Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Blue Connections

There's a strong connection between Dover and the USA, where I've been birding this month. A trip to the cliff top car park by the Monument finds you parking next to the Bluebirds Tea Room. Because, as I've written before, the 1941 song was penned by American composers Nat Burton and Walter Kent they were unawre that Bluebirds didn't occur in the UK. Although the Bluebirds weren't around, there were of course plenty of American Servicemen who helped to keep the Dover Straits open.

We saw two of the three Bluebird species that are so dear to the hearts of the American people. The Western Bluebird above is found nesting only in the western third of States and southern British Columbia. It is mainly a bird of  farmland and orchards.

Unfortunately this picture was taken through a glass window, so it doesn't do the bird complete justice. Mountain Bluebirds are what the name says, birds of the mountains, again in the west of the North American continent. In the breeding season they are normally found at over 5000 ft but in the winter they descend to open lowlands and deserts. The third species, the Eastern Bluebird, has a much larger range and can be found in much of the States, east of the Rockies. It is in decline, due of course to the follies of man, who introduced House Sparrows and Starlings to North America. These now compete for the tree nest holes used by the Bluebirds. There are a large number of nest boxes now put up specifically to help these birds.

Back in the UK I was pleased to see this stunning Yellow Wagtail at the Restharrow Scrape yesterday. We may not be able to offer competition to the Bluebirds but the Yellow Wagtail will hold it's own in a beauty contest with any of the American Orioles.

This Hooded Oriole has chosen a rather nice background against which to display his finery.

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