Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Not just Knot

At this time of year huge numbers of wading birds descend on our shores in Britain to spend the winter months. They come in their thousands, none more so than the Knot. At least 300,000 of these birds are thought to over-winter here and a visit to any of our major estuaries will get you views of this lovely little wader. The photo above shows a small flock of these birds, although there are other species mixed in, can you spot them? (click on the photo to make it bigger)

Knot breed in the Arctic and those that we see in Britain and Ireland mostly breed in Arctic Canada. They arrive in August and then start to make they way back in May. The oldest Knot survived for over 16 years. A useless piece of information is, that they are supposed to be named after King Canute (or Knut to give him his proper name), he of the turning back the tides fame, because of their tendency to be seen on the shoreline. Other birds are to be seen on the shore, so I don`t really know why the Knot was chosen?

Another bird that arrives on our shores is the humble Dunlin. These birds do breed in Britain, some 9,500 pairs, but birds from Iceland, northern Europe and Russia arrive in the autumn to spend the winter in slightly warmer climes. These birds bring the wintering population to over 700,000 individuals.

A visit to any estuary during our colder months will give you fantastic views of large numbers of differing species, a very highly recommended day out. Go at high tide to give the best chance of close views, but when you are looking at flocks of several thousand, you don`t need to be too close to witness this spectacle of nature.

Monday, 17 October 2011

On reflection

My computer has been down for a week and I have felt almost at a loose end! It is now back in working order (for the time being) and I am trying to catch up with various things that I am sure weren`t that important, but with the computer age have become so vital as to be worrying! I have not been idle on the birding front, although it still seems to be extremely quiet on the local scene and will endeavour to post some of my photos in due course. For the time being I hope this digiscoped image of a balancing Redshank (with a Dunlin in close attendance) is as pleasing on the eye to you as it is to me.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Pectoral Sandpiper

A few weeks ago I put up a post showing what I mistakenly thought to be a Pectoral Sandpiper, a bird that is a regular visitor to our shores in the U.K. I was shown to be incorrect in my assumption, but this time, I am showing some rather distant record shots of a juvenile `Pec` that was present at Frampton Marsh last weekend.

The bird is the larger one of the two in the last photo and the middle sized one in the other two. The other birds digiscoped are a Ruff (the larger one) and a Little Stint (the smaller one). I suppose the photos, if nothing else, give a useful comparison to wader size and shape.

The bird had given me the run-around earlier by disappearing for an hour just before we arrived on site and despite searching we were unable to re-find it, but on returning to the visitor centre I noticed a large group of birders excitedly looking through scopes and binoculars in the area that we had just walked from, a 15 minute walk. Typical, I thought! I was not, however, going to let this bird defeat me and so, I set off to finally `bag` this American wader. On arrival, the bird was showing well, if distantly and was then joined by the other two waders in the shots, giving the useful size comparison and then flew, never to be seen again! I got there just in time!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

More LBD shots

These are the last of the photo`s of the Long-billed Dowitcher from Sunday. The bottom one gives a rough idea of the size of the bird when compared to the Oystercatcher behind.

A top bird which gave the assembled crowd a good show!

Monday, 3 October 2011

Long-billed Dowitcher

The local patch is a bit stagnant at the moment, to say the least, can`t even rustle up a Dunlin! With this in mind I decided to stretch my `birding` wings a bit further on Sunday and see if I could catch up with the Long-billed Dowitcher at Freiston Shore in Lincolnshire. This place is only 40 miles away from where I live, so not too far and an easy enough drive.

The bird was easy enough to find, with approximately 40 birders staring through a hawthorn edge, it kind of gave the game away! It was constantly feeding, its head was in the water more than not and so the photo opportunities came few and far between, but I managed a few passable shots and these are the first of several that I will eventually post (I have got quite a few that I want to put up here, but not in one go).

The Long-billed Dowitcher is a vagrant to our shores, breeding in North America and East Siberia, but there are several records every year. The bird (to my eyes) is a bit like a cross-between a Common Snipe and a Black-tailed Godwit, indeed the bird is Snipe sized, with a very long bill and fairly long greenish legs.

After a lifetime of `local` birding and only venturing out further on holidays and rare occasions, I am slowly building a longer list of seen birds as this was another `lifer` to go in the book!