Thursday, 29 December 2011

Heads and Tails, the answers!

First prize goes to Dave for correctly identifying three of the birds and second to Andrew for getting two. The correct answers are shown below.

 Common Snipe
 Reed Bunting (male)
 Spotted Flycatcher
Yellow Wagtail (male)

May I take this opportunity to thank everyone who has looked at this blog over the past year and I hope you will continue to do so in the New Year. Normal service will be resumed soon and I shall start posting sightings again!

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Heads and tails

Here is another go at a little `quiz`. I think that I have made it slightly easier than the last one, but then again, when you know the answers it is easy!

Below are 5 photos of different birds, some of their tails and some of their heads or part of their head! Can you  guess what species they are?

As I have said, I think this is a bit easier, but I will give some clues.

One of these birds feeds as its name suggests and is also known as a Sea Dotterel. Another has an alternative name in Scotland of a Heather Bleater. The third is known as a Reed Sparrow. The fourth is one of my favourite little migrants and is becoming a pretty rare sight nowadays, you have to go to church to see one!? The final one is a very brightly coloured bird that is also a migrant and has an alternative of Barley Bird.

All of these birds are seen in the U.K. and have appeared in my blog. I will put the answers up after Christmas.

May I take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year and to thank you all for your continued support for my humble little blog!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The Eye`s have it! The answers

Below are the `answers` to the little quiz I posted the other day. The photos are now shown in `all their glory` and hopefully you can see the birds now! First prize goes to Chris Orders (and no, I didn`t tell him the answers), he got three of the breeds correct, just not in the right order!

Northern Wheatear
Long-billed Dowitcher
Grey Plover (Black-bellied Plover in America)
Juvenile Robin
Little Stint

I am going to put another quiz up in the next couple of days, but will make that one a little bit easier!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The Eye`s have it!

Below are 5 photos of birds eyes. Can you tell which species of bird they are from? No prizes, just for fun!

I will post the answers in a few days!

I suppose I ought to give a few clues!
These birds all appear on my blog in their "full" glory within the last six months and some are always on show.
They are all birds seen in Britain, but are not necessarily all British birds.
Three are wading birds, one of these having a very different name in America than in the U.K. and one of these was a `lifer` for me this year.
One is a youngster of a very common British bird we associate with Christmas.
One has an alternative name of White-arse and another is also known as a Brown Sandpiper.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Black-tailed Godwit

Another set of `digiscoped` images from my recent trip to north Norfolk of which I am quite pleased.

I don`t know whether it is the large number of visitors that Titchwell has that makes the birds quite relaxed, but you are able to get quite close without seeming to disturb them. This lends itself to being able to get half-decent shots like the ones above.

Thursday, 8 December 2011


Another site visited in Norfolk was the beach at Salthouse in order to see Snow Buntings. This site is normally a very reliable one at which to see these lovely little visitors, however on this occasion, there were none present. I wasn`t too disheartened though as there were some very obliging Turnstones that seemed quite unperturbed by my presence which allowed me to get the shots below.

This is a bird that does not breed in Britain, although there are strong indications of possible breeding in Scotland, indeed the ones that we see in this country breed in northern Europe, Greenland and north-east Canada. The ones from northern Europe pass through Britain in July and August on their way to winter in Africa. Those from Canada and Greenland arrive in Britain between August and October and remain until May when they will return to their breeding grounds. Some 64,000 of these birds spend the winter around our coastline, a number which has dropped in the last ten years, possibly due to changes in shellfish distribution.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Western Sandpiper

A Semipalmated Sandpiper was reported from Cley Marshes in north Norfolk on Monday of last week and I toyed with the idea of going to see it, as Norfolk is not too far and it would have been a lifer. On Thursday this bird had been re-identified as a Western Sandpiper, an extremely rare vagrant to our shores in the U.K., a MEGA if you will. A couple of conversations with my friend Chris Orders later and we had decided to `go for` this bird on Saturday morning, work delaying us both until then.

Chris picked me up at about 6.45am as we planned to get to Cley by 8.15am. The journey was uneventful and we made good time, pulling up at the car park of this reserve at 8.10am. To our surprise there were very few cars parked and so we began to think the worst, the bird had flown away in the night, but no, a member of staff appeared and informed us the bird was present and showing well. We quickly walked to the hide and entered the hush where we were very kindly put on to the bird which was quite distant, but quite easily picked out. At this time there were only 9 people present, ourselves included and so we enjoyed good scope views of this lovely little bird. The hide slowly began to fill and so we left, letting others have the views we had just enjoyed. On returning to the car park, it was a lot more full than when we arrived and more cars were arriving, we obviously chose the right time to get there!

A much easier `twitch` than we both had imagined and a lifer for us both. Below are a couple of `extreme` record shots of the bird as it never really got very close, but in my minds eye I have some very good `photos`!

Thank you to Chris for driving.

I apologise for these photos as they are not what I would normally post, but the bird was something special and so I had to have some sort of record, even one as bad as this!

The Western Sandpiper is a very small north American wader, the size of a House Sparrow and this is only the 6th time that this species has been recorded on mainland Britain, the rarest of the American stints in Europe.

Whilst we were in Norfolk we also visited a couple of other sites, which will be in future posts.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011


The Lapwing is a bird that has many names. Peewit is one of the more common, a name it gets from its rather weezy, drawn-out call. It is also known as the Green Plover.

This is a widespread breeding species across Britain, breeding mainly on farmland, especially among crops grown in spring where there is bare soil and short grass. It also breeds on pastures, wet grassland, fens, bogs, marshes and even industrial sites, basically anywhere there is bare ground and damp areas for the chicks to feed. In the winter this bird forms large flocks that tend to be seen on lowland farmland, but during cold weather these flocks can move the slightly warmer coast.

Another farmland bird that has had a drastic drop in numbers over the past few years, partly due to changes in agriculture, especially the move from spring to autumn sowing of cereal crops. It is not a rare bird, 240,000 pairs breed in Britain, with over 2 million individuals in the winter months that arrive from Russia and eastern Europe but the breeding population has fallen by over 49% in the past 11 years.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Two small flutters

Photos taken using Lumix FS15

These butterflies were fairly common in Puerto de la Cruz, especially the African Grass Blue which was found everywhere around the town. The Geranium Bronze was seen in fewer numbers and mostly where there were Pelargoniums growing.

The African Grass Blue (the last two photographs) is a very small butterfly similar in size to the Little Blue which we see in the U.K. and is found in the Canary Islands throughout the year in overlapping broods. It doesn`t seem to be affected by the development that is going on throughout the islands, in fact in Tenerife it is becoming more common. A lovely little butterfly that is very active and doesn`t like staying in the same spot for long periods of time!

The Geranium Bronze (the first three photographs) originates from South Africa and was accidentally introduced to the Balearic Islands through the importation of Pelargoniums. With the popularity of these plants this butterfly has continued to spread and is now to be found in Brussels, Rome and also the Canary Islands (obviously). It has even been recorded in Britain. An attractive species, which thrives in warm areas where the pelargonium plants grow all year and it doesn`t need to hibernate, although it is considered to be a pest by some as its larvae will attack every part of the plant except the roots.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

What`s the Anser?

The window of opportunity has been firmly closed just lately, what with the winter nights drawing in earlier and earlier and work being constrained to the few daylight hours we have got in the U.K. at this time of year. Because of this I have been unable to catch up with the long-staying European White-fronted Goose that has been at Ferry Meadows CP for the past week. On Saturday this window was slightly ajar and so I made the trip to the cereal field close to the Nene Valley Railway line where this goose was known to be residing along with a flock of 70 ish Greylag Geese.

The bird was present and seemed to be quite content with feeding amongst its` larger cousins, but the peace was to be shattered with the arrival of an out of control Airedale terrier! The dog bounded across the field intent on getting to the flock of geese, which quickly flew off, with its owners frantically calling the `out of control` animal. On passing me they apologised, saying that he always does that sort of thing! Now, I am an animal lover, indeed Lisa`s job is looking after people`s dogs, but why, if you cannot control your dog do you not walk it on a lead? I only ask, because this incident beggared belief.

This bird represents number 169 for the year in the PBC area, a paltry number when you consider the species that have been seen this year, but I have been either away, or unable to get away from work when these other birds have been seen and they have not lingered. Hopefully, I will reach 170, but time is against me.

The White-fronted goose is the most common European goose, with over 36,000 wintering in Britain and Ireland. They tend to spend the winter in the south of England ( East Anglia and Kent ) and the west, particularly the Severn and Swale estuaries. There are two races of this goose, the European one (the one at Ferry Meadows) and the Greenland race, which tend to winter around Wexford in Ireland.