Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Reed Bunting

The archetypal LBJ (Little Brown Job) is the Reed Bunting. About the size of a House Sparrow and at first glance the same look, but on closer inspection this bird is very different. The male in breeding plumage is a stunning bird, with a pure black head and throat and a broad white collar (the photo`s below are of a male in winter, so not quite as fine looking!). They have a habit of perching on branches and `flicking` their tail feathers which in turn shows the white outer tail feathers to good effect.

This is another bird which has suffered due to agricultural intensification and numbers have dropped by over 50% in the last few years. Thankfully the population seems to have now stabilised, albeit at a much lower level.

During the winter we get these little birds visiting our small garden in Peterborough, the highest number being 16 when the really cold weather was here, but come Spring they disperse to their breeding grounds. A bird that my Dad is extremely jealous of us having on our feeders!

Digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

Monday, 24 January 2011

Shore Lark

The Shore Lark is another migrant to our shores in the winter months. They normally arrive in October and November having flown through Sweden, Denmark and Germany and then crossing the North Sea, which is why they are mostly seen in East Anglia. They make the return trip in March.

In Britain they are normally found by the coast, often feeding along the strand line, or on grazing marsh, dunes or stubble fields that are close to the sea. They breed in mountains above the tree line and on Arctic tundra, although a pair nested in Britain in 1977.

The Shore Lark is also known as the Horned Lark because the male has two small `horns` on top of the crown when in breeding plumage. They are a specially protected species, ensuring full protection if there are further attempts to nest in Britain.

All digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

And now, another short break in proceedings to announce that another award has been bestowed upon my humble blog. This is `The Stylish Blogger` award and has been given by my friend The Mask, for which I am very grateful.
Now the conditions of this award is to tell you 5 of my favourite things and then to pass it on to others, so here goes;
1. My most favourite thing is being married to Lisa (pass the bucket). I know this is corny, but it`s true.
2. My family, all members, both young and old!
3. Obviously, birds (of the feathered variety). Not just birds, but all nature, both pretty and ugly and all that lies in between.
4. The first shoots of Spring and the first frost of Autumn.
5. Having won `The Ashes` in Australia!
Now to pass it on;
1. Gary at klahanie for being truly stylish.
2. Cat at The Whimsical Gardener for taking truly awe inspiring photo`s.
3. Britta at Gardening in high heels, need I say more?
4. Rebecca at The Snee for also being stylish
and finally,
5. Raining Acorns at Raining Acorns.
There all done and dusted!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Clockwork birds

My Mums favourite bird is the Sanderling, a lovely little wader that spends the winter on our shores here in Britain. They leave their breeding grounds in the high Arctic in mid-August with their bodyweight having increased by 60% to provide them with the energy to fly non-stop for 5,000km! They then make the return trip in May or June. The oldest ringed bird survived for 17 years.

The bird is extremely active and restless and runs like a clockwork toy of old, hence why my Mum calls them `windy-up birds`!

Like other waders, the Sanderling needs to feed undisturbed to obtain enough food to sustain their long flight and survive the winter. Unfortunately some local authorities use mechanical beach cleaning equipment which clear beaches of seaweed and other vegetation affecting food supplies.

All digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Nordic Jackdaw

This Jackdaw is showing signs of being from the race `soemmerringii` which is from Finland, Russia and East Europe. You can clearly see the pale half-collar that this race of Jackdaw shows, the race that we commonly see in Britain `spermologus` does not have this collar.

Digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

The Jackdaw looks black at a distance, but at closer range it is dark grey and not black with a blue/grey eye. They are extremely intelligent and can become quite tame where they are not persecuted. A much underated bird.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Wild goose chase

At the weekend I spent an extremely enjoyable day with my parents and my better half, Lisa at Holkham NNR in North Norfolk. We went to see the spectacle that is thousands of Pink-footed Geese feeding on the saltmarsh and surrounding fields.

This goose comes to Britain in the winter to escape the cold of Iceland and Greenland. There are over 240,000 birds that make this trip each year and numbers are on the increase thanks to a number of factors, including larger fields which makes finding food easier and better protection given at the winter roosts. They feed on vegetable matter including grain, winter cereals, potatoes and grass and although they do graze farmland they seldom do any economic damage.

A truly magical spectacle, especially when thousands of these geese fly directly overhead, with the noise being quite unbelievable!

All digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

Friday, 7 January 2011


This flock of 29 Goosander was present at Cuckoo`s Hollow in Werrington today, quite a feat considering the size of the body of water. This species breeds in Britain, mostly in Scotland, northern England and Wales with 2,600 pairs being present. In winter this number increases to around 8,900 birds,some of which migrate from north-east Europe and Russia. Outside the breeding season you often find Goosanders in small groups mostly on freshwater lakes, old gravel workings and reservoirs, but this area in Werrington is very small, but they were certainly feeding well and seemed quite content.

Two females standing on a frozen part of the pond, something you don`t often see.

Female preening

Two males and a female

A pair

Another pair

A hand held shot of part of the flock just to show the size of pond ( I was standing on one bank, you can see the other)
All other photo`s were digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Another year dawns and so with it I begin my yearly quest for a PBC list. I try and see as many species of bird within the Peterborough Bird Club recording area, last year I managed to get 175 species, seeing such beauties as Cattle Egret, Great (White) Egret, Waxwing and Green-winged Teal to name a few, although I missed out on Gannet and Raven. My record is 179, a total I got in 2009, so I would like to reach the heady hights of 180, who knows?

Below are a few shots of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. This is our most common woodpecker with between 25,000-30,000 breeding pairs, although it too has had hard times being all but non-existent in Scotland until 1887 when it re-colonised the country. In more recent times it has benefited from the dead wood resulting from Dutch Elm Disease.

It is similar in size to a Blackbird, with the male (shown here) having a red patch on the back of the head (the female has none and the juvenile has a red centre to its` crown). You may well hear it `drumming` soon, something it does in place of a song and it takes place in late winter and early spring. It is done by drumming its` bill on a branch and lasts for about 5 seconds and accelerates before fading away at the end.

Digiscoped using Lumix FS15 and Kowa TSN-883 x30