Tea, birds but no bacon

Last Sunday morning I sat with a runny nose and a wheezy chest, watching a blackbird and a robin searching for fat-ball scraps on the lawn. Yes, I joined in with the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch. Tallying up the visitors to the garden while with a cup of tea, and preferably a bacon sandwich, is…

Migration Through Flat Holm

Recently I found myself once again speeding towards Flat Holm Island for a weekend of bird ringing. Unlike the last visits, we were not after gull chicks but targeting the islands smaller birds. Landing on the island late afternoon, the first thing that struck me was the noise, or more precisely the lack of it.…

Spot the Flycatcher

At this time of year, birds that have made the UK their home during the summer are packing their proverbial bags for the journey south. Over at Cardiff Riding School the “resident” swallows are joined by others of their kind but at this time of year it is the species visiting the paddocks that begin to interest…

The Gulls of Flat Holm Island

Lying a mere 8km south of Cardiff, more or less in the middle of the Severn Estuary, Flat Holm just doesn’t receive the attention of other Welsh islands such as Skomer, Skokoholm, and Bardsey. This is a shame as its more urban setting gives it a uniqueness compared to the others. Despite being close to the Capital, the 32ha island…

Gull City

There are few species that can polarise people in the way urban gulls can. Noisy, messy and a nuisance are the norm for most when asked about these colonisers of conurbations. Although I appreciate that they do cause people problems, as someone who’s research interests include urban bird ecology I find it difficult not to…

The Swallows’ Return

Since April 1st, as I have done for the past eight years, I’ve been making daily visits to the Cardiff Riding School on the lookout for returning swallows. In 2006 I started studying this population of migrants; nest recording and ringing, and of course occasionally collecting poo. I saw my first at the site for…

Redwing Retreat

One of things I like most about the arrival of autumn and winter is the anticipation of the influx of redwings. That first ‘seep! seep!’ on a cold, crisp autumn evening is to me almost, just almost, as thrilling as seeing the first swallow or swift of the year on a sunny day. Then over the…