Thursday, 28 April 2011


A couple of very obliging Bar-tailed Godwits dropped into Maxey GP this evening. They looked to be female because of their brown plumage (the males at this time of year are almost brick red) and the length of their bill. They were quite happy feeding away and are a very welcome addition to my PBC year list.

Digiscoped using Canon Powershot A640 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

This bird is a close relation to the Black-tailed Godwit that I mentioned in a previous posting, but is slightly smaller with a slightly upturned bill. Unlike the `Blackwit` this bird has little leg showing above the bend in the leg and it lacks the white wing-bar. The male in Spring has a brick-red face, neck and underparts, with a mottled grey back, the female (shown) is larger than the male with a much longer bill and is less colourful (but still attractive).

The Bar-tailed Godwit does not breed in this country and is seen either on passage or in the winter months. It is a powerful migrant, indeed it has been shown that they are capable of flying across the Pacific Ocean in a single stage. One bird has flown from New Zealand to China without stopping, a distance of 11,026km!

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


Digiscoped using Canon Powershot A640 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

There is something primeval about the Cormorant, something Pterodactyl-like.

A large bird, the size of a large goose, it has come into conflict with commercial fishing interests due to its` fondness for eating fish and there have been calls for their numbers to be controlled.

The population in Britain and Ireland is thought to be around 12,000 pairs, with some coastal colonies declining, but inland colonies appear to be increasing. Outside of Britain and Ireland these birds breed across Scandinavia, Europe, Russia, China, India, parts of Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Iceland and a few birds even breed in North America.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Walk like an Egyptian

Digiscoped using Canon Powershot A640 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

The Egyptian Goose is thought to have been introduced into Britain from South Africa in the late 1700`s and by the 1960`s there was a small population in Norfolk which has grown and expanded into new areas. Numbers are increasing at Rutland Water (where these photo`s were taken) and they are now colonising several midland counties, including Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

Egyptian Geese are larger than a Shelduck, with long pink legs and a small pink bill. They are buff coloured with a reddish-brown back, pale grey underparts and have a dark mark on the breast. The head and neck are paler, with a brown patch around the eye and there is a narrow neck band. The wings are dark with a green speculum and an obvious white wing patch.

There are estimated to be around 1,000 individuals of this species, with 700 of these thought to be breeding adults. The population is thought to be increasing rapidly. In Africa this bird is widespread south of the Sahara Desert and also on the upper Nile in Egypt.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Speckled Wood

Taken with Canon Powershot A640

The Speckled Wood is a butterfly with a greater tolerance of shade than most butterflies and is found in dappled woodland glades, hence the name. This butterfly may also be found along lanes and wooded hedgerows and often visits gardens, infact these photo`s were taken in one of the larger gardens I work in. The Speckled Wood likes to feed on aphid honeydew from leaves, but does occasionally visit flowers late in the season.

Uniquely among British butterflies, the Speckled Wood can overwinter as a caterpillar or a chrysalis, which can mean up to three broods, the first of which appears in late March and the last mid-October.

This butterfly had been in decline, but in the 1930`s their range has greatly increased and is now a common butterfly throughout the Midlands and southwards, as well as Wales, Ireland and certain parts of Scotland.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Encouraging signs ; An update

The Blue Tits have finally started nest building in the box they were checking out a few weeks ago. There have been a few worrying moments, most notably when the local moggy took an interest and started sitting on top of the box, hence the rather `pointy` screws in the new photo, hopefully these will keep the cats at bay without causing any hurt! Other than that the pair are doing a fine job and will hopefully in time lay some eggs. I will report again with any progress.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Another Wheatear

Have been away for a few days and so have not had a chance to get out and do any birding, so here are some shots of a male Wheatear that I managed to see last week. This bird was, again at Maxey GP and was favouring the bank where the rabbits have kept the grass nice and short and their burrows provide some good cover for the Wheatears.

All digiscoped using Canon Powershot A640 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Black-tailed Godwits

We are lucky in the Peterborough area to have The Nene Washes RSPB reserve on our doorstep. This site is a nationally important one for breeding wading birds such as the Common Snipe and the Black-tailed Godwit. Each year these birds breed on this area of managed floodland and pasture which gives people a chance to view these amazing birds at quite close quarters.

Digiscoped using Canon Powershot A640 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

The Black-tailed Godwit is a large wader with a long, straight bill, long black legs and a long neck. In Spring the head, neck and breast are chestnut red, with the belly being white with dark bars and the back is mottled grey/brown.

By 1855 this bird had stopped breeding in Britain, but in 1952 nesting started at the Ouse Washes and then some birds of the Icelandic race began nesting in Scotland. The RSPB have given this bird special protection and consequently a few more breeding colonies have become established. In 2002 around 50 pairs nested in Britain, mostly on the Nene and Ouse Washes (both RSPB reserves). The bird does, however migrate to this country in the winter, indeed the estimated numbers that do over-winter are around 12,000 in Britain and 8,000-10,000 in Ireland. In Europe this birds numbers are declining due to land drainage.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


All photo`s digiscoped using Canon Powershot A640 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

This male Blackcap was perched in the open on one of my visits to Maxey GP on Saturday morning. He was heard singing, but when the camera went on him he seemed to go quiet.

The Blackcap is another visitor to our shores during the summer months, although they are increasingly over-wintering in Britain, especially in the south of the country.

They are slightly smaller than a House Sparrow, but one of the larger warblers. The male (shown in the photo`s) has grey-brown upperparts, grey underparts and a black crown and forehead which extends to the level of the eye. The female is browner with a brown cap. First winter birds are like a duller version of the female.

Blackcaps are widely distributed throughout the British Isles and tend to be found in deciduous or mixed woodland, copses, thickets and also in mature gardens and parks. There are over 590,000 territories in the U.K., a number that has increased since the late 1970`s as the species has moved northwards.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Common Tern

Digiscoped using Canon Powershot A640 and Kowa TSN-883 x30

The first few Common Terns have been arriving back at Ferry Meadows CP over the past couple of days.

This bird is smaller than a Black-headed Gull with silver/grey back and wings and pale grey underparts. The bill is orangey red with a dark tip and fairly short red legs. The juvenile is grey, white and black with a ginger back, a pale forehead and a pink or yellow bill with a dark tip which becomes progressively darker over the summer.

The Common Tern breeds inland and on shingle and sandy beaches. It also nests on man-made rafts that are anchored in lakes and occasionally nests on flat roofs. They feed in lakes, reservoirs and rivers. Their food is mainly fish, small herring, sprats and sand-eels and in fresh water they catch roach, perch and minnows, but they also eat insects, especially cockchafers and water beetle larvae.

After nesting some birds travel north before the whole population flies south to arrive at their winter sites in November or December which are south of the equator. First year birds remain in West Africa and in their second summer they travel north and arrive mid-way through the breeding season. The bird does not breed until it is 3 or 4 years old. The oldest ringed bird was 33 years old. There are thought to be around 13,000 pairs that breed in Britain.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Encouraging signs

Yesterday morning I noticed a pair of Blue Tits prospecting the home-made nest box that is attatched to our back fence (this box was used last year by a pair of Blue Tits). They were taking it in turns to go in and out and making several journeys to and fro. I have yet to notice any nesting material being taken into the box, but I am keeping my fingers crossed!