Archive for the ‘Birds’ Category

Kingfisher Home

Posted: October 18, 2019 in Birds, Natural History
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A fascinating video about building a Kingfisher nesting box and the Kingfishers that came to stay.

Some pictures of Birds of Prey taken at the Tamar Otter Centre

One morning Sue and I went to Bude Marshes, an area of marsh and reed-beds on the edge of the town of Bude in North Cornwall. This nature reserve is Bordered on one side by Bude canal and on the other by a river.

A Cetti’s Warbler was calling stridently from the reed-bed and we had a brief view of a Kingfisher as it flashed past. 2 Chiffchaffs were also seen, this once summer visitor is now increasingly overwintering, especially in the Southaven’s and south-west. Apart from these sightings, the most striking sighting was the flock of over 300 Canada geese present on the canal.

In the afternoon we went to Tamar Otter and Wildlife Centre, a rather eclectic collection of animals in a beautiful valley setting. Its free-roaming Fallow Deer (a native species) and Wallabies (not a native species although there was once a feral population in Derbyshire) are semi-tame and some will approach you for food.

There are a number of European Otters at the centre. The centre was a breeding colony during the 20 year reintroduction programme (which ended around 2000) and now houses captive bred and rescued Otters. The centre also has Asian short-clawed otters, which unlike European otters live in family groups – the largest family in the centre has 17 members.

Day 5: Our location today was the RSPB reserve at Bowling Green Marsh, just outside Exeter in Devon. The reserve sits at the confluence of two rivers, the River Exe and the River Clyst.

There were around 500 Black-tailed Godwits and 100 Eurasian Teal on the scrape with smaller numbers of Eurasian Wigeon, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler and Pintail. Sue spotted a Common Sandpiper on one of the islands and a Marsh Harrier over the Reed-bed. Also present were Grey Heron and Little Egret. Walking back to the car along the River Exe, we saw more Black-tailed Godwits and a couple of Eurasian Curlew feeding along the mudflats.

Black-tailed Godwits
Eurasian Curlew
Common Sandpiper

A wet day saw Sue and I start day 4 of our trip to the West Country at Davidstow Airfield looking for a Buff-Breasted Sandpiper which has been present for a couple of days. We found a number of Ringed Plover and lots of Meadow Pipits, but not the Sandpiper.

Ringed Plover

Our next stop was at Crowdy Reservoir, where a Northern Wheatear and a Grey Wagtail were on the dam.

Grey Wagtail

We stopped at Wadebridge. On the river Camel, we found a Little Egret, a Lapwing and about 30 Common Redshanks.

Our final stop was further up the estuary at Rock. The tide was low and the sandbanks exposed but apart from an Oystercatcher, a Raven, some Cormorants and Gulls there was little to see

The second day of our trip to the West Country was going to be mostly travel, but we started the morning at Winterbourne Downs for another attempt to locate the elusive Stone Curlew. Sadly again we were unlucky. But we did see a number of Hummingbird hawk moths and a Brown Hare.

From here we made our way to our base for the next two weeks. The cottage is on the edge of Bodmin Moor near Camelford. Delightful, it is in a wooded valley and we have a running river at the end of the garden. As Sue went out into the garden Sue flushed a Dipper from the river which flew off. Hopefully, we will see it again during our stay. The trees surrounding the garden are busy with birds: Coal and Great Tits plus Robin and Nuthatch. An overflying Raven adds to our late afternoon enjoyment of the garden.

Day one of our trip to Cornwall and Devon saw us making an afternoon stop at the RSPB reserve at Winterbourne Downs. This reserve is on disused farmland and is being allowed to revert to Flower Meadow with additional planting to support seed-eating birds, which have seen a decline due to modern farming techniques. It also supports a population of Stone Curlew, a rare breading bird which is only found in East Anglia and in this area of central England.

Arriving at the reserve we made our way along the old railway bank to the screen overlooking the area where the Stone Curlews are found. We were encouraged by the news that 6 had been counted this morning, but always aware that Stone Curlew are one of the best-camouflaged bird species and once they are lying on the ground it is almost impossible to see them. We spent an hour looking over the fallow field but could not locate any Stone Curlews. Whilst we were there a Corn Bunting called and flew into a  tree behind us. The Corn Bunting is a species which was once common on farmland but which has been very much impacted by the changes in farming.

Corn Bunting.
Photo by Steve Riall ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/sriall/ )

On our way back to the car park, we spotted a Painted Lady on the vegetation and this was the highlight amongst the numerous butterflies that we saw on this sunny afternoon.

Also got some good pictures of Brimstone Butterfly

Little Ringed Plover

Posted: September 4, 2019 in Birds, Natural History
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The Little Ringed Plover is a summer visitor to the UK, unlike its bigger cousin, the Ringed Plover which is primarily a winter visitor with only a few breeding pairs.

The distinctive features are the yellow eye-ring (which in Ringed Plover is absent) and a plain wing in flight (Ringed Plover has a white wing bar).

It is often found on sandy scrapes where it nests in a hollow in the ground. It is estimated that there are around 1200 breeding pairs in the UK.

On Tuesday at the London wetland Centre, Keith and I came across these Hawaiian Geese in the wildfowl collection just looking for an opportunity to escape their pen. They have obviously made a habit of this as there are signs on the gates asking people to make sure they do not get out.

One of the hottest days of the Summer saw Keith and I at the Wetland Centre in West London in the hope of finding some migrant birds. As it was there seemed to have been little evidence of migration with just an early morning report of a Whinchat, which I don’t think was relocated during the day. There was plenty to see however with numerous dragonflies and plenty of butterflies, even if the latter was restricted to 2 species. We also saw a Little Ringed Plover and a Common Lizard.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Sand Martin [sp] (Riparia riparia)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Dragonflies

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)
Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis)
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum)

Butterflies

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Common Lizard