Thursday, 29 September 2011

Little Stint

The Little Stint is a tiny wader that is smaller than a House Sparrow.

The bird breeds in the Arctic where it nests on the ground in late June. The female can lay one clutch of eggs and leave their care to the male while she will incubate a second clutch. The young hatch quite quickly, after only 20 days and the young can fly at 17 days old.

It is a long distance migrant, leaving the Arctic in August. It moves on a broad front across land as far as possible and starts to moult on arrival at the Mediterranean. It will then fly to Africa where it overwinters. The bird is commonly seen in Britain, especially the juveniles (one of which is shown in the above photo`s) during the Autumn migration where it visits the edge of lakes and reservoirs and sheltered estuaries and brackish pools near the coast. It feeds by picking food from the surface or from water, rarely probing in mud. Its food consists of insects, small worms, tiny shellfish, shrimps and some plant material.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Up Close

All photos taken using hand-held Canon Powershot A640
Ivy is an important plant for late flying insects. The nectar its flowers supply are a vital supply of food to these insects, especially butterflies, with the Red Admiral often being seen on this plant at, as is the Comma.

Some people consider ivy to be an invasive plant, clinging to walls and drying out mortar, thus damaging brickwork and if left unchecked can quickly swamp a flower border and even a lawn. This is true, but if managed properly, it is an extremely important plant for nature. Birds nest in it and eat the berries in winter and insects of all sorts adore it as a food source and also a home.

A vital plant for any garden worth its salt as a nature garden.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


Today was a bit wet and miserable and reminded me of the trip to Frampton Marsh I mentioned many posts ago. During the majority of the time Lisa and I spent on the site it rained, not just a few spots, but great deluges of the stuff! It didn`t stop birds from being present though and none more so than the Ruff. Everywhere you looked there were Ruffs (or is the plural for Ruff just Ruff?), including a very confiding one that came quite close giving me a chance to get the two top photo`s.

A wet trip, but a good trip.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Sabine`s Gull

Spent Thursday evening at Grafham Water with Chris Orders catching up with this lingering adult Sabine`s Gull. Chris has seen many of these birds, but I really need to get out more as this was a `lifer` for me. The bird was relatively tame and we enjoyed extremely close views, but the light was against us and the shots are pretty rubbish when you compare them with other shots that have been taken of this bird.

The Sabine`s Gull is a bird that breeds on the Arctic shores of north-east Siberia, Canada, Greenland and Spitsbergen. The birds from Canada and Greenland migrate through the Atlantic to winter off south-west Africa and these birds can be blown in our direction during autumn storms. We have had the tail-end of the American hurricane/tropical storm and consequently a few of these birds have been popping up all over the place. Indeed, a juvenile was present in Peterborough the other day for about 15 minutes and was only seen by one birder (gutted!). The largest numbers of these birds are recorded off south-west England and Ireland and apparently inland records are fairly rare.

This is a fairly small gull, between a Little Gull and a Black-headed Gull and in silhouette is most similar to a Kittiwake. Unfortunately, the distinctive wing pattern is only seen in flight, a shot that I seem to find very difficult in getting by `digiscoping`, but can be seen here.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Swallow still feeding

The Swallows at one of my places of work are still feeding a brood of 4, which is their second brood this year (the first had 5 successfully fledge). I only hope that they manage to fledge in time and build up their fat reserves for their long trip to South Africa. The young do look pretty ready to fly the nest, they just seem a bit reluctant to make that final leap!

I took the shots below through a gap at the top of a door, so I wouldn`t disturb the birds. I only intended to get a shot of the nest, but as you can see from the first photo I got lucky with one of the adults flying in to feed the young. It`s a shame that the adults tail is a bit wonky, or is that me just being picky?!

Hand-held using Canon Powershot A640

Thursday, 8 September 2011


This Spoonbill was present on the Nene Washes RSPB near Peterborough yesterday and today. It was pretty elusive yesterday and was not relocated after initially being seen on the river close to the reserve, but today it was showing very well on the reserve itself. This represents the first recording of this species in the PBC area since August 2008 (as far as I am aware), and is a very welcome addition to my PBC year list which has now reached 166 species.

The photographs below are only `record` shots as the bird was some distance away and the final images have been pretty heavily cropped, but the bird can clearly be seen feeding with its particular `sweeping` motion of its unusually shaped bill. To see a Spoonbill this active makes a pleasant change as normally when you see them they are asleep with their bill tucked under their wing.

This bird looks to be a juvenile and is probably from mainland Europe, where they are known to disperse from in August, although this species does breed in small numbers in Britain. The majority of these birds will spend the winter around the Mediterranean and West Africa, although some do stay in Britain.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Wet Whinchat

Or also known as Whinchat Wednesday!

This Whinchat was present on a visit to Frampton Marsh at the weekend (more of which later) and was obviously suffering from the torrential downpour that had happened and was still happening when taking the photograph below.

But what a difference a bit of dry weather makes! The photos below are of the same bird, although it looks like a different species!

Monday, 5 September 2011

There be Dragons!

All photos taken using hand-held Canon Powershot A640

Dragonflies are in abundance at the moment, none more so than the species in the above photographs, the Migrant Hawker and most abundant of all, the Common Darter.

Photographing these insects can be quite frustrating as they tend to fly at the slightest disturbance. The Common Darter, though tends to return to the same perch and so, you are able to wait in readiness, camera in hand and hope that you can rattle off a few shots before the beast flies away again. That is what I was able to do with the above photos and with the Migrant Hawker, I just got lucky!

I am quite pleased with these photos, especially the Common Darter ones. I know they aren`t anything special artistically, but they are pretty sharp.

You are able to catch up with these dragonflies for a while as their flight period lasts until October and in mild autumns the Common Darter has been seen in November and in rare instances, December.