Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Dartford Warbler at Coates in Cambridgeshire

I finally managed to catch up with this lingering young male Dartford Warbler the other day. A very rare bird in this part of the Cambridgeshire Fens, only the fifth record in Cambridgeshire itself and I think it is only the second record in the PBC area ever! A typical 'skulky' individual that I picked up associating with a male Stonechat in a scrubby field in the village of Coates that it has been seen in since last Thursday. An extremely good addition to my PBC year list and my 220th species seen in the area.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

To 'tick' or not to 'tick', that is the question

Two birds that I have seen locally this year have been the Mandarin duck at Eye Green Nature Reserve and the Barnacle Goose, one at Ferry Meadows CP and another one today at Baston and Langtoft Gravel Pits. The Mandarin has been 'ticked', despite being rather tame and coming to bread given by the locals, the reason being that there are four of these birds present and have bred here for the past two years (according to said locals). The two geese are a different matter;the one at Ferry Meadows has been assumed to be a 'wild' bird, I don't know why, it just has, but the one at BLGP is a 'feral' bird, a bird that has been presumed to have escaped from some collection or other and therefore cannot be counted. This bird has been present in the area for a few years now and hangs around with the local Greylags, it has become wild. I am only noting the differences in attitude towards birds of varying breed, but mostly wildfowl because it befuddles my brain. We 'tick' Pheasant, but the vast majority of the birds that we see have been released into the wild for shooting purposes, surely this is a bird that is a very questionable 'tick', the same goes for Red-legged Partridge.

Wildfowl seem to have different rules though. If a bird escapes from a wildfowl collection and goes on to survive in the wild for a number of years it will always be thought of as 'feral'. The Hooded Merganser that is present at Radipole Lake in Dorset has been thought of as an escapee, then accepted as a wild bird and now is being classed as an escapee again. The same goes for Bufflehead. A very rare 'wild' bird here and every bird that is seen in the wild in the UK has to pass the 'escapee' tag before a 'twitch' is on the cards. Some of you may remember a few years back a Richardson's Canada Goose that was present on the north Norfolk coast for a while. Myself and my friend Chris went to see this bird along with quite a few other people, but this goose was classed as an escapee by some and a wild bird by others. I don't know if it will get accepted as a wild bird and so therefore I haven't 'ticked' it, although I know a few people who have.

Drake Hooded Merganser (taken at Slimbridge WWT)

Female Bufflehead (taken at Slimbridge WWT)

Richardson's Canada Goose (taken at Slimbridge WWT)
What we should do is just marvel at the beauty of any bird, whether truly wild or not.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, a comparison

Two fairly common birds on the north Norfolk coast at this time of year are the Bar-tailed Godwit (photos above) and the Black-tailed Godwit (photos below). Superficially similar, in the fact that they both have long legs, long bills and are brown/grey, but are easily told apart, especially when seen together. The 'Barwit' is a smaller, more chunky looking bird, with shorter legs, an upturned bill and a distinct supercilium in its' winter plumage. The 'Blackwit' is a larger bird with an unfathomably long, straight bill, longer legs and a shorter, less distinct supercilium.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Rough-legged Buzzard in Norfolk

My friend, Chris Orders and I spent the day in North Norfolk yesterday, just generally 'birding'. More of this trip will follow, but I think that we will both agree that the bird of the trip was this juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard and that is primarily because of the way that we saw it.

We had viewed the area south of Choseley Drying Barns where two juvenile Rough-legged's have been seen for most of the winter, but we were unlucky in that we didn't see either. So, having thought that we had 'dipped' on these birds we continued on our way to Titchwell and then headed for home via Wolferton to see if we could get our eyes on the Golden Pheasant. Upon leaving Hunstanton, the traffic was at a standstill, so we turned around and made our way back to Choseley to go the country way home. Just before entering the village of Bircham this large raptor was seen by both of us being mobbed by a Crow, we both thought 'Buzzard', but when the bird banked we both saw the white tail, immediately changing our cries to ' Rough-legged'! Neither of us were 100%, however, so I managed to get a few ropey shots as the bird flew in front of the car and away. Arriving home I sent off a couple of emails to confirm I.D. and both Josh Jones and Mike Weedon positively identified the bird as a juvenile Rough-legged Buzzard. Nice.

Thanks to Mike for editing my less than impressive photos!