encourage them (by erecting posts) as a means of keeping rodents (esp. field voles) at bay. Does anyone know anything about this practice, or where I could find out more?
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  #105  
Old 10.02.2008, 22:29
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Re: Bird watching

I rented a super tele this weekend and it was worth it luggin that heavy lens around.

Mandarin duck:


Sorry Boris, but I took more shots of snow leopards and wolves than of birds:

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  #106  
Old 10.02.2008, 23:36
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Re: Bird watching

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As far as I remember, the pink comes from the carotenoids from the minute molluscs they filter out of the mud when feeding.
You are right. According to the Zoo Zürich website, newborn flamingos are grey. Because the zoo can't feed them so many crabs the cartenoid is given as a food additive. They have two young birds who were born last September. I wonder if they're still more pale.


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I see a lot of buzzards near where I live and was wandering whether the local farmers actually encourage them (by erecting posts) as a means of keeping rodents (esp. field voles) at bay. Does anyone know anything about this practice, or where I could find out more?
No idea. But farmers in Spain sometimes leave cadavers on the field for vultures. This tradition has displeased the EU, I'm not sure if this is still common.
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  #107  
Old 11.02.2008, 10:24
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Re: Bird watching

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No idea. But farmers in Spain sometimes leave cadavers on the field for vultures. This tradition has displeased the EU, I'm not sure if this is still common.
The EU was mightily displeased and banned the practice. This means that all the hard-won gains in Vulture numbers have to be kept up by buying fresh meat from wholesalers and dumping it in the countryside.
Nice one EU!

As for the Buzzards, I've no idea how much of a pest rodents are, but in some places, farmers get bonus subsidies for providing wildlife-friendly areas, so sometimes that helps them to support natural critters.
But there are a lot of them when going past fields on the train. Something else to look for in summer is when famers are cutting grass or harvesting crops. A lot of small creatures don't get out of the way in time and you can get huge flocks of Black Kites following to eat the bits...
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  #108  
Old 19.02.2008, 13:44
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Re: Bird watching

A couple of days in the Walliser Apls at Fiesch at the weekend got a few photos:





Anyone who goes skiing a bit should have seen a few of the first one, the Alpine Chough, which will happily scrounge bits off of you to eat. They're usually in flocks from a few to several hundred and make a very un-crow-like bubbling call.
The second bird is an Alpine Accentor - the mountain version of the Dunnock. Dunnocks back in Blighty are ground-dwelling birds in gardens and parks, but in Switzerland, they're Alpine birds. Alpine Accentors occur even higher up. This one was quite obliging and posed for some time before diving under our table for crumbs.
Quite pleased as I've managed to not see the Accentors on every other trip to the mountains so far.
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  #109  
Old 19.02.2008, 14:19
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Re: Bird watching

A few to several hundred. Chuff my brown boots, I would become doubly incontinent at the sight of that
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  #110  
Old 19.02.2008, 14:35
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Re: Bird watching

yep same in saas fee last week ( report follows) hubby and kids were woken by the alpine choughs and they had a special pattern in how the flew over the village,only the second or third day it dawned on us ,that this was coz they flew to an fro the hotels or chalets who put food out as they then flew past again with chunks of bread or cheese in their beaks.
Yup Zugbound,you'd have felt like Tippi Hedren,only this birds were peaceful.
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  #111  
Old 19.02.2008, 15:09
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Re: Bird watching

Ah, it must have been the Alpine Chough I saw on Mt Titlis (although I do not ski, I do a mean tubing crashing into teenagers who want to be crashed into). They seemed to enjoy winging it on some breeze.



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A couple of days in the Walliser Apls at Fiesch at the weekend got a few photos:





Anyone who goes skiing a bit should have seen a few of the first one, the Alpine Chough, which will happily scrounge bits off of you to eat. They're usually in flocks from a few to several hundred and make a very un-crow-like bubbling call.
The second bird is an Alpine Accentor - the mountain version of the Dunnock. Dunnocks back in Blighty are ground-dwelling birds in gardens and parks, but in Switzerland, they're Alpine birds. Alpine Accentors occur even higher up. This one was quite obliging and posed for some time before diving under our table for crumbs.
Quite pleased as I've managed to not see the Accentors on every other trip to the mountains so far.
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  #112  
Old 22.02.2008, 16:22
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Re: Bird watching

I've just seen something quite amazing - I'm still shaking a bit! I was in our barn when I heard the most horrendous squawking and squealing. I ran outside to see (what I thought was) a massive hawk on top of one of my chickens. All the other chickens were running like mad towards me while I was running towards the action. I was about 10 metres away when the hawk slowly flew off. The wing span was about 4 feet and from the colouring it looked more like a buzzard. I've only seen them from a distance so not sure of course and don't know if they are that big or would attack a large chicken. The wing tips swept back slightly.

Poor Mrs Tweedy is very shaken and has lost a lot of feathers. The other chickens are all hanging around together very close to the barn. I doubt I'll get any eggs tomorrow!

Any idea what it might have been? Of course, I didn't have my camera with me but probably wouldn't have had time to fire off any shots if I had
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  #113  
Old 22.02.2008, 16:58
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Re: Bird watching

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I've just seen something quite amazing - I'm still shaking a bit! I was in our barn when I heard the most horrendous squawking and squealing. I ran outside to see (what I thought was) a massive hawk on top of one of my chickens. All the other chickens were running like mad towards me while I was running towards the action. I was about 10 metres away when the hawk slowly flew off. The wing span was about 4 feet and from the colouring it looked more like a buzzard. I've only seen them from a distance so not sure of course and don't know if they are that big or would attack a large chicken. The wing tips swept back slightly.

Poor Mrs Tweedy is very shaken and has lost a lot of feathers. The other chickens are all hanging around together very close to the barn. I doubt I'll get any eggs tomorrow!

Any idea what it might have been? Of course, I didn't have my camera with me but probably wouldn't have had time to fire off any shots if I had
That's crazy! I never leave my chihuahua pups outside alone. I'm really afraid of hawks! They are beautiful but...
There are hawks around here. There was one sitting at the side of the road the other day & I really wish I had my camera as well. They do look much smaller flying above.

Before the experts come back:
I looked up Swiss mountain birds, and if it looks more like a buzzard than a hawk, could it be a bearded vulture?
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  #114  
Old 22.02.2008, 17:03
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Re: Bird watching

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I rented a super tele this weekend and it was worth it luggin that heavy lens around.

Mandarin duck:

beautiful picture! I love mandarin ducks!
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  #115  
Old 22.02.2008, 17:04
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Re: Bird watching

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That's crazy! I never leave my chihuahua pups outside alone. I'm really afraid of hawks! They are beautiful but...
Yeah, my other half is now quite worried about the kittens! I'm worried about not having a fresh egg for breakfast

Thanks for the links, it wasn't a bearded vulture but it did look something like this honey buzzard I haven't found out yet weather they will attack chickens though
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  #116  
Old 22.02.2008, 17:08
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Re: Bird watching

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That's crazy! I never leave my chihuahua pups outside alone. I'm really afraid of hawks! They are beautiful but...
There are hawks around here. There was one sitting at the side of the road the other day & I really wish I had my camera as well. They do look much smaller flying above.

Before the experts come back:
I looked up Swiss mountain birds, and if it looks more like a buzzard than a hawk, could it be a bearded vulture?
The bearded vulture is making a slow comeback in Switzerland. You can see them in the bernese Alps (Piz Gloria). I doubt that was a bearded vulture though - they are huge.

Thanks for the mandarin duck pic - I will try to get some better bird pics as soon as I get my lens.
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  #117  
Old 22.02.2008, 17:13
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Re: Bird watching

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Yeah, my other half is now quite worried about the kittens! I'm worried about not having a fresh egg for breakfast

Thanks for the links, it wasn't a bearded vulture but it did look something like this honey buzzard I haven't found out yet weather they will attack chickens though
Could it be this one -> clicky click!






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  #118  
Old 22.02.2008, 17:14
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Re: Bird watching

Most likely a Common Buzzard. The other big birds you're likely to see are Red Kites, but they're scavengers and wouldn't really go for chickens and they're not too common in the winter.
Incidentally, our US cousins call Buzzards 'Hawks' for some reason. Confusingly, they also call Hawks 'hawks', too.
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  #119  
Old 22.02.2008, 17:29
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Re: Bird watching

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Most likely a Common Buzzard. The other big birds you're likely to see are Red Kites, but they're scavengers and wouldn't really go for chickens and they're not too common in the winter.
Incidentally, our US cousins call Buzzards 'Hawks' for some reason. Confusingly, they also call Hawks 'hawks', too.
Ok, what is the difference, please?
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  #120  
Old 22.02.2008, 20:40
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Re: Bird watching

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Ok, what is the difference, please?
What a hawk is

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawk

What a buzzard is

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzzard


I'm sure that cleared things up
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