Army Ornithological Society Blog

Barnes WWT 2018

A small but select group made it for this year’s annual visit to the London Wetland Centre (aka Barnes WWT) on 27 Oct.

A total of 42 species were seen of which the highlights were undoubtedly:

• A pair of Peregrine Falcons perched on Charing Cross Hospital.

• Two Cetti’s Warblers singing in the open adjacent to the Water’s Edge Café!

• A Short-eared Owl resting in the Grazing Marsh and, as you would expect, pretty well hidden!

None of the attendees had any camera kit so a picture of the LEGO Short-eared Owl will have to suffice!  Should you have young family members and are within striking distance of Barnes the Giant LEGO Brick Animal Trail is still present but the last day is scheduled for 18 Nov.   You never know but, as we did, you may get to see the real thing!

Comments

SPTA West

Time has flown past and I held my final AGM as Chairman of the Imber Conservation Group (ICG).  Next year the 3 groups will amalgamate.  The only difference will affect the hierarchy and the members will still continue to do their thing.  This year I have seen 65 species on the Plain though this list is not the total number of species for the ICG.  The latest involvement has been the Hen Harier survey.  Whereas my location has a Kestrel, Wren and plenty of corvids passing by the other 2 locations have recorded Hen Harrier, Short-eared Owl, Merlin, Golden Plover to name a few.  We have just recorded a Wheatear on the Plain and the Starling murmuration is starting to form up.  Last month I conducted one of my monthly Nature Walks and near Brounkers Well there were plenty of Yellowhammer, Blackcap, Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit.  There were still plenty of Skylark on the old Stone Curlew plot where chicks were raised.  During the hot summer there was hardly a bird but it did not strike until the big ponds had delivered their toads!  We will also conduct a winter survey so hopefully I will have something to write about besides my travels across Europe (326 including firsts of Gyr Falcon and Little Bittern).

Comments

New President Announced

It is with great pleasure that we can announce that the new President of the Army Ornithological Society is Maj Gen Kevin Abraham CB late RA. A long-standing member of the ABWS and AOS, General Kevin is a very keen birder and looks forward to taking an active role in the Society.

Kevin Abraham joined the Army in 1983 having read Philosophy at St Andrews University. He was commissioned into the Royal Artillery and spent the majority of his time at regimental duty serving with 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, whether in Germany, Canada, UK, Kenya, Bosnia or Kosovo.

In recent years, he has had appointments involving the force development of the Army, its re-design through the Army 2020 project, and lately, as the Director General of Army Reform, with particular responsibility for the development of the Army Reserve.

He is Honorary Colonel of the Tayforth Universities Officer Training Corps (St Andrews, Dundee, Stirling and Abertay universities) and a member of the Honourable Artillery Company, serving on its Regimental Council.

Home is in Wiltshire with wife Julia and labrador Pip. Birding, sailing, skiing, and watching rugby are his principal interests.

Comments

SPTA West

Those who did not make it to Scotland missed out on an exceptional birding AGM with all the key species seen.  Back on the Plain there are changes afoot.  Red Cards are becoming harder to obtain and now we have to print off the daily DRS if we visit off the public tracks.  I spent a lot of time in France in June and July watching the football and naturally visted areas for birds including the Carmargue and Crau as well as The Dombes Region.  I have only visited the Plain a few times since then as access has been limited at times.  My botany skills are improving though it tends to the English names that I remember.  There are plenty of butterflies about and I still have to look carefully to seperate Small and Essex Skippers.  The species of birds during these quiet months tends to be those that you would expect to find.  These include the grassland species of Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting, Stonechat and Whinchat.  I have also been ringing which adds Redstart, Willow Warbler, Chiifchaff, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler plus other buntings and finches to a long list. The other day there was even a Wood Warbler and a male Monty's was hunting nearby.  I am now recording various types of wildlife that I find including mammals and insects on the ICG website.  There are changes planned for this as well.  The one constant is that the Plain is still a military training area and is untouched by modern farming.

Comments

SPTA West

It has been 3 months since my last blog; where does the time go?  In that period I spent a week in Lesbos with an AOS trip that I organised and a week in Corsica with a Natutretrek trip; all endemics seen.  I also had a few days in Croatia with my son.  The Plain has been out of bounds at times as we get multi-national exercises taking part for weeks at a time.  I will admit I went twitching in Feb to see the Penduline Tit at Gloucester and Pallas's Warbler in Dorset.  I also attended a Naturetrek weekend in Norfolk for the guides and staff with Lapland Bunting and Snow Bunting easily seen.  On the Plain in late winter there were a few Woodcock around as well as flocks of Golden Plover, Fieldfare and Redwing.  There were also plenty of Fairy Shrimp.  During our unsuccesful Hen Harrier surveys in February the Starling murmuration at Gore Cross COTEC site was fantastic and we were 2kms away.  There must have been around 1 million birds in the sky making dramatic patterns.  More recently the summer migrants have arrived with Cuckoo, Whinchat, Whitethroat taking up territories.  On the Centre in the hand (been ringing and deatils can be found on Wiltshire birds web site) I have had Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler and Nightingale to mention a few.  On the east I have watched Stone Curlew and twice now seen a male Montagu's Harrier.  On the west there is Stone Curlew and Redstart breeding as well as the usual suspects of Stonechat, Corn Bunting,  Linnet and of course owls.  My nest boves have had a mixed reception but they do require checking again now I can get out there.  At present there are still puddles with Toad tadpoles and orchids are starting to show.  There has been an explosion of butterflies hatching when the sun shines with Marsh Fritillary and Blues.  I hope to see you at the AGM in Scotland next month.

Comments