Thursday, 30 December 2010

Werrington Waxwings,Part 2

Waxwings are everywhere at the moment, you can`t move for them! Obviously this is extremely good news for me and other birdwatchers and as I have previously said, I never tire of seeing or hearing these birds. Their call is a pleasant ringing `sirrrr`, like that of a small bell, check out the RSPB website where you can listen to it!

This flock has been hanging around a mobile home park in Werrington and the flock has fluctuated in size from 18 up to 90! They are extremely nomadic and will move on when they have exhausted the berry supply, which judging from the stripped trees and shrubs won`t be very long!

The light was rubbish and it was extremely misty so not ideal for taking photo`s, but I couldn`t resist!




All digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 X30

Thursday, 23 December 2010

This weather is `Snow` joke!

Spare a thought for our feathered friends during one of the coldest Decembers in recent times. At the moment I am being eaten out of house and home by the large numbers of wild birds that are coming to my little garden in search for food! Not that I mind, I hasten to add.

My feeders are kept topped up and I throw plenty of food on the floor especially for the Thrushes and Blackbirds. Equally important as food is fresh water, which the birds drink and also bathe in, yes you heard correctly, bathe! They do this to keep their feathers in tip top condition which helps them get through the cold nights. Birds have to eat an astonishing amount to keep their fat reserves topped up, even more so in this `extreme` weather that the whole of the U.K. is experiencing, so I urge you all, please feed the birds.


Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)

Great Tit (Parus major)

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Blackbird (Turdus merula)

Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Tree Sparrow

Below are some photo`s of a couple of Tree Sparrows taken at Rutland Water. This little brown bird has had it quite hard over the past few decades, but thankfully here in Peterborough and the surrounding area we have a few thriving populations.

It is slightly smaller and `neater` with a more rounded head than the more familiar House Sparrow. It has a pale collar around the back of the neck, a chocolate brown cap with no grey on the crown and a small isolated dark patch on the cheeks. It also has a double white wing-bar, although this can be difficult to see. Both male and female look alike.

The Tree Sparrow is rather shyer than the House Sparrow and in Europe it is less associated with humans, although in parts of Asia it is common around houses.

The species is mainly sedantry, especially in Britain, but some that breed in northern Europe and Russia do make short migrations with some Conitinental birds crossing the North Sea to reach Britain in autumn and return in spring.

As I said at the beginning this bird has suffered lately with latest figures showing a decline of over 80% in the last 25 years, the biggest of which occured in the 1970`s and 80`s. This decline appears to be linked to intensification of agriculture, especially autumn sowing of crops which reduces the number of stubble fields, on which the birds like to feed and also the use of herbicides and pesticides. The clearance of hedges and trees have also made the survival of winter more difficult. Thankfully there are a few farmers which have halted this decline by changing their farming practices, one of which is Vine House Farm in Deeping St.Nicholas near Peterborough. Others will hopefully join in.






Monday, 13 December 2010

Werrington Waxwings

I warned you!

Below are some more photographs of some more Waxwings! These two were seen in Werrington, north of Peterborough. Yesterday there were up to 13 present, but today, just the two. The light wasn`t as good as yesterday and they are set against a dull grey sky (it had just stopped raining), but the birds still looked stunning and what makes these birds a little bit more special is the fact they are present in the village where I live!




Having a good scratch!

The two in a distant tree (obviously not talking to eachother!)
All digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Waxwing at Langtoft

This lone Waxwing was seen at the village of Langtoft, just outside Peterborough and just over the border in Lincolnshire. There has been a few seen in this location over the past few weeks, but this is the first time I have been able to catch up with one.

I make no apologies for making a second posting about this stunning bird and if there are others found I will probably be doing another! I can really not tire of seeing them!



All digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

Saturday, 11 December 2010

American Wigeon

Below is what is commonly known as `a record shot` of a drake American Wigeon, latin name Anas americana, or as I call it, a rubbish distantly taken photo of a drake American Wigeon! This handsome bird has been at Rutland Water for the past couple of days and as its` name suggests is a rare straggler to these shores from America.

Every year there are approximately 10-20 records of this species in Britain, but this is the first time I have seen one, what is known as a`lifer`. While I was at Rutland Water there were also 5 Smew, 3 Goosander and a Red-breasted Merganser plus a lot of more common wildfowl, but the american was what I went for and now I can put another `tick` in my book!


Digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30





And now a break from normal proceedings to announce that my humble blog has been presented with an award from my friend Gary. It is the `Honest Scrap` award;





Apparently I am now supposed to tell you some facts about myself, but as I am extremely dull and ever so humble, I have found this a bit difficult! Here goes anyway!

1. I do not follow football (soccer). I know this is extremely hard to believe, being male and English, but I just find it dull and the hype that surrounds it is awful! No-one was happier than me when England failed to land the World Cup!
2. I don`t like to see birds in cages. Birds were given wings for a reason and I don`t think that reason is to be shut in a cage!
3. I hate flying, it makes my arms tired! Ha Ha! Seriously, I don`t like flying!
4. I am an uncle to two fantastic children, Olivia and Harry. Great kids, who I am trying to educate in the ways of Birdwatching! (unsuccessfully at the moment)
5. I once played cricket with an England international and a New Zealand international.

There you go, five facts and now to pass this award on to others.

1. The Blogger Formerly Known As.... who started me on this blog adventure and is a constant source of advice, plus I think this is one of the few awards that they have yet to receive!
2. The Whimsical Gardener who takes fantastic photographs of amazing places.
3. Mustang Sally who is also a fantastic photographer.

I would like to pass this on to Bazza, but he has mentioned that he no longer wishes to accept awards, so I just thought I would provide a link anyway!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Sparrowhawk

This Sparrowhawk has been hanging around my garden for the past few weeks, making the odd dash at the Goldfinches and Blackbirds to try and grab himself something to eat. I have yet to see him make be successful.
For the past two years a pair of Sparrowhawks have nested in the small group of trees behind our garden and one always remains over winter. I suppose he is using me feeding smaller birds as his own restaurant, not that I mind too much, it is after all another example of nature adapting to survive!

Digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30
It is a shame that the twig from the Ash tree is in the way, but I hope it doesn`t detract too much from the magnificent bird!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Chinese Water Deer:Part 2

The trip to Woodwalton Fen on Friday 3rd December that I mentioned in my previous post produced the long awaited Bearded Tit (unfortunately no photograph, the little blighter was too quick for me!) and also a Marsh Harrier and Common Buzzard, but the close views I got of Chinese Water Deer were quite amazing!

I must have been in the right place as far as the wind was concerned as the two animals shown below came exremely close, one getting as near as 15 feet before noticing me and making a run for it!




Having a good shake!


This photo was taken by just using the camera, without the `zoom` from my spotting scope, showing how close this deer got to me before noticing my ugly mug and `darting` off!
Below is a video of the deer which is in the first two photo`s. Again, this animal got extremely close until vanishing into the reed bed.

video

The first two photo`s are digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30, the third was hand held Lumix FS15 and the video was videoscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Fieldfare

A while ago I did a posting about the Redwing, I think it`s only fair that I now do one on its cousin, the Fieldfare.

The Fieldfare is a large, plump thrush, slightly smaller than the Mistle Thrush with rather a long tail. It has a grey head with dark streaks, a pale grey rump, chestnut back and wings and a black tail and flight feathers. Its breast is yellow-orange and very spotted. You could say a rather colourful bird!

They are quite common migrants to Britain in the winter months with over a million individuals making the journey from Scandanavia, although there have been attempts at breeding in the highlands of Scotland by a few pairs. They are found in hedgerows and orchards feeding on berries and fruit, particularly rowan, juniper, elder, hawthorn and holly, but it may also be found in open places such as pasture and on ploughed fields where they eat worms and other invertebrates.

I got the shots below whilst visiting Woodwalton Fen, more of which another time.








All Digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Garden Birds

With work being pretty non-existent at the moment due to the weather, I am taking solace in the fact that this cold snap is drawing more birds to my little back garden in Peterborough.
The number of finches has risen in the last few days with Chaffinches being the most numerous, then Goldfinches and then Greenfinches and then today I had my own pair of Bullfinches, if only briefly!

It is pleasing to see that there is still a fair number of Greenfinches and they do not seem to be showing any signs of the disease TRICHOMONOSIS, which is caused by a microscopic parasite which lives in the upper digestive tract of the bird and its actions block the birds` throat, which leads to the bird being unable to swallow. The bird then dies from starvation. The Greenfinch is the species most commonly effected, but all finches can contract the disease and also House Sparrows and Collared Doves.

There are also high numbers of Blue, Great and Long-tailed tits visiting regularly, with Long-tailed tits feeding mostly on the fat balls, whilst the other birds seem to go for the sunflower hearts.

I do feed the wild birds a wide range of food from a number of feeders dotted around the garden which I am making sure are being kept topped up whilst the arctic wind keeps blasting our shores. It will help the birds survive the winter.

Male Bullfinch

Male Chaffinch

Goldfinch

Blue Tit

Great Tit

Robin

Blackbird

Greenfinch

Greenfinch

All digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

Monday, 29 November 2010

Bullfinch

Below are a couple of shots of a male and female Bullfinch. A lovely little bird that has had a drastic fall in numbers in the last 25 years (a drop of between 45 and 50%).

The main food is native tree buds, oak, sallow and hawthorn are all eaten with their taste for fruit buds being their undoing. Indeed the damage inflicted on commercial fruit crops gave the bird the status of an agricultural pest, this giving rise to their culling! They also eat soft fruits and seeds and you can see on the photo`s that their beaks are covered in the rowan berries they have been happily munching on.

There has also been a loss of hedgerows with standard trees and agricultural intensification which are both thought to have helped the decline in numbers.

Male

Female

Digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 X30

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Waxwings

It`s been a while coming, but finally I have seen a fairly large flock of Waxwings and not only that, but they were on my local patch of Peterborough. These birds were seen in a car park of a local business park on Friday the 26th and were still showing today, sometimes down to 20 yards! There were up to 55 birds in total, ranging from 1st winters to full adults.

The Waxwing is a species which has `eruption` years, that is to say that most years we can get 100 or so birds in the whole of the country, but on `eruption` years, several thousand can be present, this is one such year! They breed in northern Scandinavia and Siberia and come to
Britain when their food source is depleted. The favourite food is berries (indeed a Waxwing can eat 2 or 3 times its own bodyweight in a day), rowan, whitebeam and hawthorn, but they also eat cotoneaster, rose-hips and other winter fruits and seeds. On their breeding grounds they eat insects, especially mosquitoes and midges.

The Waxwing is slightly smaller than a Starling with a prominent crest, black bib, small black mask, a yellow tipped tail and a pattern on the wings of yellow and white, with the secondary flight feathers having a series of `spikes` which look like bright red wax, hence the name Waxwing.

A truly stunning bird!




















All digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 X30