Lockdown Birding Part 3

Hoopoes in dispute (Martin Kelsey)
The Hoopoe's "song" oop-oop-oop is delivered perched, with the bird appearing to go through considerable effort in producing it. Standing on our balcony for lockdown birding has given me the chance to watch our garden birds stepping up into the rhythm of spring. A Blackbird appears relaxed as it sings: barely moving its body and its bill simply ajar, the head still as song flows warm and comforting into the soundsphere. Hoopoes undergo a contortion. They arch their heads downward, the neck becomes swollen and the bill is directed the feet. They appear hunched up and troubled, grave and serious. With its oop you can sense strain.

Hoopoe singing (Martin Kelsey)

Yet, Hoopoes are busy ooping away, because spring demands it. We must be on the border of two Hoopoe territories because whilst I was watching this singing bird, I sensed a split second of unease, its tail fanned and at the moment a rival flew in and dislodged the singer. Off the two bounded, with their wide fanned wings, flashing black and white.

Spotless Starlings sing from exposed perches too. Bills wide open, lax throat feathers spread like an inverted porcupine, and producing the zany weird series of whoops, whistles and gargles. Some are amassing nesting material, building under the loose tiles of our roof.

Spotless Starling wth nest material (Martin Kelsey)

Six days into the lockdown and I have recorded 43 species of bird. In a few days time I will take a look at some of the patterns emerging, but readers have requested an update on which species I have seen, so here is the list to date (based on eBird Clements taxonomy):

Common Woodpigeon
Eurasian Collared Dove
White Stork
Black (Cinereous) Vulture
Eurasian Griffon Vulture
Short-toed Eagle
Eurasian Sparrowhawk
Red Kite
Black Kite
Little Owl
Eurasian Hoopoe
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
Eurasian Kestrel
Iberian Magpie
Common Raven
Eurasian Blue Tit
Great Tit
Crested Lark
Zitting Cisticola
Eurasian Crag Martin
Barn Swallow
Red-rumped Swallow
Common House Martin
Iberian Chiffchaff
Cetti's Warbler
Euasian Blackcap
Sardinian Warbler
Short-toed Treecreeper
Eutasaian Wren
Spotless Starling
Eurasian Blackbird
Black Redstart
House Sparrow
Spanish Sparrow
White Wagtail
Common Chaffinch
European Greenfinch
Eurasian Linnet
European Goldfinch
European Serin
Corn Bunting


Meropes said…
Thank you for this new series. It can feel very bleak right now, but Spring is a wonderful season and wherever we are, if we have a window on nature, we can watch the changes and take pleasure from them. We have recorded 27 species in and above our north London garden this week, not bad and it includes our first singing Blackcap of the season. That brings much joy. No Extremadura trip for me this spring, so I'm counting on you to bring it to me more than you usually do. Matt Evans
Brian Banks said…
Thank-you Martin. Not a bad garden list! We have 19 species in common. I suspect the Cinereous vulture may require a slice of luck here in Sussex ;-). Feeling down about not sharing your garden next month, but looking forward to May 2021. Would be interested in your herpetofauna list.
Janet S said…
Forgot to tell you, we had a Hoopoe on our birdwatching patch that stayed a couple of weeks before moving to a field within walking distance of home. It's gone now, probably back to Spain!
Dear Matt, Brian and Janet,

Thank for your comments! I will keep these lockdown birding logs going and yes, there will be a herpetofauna memtion somewhere down the line!

Best wishes


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