Saturday, November 21, 2009

Birding nonsense

Hmm. So this morning I got up surprisingly early (actually not that early, but considering the week I've had, plenty early) to go look for two lesser scaup that have been reported on island. Now considering that I've now left the caribbean (where scaup were an annual vagrant but one I didn't see which is your first clue to how this part of the story ends) and am back on the British side of the Atlantic this would be a very nice bird to have on my new local list. I didn't see them, or rather I haven't yet - I haven't given up, but it got me thinking about one of the absurdities of patch, regional or year listing. You see I still haven't seen a blue tit here. I have 45 birds on the list but no blue tit.
blue tit
I've seen hundreds of these in the UK - why can't I find one now I want one??

For american birders this is a bit like going to see some freak european vagrant when you haven't yet bagged a chickadee. Its ridiculous. They are supposedly common here but I just can't turn one up at the moment. Nor have I seen hedge accentor (aka dunnock), another super-common bird. I was pretty laid back about it, listing is for fun after all but I'm getting kind of irritated about my inability to find one now. On the one hand I know sooner or later one will cross my path but on the other hand I want to see one now. Before the scaup. And I can't find one!!! Urgh. My father has 4 species of tit visiting his feeder from time to time something which I hope to emulate once I get some new accommodation sorted. I hope I don't have to wait that long to get my blue tit.

Speaking of feeders (neat segue there), after the scaup failure I headed to the local garden centre where I was confronted with the most amazing array of bird feeders. There were 3 [little] aisles of the things. Astonishing - it led me to the following observations:
  1. 39 pounds sterling for one particular bird feeder (= US$64.38)! Did I just imagine a massive global recession?
  2. On an island with no squirrels, isn't offering a squirrel feeder for sale slightly disingenuous (or at best stupid)?
  3. I'm delighted feeding the birds interests the public enough to justify such a remarkable range of birds and such economic outlay by manufacturers but....
  4. ...I do worry that bird feeding is becoming an industry at the expense of the public a little bit (see 1 and 2 above). Do our wild birds really need specially formulated pellets and mixes in packs manufactured species by species? Wouldn't Joe Sixpack be better off planting a native tree instead of his multifeeder poll and being done with it?
Feel free to offer your own opinions on 4 above. I'm intrigued as to the rest of the nature blogosphere's opinion.


Julia said...

Yeah, I have blue, great, long-tailed and coal tits in my garden. No sodding sparrows though...

I'm overwhelmed by the range of bird food, to be honest. I have robins, tits, blackbirds and finches. So do I buy 5kg of each food (at £8 each) or do I get some of the much cheaper generic bird seed?! Fat-balls go down well with my dinosaurs, but only the magpies like the mealworms.

And my bird-feeder cost me under £10. I'd love to have some native trees around, but my landlord will already kill me for what I did to his privet, so I'd better not go planting stuff.

BTW you need to update your sidebar bumf now! Paradise it may still be, but it's distinctly temperate!!

eileeninmd said...

Bird seed has gone up in price a lot the last year. I keep buying becasue I love to feed my yardbirds.