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bird NOTES.

Byline: ALAN DAVIES RSPB Conwy

BIRD flu, there's no getting away from it at the moment. With a recent case confirmed in France, a lot of media attention has been focused on the subject.

No cases have been found in the UK to date, but here at RSPB Conwy we are keeping a keen eye out for any dead or dying birds just in case an outbreak should reach Wales.

This vigilance is being maintained at hundreds of reserves across the UK, providing an early warning system should the worst happen.

Where cases have been confirmed on the Continent, fortunately only small numbers of wild birds have been involved.

With spring migration about to start there is every chance an infected bird could arrive from Europe. We can only hope that most will moving north and east to their Arctic breeding grounds.

However, we are asking everyone to help us keep an eye out, even if the risk is low.

If you do find any dead swans, a species which is particularly at risk, let rural ministry Defra know on 08459 335577.

I HAVE just got back from a few days birding on the north Norfolk coast, a bitterly cold place but a great spot for birds.

Perhaps the highlight were a regular encounters with day-flying barn owls.

We were lucky enough to see at least five birds! The first was at Holme: it patrolled over a rough meadow, giving breathtaking views. On the scrapes, a ruff fed among masses of wigeon and several shovelers.

As we left the barn owl again appeared on a roadside fence post. It allowed us to get very close. I had never pished (making a noise with pursed lips, which can attract warblers and owls) before but gave it a go. The reaction was instant and amazing: the owl took flight and flew straight at the car and hovered 3ft above the windscreen! It gave us a totally mind-blowing view.

Other highlights included six colourful shore larks feeding with snow buntings at Holkham beach.

Three common cranes were eventually tracked down on stubble fields near Waxham, while a rough legged buzzard showed at Massingham.

There are guided walks at RSPB Conwy at 2pm on Saturday and Sunday.

CAPTION(S):

Let Defra know if you spot dead birds, especially vulnerable swans
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2006
Words:386
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