Monthly Archives: October 2011

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Time for some data inputting!

Well, it’s time I started to update my BTO Birdtrack listings for this year.

The life lists, patch lists, regional lists etc. are coming along nicely and must say I am very proud of this particular bit of citizen science. However, what begs the question?Is when one is currently out of work, as I am, sometimes I feel these endless updates, are just being taken for granted. So, to “blow my own trumpet” Currently, I have amassed over 23,500 observations, some with detailed descriptions, also over  1,200 complete lists and 4,500 casual observations. Ahem! How many days of inputting. Your guess is as good as mine. Anyway, I will endeavour to add all my records (official and personal) and contribute to citizen science for hopefully, years to come.

I am also in the process of adding the 2011 Phenology events (currently 116 in number) to the calendar, which can be viewed from the home page or via the Natural Events Calendar link.


Tony Powell

Where’s the time going?

Hello world.

I’m sorry for the lack of updates and let’s hope it’s not writers block or bloggers block, ha ha. One thing that has been pre-occupying me and my family, is the removal of an old garden shed and the general tidying up associated with this task. However, whilst this was being undertaken, during the last couple of weeks, we have made some interesting animal discoveries in the garden.

Firstly, a Smooth Newt was uncovered from the base of where the orignal shed was situated. Not, a total surprise to us, as others had been seen in the neighbourhood, over the years. Other more usual finds, were ladybirds, in the form of 10 spot Ladybirds, centipedes and also, millipedes. Flying about the vicinity on the warmer days, were Peacock (Inachis io) and Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) butterflies. Also, as an aside, we had a rumble of Thunder in the late evening of the 26th October. The Thunder days count, is down from the average of 10 or so, which we witness during most years.  So, as you can see weather wise, it’s not always straightforward seasonal changes.

Happy Days.

Tony Powell

Well, it never happened.

Locally, the Air Frosts never came, however, the temperature still bottomed out at 1.1c early on Thursday morning. So, with the coldest morning of the Autumn period arriving, although there were no sub-freezing temperatures here, many people would still have been scraping their car windscreens. Why is this? How can ice form on car windows, frosted grass etc. but the thermometer never dipped below 0c (32f).?

A quick search of the internet, informs us of the following, courtesy of the wonderful resources website. Here’s hoping this helps?

My evidence from Thursday is clearly shown by my Davis Weather Station plot and how we narrowly avoided an Air Frost.

Thursday's lack of Air Frost

The Davis Air Temperature plot for Thursday 20th October 2011

Happy Times

Tony Powell

Probable first Air Frost of the season

Well if the latest headline from netweather is accurate, then us folk in the United Kingdom, had better watch out.

First Widespread Frost – Latest Weather News –

In terms of my phenolgical tie-in, based on a small sample of 10 records, I return a mean of 31st October, for the first Autumn Air Frost. Who knows, what this might be telling us, in terms of the rest of Autumn and into the forthcoming Winter.

Kind Regards

Tony Powell

Bird sounds in the night!


Well, my winter visitors are starting to arrive. Firstly, as expected Redwings, the Northern invaders have been passing overhead in small numbers, locally. Some will have already been spotted feeding in berry bushes or on the ground, but my sightings have been sound sightings. Also noted, just recently, coming from the night skies, were ringing calls. These were being emitted by passing Golden Plovers, again being birds from afar, they may have landed locally at some stage, but to me, it matters not. When you have learnt bird sounds, so confidently as I have, one can sometimes become carefree about even attempting to spot the birds. Early this morning, well before sunrise, further Redwings were witnessed and the local Tawny Owls were heard hooting. Not bad, considering all these events come from suburbia and besides we’ve all been too busy, anyhow.

All in all, there’s currently a lot of action in the avian world and the natural world in general. This largely, being due to the diminishing day length, with today (14th October) boasting only 10 hours 49 minutes according to my wonderful weather station.


Tony Powell

News from Defra

Defra have recently released the following news. If, like some, you are unaware of Defra, it stands for The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. They are a British Government department, whose main responsibility is looking after our precious environment. The current minister who represents them is my local MP, Richard Benyon. Being a keen naturalist and environmentalist, I am always keen to hear what he has to say. Below is a link to the latest Defra news release.

Latest Defra News Release

More next time.


Latest News

Well, just yesterday (9th October) a fair few Redwings and some Fieldfares had started to invade parts of the UK. These birds coming over from the more unusual direction of Germany and Belgium, due to suitable weather conditions both there and here. More tracking of the migrants can be undertaken via the Trektellen website.



Other news. Just the other day I read an enthralling post on hoslist, a forum to which I subscribe. The hos bit, signifying Hampshire Ornithological Society.

The post was from a chap called Michael. My fascination came from his account of raptors and their interactions with corvids. On many occasions, I, myself, have seen Kestrels, Red Kites, even Barn Owls, all coming under insistent bombardment from Magpies or Crows. However, as Michael suggests, if you take the viewpoint that the “nuisance” corvids are preventing the Birds of Prey (raptors) from hunting, then the prey on which they feed, are being spared from a near certain death. Apart from the aforementioned, certain raptors such as Kites, are on the whole, just wanton scavengers but there are some, such as Sparrowhawks or Goshawks who kill many individual bird species. However, if confirming Michael’s rather rose-tinted view (his words, not mine) then the episodes illustrated above, widely witnessed by us each and every day of every year, indicates yet another event of natural selection taking place.



Images courtesy of BWPi

Winter Thrush update and Migration news

Well, things never cease to amaze.

The exceptionally warm weather of late September into early October saw five (yes, 5) consecutive date records, in terms of maximum temperatures. Amazing, as that seems, my gut instinct was that the birds (particularly the migrant species) would not be affected by these absurd conditions. The climate is always changing and along with shortening day length, nature has to respond. Well, the blog shown below confirms my prediction of incoming northern thrushes, as mentioned in my last post and a few other tidbits for one to consider. Good Reading.

BTO Bird Migration Blog

Ta Ta for now.


Winter Thrushes

The Northern Thrushes will soon be upon us all.

Redwings, looking like Song Thrushes are slightly smaller than their cousins and are general non-breeders in the UK, having visited our shores from places much further north. They have a distinctive “tseeep” high pitched call which pierces the still night skies of early autumn. So, if you’re outside star-gazing, October is the time to listen for the thin whistle of a call.

Fieldfares, bigger than Redwings, are also foreign invaders and should arrive slightly later than the Redwings. They are very attractive looking, with their scarlet, brown and grey backs and mottled underparts. In size, they are about that of the Mistle Thrushes.

My average arrival date for Redwing is 11th October, based on a 15 date sample. Fieldfare, returns an average arrival date of 3rd November, based on a 14 date sample.

My main reason for the post this early being that the NW winds projected for this Wednesday/Thursday (5th & 6th) should produce the first decent movement of these Thrushes, particularly for Northern Britain.

Eyes to the skies.


Tony Powell