1. Birds of the Galapagos Islands
Bill Hale gave a very interesting one hour talk on ‘Birds of the Galapagos Islands’. No one in the group except Bill had been there, and we were treated to Bill’s photographs of over 55 species, most of which are not seen in Great Britain, (except the Turnstone, the Sanderling and Cattle Egret).
Many of the birds seen are native to the Galapagos: G. Penguin, G. Hawk (the only bird of prey), 13 species of G. Finches including 2 species of G. Warblers, G Flycatcher, G. Dove, and G. Cuckoo, etc.
Other memorable birds seen were Short Eared Owls who predate the local Petrels, Albatross, Mocking Birds, Shearwaters, Oystercatchers, Blue Footed Booby, Masked Booby and Red Footed Booby, Flightless Cormorants and the Magnificent Frigate Bird, Flamingos, Herons (4 species) and the delightfully named Vermillion Flycatcher, etc., etc.
Bill’s immense knowledge of the ‘bird world’ made it an enthralling session, and he can rightly claim to know more than Darwin having visited all 16 of the Galapagos Islands, that’s 12 more than Darwin achieved!
2. Proposed venues for 2020
Peter Hatfield presented his list of proposed venues for birdwatching in 2020. Seven of last years reserves are revisited in the year ahead but in different seasons, two sites not visited by the group in the last 4 years (Rivington CP and Sizergh Castle*) and three more venues not seen last year will be seen this year, (Speke Hall NT, Yarrow CP and Brockholes LWT). (See ‘continue reading’ below for the full list.)
*Please note that Sizergh is an optional extra for seeing Haw Finches from 8.30 am. The rest of the group will start at 10.30 at Silverdale. The Sizergh group will aim to reach Siverdale by 11.00am.
3. Review of 2019 visits and sightings
Peter Banks presented the summary of visits and sightings for 2019. Two of the visits planned for 2019 had to be changed and the December visit cancelled due to bad weather. All of our group sightings are recorded on the group’s web pages and also logged at BirdTrack a national project run by the British Trust for Ornithology in partnership with RSPB (and others) that records distributions and migration movements of birds throughout Britain and Ireland and also is linked to global records.
4. BirdTrack update
Peter Banks reported that, because the group submits records to the online BirdTrack system, we receive a regular monthly email from the BTO. As well as information about bird populations they also have useful links to other information and bird identification videos. Peter has long felt these emails should be made available to other group members but unfortunately the U3A’s Beacon email system does not allow forwarding of emails received. He suggested that an email group could be set up so that these emails could be forwarded from the group email address to members of the bird group who would like to receive them.
Peter Banks introduced a discussion about ways in which members of the group might be able to share information about local bird sightings. (One of our group members who was not able to be present at the AGM had emailed to suggest such a group that people could ‘opt in’ to.) Again this would need to be outside the U3A Beacon system as only group leaders can send Beacon emails. Peter showed a few examples of the sort of sightings that could be shared:
The suggestions are:
- A WhatsApp Group that members could opt in to so they could share information (requires a smartphone).
- A group page where members who opt in could share photos of birds seen locally or on group visits. Ideally this should have a link on the group webpage so everyone can view. This will be investigated further to determine the best platform to use.
Thirteen members of the group attended this year’s AGM, and apologies were received from one other. The list of attendees is recorded on the group’s database.
Peter Hatfield and Peter Banks, joint leaders.
Click ‘continue reading’ for the full list of planned visits for 2020 and the summary of visits and sightings for 2019.
Programme of visits planned for 2020:
- 11th February – Pennington Flash Country Park
- 10th March – Martin Mere WWT
- 14th April – Lunt Meadows LWT, Sefton
- 12th May – Sizergh Castle NT / Leighton Moss RSPB
- 9th June – Yarrow Country Park, Chorley
- 14th July – Rivington Country Park, Bolton
- (No meeting in August)
- 8th September – Brockholes LWT, Preston
- 13th October – Speke Hall NT
- 27th October – Burton Mere RSPB & Dee Estuary
- 10th November – Marshside RSPB, Southport
- 8th December – Mere Sands Wood LWT, Rufford
For Graphs and maps of the 2019 sightings downloaded from BirdTrack: Birdwatching group AGM 2020-01-13 – Summary of 2019 visits
To view or download the BirdTrack statistics for all group sightings: Birdwatching group AGM 2020-01-13 – Species seen 2015-2019