Monday, January 26, 2009

BGBW 25.1.09

Jasmine Eddie and I did the one-hour Big Garden Birdwatch on Sunday from the kitchen. Next year, I think we will do it from the upstairs bedroom, as you can see more of the garden and we will get more birds! This is what we saw in the hour (peak counts of perched/landed birds; in order of first appearance):

Blackbird, 6
House Sparrow, 13
Robin, 2,
Blue Tit, 2
Great Tit, 2
Collared Dove, 1
Dunnock, 5
Chaffinch, 7
Greenfinch, 2
Starling, 1
Magpie, 1

In summary, 42 individuals of 11 species

'White-neck', the dominant Blackbird in the area of the garden near the house.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ponies at March Farmers

Garden action

Sparrowhawk eating a bird, photo by Jo while I was out birding on the Nene Washes... Note the base of the bird table in the background and the feathers in the foreground.

When I got home I identified the victim. It is a Starling (here on a rather mouldy fallen fig):

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The Ferry Meadows 1st-winter Scaup has been around for nearly three weeks now. He is starting to look more and more like an adult as he moults. He is also getting rather frisky and was in hot pursuit of a female Pochard today...

Eldernell action

How many species can you see in this picture?

[I see: Wigeon, Pintail, Teal, Mallard, Crane and Peregrine]

More Whitefronts

A day after the White-fronted Geese were found at Deeping Lakes LWT, another group of 17 were found on the Nene Washes at Eldernell. I went to see them yesterday and they were definitely not the same bunch as the DL lot – there were 13 adults in the current group.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Redwings revisited

Just thought they may look better in black-and-white...

Redwings at Burghley House

Saturday, January 17, 2009

European White-fronted Geese

Some of 16 European White-fronted Geese found today by Paul Taylor at Deeping Lakes LWT. Luckily Brian Stone texted me with the news as I happened to already be on the Deeping High Bank, so I was able to dash down to see them sort of before dark. This is a pretty big flock of this scarce species locally!

Time in the field

Pintail, drake with rather short tail at Gordon's Mere, Woodwalton Fen

The view from Gordon's Mere hide, looking north
I added a few birds to my local year list today, namely: Hen Harrier (ringtail at Woodwalton Fen), Marsh Harrier (young male also there), Red Kite at Holme Fen, Short-eared Owl near Crowland by the Deeping High Bank and White-fronted Goose (16 European-race birds [9 ad, 7 juv] found by Paul Taylor at Deeping Lakes; see above).

This takes my PBC 2009 total to 105.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

At it

I was just getting ready to leave the house in the morning. The kids were in the car just off to school. I looked out of the kitchen window, and there was a dog fox lolloping across the back of the garden.

So I popped outside and told J and E about the fox, and dashed back into the kitchen. Now, the dog fox was coming toward the house, with the same lolloping gait, but this time he was closely following a vixen.

He stopped briefly to scent mark near our small pond, then they both drifted behind the rose hedge near the house, though I could clearly see them through it. After about ten seconds, he mounted her for a few seconds. Then a minute or so later they had another quick preliminary mating session.

Now, I sprinted upstairs to grab my DSLR, but by the time I returned, they were gone.

When I told the kids later in the evening, they were quite excited by the prospects of having a garden full of baby foxes!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Glaucous Gull

...and it's off

While looking for Caspian Gulls at Dogsthorpe Tip today, I found this rather tasty second-winter Glaucous Gull. Pleasing beast, isn't it?
Thinking about it, I think all the previous half-dozen or so Glaucs I have seen in the PBC area have been first-winters, so this is a new age group for me, locally.

Caspian Gull

I have still not seen very many of these interesting and recently-split gulls. My friend Kevin 'Pinky' Du Rose always goes on about how distinctive they are. So, I went looking for the one he had found independently of fellow confident gullster Josh Jones, yesterday. It was a first-winter at Dogsthorpe Tip. Initially the bird wasn't there, but then there it was standing out like a sore thumb from the other larger gulls.

Muntjac Arch

Digiscoped at Woodwalton Fen (10.1.09)

Oh deer, I can't resist... ... here are some nested Russian Muntjacs

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

More Scaup shots

Interestingly, from the far (eastern) shore, with the sun from the south-east, you could easily pick out a green iridescence on the head of this first-winter drake Scaup. However, when looking back at it from the western shore (looking north-east), the different angle of the reflected light caused the purpel part of the iridescence to show (which you can just about seen in these shots).

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Monday, January 05, 2009

Year list update

My PBC are year list (which of course I do every year) for 2008 ended on 189 species.

This year I have so far recorded 95 species.

Crane (2) at Eldernell, 1.1.09
Red-breasted Merganser, drake, Deeping High Bank, 1.1.09
Hawfinch (2), Southorpe, 3.1.09
Crossbill (c10), Southey Woods, 3.1.09
Scaup, 1st-winter drake, Gunwade Lake, Ferry Meadows, 4.1.09

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Scaup, Ferry Meadows

Arch birdfinder and patch fanatic Matt Webb found an Aythya yesterday at Gunwade lake, Ferry Meadows. He requested a second opinion as he thought it may be a Scaup-like hybrid - having concerns about the extent of black at the nail of the bill (very restricted on adult birds).
In my opinion the bird was pure Scaup - a first-witer drake with a few vermiculated pale feathers coming through on the back and pale feathers on teh flank. The slight smudging of the black on the bill tip is fine, I reckon, for a bird of this age. Indeed, put Scaup in the search box at the top left of this blog and you will see I have photographed several young Scuap at Prior's Fen etc with more black in the bill tip.
In these shots it is in the company of similar-sized Pochards (and the odd Common Gull).

Saturday, January 03, 2009

2008 One per month

January: De la Poer's rat hole, our house

February: Bittern, Norfolk

March: Merlin eating Snipe, RSPB Nene Washes

April: Redstart, Ferry Meadows, Peterborough

May: Smooth Newt, our pond

June: Displaying Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Maxey Pits

July: Purple Emperor, Fermyn Woods

August: Turnstone, Hunstanton, Norfolk

September: Southern Hawker eating solitary bee, our garden

October: Black-headed Gull frenzy, Ferry Meadows CP

November: Guianan Cock-of-the-rock, Kaieteur, Guyana

December: Crossbill, Southey Woods