Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Weekend Browse

 The Times will soon be publishing its traditional first Cuckoo of the Spring report. Many people have been following the adventures of several tagged Cuckoos since leaving these shores last year. And they're now getting excited because Martin is on his way home. Having crossed the Sahara Desert he is having a deserved rest in the Atlas Mountains of Algeria! Follow his progress on his devoted blog on the BTO website, and catch up on the journeys of Clement, Lyster, Kasper & Chris, too!

On the subject of returning migrants, there's more excitement at the safe arrival home of Lady, our oldest breeding Osprey who last week arrived back home at the Loch of Lowes from a winter holiday in West Africa! She obviously likes the Loch because she's set up nest there for the past 22 years on the trot, raising a phenomenol 48 chicks from 56 eggs - Wow! You can see live webcam footage of the nest at this Scottish Wildlife Trust website.

Bats are out and about now, and as soon as the weather warms up after Easter I will be out and about with the bat detector! The Bat Conservation Trust is a good place to start in order to learn a bit more about these fascinating creatures.

On a local level, there are a number of bat groups flourishing around the country, including the Bedfordshire Bat Group that I'm going to really miss this season (including the flapjacks!). The Articles section, particularly, has some great material.

BBC Wildlife has an article on identifying British Bats on sight here.

I'm not biased, of course, but Bob Cornes' article on the Bedfordshire Bat Group website is a lot better! :-)

When I was in Bedfordshire I was in involved in the introduction of several batches of young Adders into the County from the New Forest Reptiliary. Our big concern was the few females from which they were taken adding to the potential in-breeding problems in an isolated population. It will be very interesting to see what comes of the new genetic survey looking at this issue being undertaken by several organisations in Durham.

Bugman Jones reminisces on a trip to Wicken Fen in the early 80s with a great story about Tony Drane's dedication to the cause when spotting a rare beetle in the middle of one of the dykes!

I really enjoy the excellent posts of Africa Gomez in BugBlog. Recently she wrote a fascinating piece about mimicry in Hoverflies entitled, 'Why are some hoverflies poor mimics?'

Finally, Steven Falk continues his project of uploading his superb library of images to his Flickr website. I'm finding his social wasp collection really helpful in identifying the wasps that are starting to appear in my own local area.


  1. Steve, you have a very interesting blog here and this post possesses so many intriguing links. I would say the Times though are behind the times as Cuckoos have been reported quite widely already (bird reporting services). Mind you, I await my first and can usually expect it come Mid April.

    Best Wishes

    Tony Powell

  2. Hi Tony,
    Living so far south it's a shame that I haven't had chance to get out more. I feel that I must have missed out on a number of migrant species passing through...including cuckoos! Friends have had yellow wagtails in Bedfordshire over the last few days....I'm sure that there must have been a few flocks passing through West High's forecast wet & windy, but I'm hoping to spend the first part of my Bank Holiday Monday there first thing tomorrow morning...the weather might even help!
    Best wishes - love your site,

  3. Indeed. Mind you, it has been a slow migration season so far I would think. Only had my first Willow Warbler around the North Downs area yesterday and for a visiting Hampshire birder, it was his first too. We need the southwesterly’s (as of present) to remain but sadly the winds are due to back around to the north again later. I do think you will get a good day today though.

    Kind Regards

    Tony Powell