Sunday, 27 July 2014

Week 15 27-07-2014 Birds Spotted 2

Welcome to another update, and this week we have two new birds.
I've also decided to get an additional camera after selling my digital online card collection. I recently picked up a Canon SX50 in order to take shots while walking to work, and for birds that are out of reach of my 400mm lens. The quality isn't spectacular but as it's for record shots that's fine.

Anyway, here's a look at the two new birds I spotted this week. Both taking on my usual Canon 600d/400mm set up.

King Fisher
The first glimpse you'll normally get of this beautiful bird is a flash of sapphire as it flies up stream. After finishing work on Monday evening I decided to try Longham Lakes. On the way there I had a change of heart and decided to stop off at the iron bridge that crosses the River Stour, thinking it might be a good spot for Kingfishers. The hunch proved correct and I saw this delightful chap some five minutes after getting there.
It's a truly gorgeous bird with its orange and blue plumage and relatively large bill. It's an excellent fisherman, diving down from its perch to prey on minnows and sticklebacks.
Sadly, like several UK birds, it's now on the decline, with the RSPB awarding it an amber status. There are still around 4,000 breeding pairs, but it's nowhere near as common as it used to be. It's quite a territorial bird, have a range of 1km, but extending this in particularly tough winters. I only saw this bird for a few seconds and annoyingly had the wrong settings, meaning the shot is quite dark and noisy. The excitement that washed over me upon seeing it certainly made up for the less than stellar shot.
I love his little orange feet. Delightful.

Grey Wagtail
The second bird this week is a Grey Wagtail. It appeared with a mate roughly the same time as the Kingfisher, and ducked under some very dark undergrowth. As a result it's another poor shot, but at least it's recorded and added to the list :)
Grey Wagtails are surprisingly colourful birds with yellow undersides and the longest tails of all British Wagtails. They are found throughout most of the UK, only staying clear of certain areas of Scotland. They're fairly widespread birds with over 37,000 breeding pairs, which seems impressive until you realise there are around 470,000 breeding pairs of Pied Wagtails. Still, seeing this bird is a treat and it can often be seen flying up and down large stretches of fast-flowing rivers on the look out for tasty insects.
Not the greatest shot, but it's definitely a Grey Wagtail :)

So that's is for another week. We're now up to a not too shabby 84 birds, with 188 birds left to spot. I'll sign off with a few additional shots from my new camera.

A Carrion Crow guards the local graveyard.

While a lazy Herring Gull sits on its bum.

A Wood Pigeon on the look out for food.

A resting female House Sparrow.

A view from the bridge that crosses the River Stour.

A family of Mute Swans out for a swim.

Someone clearing out the weed.

Another noisy Carrion Crow.

A fluffy Wood Pigeon.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Week 14 20-07-2014 Birds Spotted 1 + Poole Park and Longham Lakes

So we got one new bird this week. However, it's not part of the RSPB book I'm using as a guide, so it won't count towards my list of 272 :( It's an interesting addition regardless and just proves that birds can show up when you least expect them.

Bar-Headed Goose
So this is my one new bird for the week. It's possibly wild as there are no indications that it is an escapee. Regardless, it's a long way from home as it's typically found in central Asia. It flies at higher altitudes than other geese and looks very much like a cross between a Greylag and a Canada goose. In fact that's what I thought it was to begin with. Someone on the RSPB forum soon pointed out my mistake though. Thanks Aiki. This one was quite content to be with all the other Greylags, meaning there was plenty of company for it.

So for those keeping track I'm still on 82 birds with 190 left to spot! I'll finish off with some highlights of my walk around Poole Park and Longham Lakes.

Saw lots of Black-Headed Gulls. This was my favourite.

A younger bird with different plumage.

Flyby. Getting happier with my bird in flight shots now.

Having a stretch!

A more different plumage. Gulls are a nightmare to tell apart.

Canada Geese were everywhere.

A Common Tern fishing at Longham Lakes.

Here he is again.

Mallard chicks were still plentiful at Pool Park.

This must be the second brood at least.

A watchful mother.
A male losing his colourful summer plumage.

Having a preen!

A rather gorgeous Mute Swan.
This one was at Longham.

More preening.

Another Longham Swan.

Coot were out in force at Longham.

Feeding their young.
Hanging out in groups.
Attacking Moorhens that got too close!

Speaking of Moorhens, this one was at Poole Park.
A pair of Great Crested Grebes.
Shame I missed the courtship displays. Maybe next year!

There were lots of young Pied Wagtails about.
Looking for insects.
A Greylag Goose splashes down.
Out with the family.
Having a rest.
Shame I couldn't fit this in frame.

Reed Buntings are normally well hidden, so I'm happy with this shot.

Tufted Ducks - mother and children.
A lazy male.
Out in force.
See if you can spot the Cormorant!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Week 13 13-07-2014 Birds Spotted 0

After the insane spotting of last week we hit a big fat zero. Still it's going to happen every now and then, and sometimes other things come along that mean you can't get as much time free as you'd like.

Having said that, I did manage to visit both Longham Lakes and Hatch Pond, but I was unable to see anything of interest there. A potential Sedge Warbler was mocking me from the reeds, but a beating sun and an irate 9-year-old stopped me from seeking it out as diligently as I might of.

I'm hoping that a trip to my sistster's in Wales is going to yield better results in a few weeks time. A survey has been done on the grounds of where she lives and yields over 13 birds I haven't seen, including Red Kites and Dippers. August can't come soon enough.

In the meantime here's a few shots of the distant birds at Longham and Hatch Pond.

Spied this Wood Pigeon as we walked to the lakes. They're everywhere!

A nice treat were these baby coots, that didn't move as fast as the adults.

Mute swans were plentiful around the lake. We must have saw around 20.

Another Mute Swan, this time with a Coot escort.

This island is quite far out, making it a haven for birds. I spotted a Grey Heron, several Black-Headed Gulls and a Lapwing to the right of the Heron. I think that's a Herring Gull but it looks pretty big! so possibly a Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

A Pied Wagtail and its young were looking for food on the shore.

We're now at Hatch Pond, where a Moorhen got relatively close.

Some nice lighting shows off its colourful plumage.

A Black-Headed Gull flyby. I saw a Heron but had the wrong camera settings. Doh!

An immature Black-Headed Gull guarding a post.

And finally a Mallard out for a swim.

So that's it for this week. I'm once again on 82 birds, with another 190 left to spot.