Some body asked me the other day about how many species of bird are mentioned in the bible so I thought I should check it out with a quick search on Biblegateway.com
Accordingly there are 29 Birds species or families mentioned in the bible. However care needs to be taken here because of the translation problem which I have already noted. Particularly in the list below we should note that the Swift is not mentioned and if you look at my post on Swallows and Swifts you will realise that the Swift probably should be in this list. (Biblegateway.com uses information from NAVE Bible dictionary which I think in turns use the King James translation.)
I would also comment that a Glede noted in this list and mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:13 is probably a Kite. An Ossifrage is probably a type of Vulture known as a lammergeier. So the list could be 29 (as shown below) or 27 removing Glede and Ossifrage or 28 if we add Swift.
As you look at the list it is also worth remembering that some of these references are simply in the list of clean or unclean birds.
July can produce some great birds but on the whole it tends to be a quiet time. the migrant passage has not really got going and the smaller birds tend to be hard to spot partly because they are quieter but also because the cover in the woods is at its thickest.
So John Small and I set off on our regular Monday trip more in hope than expectation. We first visited the Morfa Madryn reserve at Llanfairfechan where we planned to check out the high tide gull roost. We were pleased to see a good number of Sandwich Terns in among the Black Headed Gulls with a few Common Gulls with the larger Herring Gulls. There were a few waders on the reserve including a Ringed Plover, a Common Sandpiper t and about eight Redshanks.
We then nipped down the A55 to the Aber Ogwen reserve for a quick luck to see what was around. Amazingly there were about 30 Great Crested Grebes on the straights and hundreds of Mute Swans.
Next we popped over to Penmon Point were we hope to find a puffin. Unfortunately none were visible from the shore but we did have a good view of a Black Guillemot as it flew past.
Puffin Island from Penmon Point
Black Necked Grebe
Unfortunately I have to report that my sabbatical is now over and my birding activities will have to slow down quite a bit. Although I have to say it is also nice to be back at work seeing people I have missed for the last three months and catching up with their news. Sadly 6 people connected with the churches I serve have either died or been bereaved while I was away
I saw a total of 161 birds in Britain and an additional 18 while on holiday in Menorca. There were many highlights. Early on I was delighted to see my first ever breeding plumage Black Necked Grebe a Moore Nature Reserve. Another great moment was watching a Tawny Owl bring food to her chicks one lunch time as I walked through some woods on the Wirral.
The good news is that the sabbatical has been really worthwhile I have got a lot out of the reading and study which I have done and perhaps most imprtantly I feel more relaxed and rested than I have felt probably since I entered the ministry 11 years ago.
I do hope to keep this blog going so please pop back on a regularly basis to find out how my birding is going and also hopefully I will continue to reflect biblical on the birds.
Blacktoft Sands is a great reserve that Ruth and I have often visited a number of times over the last few years, it is just over the river from Goole. It has a large tidal reedbed situated at the confluence of the rivers Trent and Ouse.
A Male Harrier flys away
The reserve was busy when we arrived and some hides were a little bit difficult to find a space in but it was great to visit because there were plenty of birds to entertain us. It was particularly good to see the Marsh Harriers had had a good breeding season. We saw at least four juveniles and at least one adult male. The best birds on this trip however were the Bearded Tits which were lifers for Ruth and I sadly the photo’s of these wonderful little birds have not really come out.
Two Dunlin and a Spotted Redshank
Ruth and I decided that as this was the last weekend of my sabbatical we should spend it together doing some birding. I picked Ruth up from work on Friday afternoon and then we drove to Yorkshire.
The next day (Saturday) we visited the wonderful Bempton Cliffs This reserve is the only place on the mainland were you can really see nesting Gannets, as a bonus there are also plenty of Kittiwakes guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins and Fulmar to keep people entertained. On a slightly worrying note there is some concern that sea bird colonies on the east coast are falling in numbers this is thought to be due to a fall in food supply which is obviously a huge concern although I have heard that numbers are slightly up on the west coast perhaps due to a few birds moving around the coast.
Here are a few photos taken with my new camera
Kittiwake and little one
Two Gannets and some Guillemots
While I was on holiday in Menorca is saw Booted Eagles on a couple of occasions. These eagles are not one of the four types of eagle found in Israel which are, the golden eagle, the spotted eagle, the imperial eagle and the short toed eagle. I have seen a golden eagle on one occasion when we visited Haweswater where you can view the only golden eagle in England. The thing that struck me about this bird apart from how lonely he was, was the huge size and also the effortless way in which he flew.
The Hebrew word which is mostly translated as Eagle is Nesher which means a bird who tears food with the beak this could refer to either the Vulture or Eagle. This is why we have already seen that several verses could either be translated as Eagle or Vulture and the decision as to which sort of bird to refer to is really based as much on the behaviour of the birds reported in the text. Vultures for instance are gregarious bird who eat in flocks and mainly eat carrion. The Eagle is much more of a hunting individual.
The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible has 29 references to the eagle. Most of the references in the bible have to do with the skilled and powerful flight of the eagle including the speed with which the birds can swoop down on their prey and also the general ability of the birds to see brilliantly when hunting. Eagles are also referred to in some of the apocalyptic literature of the bible often these are reference to being having wings like eagles.
The best known reference to Eagles in the bible comes from Isaiah 40:30-31
“30 Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; 31 but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”
The people are in need of encouragement in this chapter it begins with the line “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.” Particularly the people have complained that God seems to be distant from them. In verse 27 they say “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God?” But Isaiah reminds them that God is everlasting, God is the creator and God is there with them. What they really need to do is to put their trust in God. What is important is that they try not to do things in their own way and strength but to trust in God, for even the young will get tired. What really matters is that people wait for God put their hope and trust in God and then the Lord shall renew them and they will sore like eagles.
Remember if you see an eagle their flight almost seems easy and even effortless they catch the thermals rising from the ground and just go. Do we work to hard perhaps on our own trying to do to much in our own way? Surely we need to wait for God to put our hope in God and fine that we to can sore like eagles if only we allow God to help us.
I have just got back from a day on Anglesey with my mate John Small. Unfortunately I forgot to take the camera with me so I have no pretty pictures to show you.
We started out by driving along the northern side of Anglesey first calling in at Traeth Dulas where we were fortunate to find several Sandwich Terns amongst the Blackheaded Gull and a Common Sandpiper. We then decided to find a promontory to do try some seawatching. Rather than go to the usual sites at Wylfa Head or Point Lynas which has access problems we headed for Llanbadrig Head which is near Caemaes Bay. This proved to be an excellent spot where we picked up a number of interesting bird, Fulmers nested on the cliffs, Manx Shearwater flew past and thousands of Guillemot’s where either on the sea or the cliff of middle Mouse (a small island). The best bird we found though came as a real shock because swimming in the sheltered bay was a winter plumage Red Throated Diver! Quite why it was there we do not know but hopefully it is not a sign that winter is approaching
Our next site was the reserve at Cemlyn where we we able to catch up with the breeding Terns. It was really good to see that the Terns are doing really well this year. We also saw a large creche of Red Breasted Merganser Chicks 31 bird in all being supervised by one adult. (Obviously bird don’t have to deal with safeguarding policies, but then again how was one adult going to protect all those youngsters from a predator.)
On the way home we called at two lakes, at the second one Llyn Cefni we found a Spotted Flycatcher, the first one I had seen this year in britain, although I did see plenty on holiday.
Over the weekend we visited the Sandwell Valley RSPB Nature Reserve in the West Midlands. We were in Wolverhampton to support a couple of friends one who was speaking at a Methodist Conference Fringe Event and another who was being Ordained at this conference.
The Reserve produced some interesting birds including one new bird for the sabbatical this being a lovely male Ruddy Duck. Other highlights included watching Tufted Duck chicks learning to dive for food and also a Coot whose partner obviously (according to my wife) had a romantic streak, the nest was covered in flowers!
Tufted Duck and Chick
A Romantic Coot's Nest
Sorry this is late but I have been away for the weekend.
On Friday I popped down to the Wirral to call on these to sites. Burton Marsh was excellent producing lots of singing birds including several Sedge Warblers and a reeling Grasshopper Warbler which sat on top of the reeds enabling me to have a good look at him.
Two Spotted Redshanks and a lapwing (poor quality because of the rain)
I then called into IMF just as it began to rain. I was please to see three Spotted Redshank’s feeding on the reserve and I also had a distant look at a Little Ringed Plover but this bird was to far away to photograph. The most intriguing moment was watching the Grey Heron below trying to work out how to eat this eel!
I took my daughter Becky out birding yesterday as she is a big raptor fan! We visited two sites which are known to be good for spotting Birds of Prey.
The nest through the heat haze! A camera on the left.
The first site was the Dyfi Osprey Project at Cors Dyfi nature reserve just south of Machynleth. This site is home to the second attempt to get ospreys to nest in Wales. Unfortunately they have not had a successful breeding pair this year mainly because the pair of bird that are now at the site arrived to late raise young. Having said that the site is really worth a visit if you are in the area although you are not guaranteed a sighting. We arrived at about 1pm on a gloriously hot day and went quickly up to the hide. Looking through the scopes we had a good look at the nest and I took several photo’s. At this point we noted a red Kite flying in the background, a buzzard also flew past. Then a couple came into the hide and immediately spot the nest had an Osprey on it. Sadly before I could get my camera on it the bird had left As we sat down for our sandwiches I did spot another Osprey flying high overhead along with a second kite and several buzzards.
The view to the feeding site with a few kites around
From Cors Dyfi we drove south to the Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian on the A44. This is lovely forestry commission site and a great place to walk or mountain bike. They also feed Red Kites at 3pm (in the summer 2pm in winter). The views we had of the kites were spectacular to say the least with hundreds of birds in the air at anyone time. The photographs I took don’t really do the birds justice.
Two Red Kites on the ground
In a tree after feeding
A resting Red Kite
A siskin on a feeder