Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

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)

As you travel around London at ground level it is difficult to appreciate just how green our city is. Only when looking at maps or aerial photographs can you really see the true picture, so I was very interested to see this article from Stephen Liddell about a new designation for London recognising its natural environment.

 

One way or the other, London is famous for many things. Whether it be History, finance, empire, culture or just the weather. One of the things that might not spring to mind when you think of London, however, is just how green it is even though by area, it has by far more green and […]

via London – The first National Park City in the World — Stephen Liddell

This sculpture is found in Whittington Gardens in the city of London. It was presented to the city of London as one of a pair in 2005 by the President of Italy. They were originally sculpted by Cambellotti in 1924. It depicts a herdsman on horseback.

Trees of Arne

Posted: October 15, 2018 in Announcements, Dorset, Landscape, Natural History, UK
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During my trip to the RSPB reserve at Arne last month I spent the morning in the woodland to avoid the showers which gave me the opportunity to look at and photograph some of the wonderful old trees there.

It was pouring with rain as I left London, on a RSPB group outing, for the 120-mile journey to Dorset and the RSPB reserve at Arne. Arne is situated on a peninsula which stands out into Poole Harbour, the largest natural harbour in the UK. It has a wondrous array of different habitats ranging from woodland to wetlands and heathland.

Saltmarsh (top), heathland (bottom left), farmland (bottom centre) and woodland (bottom right)

It continued to rain heavily as we passed through the new forest and it was not until we reached Bournemouth that there was a break in the rain, much to the relief of all – birdwatching in heavy rain is not much fun! Arriving at Arne, there was still rain in the air and so I opted for the northern part of the reserve, which contains the woodland and a hide overlooking one of the channels of the harbour. The woodland was quiet although there was a marked passage of Barn Swallows migrating south. At the hide overlooking the saltmarsh, there were 30 Spoonbills. This once rare bird from the Mediterranean area is now established in Dorset and Norfolk, another sign of our changing climate and birdlife.

There were also Oystercatchers, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank and Little Egrets feeding on the marsh.

Eurasian Curlew and Little Egret

Towards lunchtime I made my way back to the visitor’s centre and after lunch ventured south onto the heathland. By now the weather had changed completely and the rain had been replaced by bright sunshine. Heathland is not the most productive of bird habitats but it does provide a home to some special birds and one of these was my target for the afternoon. The Dartford Warbler is limited to heathland habitat. As one of our few resident warbler species, it has been severely hit in past years by hard winters and loss of habitat. Thankfully it does seem to be recovering and in some places like Arne flourishing – 70 pairs bred on the reserve this year. Even in this abundance, they remain a skulking bird and so finding one was not a guaranteed thing.

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Dartford Warbler (adult male). Photo by Dave Curtis (https://www.flickr.com/photos/davethebird/)

As I made my way across the heath, I came across Helen, another of our party who had caught a brief glimpse of a bird in gorse and so we waited. Eventually, we were joined by one of the volunteer wardens and as the three of us waited we saw a small bird pop into a tree. But what was it, it was grey, darker above than below – certainly not the colours of a Dartford warbler. But then it came into clear view and it certainly looked like a Dartford, with its long tail cocked at an angle. It was one of this year’s young – I had never seen a juvenile before. Then there were other birds with it and eventually, 4 flew across to a nearby tree. at least one had the rich colours of a male and so we concluded we had a family group. We watched as they moved from bush to tree and back to gorse.

There was time left for a quick check over the Middlebere channel, but apart from a Shelduck and a large flock of Black-tailed Godwits, there was little to be seen. Then it was time to make my way back to the Visitor centre for a drink before we embarked on the journey back to London.

An excellent day, especially considering the weather on the way down, with Spoonbill and Dartford Warblers, the highlight of the day.

Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Eurasian Spoonbill [sp] (Platalea leucorodia)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
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 Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Coal Tit [sp] (Periparus ater)
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)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Dartford Warbler [sp] (Sylvia undata)
Eurasian Nuthatch [sp] (Sitta europaea)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Norfolk Skies 2018

Posted: October 11, 2018 in Landscape, Natural History, Norfolk, UK
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Once again this year we witnessed some remarkable skies during our stay in Norfolk. Here are a few of the photographs.

 

 

 

Our journey has come to an end for another year and so we begin our journey back to London. But we have one last stop, for lunch, at the RSPB reserve at Lakenheath, on the Norfolk/Suffolk border.

This once was once agricultural land where carrots were farmed but has been returned to the original fen habitat by the RSPB over a number of years. The highlight of our visit were a number of excellent views of Eurasian Hobby as they hunted over the fens.

Pheasant (left), Great Tit (top right) and Little Egret (bottom right)

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Eurasian Hobby [sp] (Falco subbuteo)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Marsh Tit [sp] (Poecile palustris)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Cetti’s Warbler [sp] (Cettia cetti)
Eurasian Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Common Reed Bunting [sp] (Emberiza schoeniclus)

 

 

Last full day of our trip to Norfolk and we spend the morning at Cley Marshes. On the way we saw a white Pheasant, leucistic rather than albino as well as a Grey Partridge.

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Arriving at Cley Marshes we make our way out through the reed bed to the hides. There is little activity here due to the wind.

Any bird with sense is tucked away deep in the reed-bed keeping its head down. Arriving at the hides in the centre of the marsh, there are a good number of waders on the scrapes including a large party of Black-tailed Godwit together with smaller parties of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Ruff. Three Marsh Harriers quarter the reed-bed causing considerable agitation to the waders.

                 Common Gull (top left), Ruff (bottom left), Black-tailed Godwit (top right)                             and Great Cormorant (bottom right)

Leaving Cley we make our way along the coast to Wells harbour. We walk out to the harbour through Wells Wood, past a small lake where there were a number of Little Grebes.

 

Reaching the beach the tide is far out. The water goes out a long way on the flat beaches of North Norfolk.

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On the Mudflats, there are a large number of Oystercatchers plus Redshank, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Grey Plover and a single Greenshank.

Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Gadwall [sp] (Mareca strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Grey Partridge [sp] (Perdix perdix)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Bar-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa lapponica)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Ruff (Calidris pugnax)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
White Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)

 

 

We spent today at the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Hickling Broad. The Broads is an area of ancient peat digging which has flooded and formed a connection with local waterways to form a network of lakes. It is very popular with people in boats, but it also a wonderful wild habitat as much the surrounding land is not accessible.

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At the visitor centre, we had a wonderful view of a Hornet’s nest in the roof and could appreciate its fantastic structure.

Were were fortunate to be able to spend two hours travelling around the reserve by boat through narrow ways through the reeds and on the open water to visit parts of the reserve which cannot be accessed from the land.

Ringed Plover and Dunlin

 

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Mareca penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Little Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius dubius)
Ruff (Calidris pugnax)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Common Snipe [sp] (Gallinago gallinago)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Western Yellow Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla flava)
White Wagtail (Pied) (Motacilla alba yarrellii)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)