Archive for the ‘Mammals’ Category

This cat has been in the garden for a few days chasing the Grey Squirrels, without much sucess. They just run up the trees and sit on the branches looking at the cat. Catch me if you can!

The cat spent a few days patrollling round the bottom of the tree waiting for the squirrels to come down, which of course they don’t. So eventually it took the plunge and tried to climb the tree. It got so far and stopped. It looked around as if to say ‘oops now what do I do’. Eventually it realised that if it let go it would land back on solid ground. But it wasnt finished, it took a longer run up and ended up in exactly the same place. Again after considering the options it dropped back to the ground and slunk off. Squirrels 1 Cat 0.

Well it had seemed a good plan at the time!

Our first stop this morning was the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Holme Dunes. Leaving the centre I visited the Bird Observatory and spent some time looking for migrants in the beachside shrubs and trees, but apart from some common woodland birds, the only migrant seen was a Common Whitethroat.

Common Whitethroat in the beachside vegetation at Holme

My next area to visit was the Broadwater, but when I arrived at the hide, one of the wardens explained that the local cattle had broken down a fence during the night and that they had to repair it which was disturbing the birds and so the Broadwater was devoid of birds except for a single Mallard and a party of Pied Wagtails. After meeting up with Sue, our next stop was on the Saltmarsh, where there was a single Eurasian Curlew and a party of 40 Common Redshank plus a few Little Egrets.

Travelling on we had lunch at the RSPB reserve at Titchwell and then walked out to Fen hide where we found two Turtle Doves sitting in a tree. This is the rarest of UK’s breeding doves, which is a summer migrant from Africa and have suffered a very significant decline in numbers of recent years due to climate change in their wintering grounds and shooting around the Mediterranean area.

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Turtle Dove (taken in Norfolk Sept 2017)

Robin (top left), Migrant Hawker (top right), Small White Butterfly (centre right) and   Reed-bed at Titchwell (bottom)

One other treat of our visit was as we sat drinking a cup of tea and watching the bird-feeders we saw some Wood Mice scurrying around under the feeders, no doubt picking up the seed that had fallen down.

From here we walked onto Pat’s Pool, where there was a large flock of Gadwall and a single Red-Crested Pochard. A Great White Egret flew into the pool and a Marsh Harrier quartered the reed-bed at the rear of the pool.

Our last stop of the day was at Cholsey Barns, which is a farming area where I have seen Grey Partridge on previous visits. Today we were unlucky and didn’t find any, but did have wonderful views of a Male Marsh Harrier and the starlings on the telephone mast were an impressive sight.

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Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
European Turtle Dove [sp] (Streptopelia turtur)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)                                                                                        Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Our first destination this morning was Blakeney Point. This is a long peninsula of land which runs parallel to the coast connecting at its eastern end. At the western end, it has a shingle bank which is a favoured resting spot for Common and Grey Seals. The only way to see them is from the water and so we head out on a boat from Morston Quay. We pass the old lifeboat station, now an information centre and the farthest you can get along the point on foot. When it was built in 1898 it was at the end of the point, but in the years since the point has continued to build further out into the harbour and the station now stands a good distance from the end.

Morston Quay (top left), Blackney Head (top right) and Old Lifeboat Station (bottom)

Arriving at the end of the point there are about 40 Common seals, many with pups, and a couple of female Grey seals hauled up on the beach.

 

Also on the beach are 6 Ruddy Turnstones and a single Sanderling. Other birds seen include Little Egret, 6 Curlew. 5 Red Knot and around 60 Oystercatchers.

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Ruddy Turnstone

Returning to Morston, we drive round to the beach at Cley for a late lunch. Sitting on the beach, in the face of the wind, we can see that a number of birds have been blown into the coast. In the space of a little over an hour, we saw Great Skua, Northern Gannet, Common Tern, Common Scoter and a Fulmar.

 

After an hour or so we feel wind-blown and so retreat to the visitor centre at Cley Marshes for a warming cup of tea. Then its time to visit a couple of Arts centre at Glandford and Walsingham on the way back to the cottage.

Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Northern Fulmar [sp] (Fulmarus glacialis)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Red Knot [sp] (Calidris canutus)
Sanderling [sp] (Calidris alba)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)
Great Skua (Stercorarius skua)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)

On the way to 2 weeks in North Norfolk, our lunch stop was at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve at Welney. This reserve is famous for its wintering geese and ducks but can be good at other times of the year as well.

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Overlooking Lady Fen it is clear that the hot summer has been a real problem here as o be there is no water to be seen. This means that there are no pools and as a consequence no birds! The feeder station, however, does not disappoint and there are a large group of Tree Sparrows along with the Goldfinches and House Sparrows. A Brown Rat entertained us as it tried, and succeeded in climbing up the feeder frame to get to the feeder tubes.

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On entering the main hide we saw that the main reserve area was also very dry. This is something of a concern as it not many weeks before the wintering swans, geese and ducks begin to return from the breeding grounds and this will not be a suitable environment for them. The highlight here was a party of Yellow Wagtails, mostly this year’s birds but with one very bright adult.

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Yellow Wagtail. Photo by Don Sutherland (https://www.flickr.com/photos/snapperg/)

 

AS we walked to the northern set of hides we were accompanied by Small White butterflies, with the occasional Speckled Wood, Large White and Small Tortoiseshell. A large number of migrant Hawker dragonflies were also present together with some Common Darters.

Speckled Wood and Common Darter

Arriving at the first hide we had a view of the water channel and a Kingfisher alighted in front of the hide but disappeared before I could get a photograph.

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At the next hide we immediately saw a Great White Egret and located a Common Sandpiper, but the Garganey reported as present here remained elusive. Again the lack of water was very noticeable

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Then it was time to recommence our journey. Arriving at the cottage that is to be our base over the next two weeks, we were delighted to find a Painted Lady Butterfly sunning its self on the patio. Later a Barn Owl was seen sitting in a tree in the field beyond the garden.

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Painted Lady. Photo by Dan Davison (https://www.flickr.com/photos/dannyboymalinga/)

 

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Red Kite [sp] (Milvus milvus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Rook [sp] (Corvus frugilegus)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin [sp] (Delichon urbicum)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [sp] (Passer montanus)
Western Yellow Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla flava)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui)
Small Tortoiseshell [sp] (Aglais urticae)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Water Vole

Posted: July 9, 2018 in London, Mammals, Natural History, UK, Uncategorized
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During my IT downtime recently Keith and I visited the London Wetland Centre and I was fortunate enough to get these shots of a Water Vole hiding in the undergrowth. The Water Vole is an elusive and secretive mammal and this is only the second one I have ever seen.

A hot and sunny bank holiday Monday, the hottest day of the year so far, saw Sue and I heading south from London to the RSPB reserve at Pulborough Brooks on the River Arun. This is one of the country’s premier places to hear the Nightingale. This small bird with its attractive rich song is becoming increasingly rare.

However, our first excitement was to happen before we got to the reserve when a Western Osprey flew across the road at speed, being pursued by Carrion Crows which wanted it out of their territory.

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Osprey in flight (Keith Cutting, Rutland 2017)

On arrival at the reserve, we made our way to the courtyard area, which is one of the best areas on the reserve and we were not disappointed as soon we were listening to a male belting out his song from an area of bushes. Some people, though not us, were fortunate enough to see him through the undergrowth but they usually remain well hidden from sight.

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Nightingale. Photo by Kev Chapman (https://www.flickr.com/photos/25553993@N02/)

Moving on we arrived at a hide overlooking the river valley but it was fairly quiet with only a few waterbirds and waders plus some Highland cattle trying to keep cool.

 

Whilst walking along the track we came across a group of people watching the trackside bank, where a Weasel was hunting, totally ignoring the people watching it. It explored every hole in the bank it could find and eventually found a mouse nest. We saw the adult mouse explode from the hole and run away and then we continued to watch as the Weasel carried the young mice from the nest back to its own hole and presumably its own young.

Our final highlight of the day was to watch two young Tawny Owls roosting in a tree. They can’t fly yet so can only move by jumping and climbing but this has not, apparently, stopped them moving from tree to tree.

Then, with the heat beginning to tell, we headed back to the centre and a nice cold drink before making our way home with some great memories.

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Osprey [sp] (Pandion haliaetus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Tawny Owl [sp] (Strix aluco)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
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)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)
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)
Common Nightingale [sp] (Luscinia megarhynchos)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)

Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Green-veined White [sp] (Artogeia napi)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

4 weeks ago when I saw the Little Bunting at Walthamstow Wetlands, Keith was in South Africa and so our trip today was with the specific purpose of him seeing this bird which has been around for a few months now. I have read that this is only the 11th time that this species has been recorded in London, so one which we may not get the opportunity to see again.

 

It had been seen about 15 minutes before we arrived and so it was that we spent most of the day checking out the feeder station and the bushes near East Warwick reservoir which has been its usual haunt. A group of Reed Buntings were present together with a flock of linnets.

 

Common Linnet (left) and Reed Bunting (right)

Mid-afternoon I wandered off for a look at a nearby lake and found some herons nesting in the trees already.

 

 

Canada Geese (top), Grey Heron (centre) and Egyptian Geese (bottom)

When I got back there had still been no sighting. Eventually, around 3 pm, we both decided to go for a coffee at the reserve centre and then come back for a final 30 minutes before the reserve closed at 4pm. Well at 3.55 the Little Bunting was spotted in a tree in the hedge, it then flew down towards the feeder area. It never did emerge from the graas although I did get a brief view of it through the vegetation. Talk about leaving it until the last minute! Not the longest of views but at least Keith got to see it.

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Little Bunting. Photo by Vince (https://www.flickr.com/photos/baggieman/)

My favourite picture of the day though was this fella who came to visit whilst we were having coffee

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Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
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)
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)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
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)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
Common Linnet [sp] (Linaria cannabina)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Little Bunting (Emberiza pusilla)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapiadarius)                                                                          Buff-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus Terrestris)

Sometimes we wish we didn’t have Grey squirrels in the garden or at least they wouldn’t come to the feeding station. They gorge all the nuts etc and can clean out the feeders in quick time before the birds get a chance. But then I saw this post – at least I only have squirrels to worry about!

Trying to feed birds in Ashland can be unBEARable. My friend Lee French is a Great Gray Owl afficinado, a builder of superb GGO nest platforms, builder of fine bird houses. Yet he has stopped putting out bird feeders in his garden. Here’s why:Most reasonable, regimented bears are largely nocturnal. Inside the Ashland city limits […]

via YOU’D BETTER BEARLIEVE IT! — Towheeblog

A Penguin comes to call

Posted: January 26, 2018 in Mammals, Natural History
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They weren’t expecting this to happen

 

https://www.aol.co.uk/video/penguin-makes-surprise-visit-to-antarctic-research-boat-5a601eee55935e038850cfb8/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Cdl_lnk1%26pLid%3D236637499_uk

 

 

This is an amazing video of the interaction between a photographer and sea-lions off the coast of British Columbia in Canada

 

https://www.aol.co.uk/video/british-photographer-mobbed-by-sea-lions-5a6068b69e45107b7054f7dd/?icid=maing-grid7%7Cmain5%7Cdl1%7Crelated_lnk1%26pLid%3D236637499_uk