Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Monk Seals, the Desertas Islands, Madeira

A globally endangered species, with approximately 450-600 individuals. The Desertas Islands lie just off the east coast of the island of Madeira and is the only place that you will see these creatures in Europe and is home to just 48 individuals. We were lucky enough to see 2 on our recent trip there. Massive seals, weighing in at an impressive 3 tons, with the bulls getting up to 5 tons and 4-5 metres in length. Very impressive when they are swimming a few metres away from you.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Bluethroat at Willow Tree Fen LWT, Lincolnshire. Last, but not least.

The last, for now of the images of this amazingly confiding 1st winter male Bluethroat. I say "for now", because, as of writing the bird is still present and may require another visit or two!

A photo of this bird appeared on the internet on Friday 10th February and was met with disbelief. An overwintering Bluethroat, surely not?! Lots of hats have been eaten and humble pie scoffed upon confirmation of the sighting the next day, which is when I first visited to bag this lifer. The weather was wet and horrible and the bird showed well, but very distantly. Over the period of that Saturday and the Sunday the bird became more confiding, showing down to about 10 feet and seeming nonchalant to the people watching it. Monday the 13th was a sunny, beautiful day and after finishing work early, I paid a visit to see if any images could be got of this Robin-sized visitor.

Upon arrival at the reserve, the car park was full and several cars were parked on the road, a total of 40 vehicles were counted, such was the draw of this showy individual. A group of birders/twitchers/photographers, call them what you will were noted about half way down the entrance track where the bird had been reported from. I made my way and upon arrival the bird duly showed, hopping around on the sun baked track, looking for morsels to eat. I laid down next to the track and waited. The bird was showing ridiculously well and after a while came extremely close to me, where I got the images that I have posted. At one point he came too close for my camera to focus!

Since then, crowds have been steadily dripping to this little reserve on the Lincolnshire border, but unfortunately the poorer side of birding/twitching/photography has come to the fore. The bird is being harassed, due, in part to some individuals placing mealworms on the track in order for the bird to come closer. The bird is eating this food, but consequently is not showing for quite as long periods due to the fact that it doesn't need to forage and then when it has fed, it just sits in the reeds to digest the food. This has led to certain people and at points, groups, crashing into the reed bed in order to flush the bird so they can see it. When these people have been asked politely if they wouldn't mind doing that, individuals have been met with a barrage of abuse and name calling, being told that the habitat didn't matter, it's only a bit of reed bed and grass and that they had to see the bird. The bird has, unsurprisingly become more elusive over time, but hopefully, in time the crowds will diminish and the bird will be left alone.