Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

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Continuing the series of photos taken at the London Wetlands Centre whilst attending the wildlife photography workshop.

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Am travelling a lot this week so a chance to look back at some posts from one of my favourite spots, The London Wetland Centre

The wetland Centre collection shows off the wonderful work that the Wetlands Trust do in helping to save and re-introduce endangered species from around the world. The centre collection area has also become home to native species such as the Moorhen, Tufted Duck and Mallard and helps promote other plants and insects.

Fulvous Whistling Duck

Fulvous Whistling Duck

photo by Sue

photo by Sue

Red Admiral. Photo by Sue

Red Admiral. Photo by Sue

Moorhen with chick. Photo by Sue

Moorhen with chick. Photo by Sue

Moorhen and chick. Photo by Sue

Moorhen and chick. Photo by Sue

White-headed Duck

White-headed Duck

I remember walking along a boardwalk at a reserve in Texas and seeing an American Bittern in the marsh just to the side. It just stood and watched me as I walked right past it. Amazing experience.

Stephen G Hipperson

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We saw a fair number of these Tiger-Herons.  This one was standing in a tree, quite some way from water.  It allowed me to get relatively close – had this been a UK equivalent it  would have flown as soon as it saw me approach.

—Stephen—

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Bees

Posted: June 4, 2019 in Natural History
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As we pass from spring into summer, I thought I would post some pictures of what, to me, is one of the iconic things of summer – bees busily feeding.

Hall Place

Keith wanted to visit a couple of my local sites which he had not seen before and so we began the day at Hall Place Gardens in Bexley.

We started at the hide which overlooks a quiet section of the River Cray and can be a good spot for Kingfisher but no luck today. We then moved on to the main garden, where we found my first dragonflies of the year in the riverside vegetation, Banded Demoiselles and Common Blue Damselflies.

We also found a Grey Wagtail feeding under one of the bridges

A walk around the less busy parts of the garden added Jay and Mistle Thrush together with Greenfinch, Blackcap and Garden Warbler.

We returned to the hide for our lunch but still were unlucky with the Kingfisher. We did have an obliging young Robin, which perched for photos and saw a Red Admiral butterfly.

Robin (juvenile)

We then moved onto Danson Park in Welling, where we added a number of water birds including Great Crested Grebe, Coot and Tufted Duck to our day’s list as well as Blue-tailed Damselfly and Holly Blue butterfly.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
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)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Garden Warbler [sp] (Sylvia borin)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Naturelog: 11th May

Posted: May 29, 2019 in Birds, Natural History, Norfolk, UK
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On the way back to London from Lincolnshire, we stopped again at Welney Wetlands reserve in Norfolk. We had hoped of seeing a Common Crane that had been seen earlier that morning but it remained hidden during our visit. The highlight was seeing a Little Ringed Plover on a nest and a Western Marsh Harrier.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [sp] (Passer montanus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

On our way to Lincoln, we stopped off at Kirkby gravel pits, a nature reserve run by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. The highlight here was the large nesting colony of Black-headed Gulls.

Coot with Young

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

River Welland at Deeping

We started that day at Deeping Lakes, a Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust reserve near Spalding. This is a group of Lakes in old gravel workings and consists of one large lake plus two groups of smaller lakes. We first went to have a look at the River Welland and soon located the Western Cattle Egret that has been present on this site for some days. We then followed the nature trail and went to explore the main lake and the west lake from the hides which overlook them. Apart from Mute Swans, Black-headed Gulls and hundreds of Swallows and Sand Martins they were quiet.

Deeping lakes

The East Lakes, however, had a wide variety of birds including Oystercatcher, Avocet, Dunlin and Ringed Plovers. In addition, there were Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Black-headed Gulls with a few Herring Gulls. As with the other lakes, there were large numbers of Swallows and Sand Martins, together with some House Martins and Common Swifts. A group of terns were present but on examination, they were all Common Tern.

After a stop for coffee in Spalding, we returned to the RSPB reserve at Frampton on the Wash. A Common Cuckoo called as we arrived in the car park. From the Visitors centre we were able to see groups of Swallows restring in the reed-bed.

Frampton Marsh

Leaving the Visitor centre I made my way down towards the hides in the middle of the reserve. A pair of Little Ringed Plover were on the marsh and a Black Tern passed over without stopping. Out on the marsh, a party of 80 Brent Geese were resting and other parties could be seen moving along the coast.

My final stop was the marsh by the visitor centre. A party of Black-tailed Godwits mixed with some Ruff. A single Greenshank and Spotted Redshank were also seen. 5 Barnacle geese fed on a distant field – these should have left for their breeding grounds by now.

An excellent day’s birdwatching.

Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Ruff (Calidris pugnax)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Black Tern [sp] (Chlidonias niger)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Cuckoo [sp] (Cuculus canorus)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Garden Warbler [sp] (Sylvia borin)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Tuesday morning of our trip to Lincolnshire saw Sue and I at Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve just outside Skegness. This is a spit of land that projects out into the North Sea and thus is a stopping place for many migrant birds.

At the visitor’s centre, there are some Whale bones on display. These come from a Sperm whale which beached on the point in March 1985, was unable to be refloated and was eventually buried by the sand. A subsequent storm revealed the bones buried in the sand.

The first stop is Jackson’s Marsh, where a Eurasian Spoonbill is the star attraction. This once rare species is growing in numbers in the UK and is now breeding in some places.

Containing to walk north along the point towards Skegness I reach Tennyson sands where there are some Pied Avocets. A brief view of a Little Ringed Plover is all I got as it flew south down the point and was lost from view. In the reeds, I could just make out a drake Garganey, a migratory duck which comes to the UK in the summer to breed.

Turning east from here I make my way across the point to Mill Hill, stopping off on route to check the Mere and the Lagoon, two bodies of water within the marsh. The former has only some Black-Headed Gulls, but the latter has a Spotted Redshank in Summer plumage, which is a lovely sight.

On the walk across the marsh, I had seen Tree Pipit, Garden Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher as well as numerous Common Whitethroats. All are summer visitors to this country and probably feeding up before moving onto their breeding sites. The Flycatcher was very active and demonstrated well why it has this name with its acrobatic flights.

Common Whitethroat

Arriving at Mill Hill I was able to look out over the dunes towards the North Sea. I hoped to see some of the Little Terns that breed on the point but there was no sign. I now turned south and walked through the dunes. Eurasian Linnets, Common Whitethroats and a single Stonechat were in the dune vegetation.

Black-headed Gulls

After a walk along the edge of the salt marsh, I turned west again towards the Visitors centre. Across the salt marsh, a number of Eurasian Skylarks were singing and displaying. A very good days birdwatching.

Brant Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Garganey (Spatula querquedula)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Ruff (Calidris pugnax)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
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)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Garden Warbler [sp] (Sylvia borin)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Spotted Flycatcher [sp] (Muscicapa striata)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
Tree Pipit [sp] (Anthus trivialis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
Common Linnet [sp] (Linaria cannabina)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Rutland Water

Today sees us leave Lincolnshire and head west into Rutland to visit Rutland Water, the premier site in England for Western Osprey. The Osprey became extinct as a breeding bird in the UK in 1916 (1840 in England but continued to breed in Scotland till 1916). Birds began to summer again in Scotland in 1954 (probably birds from Scandinavia) and the first breeding occurred in 1959. The Scottish population continued to expand over the following years. This was slow at first, but with the banning of oregano-chlorine pesticides the numbers began to climb and the Scottish population is now estimated at 250-300 pairs. It was then decided that there should be a re-introduction into England (at Rutland Water) and into west Wales using birds from Scotland transfered as young so as to imprint their new location on the birds in the hope that when they returned from Africa the following year they would relocate and breed at the new sites. This has been successful on both sites and Rutland now boasts around 8 breeding pairs plus some non- breeders. Other suitable relocation sites are being sought where the process can be repeated. We saw nest pylons when we were at Arne in Dorset, one of the new reintroduction sites, earlier in the year.

An Osprey nest at Lyndon

Our first stop then was the south side of the water, where a pair of Ospreys use a nest platform in front of 2 hides. This is one of the longest established nesting sites and allows public viewing without disturbing the birds. Along the walk to and from the hide a number of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Common Whitethroat were singing and we got an excellent view of a male Yellowhammer, although he flew once I pointed the camera at him.

The male Osprey from the Lyndon pair
The female Osprey at Lyndon on the nest (photo of televised feed into visitors centre)

Once we had seen the Ospreys, we moved over to look at the complex of pools on the west side of the water which provide a lot of different habitats and give a good variety of birds. Here there were good numbers of various ducks and some Common Terns, the first I had seen this year.

On the way back to our cottage, we saw a falcon sitting on a telegraph pole. We thought it was probably a Kestrel, but as we drove nearer it flew and we could see it was a Eurasian Hobby.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Osprey [sp] (Pandion haliaetus)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
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 (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Yellowhammer [sp] (Emberiza citrinella)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)