Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Seasons Greetings.

Wherever you are I wish all my followers and blog visitors a very Happy Christmas.  FAB.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Rose-ringed Parakeet.

During a stroll through the parkland today a brief period of winter sunshine provided an opportunity to take some images of one of our noisiest non native species, the Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) also known as the Ring-necked Parakeet.

This colourful and gregarious parakeet originates from the foothills of the Himalayas and whilst there have been various suggestions as to how this species was introduced locally its numbers have grown substantially mainly due to its ability to cope with our milder winters. In 2006 the winter roost at Esher Rugby Club was c. 6,000 but they have since disbursed elsewhere. A few winters ago 70-100 birds roosted just 100 yards from our house! 

Having a diet of berries, buds, nuts and seeds means that they are frequent visitors to our garden feeders.  For various reasons they are now considered a nuisance due to their mass foraging habits and ability to take over the nest holes of other native species but at least they brighten up a winter morning walk.  FAB. 

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Ruffled Feathers.

Grey Heron ... It's definitely chilly outside.

Just another bad hair day!  FAB.

Linking to Saturday's Critters.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Bittern at Barnes.

It was a chilly but clear morning on Sunday when I joined a Surrey Bird Club field-trip to the London Wetland Centre at Barnes. Some of the shallower parts of the extensive pools showed how cold it had been overnight with a thin layer of ice enabling this Coot to 'walk on the water'.

There were a number of species on our wish list and it wasn't long before the star attraction, a [Eurasian]  Bittern, (Botaurus stellaris) was located on the edge of a distant reed bed.

Typical of this well camouflaged species it stood stock still for many minutes before adopting its upright pose to scan the vicinity for a possible meal before disappearing into the reeds.

Other species logged included Lapwing, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Cormorant, Little Grebe, Northern Shoveler, Wigeon, Mute Swan, Canada, Greylag and Egyptian  Geese, Gulls (Herring, Black-headed, Common and Lesser Black-backed), Grey Heron, Robin, Stonechat, Tits (Blue, Great and Long-tailed), Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Ring-necked Parakeet, Carrion Crow, Magpie and Blackbird.

Whilst high up in the Peacock Hide I watched a male Sparrowhawk dashing low over the marsh scattering the wildfowl, Pigeons and Starlings before coming to rest in a tree close by but getting a clear shot through the foliage was near impossible.

On returning to the WWT Hide with one of my colleagues we were both fortunate to get another view of the Bittern that had reappeared in almost the same spot.

After walking up through the reeds it eventually decided to fly off to another distant reed bed. 
For many of my fellow birders this was probably the best ever views they had experienced of this elusive species and I'm pleased to have got a few record images to share for this weeks edition of Wild Bird Wednesday.  FAB.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Wings over the water.

With falling temperatures and chilling winds the birds haven't been very active but as soon as the park visitors arrive with any sort of handout the resident Black-headed Gulls seem to appear from everywhere and provide an opportunity to capture some in-flight shots. So here are a few from a recent session.

Flaps down for a safe landing.

Diving in at speed.

Losing some weight! .... Better watch out below!

Flying off with the prize.  Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday.

P.S. I have just learned that a close friend and birding companion for many years passed away on Sunday and my thoughts go out to his wife and family at this most difficult time. I hope to catch up with everyone in the next few days. FAB.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Recent Patch Birds.

Another damp and dreary week so very limited opportunities for photos during my local patch walks around Epsom Common Pond but here are a few of the recent visitors and residents.
A single Greylag Goose. A fairly infrequent visitor on the patch who decided to keep its distance.

I have counted up to six Northern Shoveler on the pond this last week. The males were in various plumage's but often hidden away while feeding in the waterside vegetation. Occasional forays across the water always seem to be a long way away from my viewing point hence this cropped record shot.  

One of the resident Mallard flying over in the hope of not missing out on a hand-out!

Kestrel taking a well earned rest from its hunting activities.

A 1st winter Mistle Thrush, perched in the open, showing off its distinctive rounded black breast spots and the paler outer coverts.

One of the many Ring-necked Parakeets inspecting a possible roosting hole. This is now a common resident breeding species but more often seen and heard when flying over the woodland.

Back at home there has been far more activity around the feeders including Blue Tit (above image shot through the window), Great Tits, Coal Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, House Sparrows, Starling, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird and Ring-necked Parakeets making sure I keep the larder well stocked.  FAB.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Day and Night at Kew Gardens.

A week ago today Anita and I visited Kew Gardens. At the start of our walk the Palm House, stocked full of exotic specimens, was bathed in autumnal sunlight but would look totally different some 6 hours later.

Normally hidden by all the abundant foliage is the Treetop Walkway. Just an 18 metre climb up the steps gets you high up into the canopy for a bird's-eye view of the gardens.

There was certainly no fear of feeling insecure as we traversed the walkway watching mixed flocks of Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits feeding amoungst the nearby branches.

Elsewhere we enjoyed the foliage colours, the snaking Sackler Crossing over the lake with its striking black granite walkway and its interesting fence plus the very modern design of the Davies Alpine House.

Once darkness fell the gardens took on a totally different persona as we followed the 'snowflake' trail to the sounds of enchanting music and interesting lighting displays.

Finally back at the Palm House we enjoyed more music as the lighting display bathed the structure in a myriad of colour and patterns.
Linking to Good Fences.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

More Reds.

A few more images from my sessions during the past two months with the Red Deer in Bushy Park.

Mother and her fawn.

No description necessary.

Totally relaxed.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Black-headed Gull.

Our most commonest colonial breeding gull occupying coastal and inland waters, often in large numbers, is the Black-headed Gull (Chrioicocephalus ridibundus)
It is fairly easy to identify at any time of year as it is our only gull species that reaches maturity in just two years. 

However its given name doesn't correctly match its looks as adults (above) in their summer plumage actually sport a dark chocolate-brown hood but of course from a distance it does look black.

At this time of year most of the adults are now in their winter plumage (above) and their dark cap is replaced by just a bold dark ear spot and the bill gains its black tip. The distinctive all white tail is also an obvious ID feature (see below) when in flight.

Well into autumn this years juveniles (above and below) are now sporting their 1st winter plumage, retaining some faded brown on the wings and the distinctive black tail band which is again very obvious in flight.

 A 1st winter individual flying in ahead of an adult just for comparison.  FAB.

Linking to WILD BIRD WEDNESDAY hosted by Stewart.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Red Fawn.

This Autumn I seem to have collected a lot of photos of the Red Deer in Bushy Park so here are a few images of one of the fawns enjoying some freedom but not too far from its mother.

For some views of the Fallow Deer, please click the link to my other blog.  FAB.

Linking to NATURE NOTES hosted by Michelle.

Damp Patch Birding.

The current weather pattern, windy, damp and heavily overcast skies, has not been conducive for photography during my recent patch walks. Most of the small birds have stayed in hiding so just a few images of the larger species seen on or around the pond.

Coot still collecting material to build up or repair the nest.
A couple of Cormorants called in for a few days and one spent some time trying to capture some warmth from the limited sunshine.

Earlier this month a male Northern Shoveler turned up on the Great Pond but typically kept a long way away from the lens. I subsequently spotted him with his mate who spent most of her time in hiding.

Eventually managed to capture him out of the water.

Mute Swans don't turn up on the patch very often so it was nice to see a pair drop in if only very briefly.

A single Black-headed Gull takes a rest from its aerial circuits around the pond.

Moorhen .... and it's time to dig out the wet weather gear!  Linking to I'D-Rather-B-Birdin'.

Wishing everyone a wonderful wildlife watching weekend, wherever you are.  FAB.


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