Monday, 27 February 2012

Corn Bunting

On my recent visit to Eye Green LNR I was greeted by a joyous sound. All around me was the sound of `jangling keys`, the song of the Corn Bunting. This bird has had an horrendous time just lately with numbers thought to be 85% less than 25 years ago, although in Peterborough we are fortunate to have a fairly healthy population. It was a wonderful sight to see and hear at least 40 of these chunky buntings that were in a mixed flock which included Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Pink-footed Goose

This Pink-footed Goose was in amongst a gaggle of Greylag Geese today at Eye Green LNR (the scene of the Scaup sighting earlier in the week). He was on his own, although there was another present yesterday when the two were again found by Josh Jones.

This bird does not represent a new year `tick` for me, but was showing remarkably close at times and so provided me with some good views. It`s just a shame that the sun refused to come out whilst I was on site which has led to these dull shots. For some better photos of this lovely little goose,click HERE.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Mute Swan

After doing a few posts on the swans we have over-wintering with us in the U.K. I thought it only fair to do one on our more familiar swan, the Mute Swan.

One of our largest birds, graceful, serene, but can also be fairly aggressive if you get too close to one with young. It is mostly silent, hence the name, but does make a loud hiss when angry and other snorting sounds. You can be alerted to one (or two) flying overhead by a loud, throbbing `waou waou` noise made by their wings. They tend to mate for life and can live for over 20 years.

A truly beautiful bird which, contrary to common folk lore, cannot break your arm!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Greater Scaup

Last year I missed the only Scaup that had been noted in our area in 2011, a female that was present for 1 day. A week and a half ago Josh Jones found a first-winter drake at a local reservoir whilst waiting for the gull roost to materialize, but I was unable to get to the site that evening. When I was able to get there the bird had disappeared! I thought that my chance had gone, but on Sunday this bird was found on a local nature reserve at Eye Green, just outside Peterborough, but inside the PBC recording area. I was there like a shot and managed my first views of a Scaup in our area for two years.

Number 114 for the year.

The Scaup (as it is more commonly known in the U.K.) is a winter visitor to our shores, with at least 7,500 individuals around our coastline, although each year a few pairs attempt to breed in northern Scotland, which have, as yet, been unsuccessful.

It tends to be a coastal species in Britain, being seen either on the sea, or on lakes near the sea. It does occur on reservoirs and freshwater lakes inland, although they are a much scarcer bird here.

A bird that is very similar to the more common Tufted Duck, indeed the Scaup does interbreed with this species and produces hybrids, which can cause identification confusion. The drake has a black head with a greenish sheen and no tuft, with a grey back and white sides and a black tail. The duck is dark brown with a variable pale patch at the base of the bill.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Rubbish gull

Not literally, just the location in which it was found!

I found this adult Mediterranean Gull at Dogsthorpe rubbish tip this morning in amongst a group of Black-headed Gulls. A lovely bird that is practically in full summer plumage and it was present along with a 2nd winter Med Gull and a Yellow-legged Gull which looked like a 3rd winter bird to me, but I am no expert. There were no signs of any white wingers, but the majority of the larger gulls were seen to be present on the non-accessible side of the tip, so yesterdays Iceland Gull could have been there.

The above photos show the birds` position in the group and then I have cropped the pictures to show the Med Gull a bit closer. It is the bird that is continuously in the centre of frame.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Kumlien`s Gull, possibly

This large white-winged gull has been making frequent visits to Frampton Marsh RSPB for the past week or so and has caused some excitement by showing signs of being a Kumlien`s Gull. Myself and Chris Orders paid a visit on Sunday to see the gull for ourselves.

This type of gull is commonly regarded as a hybrid of an Iceland Gull and Thayer`s Gull, or a sub-species of Iceland Gull, indeed its latin name is Larus glaucoides kumlieni which basically means Iceland Kumlien`s Gull. Very confusing.

The major identification point of this gull is the darker parts of its plumage. A true Iceland Gull is very pale and in some lights this bird looks like this, but you can see in the second photo that the bird has dark primary feathers ( the longest ones on the wing ) and in flight the bird had a dark band on the tail, both signs of kumlieni. The jury is still out on this bird, is it Kumlien`s or `just` a plain old Iceland? I don`t think we will find out definitively.

The kumlieni form comes from North-West Quebec and winters on the North American East coast, whereas the glaucoides form (Iceland) is from Greenland, wintering in the North Atlantic.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Whooper and Bewick`s



Some close digiscoped shots of some beautiful wild swans at Deeping High Bank. Note the differing colouration on the bill(s).

Monday, 13 February 2012

More Sawbills

Mr and Mrs Goosander

Male Goosander

Female Goosander

Male Goosander

Female Goosander

Redhead Smew

Redhead Smew with Male Goosander

A few more digiscoped efforts of the Sawbills present at Deeping High Bank, Lincolnshire on Friday. The flock of Goosander peaked at 70 on Saturday, but with the milder weather now setting in most of these birds have moved on, leaving `only` 20 or so. The Redhead Smew was present on Friday, but was not seen Saturday or yesterday, so has perhaps moved off with the Goosander. Who knows?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Flat out!

An unusual sight of a Whooper Swan just `chilling` (quite literally!) on the ice at Deeping High Bank yesterday. The river is now almost completely frozen, but the build up of birds continues.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Goosanders galore

The cold weather we are experiencing in the U.K. is causing a build up of water birds on the stretch of the River Welland known as Deeping High Bank. Clear water is at a premium and this means that the birds tend to be grouped together in fairly large flocks. Yesterday, there was a flock of 33 Goosander ( I believe our American friends call this bird the Common Merganser, forgive me if I am incorrect in this ), today this flock had grown to 41.

With the cold snap forecast to continue for a while more birds may appear, one can hope.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Three`s a crowd

Proof, if it were needed that we have a good community of birders in the PBC area. On Saturday I received a phone call from Josh Jones to tell me there was a Sanderling present at Tanholt gravel pits, a working quarry close to Peterborough, but I had other commitments that day, so was unable to go and just hoped that it would hang on until Sunday.

Sunday morning dawned and with it 5 inches of snow. Should I go to Tanholt for this lovely wader, not an annual tick on my PBC list by any means? I pondered for a while until Mike Weedon rang me to say there was now a Grey Plover present with the Sanderling. That clinched it, I was soon on the drive, shovel in hand clearing the snow and was at Tanholt within 10 minutes. The birds were distant, but with some careful stalking on my half I was able to get the above `passable` shots. Two more `ticks` on my PBC year list, oh and the third (three`s a crowd) were 7 Dunlin, also present, but too distant for any kind of shot!

My PBC year list is now at a fairly healthy 111 species.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Black-tailed Godwit (again)

Just a few more shots of an obliging Black-tailed Godwit at Titchwell RSPB that I have just got around to looking at. I like the last one with him having a scratch!