Pages tagged “birds”

03 Mar 2019

Sleep under the sky

Last weekend I had some time to myself, and I made a trip to Norfolk/Suffolk and added a couple of bird species to my life list (goshawk, woodlark). I also took advantage of the crazy-warm February weather to do one of my favourite things: fall asleep outdoors. I’m a huge believer in the power nap. Sometimes, I genuinely think it’s the single most efficient use for 20 minutes, such is the restorative power of a brain reboot.

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16 Feb 2019

Ptilonorhynchus violaceus

A few of my favourite things came together last weekend. I was out for a chilly morning run, listening to one of my top podcasts (via bone conduction - my favourite way to listen while exercising), and the episode featured one of my favourite birds. In 2008 Sarah and I spent time volunteering in Eastern Australia, helping the Borgia research group to catch and study satin bowerbirds. These birds are awesome - I use the word deliberately.

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16 Feb 2018

Blue-toothed yellowbike

Australian bird names (the English names, anyway) are often enjoyably “say what you see”. A long time ago Sarah and I spent an unforgettable time in Oz, up close and personal with a lot of wildlife. We imagined the early colonists, privileged first Westerners (or Easterners, depending how you measure it) seeing species for the first time and being the ones to pick names for the new things. It’s feeding on honey?

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05 Apr 2016

Woodland welcome

Girton recently lost a big tree - I think it was a holm oak. Until a couple of weeks ago it had a great spot right in the middle of the village. Things feel stark without it. It’s going to be replaced - but it will be tens of years before anything comparable has grown up. Out running recently I found this “Woodland welcome” sign. There are some saplings just out of shot but I don’t think I’ve done it an injustice.

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13 Apr 2015

Quirk of the calendar?

Today I saw my first swallows of the year, over our house - and earlier I heard my first willow warblers in the woods near Cambridge’s guided busway. Sort of remarkable that these two springtime events happened on the same day, two years in a row. They arrived one day earlier this year: clear evidence of global warming, for sure. Or perhaps it’s just a quirk of the calendar: I usually cycle past the woods on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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04 Mar 2015

Social media is broken

How is it that something like this can happen and I don’t find out about it until the day after? Come on Facebook, Twitter - you let me down there. 24+ hours?! Weasel photographed riding on a woodpecker’s back - the headline says it all.

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27 Apr 2014

Iris Sula Morrison meets, er, Morus Bassanus

Iris encountered the bird with which she shares a name this Easter and was generally unimpressed. A great, sunny-if-cold few days camping near the Morrison Yorkshire “hood”!

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14 Apr 2014

Feathery phenology

Three bird-related happenings in Cambridge today. saw my first, solitary swallow of the year, seven months and seven days since they were gathering to head south heard my first willow warblers of the year, near Girton it seems that peregrine falcons are nesting on the University Library building Spring is springing…

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23 Jan 2014

North Norfolk Digital

A great day out today with Norfolk Birding. Standing by the marshes, listening to the geese flying overhead and admiring the colossal skies, you can forget the fact that your feet feel like blocks of ice. Having Chris Mills on hand to help you realise that you’ve seen exactly five different types of geese, fulmars, red-throated divers, scoters, five or six hen harriers and countless other birds from a multitude of species made it even better.

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14 Dec 2013

Sula skull sponsorship

Iris Sula Morrison has adopted an exhibit at the Grant museum of Zoology: the skull of a northern gannet, whose Latin name at the time the specimen was catalogued was Sula bassana. Gannets are awesome and so is Iris!

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13 Dec 2013

Inverse crowing

While working alone in an otherwise quiet house yesterday afternoon, just as the sun was setting, I was surprised by the sound of a cockerel crowing from the living room. Baby Iris has a toy puzzle with different farm animal shapes, and it uses tiny light sensors to detect the presence or absence of the pieces. It plays the animal sound as each piece is put in the correct hole. As is usual in our house, the pieces were scattered around the room, none of them in their little holes.

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18 Sep 2013

47 Swallows

Photo taken on 5th September. The end of summer!

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16 Aug 2013

Leafy avians

Slight taxonomic inaccuracy in this drop-down box on the website of the GB non-native species secretariat…

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18 Apr 2013

On Easter Eggs and Pigeon Brains

Not too long ago, it was Easter. I’ve written before about my belief that using a computer ruins your working memory. Well, setting an (indoor) Easter Egg hunt for my wife generated another data point in favour of my hypothesis. I found myself really struggling to remember where the eggs were: these were eggs that I’d hidden, myself, less than 10 minutes previously. Try it for yourself: hide 20 eggs round your house, in places sufficiently obscure that your other half would have fun finding them.

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15 Apr 2013

Two Swallows Don't Make a Summer...

…but my cycling tan is going to bed down nicely, I think. Ouch! Great bike ride yesterday to The Green Man in Thriplow - recommended. I saw this year’s first swallows on they way: presumably they’d been riding the strong winds and decided that the weather had finally got warm enough to cross the English Channel. For the interested, here is some evidence of how windy it was. Cycling downhill while pedalling, you’d normally expect to be accelerating, rather than maxing out at about 12mph.

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11 Feb 2013

Rockhoppercam = awesome

Easily the best bit of TV I’ve seen recently. There’s not much I wouldn’t swap for my own Rockhopper Cam. Penguins - Spy in the Huddle

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16 Jan 2013

Pointy-headed reed dwellers

I continue to be intrigued by the capacity of my brain for memorising new things. I wanted to test myself on learning things that’re (essentially) useless (to me), that I wouldn’t accidentally rehearse during ‘normal’ life. Over the past 3-and-a-bit months, in about 7 hours' total study (less than 5 minutes a day), I’ve learned 350 cards. At the beginning of the process, I knew nearly none of the facts contained on them.

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