Saturday, 28 February 2015

Boardwalk Birding.

On Tuesday I made another visit to Thursley Common in the hope of catching up with the over-wintering Great Grey Shrike. After an unsuccessful  two hour search around 'Shrike Hill' under an overcast sky and a strong westerly wind with very little avian activity apart from a noisy Carrion Crow and disturbing two Woodlark I returned to the car for a rest.
After a while the clouds gave way to afternoon sunshine so I decided to have another search and eventually added this species to my year list but unfortunately it never got close enough to the lens!

On my return journey along the boardwalk a male Stonechat (above) obliged the lens by perching in a bare Birch and then a brief sighting of a Dartford Warbler as it headed for deep cover in the Gorse just before a female Reed Bunting (below) also made use of the flowering Gorse for a perch as the wind ruffled her feathers.

On Friday under a much calmer, sunny sky I visited Riverside Country Park, on the outskirts of Guildford where I logged Cormorant, Mute Swan, Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Coot, Lapwing, Kestrel, Green Woodpecker, Blackbird, Robin, Starling, Crow, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Treecreeper, Wren, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon and added Grey Wagtail plus Cetti's Warbler to my County year list.

An immature Mute Swan (above) changing into its adult plumage flying up the Wey Navigation and (below) a male Reed Bunting seen singing from its flimsy perch as I slowly wandered across the boardwalk.

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

Linking to Saturday's Critters hosted by Eileen.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Fences and Flyers.

A few more images from my recent visit to Farlington Marshes incorporating the fences and some of the flying species that occupy this landscape. Linking to Good Fences hosted by TexWisGirl.

Miles of barbed wire fencing erected to segregate the different habitats around this reserve also helps to contain cattle used to manage the grazing areas and to deter us two legged beings from trespassing. 

Meadow Pipit hanging on tightly.

Dark-bellied Brent Geese. 

Black-headed Gull looking for somewhere to land.

Barnacle Geese (part of a 28 strong flock)

My view over the reed bed where most of the in-flight shots were taken. FAB.

To view the previous post images also taken during this visit please click HERE and Here.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Birding Farlington Marshes.

As a continuation to 'Geese Galore', which focused on the over-wintering migrant geese that take up residence in Langstone Harbour, this post will highlight just a few of the 53 species logged during last Sunday's visit to Farlington Marshes.

When I arrived at 9 am after a 56 mile drive the high tide was on the turn but there were still small groups of Brent Geese on the water.

Brent Geese (Branta bernicla ssp. bernicla).
Whilst most of the waders, including Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Avocet, Turnstone, Dunlin, Oystercatcher and Grey Plover were feeding way out in the harbour on the slowly expanding areas of mud I did manage to locate a lonesome (Common) Redshank close by the sea-wall.

Redshank (Tringa totanus).

Once the party of a dozen birders from the Surrey Bird Club were assembled we commenced our anti-clockwise circuit of the 153 hectares of Farlington Marshes by following the track around the seawall. 

After scanning the harbour and adding Mallard, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pintail, Little Egret and the usual Gull species our attention turned to the nearby pool.

With typically high water levels at this time of year there weren't many waders present, just a few Godwit and Dunlin but we added Grey Heron, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Gadwall and one of my favourite winter ducks the Northern Pintail with the males sporting their elegant breeding plumage. I also located a Snipe hiding in the grass, bobbing slightly as it moved, but it turned out to be just the common variety!

Northern Pintail (Anus acuta).
I have previously mentioned that this site is internationally important as it plays host to particularly large populations of the Dark-bellied Brent Goose, Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin.

Some of the Icelandic Black-tailed Godwits can be seen wearing coloured rings in various combinations on the tibia  (above the ‘knee’ joint) and the tarsus (below the ‘knee’ joint), and each scheme has one ring of a particular colour in a constant position. The Farlington Ringing Group plays an important role in this and you can find out more about the coding and schemes here. 

Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa).
As you can see it can be difficult to clearly identify all the rings on some individuals especially when they are walking in the water but every sighting record submitted helps to build up a picture of each bird's location history. One of our group diligently documented our combined sightings.

During a visit here in January 2009 I digiscoped my first colour ringed BTG and you can see the images and some of its life its history in a previous post entitled 'Godwit Sighting History'.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta).
One of a handful of Little Egrets seen searching for a meal during our walk. Amazing to recall that any sighting 26 years ago was considered a rare event.

Herring Gull
After one full circuit my colleagues walked back to their vehicles for lunch but I decided to spend some time wandering along the stream to capture some flight shots and while scanning the extensive adjacent reed bed two Bearded Reedlings zipped in and out of view and a Cetti's Warbler called from a nearby shrub.
I also obtained a few shots of Gulls and Shelduck flying to and from the harbour.

Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna).

Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus).
Every now and then the flock of Lapwings took flight, probably disturbed by over-flying noisy helicopters, and so distinctive with their two tone wing pattern, shape and shrill 'pwaay-eech' call.

Very surprisingly the only raptor I spotted was a hovering Kestrel. 

Further round the circuit a small flock of Linnets passed overhead. Skylarks were heard and then two seen chasing one another. Stonechats popped into view at several spots.

With the tide receding further we had distant scoped views of Common Ringed Plover, Great Crested Grebe, Goldeneye and several pairs of Red-breasted Merganser.

The grazing marsh was, of course, littered with hundreds of Brent Geese (up to 4,000 recently recorded on site), 28 Barnacle Geese, and numerous Shelduck plus a few Tufted Ducks amoungst all the other duck species already logged.

Barnacle and Brent Geese.

After some six hours of glorious coastal birding under a chilly winter sun I had added a dozen species to my year list to take the total to 101. So with final views of the Barnacle and Brent Geese in flight it was time to wend my weary way home.  FAB.

Linking to:
Saturday's Critters 
Wild Bird Wednesday 

Friday, 20 February 2015

Friday Blues.

It is a dull grey day here today and only 15 species logged during my late morning patch walk so here are recent shots of a Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) a species that visits us most days of the year.

Have a glorious wildlife watching weekend, wherever you are.  FAB.

Linking to Camera Critters.

Still Waters.

While scanning a coastal reed bed for a of a glimpse of a Bearded Reedling I thought this image might qualify for inclusion in today's edition of Good Fences hosted by TexWisGirl and Weekend Reflections.

 A Little Egret stirring up the fence post reflection.

And finally, a Teal floating on glass.  Lots more images of the coastal birds coming soon.  FAB.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Wood Nuthatch (Sitta europaea).

While walking my local patch I hear Nuthatch (Sitta europaea ssp. caesia) calling more often than seeing them so when an opportunity to get some images presented itself during a visit to Warnham L.N.R. I took a few shots when one briefly visited a feeder.

 Just a pity about the shadow cast by the roof of the table feeder!

After a very long wait I eventually got that classic downward pose when it perched on a nearby tree trunk. FAB.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Geese Galore.

One of my favourite south coast locations during the winter is Farlington Marshes to enjoy the spectacle of the thousands of geese that migrate here from the high arctic.

The main focus of a brief mid-week visit was on the dark-bellied form of  Brent Geese (Branta bernicla ssp. bernicla) that take up residence on the 125 hectares of grazing marsh. Throughout the day, depending on the tide conditions, they constantly commute in varying flock numbers between the harbour and the grazing marshes feeding on eel grass their preferred food.

They constantly chat to one another ... a low pitched gargling guttural sound.

For a decent close (see below) up I searched through my archives. (Taken at the same site in 2012)

On Sunday I made another visit with the Surrey Bird Club (SBC), initially under a cloudy sky that eventually brightened up, which allowed good views of the Brent Geese plus 53 other species including a flock of 28 Barnacle Geese (Branta leucopsis) another arctic breeding species.

Barnacle Geese flying over with a single, slightly smaller, Brent Goose (bottom right) in the lead.

Unfortunately these geese were only feeding in the centre of the grazing marsh so for a close up (below) I hunted through my recent archives (taken at the London Wetland Centre)FAB.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

A Mixed Birding Week.

A mixed week weather wise with dull overcast skies and the occasional sunny period. So here are just a few of the species that found their way in front of the lens.

Following on from my earlier post 'Visit to Warnham L.N.R.' a few more species seen that day including one of the many Blue Tits.

A female Chaffinch.

Mrs Pheasant strutting her stuff! (I have some close-ups of the feather patterns that I'll share in a future post.)

Later in the week I took a quiet stroll around the ponds at Bookham Common which played host to 10 Gadwall who were disturbed by other walkers before I could get any shots, but two of the 6 Tufted Ducks were more obliging.

Don't I look smart?  Male and female Tufted Duck.

A pair of Mute Swans enjoying time together.

Nesting time has begun. The local Grey Herons were flying back and forth about every five minutes collecting appropriate material. It will be interesting to see how many nests are occupied during the breeding season.

And finally a Robin in our garden letting the opposition know that it has taken up residence.

On Sunday, weather permitting, I hope to visit the coast to see some over-wintering waders and my favourite geese, the Black-bellied Brent.  FAB.

Linking to Saturday's Critters.


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