Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Birding the campus

Aren't these guys the cutest ever? Today I led an 'expedition' around campus to look at the birdlife that shares this amazing environment with us. The sun was shining, the air was thick and muggy, and it was a lunchtime. What more could one want?

Well, with a troup of 11 other bird-interested colleagues with me, some birds would have been nice!

There were, as usual, no shortage of jackdaws, ducks and Canada geese, but of almost every other kind of bird (especially of the small variety) there was no sign. Not a robin tweeting, a blackbird singing or even a pigeon cooing! Where were they?

Well, maybe it was the weather, maybe it is the fact that there are people everywhere getting ready for Graduation tomorrow, but even so... the birds on campus are used to people are usually everywhere! I think someone told them: "Bird watchers coming, hide!!"

OK, a dozen people tramping along are not exactly quiet, but we weren't exactly noisy either. However, we did get to look at lots of habitat, and discuss the birds that - ahem - should be present! We know there are green woodpeckers, long tailed tits and even the odd tree creeper around, but none of these exotics graced us with their presence.

We walked on round the campus, looking at the ducks on the lake (and finding two tufted ducks) and eventually ended up in the car park. This is where I daily hear the goldfinches. Silence. Then, at last, one long songster at the top of a bush! We gathered round the cars and looked at the little chap singing his heart out. A bird worth seeing, with his lovely red face and gold striped wings.

We walked on, round to a more wooded area and stood silently beneath the trees. Once again... silence. Then, at last, another chirrup. Two more goldfinches appeared, and I managed to snap one of them with the camera. He was very visible and started to preen in front of us. Not only visible, but a show off too!

It was, if nothing else, a lovely walk in the grounds on a sunny afternoon, but I hope during the re-run next week, we see a few more birds.
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