Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Cannine interruption!

On Sunday I only managed to get out for an hour or so, late am, as we had family guests for lunch and a holiday "pow-wow"! So a brief visit to Ashstead Common to explore a few more pathways. A lot of trees have been felled above the 'Stew Pond' car park and there was no avian activity or any discernible sounds of life. As I entered the woodland there were lots of Blue & Long-tailed Tits plus a few Great Tits and evidence of pair bonding was all around me but they certainly were not going to pose for a portrait.
Unfortunately my timing this morning was dreadful as everyone seemed to be walking their dogs. I wouldn't have minded but just as I spotted a Treecreeper and lined up the camera I was invaded by two large growling beasts. I adopted my usual 'horse whisperer' mode and the dogs changed from barking to hand licking mode and as you can guess the Treecreeper disappeared. The owners seemed absolutely oblivious to the fact that I may not wish to be disturbed in this manner and no effort to bring their charges under control! This event reminded me of another doggy encounter some years ago on Bookham Common when a large beast came bounding towards me with the obvious intent of grabbing some part of me and the owner calling out "it won't hurt you" - instantly recalling an incident when as a teenager I was delivering Sunday newspapers and a dog attempted to rip the bag from my shoulder - I adopted a very defensive posture and clearly told the owner that the dog wouldn't get the chance. Needless to say he was not very happy with my outburst but more importantly the dog also got the message. Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike dogs, if fact I grew up with one, and we have a delightful creature called 'LaLa' living next door, but I fail to comprehend why certain owners cannot keep them under control. Actually I believe it is often the owners who need training and not their pets.
Apart from the calls of Nuthatch and drumming of a Great-spotted Woodpecker the only other sightings were two Rose-ringed Parakeets squawking their heads off atop a distant tree. On the fields behind Rushett Farm I also logged 50+ Crows plus a few Magpies and Jackdaws. Finally, I heard, but couldn't locate, a singing Skylark. (One addition to this years list at least).

So no bird photos just a few trees whose bark doesn't bite!


  1. Hi Frank- I looked up the Long-tailed Tit and the Great Tit in Smithsonian's Birds of the World. How can two birds share the name and yet look so dissimilar? I see that they are not of the same family. Would you explain why they are both called Tits? The book also said that the Long-tailed Tit makes a domed nest with a side entrance. Have you ever seen one of their nests? I've really enjoyed looking up the unfamiliar birds that you see. Not all of them are included in the Birds of the World. I'm going to keep my eyes open for a book abour birds of Britain.

    I'm with you on people who don't control their dogs. Shame on them. That kind of behavior is a quick way for children to become forever fearful of dogs.

  2. I just have to add that I think that Long-tailed Tit is kind of a funny looking little bird. It looks very short in the body, no neck but a long tail. Like peices of different birds put together to make this one!

  3. Hi Lynne, rather than go into a long explanation here I will e-mail you with some 'links' that will hopefully explain why some tits are also called Tits but in a different family - partly relates to their habitat or breeding biology.
    Yes I have seen a LT Tit nest & your description of this tit is right on.
    Collins 'Bird Guide' is probably one of the best ID guides for birds in Britain & Europe. I'll e-mail full details direct to you.

    PS. I'm enthralled by your recent Festival visit - Can't wait to hear more.

    Lol Frank

  4. It's like the Dog Whisperer says, "Dogs need to be rehabilitated, their owners need to be trained." Too sad that they would allow their pets to ruin the trails for everyone else.

  5. Neat trees Frank.

    I'm glad the dogs were friendly, but it's so rude that people just let them run. Not only do they scare the birds and wildlife away, but you're always having to "watch where you step" too.

  6. I like those old knarled trees. I wish we had a few left on my patch, but health and safety means they get chopped down, that or they ''just look untidy''. fools!

  7. Jayne & Ruthie - Perhaps I should wear a sign saying "do not disturb"! (me & the birds)

    Warren those were just 2 out of an original 2000 ancient oak pollards which provide excellent nesting locations. Some thinning work is being carried out I suspect both for the safety of the trees & the public but this will provide space for the youngsters to thrive.

  8. I know Frank, the worst place for dogs that I have lived is Boulder, Colorado. Every Tom, Dick and Harriette feels that they must have a big dog in a small living space. There is dog poo all over. The worst offender let his dog chase the deer. &^*%#$$%!.

    But just the other day while walking on the beach at Annisquam, two dogs came bounding up to me and said hello. I expect this on a public beach. No big deal. It's the humans that will come running and jogging into a flock of birds that I'm obviously working with that tick me off.

    Okay, enough of that, these tree photos are awsome!

  9. Yes Steve, if I hadn't been so engrossed with the buttons on the camera & had seen the dogs coming I probably would have said something similar.
    I'm hopeful these old trees will produce some good sightings & maybe photo opportunities thro' the year.


I hope you enjoyed your visit and I always appreciate your comments and feedback.


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