Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Dog bites birder

An interesting few days in the life of the indie birder…

Sightings: 2 Red Kite, 2 Common Buzzard, 2 Oystercatcher, 4 Mallard, 4 Canada Goose, 4 Coot, 2+ House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Robin.

Saturday I was near Sicklinghall, North Yorkshire, where my wife was running an outdoor training course. I spent the afternoon in the woods building a makeshift shelter with some kids. Not many birds around with all the noise going on, but I did get a nice view of a Red Kite nest. No Red Kite nesting there this year, but the farmer informed us they nested last year.

Red Kite nest, North Yorkshire - Sunday 18th March 2012

Sightings: 1 Old Lady, 1 Dog, 2 Oystercatcher.

Sunday was spent digging out a couple of trees from our garden, to make way for a pond. I volunteered to take the branches and roots to the tip, so I could do a quick recce of a nearby Little Ringed Plover site. They’ve turned up in late March for the past few years, but haven’t successfully bred, to my knowledge, despite trying.

Anyway, before I managed the 100-metre walk from the car to view the site, a Boxer dog attacked me. I was left with bruises and teeth-holes along my right arm, and the poor old lady trying to control the dog ended up in a rocky ditch. I kept calm, which probably helped, and I felt bad I couldn’t go and help the old woman. Thank f*ck I didn’t bring my kids along with me.

She got the dog in her car eventually, and we had a chat. I felt sorry for her, she admitted she can't control the dog. Anyway, I then went to look for the Little Ringed Plovers; but only saw a pair of Oystercatcher before I realised I couldn’t hold my bins properly because my arm was so messed up.

You know, I’m good with dogs generally, and I have a healthy respect after being bitten badly as a child - but overall I like ‘em. But, I had to go to the cops – this dog could do a child some real damage. Without going into all the details, the upshot is the dog will have to wear a muzzle in public, or risk being put down. The cops due to make another visit to the owner next week…

Sightings: 12+ Mallard, Moorhen, Goosander, Wren, Robin, Blackbird.

Monday, after a trip to the local Police Station to give a statement, I went for a wander along the River Aire from Shipley to Baildon. I found what appeared to be the place where all the local smack-heads hang out, although I was actually looking for a reported Black-bellied Dipper (Cinclus cinclus cinclus). This is the northern European race of White-throated Dipper, and I hadn't seen one before. The UK race (C. c. gularis), which is pretty common around here, has a lovely chestnut-coloured breast.

In keeping with my luck with birds recently, I didn’t see it, or much else  - a female Goosander at the weir in Shipley being the highlight. This was despite being joined by Paul Marfell, who has seen it regularly, including just the day before. I’ll give it another go later in the week.

Dipper (Cinclus cinclus gularis) 
River Aire, Baildon, West Yorkshire (Paul Marfell)   
Black-bellied Dipper (Cinclus cinclus cinclus) 
River Aire, Baildon, West Yorkshire (Paul Marfell) 

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