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.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

White-rumped Sandpiper

Back on the 22nd October Lisa and I paid a visit to Rutland Water to see the lingering adult White-rumped Sandpiper. The bird had been around for a few days and I saw it as a good chance of getting this wader on my British list.

On arrival at the reserve we quickly realised that we were not going to be alone in seeing this bird as the car park was full, with the overflow car park overflowing! We eventually managed to park and after paying, started our long walk to what is the furthest hide on the reserve from the visitor centre. We passed many binocular wearing and scope carrying birders who all assured us that the bird was still showing, so we pressed on.

We arrived at the rather full hide, which conveniently is quite a massive construction and were put onto the bird straight away by a very helpful birder. The sandpiper was hanging around with a group of Dunlin, which didn`t aid me in picking out the bird. To the uninitiated (i.e. me!) the birds looked pretty similar (see the last but one photo below), but after being shown the i.d. features by the same helpful birder I managed to get my eye in and was actually able to point the bird out when new arrivals came into the hide.

The White-rumped Sandpiper breeds in North America, is a little smaller than the Dunlin and has quite a bold white eye-stripe. The wings of the bird are also quite long, in fact they project beyond the tail. Also, it has a white rump, which is obvious in flight and helpfully the bird at Rutland showed all these features off rather well.

Another tick in the book!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Canaries on The Canaries

What trip to the Canary Islands is complete without seeing this lovely little finch, which is the original form of the domestic Canary? This bird is pretty common on Tenerife and can be seen almost anywhere, from the forests on Mount Teide to the chain link fences in the town of Puerto de la Cruz. It breeds on all of the Canary Islands (except Fuerteventura and Lanzarote) and also on the island of Madeira.

Compared to the domestic Canary this bird is quite dull, but for me is the more beautiful. The male still sings quite beautifully and when you hear this beautiful song in the wild you would never want to see one of these birds in a cage again.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Dragons and Lizards

Another group of shots from my recent trip to Tenerife.

The lizards were everywhere, basking on rocks in the sun. There is a species that is endemic to the Canary Islands, the Canary Island lizard, not sure if the photos below show this species or not, some I.D. pointers would be appreciated!

Dragonflies are something that I am starting to get to grips with in the U.K. and so when I saw a few flying around I tried to get some shots. The Red-veined Darter (if I am wrong with this I.D. I would love to know) was seen around the swimming pool of our hotel and perching very conveniently poolside! The Scarlet Dragonfly was a new species to me and was seen by a lily pond on a visit to the Parque Taoro in Puerto de la Cruz. Another species een was the magnificent Emperor Dragonfly, but I was unable to get any shots of this beast!

All photos taken using my other camera Lumix FS15

Thursday, 17 November 2011


The Monarch butterfly is also known as The Milkweed butterfly. The caterpillars of this spectacular butterfly feed on the milkweed plant, which is not found in the U.K. and so this remains an extremely rare visitor to our shores. Thankfully, this `flutter` is resident on the Canary Islands (except Lanzarote) and so, on my recent holiday there the skies were full of them.

Neither myself, or Lisa have ever seen these butterflies `in the flesh`, so to speak, and so we were completely taken aback at how big they are. The first one we saw I mistook for a small bird flying from a bird of paradise plant, how wrong I was.

In the Canary Islands this butterfly is polyvoltine, that is to say it has multiple flight periods and is continuously brooded, in fact, both the butterfly and the caterpillar is recorded in every month of the year.

Photographs taken using hand-held Canon Powershot A640

What a stunner!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Grey Plover

The Grey Plover is a bird that breeds in the Arctic with adults leaving here in July and August and migrating south. The birds start to arrive on our shores in July with juveniles arriving a month later. They spend the winter on the coasts of Europe, Africa, southern Asia, North and South America and Australia and are capable of flying 6,500 km non-stop.

The bird is known in America as the Black-bellied Plover due to having a stunning black belly in its breeding finery, the pictures below are of a bird in its winter plumage, so not quite as fine. These birds spend the winter months all around the coast of Britain, especially The Wash in East Anglia and will start to migrate north in May. Recently the winter population in Britain has increased with as many as 53,000 birds being present.

The bird below was present at Titchwell RSPB in Norfolk a few weeks back and was surprisingly approachable which lent itself to me being able to get these digiscoped images.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


After what seems an eternity I am finally back `Blogging`. My old computer actually went `PHUTT` and it has taken a while in getting a new one sorted out.

Also, I have just returned from a holiday in Tenerife that was a surprise present from my wife for my 40th birthday and when I say surprise, I mean a complete and utter surprise! Up until the evening of the 29th October I was unaware that we were going on holiday, let alone to such foreign climes as the Canary Islands! I was even allowed to take my birding gear! I am truely blessed in having such an amazing wife!

I will endeavour to post some photos of this trip and the wildlife seen in due course, but I have just found out that the photo software that I have is non-compatible with the new computer! Typical!

I crave forgiveness, dear reader and hope you understand the reasons why I have not visited any blogs of late, but will endeavour to rectify that very shortly.