Monthly Archives: January 2015

Magic merlin

I was working in the RSPB library this afternoon. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a slightly unusual silhouette whizz past. Minutes later I got a phone call which I answered with library voice and snuck outside. At the back of the house I stood under the porch, watching the dimming afternoon sky and the trees blown sideways by the wind. Something bombed past, and I assumed it was a sparrowhawk. But when it circled back around […]

The wandering falcon

Toulouse is known as a pink city. The characteristic pinkish stone and beautiful skyline do give it a slightly Italian feel. It was against this skyline that, as our car left Toulouse, I spotted a peregrine falcon. Its sharp pointed wings were folded back against its body, giving it an unmistakable stealth-bomber outline. During my two weeks in the city I had thought that the tall spires and crags of the many churches were ideal for these cliff-dwelling birds. These […]

Birds in foreign tongues

Birdwatching is about decoding, taking the small pieces of information you receive – flight style, shape, sound, behaviour – and building a full picture that helps you to identify the bird in question. So, birdwatching abroad can be like trying to understand a foreign language. Here in southwestern France, small flocks of chiffchaffs (pouillots v√©lloces) move through the trees, even coming to the ground together to feed. This¬†behaviour is normal here, but not something I’ve ever seen in the UK, […]