Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

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)

It’s international dawn chorus day and my birthday and so a bright start to the day saw Sue and I at the RSPB reserve at Frampton Marsh for a dawn chorus bird walk. Setting off with 3 others and our 2 guides we had immediate excitement as one of the guides spotted a flying Wood Sandpiper. Unfortunately, it landed in vegetation and although it was no great distance from us it was lost in the vegetation and not seen again.

Following a hedgerow path, we had soon heard and saw Sedge and Reed Warblers and heard a Lesser Whitethroat calling from deep inside a bush. Further on a Blackcap was singing and there were a number of Goldfinches and Wrens.

Goldfinch

We were fortunate to find a Turtle Dove perched in a dead tree, which enabled everyone to get good, if distant, looks at this species which it is likely will no longer be a breeding species in the UK within the next 10 years due to persecution on migration and habitat destruction.

Turtle Dove (archive)

Other highlights were some very fine Ruff in all their splendour and a Whimbrel.

On returning to the visitor centre, and whilst looking to relocate the Wood Sandpiper seen earlier, I was surprised to find 2 Barnacle Geese, which should have left for their Arctic breeding grounds by now.

Barnacle Goose

After a very good lunch (Kirton Cottage, Kirton – highly recommended) we went to the RSPB reserve at Frieston Shore. It was much quieter here but I did find 4 Eurasian Wigeon and had a couple of Terns fly over although I was unable to get a definite  identity (Arctic or Common).

Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Ruff (Calidris pugnax)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Rock Dove (Feral) (Columba livia ‘feral’)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
European Turtle Dove [sp] (Streptopelia turtur)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Common Swift [sp] (Apus apus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
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)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Lesser Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia curruca)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
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)
Common Linnet [sp] (Linaria cannabina)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

A week in South Lincolnshire starts in Norfolk as we visit Welney Wetlands reserve on our way north from London.

Welney Wetlands

After a refreshing drink in the great cafe here, we make our way over to the main hide. One of the attractions of this reserve is the chance to see Whooper Swans all year around. This species was once only a winter visitor but a small population have now become resident and breed here. The strange thing is that their offspring join with a large number of Whoopers who still arrive here in winter and depart with the migration back to the traditional breeding grounds the following spring.

Whooper Swan

The reserve, a hive of activity in winter with the visiting ducks, swans and geese, is relatively quiet during the summer. A few Avocets and Lapwings were present on the washes along with a single Eurasian Teal and Common Pochard.

One unusual sighting was a Ringed Teal, a South American species which has no doubt escaped from someone’s exotic bird collection but which seems to be making a new life for itself amongst the wild duck on the reserve.

Ringed Teal

Other birds of note were a distant Great White Egret, my first Barn Swallows and Common Swifts of the year, the resident Tree Sparrows and some smart male Common Reed Buntings on the feeding station.

Tree Sparrow
Reed Bunting (m)(archive)

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)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
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)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Common Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia communis)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow [sp] (Passer montanus)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

An unpromising weather forecast but Keith and I decided to head off to New Hythe and Leybourne Lakes in search of Nightengales. This area in the Medway Valley is now one of the remaining strongholds for this declining species.

As we leave the train at New Hythe it has been raining but has now stopped and we proceed into the lake complex which is managed for fishing, leisure and Wildlife. Within a hundred yards we are greeted by our first singing Nightengale. It will be one of the 10-12 singing males we will encounter over the time we spend in the lake complex, which is excellent news for the forthcoming breeding season.

Recording of Nightengale singing

Other highlights were 15 singing Blackcaps plus a smaller number of Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Sedge warblers, Reed Warblers, Cettis warblers and Chiffchaffs, but strangely no Willow Warblers, which neither of us has managed to hear so far this year. I hope they are just delayed and this is not an indication of some problem during their migration

We also had six species of Butterfly: Peacock, Speckled Wood, Green-Veined White, Small White and Brimstone.

As we were heading for Snodland Station we spotted a Kestrel on the church tower.

Kestrel (m)

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
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)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
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)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Lesser Whitethroat [sp] (Sylvia curruca)
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)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Greenfinch [sp] (Chloris chloris)

20130108125152(1)

Sometimes also known as the Rose-ringed parakeet, these birds originally from Africa and Asia have become established in the South East of England and are spreading northward. The UK population is thought to be of Indian origin and established itself following escapes from captivity. Its amazing breeding success has seen a rapid expansion of range in a relatively short time.

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Even though Greater London and surrounding areas is still its stronghold, the species has been recorded in almost every county in England, and has reached Wales and the Scottish borders. The latest estimate is around 10,000 breeding pairs, but this may be an underestimate as the counts at our 2 local winter roosts were 6,000 and 2,000 birds  last year.

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A Bank Holiday Monday morning visit to the Kent Wildlife Trust reserve at Sevenoaks to look for Little Ringed plover and other migrants.

The reserve is based around two large lakes which were originally dug for sand and gravel extraction. My first stop was at the hide overlooking the west end of the main lake. This was where the Little Ringed Plovers had been seen the previous day but there was no sign this morning. More common birds were present including Tufted Duck, Teal, Mallard, Great Crested Grebe and a single Mute Swan.

Eurasian Teal (m)
Wood Forget-me-nots

I then walked through the wood to the hide at the other end of the main lake but only saw the same species. Blackcaps were singing in the trees but no other migrant warblers were heard. My final stop was at the hide on the second lake. Here there was a group of Greylag Geese. The feeding station was not busy and only a couple of Blue Tits, a Great Tit, a Dunnock and a Magpie visited whilst I was there.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker [sp] (Picus viridis)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)

Large White (Pieris brassicae)
Small White (Artogeia rapae)
Orange Tip (Anthocharis cardamines)
Peacock Butterfly (Inachis io)

Canada Goose

Posted: April 19, 2019 in Birds, Natural History
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The Canada Goose was originally a native of North America. A few individuals manage to reach the UK naturally each year. However, the vast majority of the population dates from introductions. Historical records show that this was likely to have begun in the early 17th century, when a group of geese were presented to King Louis XIII in Paris. In the UK the first recorded introduction was in the late 17th century, when a group of Canada Geese were introduced into the Royal wildfowl collection in St James’s Park. From these small beginnings, it is estimated that the current UK breeding population is 62,000 pairs and the wintering population is around 190,000 birds.

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The Canada goose has become a common bird of UK lakes, gravel pits and urban parks. They usually form monogamous pairings which stay together until one bird dies. They can lay between 2-9 eggs per pair per year (average five) and it is not uncommon on our local lake to have 10 to 15 young every summer. In the UK there are not many things that will take even a half grown Canada goose and so it is easy to see how their numbers prospered over the years. Indeed, in some places measures have had to be taken to limit their success and prevent them becoming a pest. Interestingly, the UK population unlike its American counterpart tends to be a resident species with very limited migration.

Working at home today with a wonderful view from my study window