Thursday, January 28, 2021

Another Archive

Apologies folks. It's another post from the locked-in archives. This one from and 9 May 2019. I'm linking this post to Rain Frances my pal in Canada for her Thursday Art Day - Rain Frances.

As my artistic ability is zero I digitised a few of the original photos into art. I hope Rain doesn't notice and complements my improved art.   

Our fifteenth time in Menorca. And yes, Menorca is that special. But it does get less quiet, much busier and more popular each year, and that's why this may be our last.

Don’t forget – “click the pics” for a trip to sunny Menorca.

Fornells, Menorca

Mahon, Menorca

Es Migjorn, Menorca

Coffee Time, Menorca

Phil's Art

Fornells village, Menorca


Cattle Egret

Turtle Dove

Egyptian Vulture

Wood Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper

Menorcan Panda

Phil's Panda


Es Grau, Menorca

Black-winged Stilt

Cattle Egret

Greater Short-toed Lark

Punta Nati- Menorca


Audouin's Gull

Red-footed Falcon

Ciutadella - Menorca


Ciutadella - Menorca

Serrano Jamon


 Red Kite


Bee eater - watercolour

Menorcan Friends

Ensaimada and Coffee - Menorca Style

Sant Tomas, Menorca, Spain.
Back soon with more news, views and photographs home and away on Another Bird Blog. 

Linking Saturday 30 January 2021 to Eileen's Blogspot and Anni in Texas

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Doom, Gloom And BS

I'm still in lockdown as are many others around the world. Stay positive folks. There is a way out once the politicians and the experts toss a coin. 

In the meantime for birders needing a fix there's peripatetic Internet birding.  Peripatetic - "Leading the life of a person without a fixed domicile; moving from place to place: itinerant, nomadic, vagabond, vagrant."  Sounds like pre-Covid twitchers who lived an almost nomadic existence but with a hotline to Bird News and Cornish  airports. 

Here's a story first noted online in the leading purveyor of doom, gloom and fake news, The Guardian, claimed by some to be a newspaper.  Predictably the Guardian take on dead birds falling from the sky in the United States 16 September 2020 was an example of man-made climate change, the “climate crisis” rather than a natural event.  

"The mass die-off of thousands of songbirds in south-western US was caused by long-term starvation, made worse by unseasonably cold weather probably linked to the climate crisis, scientists have said. “.... could not say if this event was directly related to climate change but acknowledged that it is making extreme weather events more likely.” 

Delving further I came across a more reasoned summary from Jim Steele, a US scientist, birder and environmental campaigner. He quite rightly takes The Guardian and others to task for “pushing flockalyptic fears" even though "there is no support to suggest the sky-is-falling or ecosystems are collapsing.“   

“On October 8th a resident of Pacifica California reported that 2 birds fell dead from the sky onto his decking. That would startle anyone and raised grave concerns. People began suggesting possible causes: a mid-air collision, West Nile virus, rat poison, wildfire smoke, and of course the climate crisis. Some pointed out they had found a dead bird in their yard. Others referenced a massive die-off of migrating birds in early September over Colorado and New Mexico suggesting thousands, maybe a million birds had died. The speculated cause of death was wildfire smoke, starvation and a cold snap that dropped temperatures from 90°F to near freezing in a matter of hours. Sky-is-falling fears and fearing a “ bird flockalypse” one person wrote, “if birds are dying, we humans are next”.   

"Up to 1,550 birds flew into some of Philly's tallest skyscrapers one day last week.  The slaughter shook bird watchers." - The Philadelphia Inquirer  - 7 October 2020.

"Good scientists must examine all likely factors. So, I investigated the stories behind most documented bird die-offs.  For the case of a single dead bird found in someone’s yard, that bird may have died from disease, flown into a window, or simply died of old age. Most of our sparrows, warblers and hummingbirds don’t live longer than 13 years. Twenty-five to fifty percent of young birds die in their first year."    

"California asks people who find dead birds to report them to local vector control agencies so the birds can be tested for disease, West Nile Virus in particular. For the year 2020, to date about 5200 dead birds have been reported in California, a fourth of which were tested. Only 320 have had the virus, while most died of unknown causes. (Mass die-off of 10 or more birds are not included in their reports.) Los Angeles county reports the most dead birds, while rural Sierra County reports none. That suggests higher population centers with more eyes find more dead birds. "   

"In contrast, the die-off of hundreds and thousands of birds, often during migration requires very different explanations. Good scientists must place such unusual events into a historical context. Was the September 2020 die-off in the southwest so historically rare that we can attribute it to how humans have recently altered our environment? Or, are such die-offs relatively common occurrences. Scientists calculate millions of birds die each year during migration in North America. We just don’t know all the causes, or what percentage of dead birds are actually observed."    

"A 2007 scientific paper reviewed reported bird die-offs across the globe and major die-offs were observed more than once a decade for the past 120 years. Some happen during spring or fall migration, other die-offs happen while on the breeding grounds. Most are associated with cold weather. On New Year’s Eve night in 2011, people reported dead black birds “raining” from the sky around an Arkansas town. People blamed everything from secret military testing and UFOs to bad weather. Investigations later determined 5000+ birds had died from blunt force trauma, which confirmed reports that birds were flying into buildings and towers. " 

 "The most common cause of other cases of bird deaths was bad weather - heavy rains, cold or snow. For example, a sudden cold spell across southern Germany, Austria and Hungary caused birds numbed by the cold to fall from the sky. Residents eagerly brought still living birds inside to warm, then loaded 89,000 birds onto planes and trains, sending them south to a warmer Venice, from which birds continued their migration."    

"In March 1904, a small town in Minnesota reported dead birds falling. Investigations determined nearly a million birds, all Lapland Longspurs, died during a heavy rainstorm. Over 750,000 birds were counted on just 2 small lakes that were still covered with winter ice. Autopsies determined most birds died from blunt force trauma as birds crashed into the ice or buildings.  

"Migratory deaths of thousands of birds this September in southwest USA likewise, appear to be driven by a cold snap. USGS experts have indeed told me that the best explanation is still a sudden cold snap that dropped temperatures from the 90s to near 30 F, killing birds already stressed by the rigors of migration. My analysis of archived EPA air quality doesn’t suggest smoke particulates coincided with that die-off, but officials have not yet ruled out wildfire smoke. Corpses are still being autopsied and whether or not there is lung damage could implicate wildfire smoke.  

"I suspect the most likely cause of the 2 birds falling dead from the sky in Pacifica was due to exhaustion from flying out over the ocean and trying to return to land. I have been on pelagic bird trips miles from shore where exhausted land birds flop down on our boat. Several studies have been performed on the Farallon Islands which are 26 miles offshore due west of Pacifica. Several studies note weather conditions, such as offshore winds that we naturally experience this time of year cause birds to veer off course and fly out to sea. They can be further confused by the offshore fog bank. Many of the birds having arrived on the Farallons are later observed to be headed back to shore, suggesting they are guided to our coast if they can see land when not obscured by fog. Furthermore most of the Farallon birds are young birds born that summer and are typically less efficient at finding food are more likely to become emaciated after an extended overseas flight."  Jim Steele - Jim Steele Landscapes and Cycles

Starvation and poor weather condition often cause mass casualties to migrating birds in America, Africa, Asia and Europe in spring and autumn. That is the reality of birds flying thousand of miles over sea and land where weather can change in an instant. The death of some is unfortunate but it is scientific fact witnessed over the millennia.

One tall building. One dark and stormy night. 395 dead birds - The Denver Post June 2017

The moral of this story? Friends and readers. Do not imagine that news broadcast into your home via TV or newspapers is unpolitical or impartial and that somehow their approach to birding and natural history is exempt from propaganda.  It is time to think for ourselves, push back, and call time on the constant BS of mainstream media as exemplified by The Guardian, the BBC and many other organisations happy to hop onto the scamwagon of the "climate crisis", otherwise known as weather events of a tiny planet in a solar system that is some 4.6 billion years of age.   

I am grateful to Paul Homewood for originally drawing my attention to the “news” above. Please include Paul in your list of essential reading that questions the narrative of mainstream media. 

Linking today to Eileen's Blogspot and Anni in Texas.

Monday, January 18, 2021

27 January 2013

No it's not a mistake. We are headed back to January 2013 and a holiday in Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain. With the whole of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island under strict lockdown, there's nowhere to go except a shopping trip or a delve into the archives for a blog post.  

Apologies to readers who were here in 2013 and for whom the pictures may look familiar but needs must.  I changed a few pictures, deleted some and added others, as well as updating the text.    

The post is an introduction to Fuerteventura, the birds and the scenery in the immediate area of our stay in Costa Calma January 2013. Costa Calma is a resort so named for the relatively sheltered nature of the area from the prevailing winds which seem ever present in the Canary Islands subject to the vagaries of Atlantic Ocean winds and currents. This relative calm of Costa Calma is due in no small part to the easterly geographical location and to the long belt of pine trees which give a degree of protection from the often strong winds.

It’s peculiar how the same bird species occur in the vicinity of many holiday places we visit, with Fuerteventura providing a similar hotel list to other places we know whereby sparrows, gulls, Kestrels, Little Egrets and a few wader species are to the fore. Don't forget folks, click on the pics for a better, bigger view.

Costa Calma, Fuerteventura

Costa Calma, Fuerteventura

Sanderlings and Turnstones were ever present on the sandy and partly rocky shore. Turnstones can be fairly confiding here in the UK, but on Fuerteventura they are more so and approachable to within a few metres.  The Whimbrel is fairly common but not in the same numbers as the smaller wader species.




After taking photographs of a Sanderling I noticed only upon examining the images later that the bird had a British ring on its right leg. With only a couple of shots I couldn’t get quite enough detail to send the record in to the BTO so as to find out where it had been ringed, so in the following days looked for the Sanderling but couldn’t relocate it.  Later I contacted the BTO ringing scheme with the few numbers and letters I had but the BTO confirmed the sparse information was not sufficient to find the original place of ringing.  


Kentish Plovers were usually around the shore although not in the same numbers as Sanderling and Turnstone.

Kentish Plover

Little Egret

Little Egret

An unusual hotel bird proved to be Raven, a pair of birds from the locality paying infrequent visits to the shore to steal monkey nuts from under the noses of the Barbary Ground Squirrels. Almost every tourist paid more attention to feeding the “cute” squirrels whilst ignoring the long-distance-migrant shore birds at their feet, the closeness of the huge Ravens, the feeding terns along the shore or the handsome Yellow-legged Gulls. 

Sandwich Tern


Barbary Ground Squirrel

Yellow-legged Gull

Costa Calma, Fuerteventura

It was the quiet parts of the hotel grounds where I found the Spanish Sparrows, the pair of Hoopoes, the resident Kestrel and the White Wagtail, one of the latter in particular which followed the gardener’s watering hosepipe so as to locate the resultant insects. There were Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs about the grounds but they kept out of sight in the strong sunshine of most days.



Spanish Sparrow - Passer hispaniolensis

White Wagtail

Hoopoes mostly have that hair-gelled look, a sleeked back crest held in abeyance until some fool with a camera interrupts their feed and causes a moment of anxiety when the feathers fan up and out. 




As every birder knows, there’s a price to pay for a spot of birding, brownie points to be earned from SWMBO and then banked for another day when bins and camera are stored in the car. 

Near Costa Calma, Fuerteventura

In Costa Calma the African market is compulsory bartering or there's a heavy price to pay for the uninitiated.  Later in the day there's a glass or two of wine reflecting on the fading light and planning the day to come. 

African Market, Costa Calma, Fuerteventura

Anyone For a Massage? African Market, Costa Calma, Fuerteventura

Costa Calma, Fuerteventura

At the moment my glass is half-full with optimism.  In other words, I think that we are about to turn the corner of our 12 month long dark tunnel and see daylight very soon. 

Stay strong friends.  Don't let them beat you into submission and fill your glass to the top.

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