Archive for the ‘Mammals’ Category

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.

Striped Dolphin

Posted: July 25, 2019 in Mammals, Natural History
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This is a picture of a striped Dolphin which Keith took from the ferry across to Santander in Northern Spain. On the crossing we saw 3 species of whales (about 7 individuals) and 3 species (about 50 individuals) of Dolphins

I remember Bristol zoo from my childhood in its association with early wildlife programmes on the TV involving Jonny Morris, who took the part of a zoo keeper at the zoo as a way of introducing the animals. So it was good to finally be able to visit the zoo which is located in Clifton.

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)

Our second day in South Devon and we are out again with local naturalist and artist, Mike Langman. Our first stop is Broadsands Bay where Mike has been providing Supplementary feeding during the Winter. This project is aimed at helping the local speciality species Cirl Bunting survive through the winter. This species had declined so much that only a handful of pairs remained in a couple of spots in Devon. Since the beginning of supplementary winter feeding programme began at a number of sites throughout South Devon the number of birds has risen dramatically and the species is now expanding out from its traditional area into surrounding counties. We get excellent views of Cirl Buntings and Yellowhammers.

Yellowhammer

Moving on from Broadsands, we drive to Dartington in search of Dipper. Parking up we walk the stretch of river which is an established territory and had a couple of flight views before we eventually found a bird collecting leaves for its nest.

Dipper

Travelling South we moved onto Slapton Ley, a freshwater lake adjacent to the sea.

Common Lizard at Slapton Ley

We soon located a Ring-necked Duck, a visitor from North America, a number of whom have crossed the Atlantic Ocean at the beginning of the winter. On the sea is a Black-necked Grebe.

Slapton Ley
Black-necked Grebe

Continuing our journey south we come to Beeson Ley, but there are only a few ducks. On the sea here though are a flock of 25 Common Scoter.

Turning north we stop at a wood just outside Dartmouth, where we locate a male Firecrest. Excellent views but this hyper-active bird will not stay in one place to be photographed.

Firecrest.
Photo by Ron Knight (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sussexbirder/)

After Mike dropped us off in Brixham, Keith and I walked out to the end of the harbour breakwater. We were rewarded with sightings of 1 or 2 Seals plus a pod of 6 Dolphins (probably Bottlenosed) plus the amazing sight of over 100 Pied Wagtails coming into roost on the boats in the harbour.

Dolphins

Pied Wagtail

A second excellent day. Our thanks to Mike for sharing his local knowledge and transporting us around.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)
Northern Fulmar [sp] (Fulmarus glacialis)
Red-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps grisegena)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Black-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps nigricollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
European Shag [sp] (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
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)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
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)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Common Firecrest [sp] (Regulus ignicapilla)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Song Thrush [sp] (Turdus philomelos)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
White-throated Dipper [sp] (Cinclus cinclus)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)
Common Linnet [sp] (Linaria cannabina)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Yellowhammer [sp] (Emberiza citrinella)
Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)

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.