Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Birdlog: Blackcaps are back!

Posted: December 7, 2018 in Birds, Natural History
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Continuing my look back over the 5 years of the blog. This was certainly a highlight for our garden (posted April 2013). For a couple of years, we had both summering and wintering Blackcaps in the garden, But sadly none since although I did find a pair by the Tarn in both summer 2017 and this past summer.

April 2013

Following on from my brief sighting of a female blackcap a week or so ago I have had no more summer visitors in the garden. Imagine my surprise this morning when I pulled the curtains to find these two in the bushes. The male was hanging on a branch and then reaching out as far as he could to feed on a flower head below him
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Canada Goose

Posted: December 5, 2018 in Birds, Natural History
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The Canada Goose is one of our common resident geese, Introduced from North America from the late 17th century it has spread across almost the whole of the UK and is often found on city lakes and in parks as well as in the countryside.

It is estimated that there are around 62,000 breeding pairs in the UK with a peak population of around 190,000 birds.

Flock of Canada Geese with a single Greylag Goose (centre)
River Thames at Gravesend

Keith and I were in Gravesend for an RSPB meeting and so we decided to make a day of it by doing a short walk along the riverfront. Gravesend had once been a thriving port, as is witnessed by the multitude of piers that are still present, but apart from a ferry across the river to Tilbury and some pleasure boats, this is no longer the case.

Town Pier

 The tide was falling as we reached the front. our first sighting was on a Common Redshank, feeding on the mud.

Common Redshank

We passed the mooring of Light Vessel 21, part of the National Historic Ships Collection. Built in 1963, it saw service mostly off the Kent coast and was involved in the worst collision to involve a light vessel when on 28th June 1981 LV21 was hit by the ‘Ore Meteor’ which was under tow at the time in rough weather. Observers at the time commented that the tug seemed too small to be handling such a large vessel in open water. In rough seas, the tug and its tow, past too close to LV21 and first the side and then the stern of the Meteor crashed into the bow of the Light Vessel. Thankfully all damage was above deck and the ship remained afloat and was later towed to Southampton for repairs. It was finally decommissioned in 2008. It is now used as an arts performance venue 

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Across the river was Tilbury Fort, one of two built to protect the entrance to London along the Thames. Details of its counterpart in Gravesend can be found at https://petesfavouritethings.blog/2018/02/02/a-tour-of-gravesend-2/

Tilbury Fort

On the exposed river mud a group of Black-tailed Godwits were feeding.

Black-Tailed Godwit

Passing Gravesend Fort we came to Promenade Park, which has a lake and a small reed-bed.

It was very quiet today and apart from some small birds in the bushes there were only Moorhen and Mute Swan present.

It was now time to turn back to the Town centre, but on the river further downstream we could see a group of Common Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits feeding on the mud. As we retraced our steps along the Promenade we found two Common Gulls and a single Ruddy Turnstone feeding on the mud.

Common Gull
Ruddy Turnstone

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull (Common) [group] (Larus canus canus/heinei)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
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 Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

A mixed up goose family

Posted: November 23, 2018 in Birds, Natural History

I first came across this pair of geese back in the winter of 2013 and they have bred on the Tarn every year since becoming regular sightings on my walks.

This is that first post

This afternoon as it was bright and sunny although still quite cold I went for a walk around the Tarn. Quite a lot of activity and bird numbers are certainly up on the past week. Good numbers of Tufted Ducks and Moorhen and lots of small birdsong, mainly Blue Tits and Great Tits.
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The Canada goose x Greylag goose hybrid is still present with its parents

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Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser) 5
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis) 4
Muscovy Duck (Cairina moschata) 1
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos) 18
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) 5
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus) 9
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra) 2
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 1
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia) 18
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus) 8
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri) 6
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major) 1
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius) 2
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica) 6
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone) 4
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major) 1
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus) 4
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea) 1
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula) 1

Hedgehog Highways

Posted: November 20, 2018 in Birds, Natural History
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I was sent this wonderful photograph as part of a campaign to encourage the creation of Hedgehog Highways, routes which enable these important garden mammals to safety negotiate roads and other hazards.

The photograph is of a starling murmuration, an evening coming together before communal roosting, but it does look like a hedgehog. It was taken by Jariath Flynn.

For further details on the Hedgehog Highway campaign and to sign the petition go to

https://www.change.org/p/help-save-britain-s-hedgehogs-with-hedgehog-highways?cs_tk=AeXk2anIlHF1AqnE91sANVAtyKNHr3e-69q5TWis9g%3D%3D&utm_campaign=b4bae511104c4421965418c95d87ba3e&utm_medium=email&utm_source=petition_update&utm_term=cs

A pair of Beardies

Posted: November 16, 2018 in Birds, Natural History
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I have been blogging here for nearly 6 years so thought I would take an opportunity to re-post some of my favourite posts from those early days.

This one from a memorable birdwatching day in January of 2013.

Out early for the journey up to Hyde Park to see the pair of Female bearded reedlings that have been present in the small reedbed by the Princess Diana memorial fountain for at least a few days. Arrive and easily locate the birds at a distance of perhaps 5 feet. Lots of opportunity for photos. Surprisingly there are few people here. It transpires that they may have been around for up to a month but were only confirmed last week.

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Keith and I Spent the day at the London Wetland Centre. It’s always fun to think about what you like to see when you visit a particular place. I mentioned in the post yesterday that I would quite like to see Ring Ouzel, although I will declare immediately that I wasn’t successful but given the day we had I am not complaining.

On our arrival, we decided that the best vantage point was likely to be the Peacock Tower and so we made our way straight there. Having had a quick look round we focused on the Islands where the Jack Snipe normally winter. All was quiet then suddenly a flurry of activity as out of the vegetation came a number of Common Snipe and then a Jack Snipe. It fed a while in the pool before disappearing into the vegetation. It appeared again for about 5 minutes before finally being seen making its way deep into the undergrowth.

Common Snipe

 

Jack Snipe

We decided to make our way back to the centre and on the way check the hides which look across to the northern reed bed, where 2 Eurasian Bittern had been seen the previous day. No sign but as we approached the centre, a fellow birder told us one was showing in the inlet alongside Headley hide (not visible from south shore) so we passed on our lunch break and headed for Headley arriving to be told that it had retreated into the reeds 10 minutes earlier. Still, we decided to wait and see if it returned and 40 minutes later we were rewarded with excellent views about 20 metres from the hide windows (It was so close that we didn’t dare open any of the closed windows for fear of spooking it).

As we were watching the Bittern, someone shouted ‘Short-Eared Owl’ and the bird flew into the reed-bed and perched on a post, before dropping into the reeds. This is a rare species for central London, being more associated with moorland. This is the third record at Wetland Centre in the past couple of weeks, making us wonder if its the same bird and whether it plans to spend the winter here.

After the Bittern and the Short-Eared Owl had departed into the reeds, we made our way back to the Tower in the hope of catching up with one of the Water Pipits which has been around the reserve in the past few weeks, but although Keith heard a pipit, we never located it and so could not confirm if it was a Water Pipit or a Meadow Pipit.

Speckled Wood

Grey Heron

 

Eurasian Wigeon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The light was fading and it was time to make our way back to the centre. A great days birding!

 

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Eurasian Bittern [sp] (Botaurus stellaris)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Short-eared Owl [sp] (Asio flammeus)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
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)
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)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)

Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Ring Ouzels

Posted: November 8, 2018 in Birds, Natural History
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Off to London Wetland Centre with Keith. Would be great if we saw Ring Ouzel. It must be 10 years or so since I last saw one (at LWC)

Ring Ouzels @ Caban Coch-late extra!

https://radnorshirebirds.wordpress.com/2018/11/02/ring-ouzels-caban-coch-late-extra/
— Read on radnorshirebirds.wordpress.com/2018/11/02/ring-ouzels-caban-coch-late-extra/

On Sunday Keith and I went with Bexley RSPB group to Cley in North Norfolk. It was a welcome return for me as we had been there only a few weeks earlier during our trip to Norfolk, but the weather could not have been more different. In fact, it could not have been more different than the day before. On Saturday as we had visited local reserves it had been hot and sunny, but as day dawned Sunday it was overcast and wet, and so it continued all day.

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But we did get some birdwatching, between dodging rain. We first went to Snipes Marsh, in search of Jack Snipe that had been reported there.

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It wasn’t long before we were watching one in the reeds, although it proved difficult to get anything like a good picture of it due to the vegetation. This is the best one, taken by Keith.

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On the Cley Marsh, there were a very large number of Eurasian Wigeon plus smaller numbers of Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail and Gadwall. There was also a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits but surprisingly few other wading birds.

Eurasian Wigeon (top) and Black-tailed Godwit (lower left and right)

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)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Water Rail [sp] (Rallus aquaticus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
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)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
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)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

 

Keith was staying with us for the weekend and so on Saturday, we visited some of our local nature reserves.

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Our first stop was at Footscray meadows, a mixture of grassland and woodland along the banks of the river Cray.

One of our first sightings was of a Little Egret fishing in the river, but otherwise, it was fairly quiet – at least as far as wildlife was concerned – Saturday is probably not the best time to visit as it is a favourite place for dog-walkers and families.

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We made our way up river towards the five-arch bridge, which forms the head of a lake in the river, where Mallard and Tufted Ducks congregate together with Moorhen, Coot, Mute Swans and Egyptian geese. We also saw a Terrapin basking in the sunlight. These now seem to be a permanent resident of many of our lakes in the area, released by pet owners who no longer want them or who can’t house them when full grown. Walking further upstream from the lake, we heard a couple of Cetti’s warblers calling, but there was little evidence of any small bird migration.

 

Terrapin (left), Mute Swan (top right) and Egyptian Goose (lower right) 

Our next stop was Sutcliffe Park LNR. Here it was evident that the vegetation had grown well this summer as the marsh area was completely covered and impossible to see into. The highlight was a Little Grebe on the Lake.

 

Our final stop was my home patch around the Tarn. here we found 2 Little Grebes, probably an adult and a juvenile along with a Grey Heron. Keith heard a Grey Wagtail, which winters here each year, but we could not locate it.

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Little Grebes – adult (left and top right) and probable juvenile (lower right)

Grey Heron (left) and Coot (right)

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
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)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)