Monday, 31 January 2011

RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch.

We carried out our RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch for one hour yesterday morning. For the first 20 minutes it was as 'dead as a doornail' but once the first advance guard Greenfinch arrived then everything else seemed to appear in succession over the next 25 minutes until it all went quiet again. So here are our sightings; the numbers in brackets indicating the maximum number of each species seen:

Robin (2)
House Sparrow (8)
Greenfinch (9)
Blackcap (1)
Chaffinch (1)
Siskin (1)
Blackbird (2)
Great Tit (1)
Blue Tit (2)
Coal Tit (1)
Starling (7)
Collared Dove (2)
Woodpigeon (3)
Magpie (1)
Ring-necked Parakeet (2)

According to my records for our 2010 count the overall species total is very similar but we didn't see Song Thrush, Dunnock or Lesser Redpoll this year but their places were taken by Chaffinch, Siskin and Ring-necked Parakeet. House Sparrow numbers were the same but far more Greenfinches around this January. 
The birds weren't too keen on having their photos taken through the window so apologies for the poor quality plus the Siskin (top right) didn't want to show her face at all!  

Finally I should like to THANK everyone who left me Birthday Wishes .. I had a pleasant day with my parents today including a tasty lunch at a local hotel plus a wander around the High Street where I started my working life back in the mid sixties with my mother pointing out all the changes that have occurred over the ensuing years.     FAB.

A Year Older but ...

Today (31st) I will be a another year older but not sure I'm any the wiser! I can often recall images and events from ages ago with distinct clarity but according to someone who knows me very well I can't remember exactly what I said some hours ago .... that's life. Unlike modern technology I can't install a fresh set of up to date memory banks so will have to live with what I've got. 

Attempting to think back and review what I may have achieved in the past 12 months I couldn't think of anything particularly significant; just one new bird added to my UK list but then I have taken a much more relaxed approach throughout 2010. More by luck than anything else, some of my photographic attempts have encouraged me to spend more time with specific species and hopefully this trend will continue and the output and quality will improve. Wildlife photography is certainly providing me with an interesting challenge as an accompaniment to both my wildlife watching activities and not least blogging what I see as I stroll around my favourite locations. 

One thing I have noted is the increasing number of visitors and followers to my blog and my thanks go out to everyone who continues to drop by plus all those who continually leave encouraging comments thereby spurring me on to share my encounters in nature that might be of interest.

I will not be consciously wildlife watching today as we are visiting my parents and taking them out for a meal. I do have a few posts up my sleeve but in the meantime I'll leave you with a close up of a favourite winter goose .... the Brent.
Branta bernicia
Wishing everyone a glorious wildlife watching week, wherever you are.   FAB. 

Friday, 28 January 2011

Garden Update.

 No new visitors to the garden this week, just the regular House Sparrows often tussling with the very
greedy Greenfinches and you can guess who usually wins! An increasing number of visits by the Parakeets showing off their acrobatic skills on the feeders; the very docile Collared Doves and we still have a male Blackcap, Chaffinch and Siskin making regular forays for food in addition to the Coal, Blue and Great Tits plus Starlings and Blackbirds. No signs for three weeks of a Dunnock so maybe it hasn't survived the bad weather or hopefully found another location to find food!
With the temperature just above freezing I spent a few hours yesterday starting to tidy up the garden and was delighted to see signs of new growth. Many of the Hellebores are sporting flower buds so looks like we may have a good showing and it will be interesting to see what colours appear from some of the older seedlings. A Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) already in full bloom; a carpet of hardy Cyclamen leaves displaying their various patterns glistening after some rainfall with a few tight flower heads hidden below waiting to open; still a number of seed heads on one of the later flowering Clematis plus dense clusters of red buds on the Skimmia japonica 'Rubella' that hopefully will open to provide some fragrance around the patio in the spring.
Robin getting in a twist!

Over the past two days I have been making some changes to the blog by moving some information from the sidebar into NEW pages and I hope this has not disrupted any of my readers accessing the blog or leaving comments. (If you have experienced any difficulties then please let me know.) I still have some more work to do ... adding further information about my regular birding and wildlife watching locations etc. which I hope, in due course, everyone will find helpful.    Have a great weekend .... FAB.  

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Winter Duck - Common Goldeneye.

As a follow up to the post on the Smew (aka White Nun) I thought I would share another of my favourite winter ducks, the Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula), a species that also nests in tree holes. 
From a distance the male in breeding plumage appears to be just gleaming white with black upper parts but on closer examination  (see images 5 and 6 below) other colours become apparent. As part of its courtship display in early spring the male tosses its head back so the bill faces backwards and then stretches its neck with the bill pointing skywards while often splashing its feet. I have seen a male practicing recently but couldn't get close enough for a decent view.
The female sports a mix of colours; a deep brown rounded head with pale yellow eye, with ash-grey flanks and breast. A small triangular shaped bill that is totally dark on a juvenille (above) but has a yellow band at the tip on an adult female (see below).   

A closer encounter reveals a head colour that can appear to be either green or purple-black depending on the angle of light. The puffed out cheeks which give it a triangular shape when viewed head on is very diagnostic together with the white loral spot and yellow eyes.
The (Common) Goldeneye is a regular winter migrant to the UK and can be seen around the coast, in estuaries, on lakes and reservoirs until it returns northwards in the Spring.    FAB.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Patch Walk - Epsom Common Pond.

I spent a few hours wandering around Epsom Common Pond and its surroundings on Tuesday morning wondering why it seemed so quiet.
On the Great Pond where 2 resting Cormorants, a single Moorhen and 2 Grey Herons who as usual stayed well away from the camera. Several Song Thrushes were singing to one another and I caught glimpses of a flitting Goldcrest as it actively searched for a meal, 2 Coal Tits, plus the usual Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Robin and Blackbird. Nuthatches and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were tapping and calling constantly but no sign of any Lessers or Treecreepers. Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw and a few Carrion Crows were also seen while the occasional Parakeet squawked as it passed overhead.. As I entered the woodland 5 Redpoll called as they flew over and just as it started to rain a flock of 50 Redwing streamed into the trees and then promptly moved off as a dog barked from a nearby pathway. Heading towards the path overlooking Rushett Farm I saw the recent evidence of substantial scrub clearance and heard the buzzing sounds of wood being sawn (part of the ongoing woodland management) ... with all that noise no wonder there was no avian activity!
So to keep myself occupied I tested out my new Canon Powershot S95 that I bought for Xmas to replace my non working Samsung Compact which for some unaccountable reason now appears to have repaired itself as if by magic!  Well at least I'll have a replacement should either of them fail in the future.
Heavily laden catkins dancing in the light breeze.
Greedy Greenfinches.

When I got home the garden birds were actively emptying the feeders again and to my surprise two Blue Tits emerged from the nest box behind the shed .... using it as an overnight roost or very early nest investigation?  Today I clearly heard the Blue Tits pecking away in side the box which in the past has usually been a precursor to nest building ... only time will tell.   FAB.

Walking on Water.

This male Shoveler shows me how he gets up and walks on the water.   FAB.

Check out more WATERY WEDNESDAY images here. 

Monday, 24 January 2011

Just Chilling Out.

 While the 'master' of the Red Deer herd kept a watchful eye on his ladies .... AND the watcher ...
 .... everyone else was just chilling out and enjoying some brief winter sunshine ...
.... including a number of much younger Red Deer bucks.
Sniffing the breeze AND keeping one eye on you know who!
After a little bit of friendly play fighting .....
.... its time to chill out again.   FAB.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

White Nun (Mergellus albellus).

Every winter one of the smallest sawbills, the Smew (Mergellus albellus) migrates southwards from its northern boreal breeding grounds in Finland, Sweden and Russia. Small numbers can usually be found at regular overwintering sites from December until March throughout the southern counties of the UK. 

The drake is predominantly white with black markings giving an appearance of 'cracked ice'.

The females are also known as ' Redheads'  for obvious reasons.
As this species is, in my experience, always very shy and restless, these  images were taken during a visit to the wildfowl collection at Barnes WWT.     FAB.

Click here to link to WORLD BIRD WEDNESDAY

Friday, 21 January 2011

Sunny Stroll in Richmond Park.

After days of grey skies it was good to take a stroll across Richmond Park earlier this week and observe the local inhabitants in some sunshine. The first encounter was a large group of Red Deer .... over 30 Does being watched over by their master.
Every so often this large buck made his presence known to a couple of other younger males that were wandering around the periphery of this herd while making sure his charges were safe and secure.
A Kestrel hovered over the open heathland and then decided to perch a little way in front of me but typically as I moved a little closer it decided to move away and I wasn't ready to change the camera settings for a flying seqence!
 Still plenty of water lying along the pathways as I headed towards Penn Ponds.
 Carrion Crow patiently waiting for some action.
 One of many noisy Ring-necked Parakeets that patrol the parkland skies.
 Grey Heron in its usual pose.
 A Cormorant flies over ......
 .... and joins its chums to chill out.
 Male Pochard and Tufted Duck.
 Male Gadwall.
 Great Crested Grebe.
After a very inquisitive stare from an Egyptian Goose it was time to head home and review a well filled card that should produce more images for some future posts. Have a enjoyable wildlife watching weekend.  FAB.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Tufties on the Pond.

After several days of grey overcast skies it was a pleasure to go for a stroll around Richmond Park today and be able to capture a few of the local residents enjoying the sunshine.
The camera got quite a lot of bashing so to kick things off I thought I would share some images of the delightful Tufted Duck (Ayhya fuligula).

As is typical of many species the female is less colourful than the male but she also sports that little tuft on the rear of her rounded head and the very distinctive yellow eye.

The male in his typical black coat with prominent rectangular white flanks. In a mature adult the crest will eventually lengthen and droop nearly onto its back. 
 The head colour also appears to change, showing a bluish hue, as the light catches the head feathers.
 There was plenty of other activity around the park and I'll share those images in a future post.  FAB.

For more World Bird Wednesday images please click this link.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Windy Coastal Walk.

On Saturday morning we met up with our friends Tony and Jean on the south coast at Pagham Lagoon Spit for a walk around the harbour to the North Wall. The Lagoon held a few Tufted Ducks, 5 Goldeneye, a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers and the usual Little Grebes. Unfortunately the tide was falling so our intial views across the harbour were the very large numbers of Dark-bellied Brent Geese moving between the water and distant fields to feed.
Dark-bellied Brent Geese.
The view on arriving at the North Wall was one of water, water everywhere ... totally flooded fields and very little to be seen close by. However once we ventured along the embankment we picked out Wigeon, Pochard, Mallard, Teal, Shoveler, Shelduck, Canada Geese and finally large numbers of waders much further away. 
With many of the species somewhat distant I hunkered down to reduce the effect of the strong wind and attempted some digiscoping while watching the thousands of Lapwing lift off, circle around and then resettle on the very wet meadows.

Apart from the Lapwing there were also good numbers of Black-tailed Godwits, Knot, Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank, a few Grey Plover, Oystercatchers plus Ruff and Common Snipe.
I would have preferred to get some closer (and sharper) views but keeping the gear steady while attemting to focus on the continually moving waders in such poor light tested my patience somewhat! Anyway watching large numbers of species, especially waders, is always a delight.
 A line of Golden Plovers resting face on into the wind.
A few Redshank taking shelter.

Other sightings included a Kestrel and a very distant Sparrowhawk, 5 species of gulls including Mediterranean, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Skylark and Linnet plus I also heard a Bearded Tit calling from the reeds. By the end of the day I had added 14 species to my year list so together with an unexpected sighting of 2 Hawfinch during a local patch walk (Horton C.P.) my January total now stands at 90.  All I need now is some decent weather and light to add some species to the photo album.    FAB.


Related Posts with Thumbnails