Saturday, 12 April 2014

Pied-billed Grebe at Rutland Water

I received a phone call on Wednesday afternoon from my friend Chris Orders to inform me that a pretty rare bird had been reported from Rutland Water, a 3* mega rarity in the shape of a Pied-billed Grebe, no less! This small bird is a normally found in America, although a couple can turn up over here every year, and I had yet to add it to my life list, a twitch was on the cards!

With the evenings now drawing out that little bit more I was able to finish work, get home and ready in time for Chris to pick me up and by 6.45pm we were enjoying views of this lovely little bird, quite happily swimming around the small bay close to the sailing club. Another tick!

The Pied-billed Grebe is a little larger than 'our' Little Grebe and in breeding plumage has the obvious thick, heavy, pied bill, a giveaway if seen well. In fact, so similar are these two birds that in 1993 an adult Pied-bill paired with a Little Grebe in Cornwall and hatched three young!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Baikal Teal at Fen Drayton RSPB

A very dodgy 'record' digiscoped shot of a potentially dodgy bird at the RSPB reserve of Fen Drayton lakes in Cambridgeshire. A quote from the Collins Bird Guide 2nd edition "Very rarely seen in Europe and arguably doubtful whether any record involves a genuine straggler". This, however has not stopped a number of people (including myself) making the trip along the A14 in order to get a glimpse of this bird that is normally found in Russia and East Asia.

After a 30 minute walk from the car park Lisa and myself arrived at the birds location and was soon put onto it by a fellow birder. It was rather a long way away to put it mildly and we were told that it was closer from the hide where we walked to next. On entering the hide we were greeted by a handful of birders and the bird was indeed nearer, but still at least a few hundred metres away! We settled down in anticipation of it coming a bit nearer. It didn't, hence the digiscoped shot above and this even more dodgy shot from my DSLR

The bird was seen out of the water at one point and does not appear to have any rings and there doesn't appear to be any damage to wings or other plumage that can be attributed to an escapee (this breed is very popular in wildfowl collections and often escapes). Time will tell whether it is accepted as a truly wild bird, but whatever the outcome, it is most definitely a 'cracking' example of a male duck in all its' breeding finery.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Barnacle Geese

I have only ever seen one Barnacle Goose before, a somewhat dubious individual that was frequenting Deeping High Bank last year. I 'ticked' it anyway, but always hankered after a truly 'wild' bird. That hankering was achieved with a trip to Caerlaverock WWT close to Dumfries, there were thousands of them, possibly as many as 20,000!

The area in question is well known for these geese in the winter months where they spend their time feeding on the surrounding fields and marshland in preparation for their journey back to Spitsbergen. An amazing sight and sound as these geese took to the skies in unison as they came to roost close by.

A lone individual
As ever, click on the photos for a larger picture, the flock photos look 'better' the larger they are.

Monday, 10 March 2014


On arrival at our cottage we both noticed some feeders in the front garden with a couple of bits of stale bread in them, but still being visited by a couple of Blue Tits. We managed to get hold of some peanuts and half coconuts filled with fat to see if we could entice some more birds to visit, I even managed to fix a more natural perch in the form of an old tree branch close to the feeders in the hope of a bird landing there before using the feeders. In the morning the feeders were full of 3 species of Tit, Coal, Blue and Great, all happily feeding away until the arrival of a Nuthatch which caused all the other birds to disappear. He wouldn't sit on that blessed tree branch though, so I am afraid you are stuck with these 'unnatural' looking shots.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Red Kites

Have just got back from some time away in Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway to be precise and have got hundreds of photos to go through and dispose of. Some that I have already looked at are the ones taken on the first day at a Red Kite feeding station close to a place called Laurieston in the Galloway Hills.
The Red Kite has had a breeding programme and release schedule in Galloway for a few years and a feeding station set up on a private farm called Bellymack Hill Farm. This place regularly gets 100 kites coming to meat that is put out at 2 o'clock every day, come rain or shine and is an ideal way to get up close and personal with these magnificent birds. Shame the clouds were thick and the sun hard to come by on our visit, but that was to be the story of the entire week we were away!

More photos will follow of other creatures and some scenery.

Monday, 17 February 2014