Archive for the 'birds' Category

09
Sep
22

Six Whistler

When staring out to sea, as I often do, looking for cetaceans, birds often attract my attention. These Whimbrel flew West the other week when watching at Cley.

05
Sep
22

Wild Ken Hill

One of the best places in the county to see Grey Partridge is Wild Ken Hill between Snettisham and Heacham in the West of Norfolk. Book yourself on a ‘Big Picture Tour’ for a trip around the estate and learn what good work the WKH team are doing on the farm and in the rewilding area to look after our wildlife and produce our food sustainably.

30
Aug
22

Migration

Swallows are not our birds; we only borrow them. Soon to be lost to foreign shores. Drink these beauties in while you can.

23
Aug
22

First for Britain

As that temperature contour continues to flow North aided by global warming, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that new species for the UK will move on its crest. I found myself to the South of King’s Lynn the other week. Unusually, I had a little time to spare. A visit to Graffham Water was on the cards. The Cape Gull showed admirably.

I’m not so sure I would have pulled that giant bill out from the flock. I would probably have passed it over as an odd Greater-Black Backed. Well done to the finder… and thank you.

05
Aug
22

Wader-fest

The reserve at Frampton in Lincolnshire without doubt will become an RSPB showpiece. There are certain improvements going on at the moment that will make it irresistible to visitors. Both avian and human.

Barbara, Carol, Richard and Ross accompanied me on a tour there last week. We had a good number of passing Yellow Wagtails but without doubt the highlight was the wader-fest presented before us. A wide range of species in great numbers.

01
Aug
22

For the love of Dolphins

Sailing through the Summer Isles off Ullapool last month we were on a glass mirror sea passing rocky outcrops punctuated with Arctic Terns. Young were pestering parents for their next meal … nothing in nature varies in that respect. As we pulled into a sea cave a Common Sandpiper fell from one of the ledges and proclaimed its objections to us being there with a diagnostic call and fluttering flight.

Moving further out from the coast the skipper sighted dolphins ahead. It wasn’t long before we were surrounded by playful, accommodating and very very beautiful Common Dolphins.

They are not there, then they are, then they are gone again. They bow ride and leap from the water. They watch you from under crystal clear water as they swim alongside. There’s something quite enigmatic and mysterious about Common Dolphins. I just love them.

29
Jul
22

Collective

Despite the massive reduction of Bonxies (up to 80%) we found a bathing group of Great Skuas this week in the heights of Scotland. Twenty-two birds eventually came together in a small lochan for a wash and brush up. The sighting prompted us to ponder what the collective noun should be for a group of skuas. We came up with ‘An attack’ of skuas.

I was in conversation with Simon Barnes about his wife’s lovely art installation at Cley. Cindy is very talented, if you are around please go and see it first-hand. I mentioned the sighting of the skuas to Simon and he said the following: ‘Surely an assault of bonxies. More violent and a punning hint of their environment’

What do you think?

21
Jul
22

All Skua’d out

I’m currently in the very North of Scotland leading the Sutherland Tour. Yesterday we visited a skua colony attended by wardens. Both Arctic and Great Skuas nest in the colony and numbers are down because of avian flu. The Great Skuas are suffering greatly … an 80% reduction in numbers at this one colony will mean populations will be low and vulnerable for some time. The Arctic Skuas are doing better.

I think a pale phase Arctic Skua takes a lot of beating.

15
Jul
22

A rare bird and a rare dragon

Without doubt one of my own personal highlights of the recent butterfly tour to Cumbria was finding several White Faced Darter Dragonflies. One of our rarest insects it sports a very smart livery indeed. One in particular was lying low out of the wind warming itself on the boardwalk.

Perhaps the only thing that could have ousted it from the top spot was a bird sat on a pub sign just West of the Welland as we ventured back into Norfolk. As bold as brass, sat at the roadside sporting distinctive red feet was the dark slate form of a male Red footed Falcon. Seeing a good bird at 60mph is never satisfying so I even negotiated the traffic to turn around and go back for a better look … only to find it had moved on.

01
Jul
22

Black Yank Back

When we went on the East Coast Seabird Tour last year one of the intriguing birds we saw was a Black Tern in Northumberland. That in itself is not so unusual. What was a little different was Black Terns are Marsh Terns and wouldn’t normally be found in close association with Common, Little and Arctic Terns in a beach colony.

I’ve never seen an American Black Tern in summer plumage. I’ve only seen winter plumage birds – that wear distinctive ‘headphones’ like the one I photographed in 2011 at Covenham in Lincolnshire. https://wildcatchphotography.zenfolio.com/p912769488/h264a45db#h264a45db

It transpires that the white leading edge to the wing and sparkling white underwing, shown by the Northumberland bird are two features not shared by the European Black Tern in Summer Plumage. The bird was in fact an ‘American Black Tern’ of the race surinamensis.

Amazingly, what was undoubtedly the same bird returned this year and we called to see it on the East Coast Seabird Tour last week. When we first arrived at the colony it was nowhere to be seen. However, it wasn’t long before we saw, and heard, it fly in from the sea and come over the beach to where we were standing with the wardens. Being quite vocal it wasn’t difficult to keep track of and it showed amazingly well, enabling me to fire off a few frames as it flew overhead.




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