Monday, February 28, 2005

Black-necked Grebe

I added just two species to my local year list, Ringed Plover and Black-necked Grebe (one of my so-called 'elite' species). I twitched this spanking breeding plumaged bird found by Kevin Durose and Katie Fuller at Orton Brick Pits (but had to dash soon after to attempt to see a Firecrest near Peterborough Cathedral to no avail and then to the pub to watch my beloved Chelsea win the Carling Cup [3-2 a.e.t. against Liverpool]).

Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Woodpigeon, our snowy Peterborough garden, 23.2.05.
Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

'Snow' Finches

Chaffinches in yesterday's snow (23.2.05) in our (Peterborough) garden, photgographed through the kitchen window.

Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

'Snow' Buntings

Reed Buntings in this morning's snow (23.2.05) in our (Peterborough) garden, photgographed through the kitchen window.

Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Owl and swans

Who (or what) do the owners of Prior's Fen think they're kidding?

A few of these four-foot-high owls (?) were scattered around the field at Stonebridge Corner, presumably replacing the loudspeaker which screeched out distressed bird noises.

If the owl is supposed to scare birds, the swans don't seem to care, neither do the 200-odd Woodpigeons in the field.

In among the Mute Swans were 22 adult and 8 1st-winter Bewick's Swans.
Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Desktop action

Hey get off my berries!

Monday, February 21, 2005


Stamford had about 50 Waxwings at the weekend. I went three times: forgot my scope the first time (on Saturday (19.2.05), but a kind digiscoper lent me his Swarovski, then I came back for more in the afternoon and once again on Sunday morning when I got my best results with the trusty old Kowa combination plus the Silver Dream Machine, the Shiny Extender, the Platinum Plaything of the Gods: the Nikon Coolpix 880.
For my favourite pics of the day in large glory, check out Weedon
Here are the best of the rest of the berry-munching activity on Sunday (and Saturday). Note that a few other birds were joining the Wackos on the rowans. At one stage there were eight Blackbirds at once. Best result of the freezing day? A lovely cup of tea courtesy of the mobile warden of the flats overlooking the Waxwings' favourite rowans.

A good viewpoint.

The classic aerial shot.

Mistle Thrush.



The banana shot.

The berry munch.

The wing-flap with berry.

This is the only one here from 19.2.05.
Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Stamford Waxwings

Sample of some of the photos I took this morning of the glorious flock of 50-odd Waxings in Stamford, Lincolnshire.(More to come later...)

Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

More rotten RbM pics

This drake Red-breasted Merganser (still on the Welland near Crowland, 16.2.05) seems rather fond of a female Goosander (though it has been also seen recently with a female Red-breasted Merganser as gooseberry). The photos, I'm afraid don't get any better (this time largely becasue it was too dark).

Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Garden birds revisited

Oh, Lordy, I have an urge to post something, so here are a couple of Woodpigeons and a Reed Bunting (male with male Chaffinch) in my garden in Peterborough (15.2.05). One day I will post some pix of a closer Reed Bunting (which will be better than this distant bird). For some reason, probably the grub I serve (certainly nothing to do with reeds or water, as I live miles from either), Reed Buntings love my garden and there are usually about 8 birds around at the moment.

Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Monday, February 14, 2005

Year-listing thoughts Part 1

For the last few years I have kept a yearly list of the birds I have seen in the Peterborough area (the PBC Area, no less, recording area for the Peterborough Bird CLub). This slightly bizarre cross-shape around Peterborugh is neatly designed (or fudged) to include some of the most juicy habitat around, from the Nene Washes in the chilly east, Woodwalton Fen and part of Monk's Wood in the balmy south, kite-filled, rolling Northamptonshire hills in the west and the Welland and Baston and Langtoft and Deeping Pits in the frozen north.
The main reason I keep a year-list is because it gets me up and out in the morning birding! Local year-listing is a slightly different world from more national stuff – so eg. I'm delighted if I bump into a Turnstone or Bar-tailed Godwit, but would rather take them in my stride up at the coast.
We usually get about 200 species recorded in the PBC Area each year and over the last three years I have seen (or heard) the following numbers of species...
2002: 175
2003: 182
2004: 174
2005: 103 (so far)

My thought for today is that, when you break down the birds of the area, there are (in my opinion) 136 species which are common and regular enough to be expected with comfort in any year without any real effort. The rest take a bit more work, finding-skill/luck or a bit of twitching (chasing someone else's find). This bunch, the 'elite' birds, include scarce residents like Hawfinch and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, but also rather scarce passage birds like Whimbrel or Redstart, and locally very scarce stuff like Red-necked Grebe or Red-footed Falcon.
Basically, what I call 'elites' are anything not in my list of 136 'cores'. These are the birds, when totted up, which separate a pretty good year list from a top year list.
So far this year, I have seen 10 species which I include in the 'elites', so, if all goes miserably from now on, my 2005 total should be 146, but if I keep bagging the birds, who knows what the total will be?
My year-listing advice?
Get finding,
Get lucky,
Get twitching
Get out there!

[By the way, this weekend (12-13.2.05) I saw two 'elites', both of which are already on my 2005 PBC list: Red-breasted Merganser and Water Pipit]

Red-breasted Merganser

Yes I know the photos aren't great but you have to try. RbMs are some of the most easly-spooked birds around and they take flight at the slightest inclination. That combined with the sun shining in my face meant I was never going to get decent shots of this superb male Red-breasted Merganser on the Welland north of Crowland, Lincolnshire (hanging out with a bunch of Goosanders).

Note the size difference between the drake Goosander and the drake RbMerg.

Goosander, Merg and Tufty.

Check out the difference in bill size and structure.

Tails up!
Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Blackbird and Dipper

I had an early morning visit to Ferry Meadows CP, Peterborough, last Saturday (5.2.05), searching for a Twite that had been seen on Friday. More than a hundred Linnets (many singing pre-departure) dispersed widely in all directions from their bramble roost on Overton Lake, but with no Twite calling among them. I may have arrived too late (c 7.30am) because they were already leaving when I turned up, and were gone in another 15 minutes.
So, instead I had an appointment with a rather drab, smallish Cormorant masquerading as a Shag at Orton Water, then wandered back to the Goldie Lane area of FM. There, I snapped a Blackbird sitting very still on a nest of bundled sticks, pretending to itself I couldn't see it...

In the fast-flowing, Grey Wagtail-loved stream, passing by the pitch and putt course, I watched a Dipper...

...OK I admit it was a Chaffinch down for a drink/bath before a golfer came and sent it on its way (not with a golf club I hasten to add).
Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Monday, February 07, 2005

Curlew 'in' my garden

I went out to feed the birds this morning, including a monstrous new 'squirrel-proof' feeder which my in-laws kindly gave us after the squirrels had cracked the mechanism! As I was out there in the fog, a Curlew flew by calling a couple of times. No, I couldn't see it but, no, I don't care (well it would have been nice to see it but what can you do in fog?). Why don't I care? Because heard counts on my garden list!
Curlew becomes bird number 71 on our Peterborough garden list (and joins Oystercatcher, Cuckoo and Green Woodpecker on the heard only section). It is the fourth wader, after Lapwing, Golden Plover and Oyestercatcher.

Wren on reedmace

Werrington, Peterborough, 7.2.05.
Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER

Postcards from London

Ringed Black-headed Gull

The London Eye and visitors
6.2.05 Nikon Coolpix 880

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Water Rail Gallery

This Weedon's gone Water Rail bonkers! But they are such great birds and can do all sorts...

Looking supreme

Being cool


S t r e t c h i n g

Looking very fat

Looking very thin


Simply looking good in the bath

Opening the bill (a weeny bit) to say goodbye
Water Rail (Part 3), Peterborough, 3.2.05.
Nikon Coolpix 880 + Kowa TSN-821 + 32xW LER