Archive for December, 2018

Keith and I trying to wrap up a few local rarities for the year.

Our first stop is Chatham docks which has been home to a Black-Throated Diver for a couple of weeks. No 2 dock seems to attract them as a couple of years ago it was the winter residence of a Great Northern Diver. When we arrive we find a group of local birders watching the bird sleeping on the water.

After a while Keith and I together with some others move closer down the side of the dock basin to try and get some closer shots. Eventually the bird wakes up and starts moving around.

Also present on No 2 basin was a Eurasian Shag

Then it is off to New Hythe Lakes in search of Ring-Necked Duck, an American species that occurs here occasionally in winter.

Brooklands Lake

After leaving the station we make our way to the first lake but cannot see the duck amongst its more commoner cousins.

As we make our way down to the next lake we meet a young birder who tells us that it is at the southern end of the enxt lake, Abbey Mead. This seems to be its favourite spot although it has wandered to other lakes in the complex during its stay.

Abbey Meads Lake
A couple of distant shots of the Ring-Necked Duck. The top one shows the grey flank with the white area at the front and the bottom the peaked head which are two of the features which distinguish it from Tufted Duck. Below is a third image taken by Keith which shows the peaked head and white markings on the bill.

On the way back home we passed over Jane’s Creek on the River Medway at Strood. Keith just happened to be saying it was a good winter site for Common Sandpiper when I looked down and there was one standing on the mud. Keith had his camera at hand and tried to get a picture of it from the train!

Common Sandpiper seen from train (Keith)

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Black-throated Loon [sp] (Gavia arctica)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Little Owl

Posted: December 28, 2018 in Birds, Natural History
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Here some pictures of the Owl that we photographed in Hyde Park last week.

Studies on Crow

Posted: December 27, 2018 in Birds, Natural History
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These are some photographs I took of a carrion crow which I found in Hyde Park last week.

Christmas Greetings

Posted: December 25, 2018 in Announcements
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Wishing you all a Happy Christmas

Keith and I finished the day at St James Park, hoping to possibly see Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail. The park is also home to a collection of exotic wildfowl from around the world. This dates back to when the park was actually the gardens of the Royal Palace at Whitehall. Further details about the history of this collection can be found at https://petesfavouritethings.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/the-royal-pelicans/

The Pelicans seem pinker than I have seen them before.
Cormorants roosting in tree
Grey Heron

As well as seeing the collection birds, we also recorded a number of wild species, but no kingfisher or Grey Wagtail.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)

Keith had come up to London for the day and so we started at Hyde Park. Our main target for the day was to see and photograph Little Owl. In many places, this species is becoming scarce, but here in the park, there are at least three breeding pairs.

Italian Gardens

We started at Notting Hill Gate and proceeded to walk down the long water to the owl nesting site we had photographed last year.

Mute Swan
Ring-necked Parakeet

Finding the nest tree was no problem, but scanning the tree, there was no sign of any owls. Whilst we were looking, one of the local birders came up and gave us directions to another nest, where he said the female owl regularly sat out in the nest hole.

Great Cormorant
Lesser Black-backed Gull

We continued down the long water, crossing over the bridge and walking down to the Lido, where we stopped for a coffee break. Then we turned north again and walked up the other side of the long water.

Looking North from the Lido
Coot
Great Crested Grebe
Tufted Duck

We made our way to the area where we had been told there was another Little Owl nest and sure enough there was an owl sitting in the nest hole.

Little Owl

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Little Owl [sp] (Athene noctua)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Would you live here?

Posted: December 20, 2018 in Landscape
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When Sue and I were in the Olympic Park at the weekend we saw this building. I am not sure how much they assured me it was safe I would want to live in a building with half a floor cut out!

UCI World Cup London: Day 3

Posted: December 19, 2018 in London, Sport, UK

Sue and I were back at the Lea Valley Velodrome for Day 3 of the UCI World Cup meeting.

The first event was the Men’s Sprint Semifinals

Jack Carlin (UK) preparing to race  Harri Lavreysen (Netherlands) in the semi final
Lavreysen would win 2 races to 1 and go onto win the Gold medal

After that there was the Woman’s Keiran; the Men’s Omnium Elimination race (in which Matt Walls from the UK came second to lead overall) and the Women’s Madison, where Laura Kenny and Katie Archibald, two of the UK’s top riders rode to Gold.

Kenny and Archibald await their medals
Laura Kenny recieves her Gold medal for the Madison

After the final of the men’s sprint, it was the points race in the Men’s Omnium. Matt Walls leading the competition rode superbly to ensure his Gold medal was secure.

Matt Walls with his Gold medal

 

UCI World Cup London

Posted: December 18, 2018 in London, Sport, UK

One of the things I love about track cycling is there is always plenty to see with all the activity going on in the centre of the track.

Each bike is weighed and checked before a race to ensure it conforms to regulations.

UCI World Cup, London : Day 2

Posted: December 17, 2018 in London, Sport, UK
Lea Valley Velodrome
(Photo by Peter O’Connor -https://www.flickr.com/photos/anemoneprojectors/)

Sur and I were at the Lea Valley Velodrome for Day 2 of the UCI Cycling World Cup in London.

Waiting for the start of the first race

The Omnium is cycling’s equivalent of the Pentahlon. It comprises 4 races over a single day. Race 3 is the elimination race, where there is a sprint every 2 laps and the last one to cross the line is out. This continues until 2 riders are left and they contest the final sprint.

Riders wait for start of Womens Omnium Elimination Race
Tatics are all about getting in the right position as you approach the line

The next event was the Mens Keiren which is a paced event where the riders are paced by a Derny bike until they reach a certain speed and then its a sprint to the line.

Derny Bike
The contestants start as the Derny passes them
Building up speed

Following this was the Women’s sprint, which although the shortest and quickest race starts off with a lot of tactics on the first lap with the riders sometimes coming to a complete stop as they manoeuvre for position and try to catch out their opponent, before a final 2 lap all out sprint for the finishing line.

Stephanie Morton (Australia) and Emma Hinze (Germany) manoeuvre for prime position on the track in the Women’s Sprint

Then there was the Men’s Madison which s a two-person team race where one rider is active at a time and points are scored by winning sprints or lapping the field. The riders in each team change status by tagging the other. The Silver medal was won by Fred Wright and Matt Walls of UK.

Walls and Wright wait for their medal ceremony
Matt Walls recieves his Silver medal

The final event was the points race in the Womens Omnium. The scoring is like the Maddison with points for winning sprints (every 10 laps) and for lapping the field, but this is an individual race.