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Old 17.10.2007, 00:44
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Bird watching

A little while ago someone (can't remember who) asked about having a birding thread.
So here's one.

Good time for birds at the moment - the last of summer visitors are going or gone (except the chiffchaffs, but a few will wait for the first frosts most likely), but there are still some migrants passing through, especially over the larger lakes and wetlands. Fanel/Chablais de Cudrefin has had some nice birds recently that are otherwise impossible to see here.
But we also have some of the resident birds starting to gear up for winter. Long-tailed tits are forming large flocks and can be seen in town and country going from tree to tree, keeping the flock together with their 'tsee, tsee, tsee' calls. Other small birds will join them as it gets colder, like coal, great, blue and marsh tits, gold- and firecrests and treecreepers. At the moment any remaining warblers might also be with them.
A walk over the Bremgartenwald in Bern produced some nice sightings. A black woodpecker (the largest you'll see here with an amazingly loud call) circled over us for a few minutes. They can be quite difficult to see, even though they are large and have bright red crests, so very happy with that. As the black woodpecker disappeared, a low-pitched 'gr-r-r-r-r-r-onk' came from a bare tree and on looking up, we could see a raven (see attached photo). Another raven was nearby and two common buzzards also appeared as did a flock of fifty siskins. Siskins are fairly small finches, related to goldfinches, which they often form winter flocks with. As with many resident small birds, they form larger flocks in the winter.
Yesterday, I was playing at Time Team with the archeological department at Avenches and it was a pretty good site there. Apart from pushing a magnetometer cart about, there were some nice farm birds about. Two pairs of fieldfares with there harsh rattling call, several meadow pipits (which are not too common here), maybe ten skylarks, several singing, great spotted and green woodpeckers and some marsh tits. Quite a nice day, really.
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Old 17.10.2007, 00:53
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Re: Bird watching

There's a (Murder?) of Ravens on the Waidberg above Zurich which must be seen at sunset at this time of year. Just as the sun dips below the horizon, 30 to perhaps 50 of them start their circling of the trees in which they rest. It's very eerie to be alone in the forest and have these squawking black creatures above you. Fascinating stuff.

In the early morning sunlight I often see gulls flying in formation downstream from the Limmat. Their white under-wings reflect the rising sun and against the azure blue it can appear like diamonds glittering in the sky.

Seriously

Flow23, that shit's goooood
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Old 17.10.2007, 01:10
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Re: Bird watching

Oooh, might have to come and look at the ravens. Very clever birds and very good at aerobatics, too.
Gull watching is one of the harder parts of birding. Most of commoner gulls are easy enough with practice, but some of the rarer visitors, and even some of the locals, are very difficult to tell apart unless you're really into it. Usually here, you're only likely to see one of two:

Yellow-legged gull (big)

http://www.tonykeenebirds.co.uk/sbir...eggedgull.html

Black-headed gull (small)

http://www.tonykeenebirds.co.uk/bbir...eadedgull.html

Gull names don't translate well - f'rinstance (English name --> German name (translation of German name into English):

Yellow-legged gull --> Mittelmeermoewe (Mediterranean gull)
Mediterranean gull --> Schwarzkopfmoewe (Black-headed gull)
Black-headed gull --> Lachmoewe (Laughing gull)
Laughing gull --> Aztekenmöwe (Aztec gull)

It gets confusing. Especially as the scientific names follow an even more complicated route...
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Old 17.10.2007, 08:16
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Re: Bird watching

Where do all the songbirds (blackbirds, siskins, redstarts) go over mid summer? Usually at sunset it seems that every rooftop has its own resident blackbird who chirps away at everything. However they all seem to vanish over summer. Do they go somewhere cooler?
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Old 17.10.2007, 08:59
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Re: Bird watching

I guess with some of the birds over the summer they are too busy trying to cram worms into very noisy and tiny mouths, so it oesn't leave too many a chance to strut theor stuff. Certainly a lot of blackbirds about now, though.
Another thing is that we're at the time of year where the days are about the same length as tey are in the spring and the temperature on sunn y days is about the same. This actually confuses the birds slightly so that they can start to get territorial again and even end up with some abortive mating attempts. It's all hormonal, but in a few days, they realise it's getting colder, so best to start on the berries again. There was a patch a week ago when it was very sunny and all the black redstarts were really calling like it was spring but it's fairly quiet now.
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Old 18.12.2007, 00:22
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Re: Bird watching

Well, being housebound with the new little 'un, it gives you the chance to stare longingly out of the window and think of all the winter birds about that you won't see.
However, we're lucky in that the birch tree in the garden seems to attract an inordinate number of finches. As winter gets on, finches can form flocks and go foraging for seeds and bits and pieces in gardens. So far, we've had up to ten Greenfinches, four Chaffinches, fifteen Siskins, three Goldfinches, one Brambling (yay), but best of all, a Hawfinch.
Hawfinches are not common things and they spend most of the summer fairly high up in the canopy of deciduous trees. In Britain they are quite scarce indeed and not much more common here.
If you take a trip to Lake Neuchatel/Neuenbergersee, you can get to see Whooper Swans and Bean Geese, among thousands upon thousands of ducks. If anyone goes, please don't tell me about - it's almost more than I can bear....
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Old 18.12.2007, 01:22
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Re: Bird watching



A flock of 23 Greylag geese made a stopover in the Cham lake park several weeks ago. There are around 20 Common Pochards now, whereas in spring I spotted only one female, who charmed us with her energy, agility and cunning in escaping the Eurasian coots with her bread-crumb loot.

I love the Haubentaucher (great crested grebes) who are totally diligent and focused on diving for food.

(Can anyone tell me how to switch on my picture importing facility again? Methinks it was accidentally 'switched off'.)
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Old 18.12.2007, 09:30
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Re: Bird watching

I am terrified of birds, irrational I know. Where we live we seem to only have sparrows, tits and some big black things that scare me and are very noisy. Over the hills behind us though, we often see some sort of eagle/kestrel/ hunter. There are a lot of them and they are spectacular to watch (from a distance). Our girl really liked to see them until I told her that when they drop down to the floor they are getting food - she thinks it is cruel, I think it's the circle of life
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Old 18.12.2007, 09:42
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Re: Bird watching

Hi
I think the birds that circle are Red Kites
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Old 18.12.2007, 10:47
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Re: Bird watching

And/or buzzards?

(Hey, big birds gotta eat, too -- please tell your daughter, Zugbound. Is it cruel when she eats an egg -- a potential chick never to be born?)

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Old 18.12.2007, 11:01
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Re: Bird watching

She would never eat anything if I told her that. Luckily the eggs aren't fertilized so there is little chance of them becoming baby birds
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Old 18.12.2007, 11:05
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Re: Bird watching

Here's a Buntspecht that keeps coming by our place:



More bird shots of mine, though not all Swiss.

Lots of tits (not the kind you guys are thinking of) come to our window every morning, which causes our cats to get excited and make this funny chattering noise. I am trying to video it and post it on you-tube - it is hilarious.
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Old 18.12.2007, 11:21
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Re: Bird watching

Depends on time of year as well. Red Kites (Rotmilan) are present all through the year (although a bit less in the winter), but you also have the smaller Black Kites (Schwarzmilan)who are summer visitors. A similar bird which is less common is the Marsh Harrier (Rohrweihe), which circles a lot (hence the scientific name Circus for the Harrier family). Kites are big birds and quite recognisable; Red kites have deeply forked tail and are monsters, really big; Black Kites also have slightly forked tails and are also fairly big.
Another bird of prey that circles a lot is the Common Buzzard (Mausbussard). The best way to tell this apart is the slight bulge on the inside edge of the wing and the black border to the underside of the wings. As the name suggests, they are quite common - probably more so than the kites.
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Old 18.12.2007, 11:24
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Re: Bird watching

That is gorgeous. Our girl made a bird feeder (ball of bird food in net, contained within a smallish plant pot) at a birthday party she went to recently. We were assured that if we hung it up on our balcony we would see many birds. The blooming thing has been suspended for about 3 weeks now and we've seen none. I am considering putting up up in the garden so the food gets eaten. There are many tits down there. But there are also a number of cats. Maybe I'll just get rid of it and tell her that while she's been away we've had flocks fighting for her food.
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Old 18.12.2007, 11:55
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Re: Bird watching

This morning, while walking a friend's dog by a river in Cham (near the paper factory; imagine working in a place where you look out the window and you're right on the water!), I spotted an egret-like bird, but bigger, with a light grey body, black and white markings on its head, and black markings on the wings. It had a beige-yellow sharpish bill.

Can anyone tell me what it is?
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Old 18.12.2007, 13:32
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Re: Bird watching

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This morning, while walking a friend's dog by a river in Cham (near the paper factory; imagine working in a place where you look out the window and you're right on the water!), I spotted an egret-like bird, but bigger, with a light grey body, black and white markings on its head, and black markings on the wings. It had a beige-yellow sharpish bill.

Can anyone tell me what it is?
You mean a blue heron (Graureiher)?

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Old 18.12.2007, 13:38
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Re: Bird watching

You take some beautiful photographs Mr Wolf. I can appreciate the beauty of these birds, but put me within about a 3 metre distance of them and my sphincter would cease to function
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Old 18.12.2007, 13:53
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Re: Bird watching

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...... which causes our cats to get excited and make this funny chattering noise. I am trying to video it and post it on you-tube - it is hilarious.
Cat's make that noise as a way of saying "I am friendly - I will not eat you!" the birds round here obviously do not understand Catanese as they are off in a shot!
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Old 18.12.2007, 14:00
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Re: Bird watching

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You take some beautiful photographs Mr Wolf. I can appreciate the beauty of these birds, but put me within about a 3 metre distance of them and my sphincter would cease to function
Wow - I didn't know thos ebirds were this skilled

Blue herons are usually harmless. They will fly off before you get within that distance. Only time I've had one sit right next to me was while fishing from a boat and throwing fish at a heron for a while.

The only birds that freak me out are vultures, mainly because they smell awful.
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Old 18.12.2007, 14:01
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Re: Bird watching

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Cat's make that noise as a way of saying "I am friendly - I will not eat you!" the birds round here obviously do not understand Catanese as they are off in a shot!

And actually they aren't lying as they will only kill the birds and only rarely chew off a head or two... The tits at our house have gotten used to the cats. They daunt them behind the safety of triple paned glass...
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