Foreign softbills

  • Island hopper of the Pacific

    Island hopper of the Pacific

    18th June 2018

    Photo: © Nicobar pigeons: even from this angle the nest looks more solid than the flakey affairs built by most species of pigeon   With its odd stocky build and ornate hackles, the Nicobar pigeon doesn’t look an ace…

  • Winning with my Wilson’s

    Winning with my Wilson’s

    16th June 2018

    Photo: © Streaked spiderhunter (Arachnothera magna): a species Geoff owned in the early 1990s   After tough challenges in the late 1960s, Geoff Gradwell bounced back with a collection even more varied than before. Before too long, he was…

  • Swift move out of the soup

    Swift move out of the soup

    9th June 2018

    Photo: Getty Images/Arun Roisri. Good enough to eat: an edible-nest swiftlet sitting on a fragment of its nest   A massive demand for its nests might sound as though it would spell trouble for any wild bird. Yet, as Tony Tilford…

  • My golden years in foreign softbills

    My golden years in foreign softbills

    29th May 2018

    Photo: Terry Gonsolvis. Terry keeps 13 different species of foreign softbill, including rufous-bellied niltava (Niltava sundara). This flycatcher shows marked sexual dimorphism   There’s nothing better than seeing that long-awaited pairing up or chicks being reared and leaving the nest-box, says…

  • 1969: a year of challenge

    1969: a year of challenge

    17th May 2018

    Photo: © Wittet. Geoff took home the prestigious award of best foreign bird at the 1970 Scottish National with a black-throated mango (pictured) and the same special a year later with another hummer, the green-fronted lancebill   Geoff Gradwell’s exotic…

  • Bee-eaters: housing and breeding

    Bee-eaters: housing and breeding

    4th May 2018

    Photo: Getty Images/ Not only bees: virtually all flying invertebrates are targeted by bee-eaters as prey. Here, a bee-eater at an Italian colony has caught a moth   In the March 28 issue, German softbill breeder Thomas Wendt introduced the European…

  • Bee-eater: my dream bird

    Bee-eater: my dream bird

    3rd April 2018

    Photo: © An exotic-looking specimen: the European bee-eater. There are 27 species of bee-eater listed in the family Meropidae, which are found in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Other species include the northern carmine (Merops nubicus), purple-bearded (Meropogon forsteni) and the…

  • Gary Bralsford: March bulletin

    Gary Bralsford: March bulletin

    19th March 2018

    Photo: Gary’s friend Colin has had pairs of white-collared kingfishers and brown-hooded kingfishers (example pictured) produce clutches already this year © Potter11 GARY BRALSFORD looks forward to the spring unfolding, with news of his own ongoing breeding preparations, developments in…

  • Amazilia: quintessential hummers

    Amazilia: quintessential hummers

    5th March 2018

    Photo: Weltvogelpark Walsrode. Weltvogelpark Walsrode in Germany has repeatedly produced chicks from its Amazilia hummingbirds. The park celebrated its 50th birthday in 2012 with a new hummingbird breeding centre  In most of their wild range, hummingbirds of the expansive genus Amazilia…

  • Gail Harland’s waterbirds: the scarlet ibis

    Gail Harland’s waterbirds: the scarlet ibis

    26th February 2018

    © Mecnarowski. A scarlet ibis roost in mangrove trees near Caroni Swamp in Trinidad. Such gatherings are among the world’s most memorable bird spectacles  AT COLCHESTER Zoo in Essex, I once heard a mother confidently telling her son that the scarlet…