Monday, 31 December 2012

Golden Velvet

I took myself over to Swithland Res. yesterday in the hope of photographing the two long-staying female Velvet Scoters. The light was a problem for much of the time as the sun was full in my face from the dam.

Whilst waiting for the scoters to come close enough an obliging male Goldeneye posed nicely.

Drake Goldeneye

Got Any Gull

Gulls are a no go area for most law abiding birders - I have tried really hard to resist the temptation honest. As a young impressionable youth I knew no better and was lured into participating in the occasional gull roost. Luckily I managed to ween myself of it.

This nasty habit resurfaced when I heard whispers of a new gull species. It was supposedly a gull for hardened watchers not one for the occasional observer. Information was scant at the time, but I did manage to do a few Caspians. I quickly realised that this would lead to a decent towards the dark side.

After that I restricted myself to easier stuff like Ivory, Laughing and Mediterranean's. Disaster happened though when the lure of a Kumlien's was just too much - I just had to try it. Luckily it wasn't addictive and once again I got myself cleaned up and away from all that rubbish.

I was obviously at a low point in January this year as I found myself lured back to the landfill site. I hoped that even after finding an Iceland Gull that I could still be saved. However, a visit to the seedier side of Peterhead in Scotland saw my ruination.
Got Any Gull?

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing Clever Under the Bush

I hope everyone had a good Christmas Day.

A report of more Waxwings in town on Boxing Day had me out of the door and on the streets early. Unfortunately there was no sign of them, so I decided to check out the berry bush by the Elmesthorpe Village Hall again. I was in luck, as a flock of 27 were basking in the sun in one of the taller trees. 

This group was intent on eating the berries that had fallen on the floor under the berry tree. It was good to be offered a different pose to go at, as I can't really improve much on the photos of them against beautiful blue skies. 

Will they still be around in the New Year?

Click Here for Related Posts

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Bully Boy Thrush

I've hoped to see Waxwings at the Elmesthorpe Village Hall for many years, as there is always a good crop of berries on one of the small trees in the car park. This year is no exception and on Friday I spotted a Mistle Thrush feeding on the berries. I made a mental note that he might prove to be trouble if any Waxwings did find the berries. Well this afternoon I decided to have another look and low and behold there were some Waxwings on the berries but, you guessed it, the nasty thrush swooped down and chased them off.

They gave up trying to feed on the berries in the car park, instead they found some more behind the hall. It's amazing how one Mistle Thrush can create so much terror, especially as the flock eventually numbered 34 individuals.

The photographic opportunities were not as good as at Stoney Stanton, but I did manage to get a few records shots.


The Waxwings appear to have lost the battle with the Mistle Thrush, as I haven't seen them since last Sunday despite looking. The berries are still there, so maybe they'll come back.


Related Posts:

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Caspian Gulls

I offer no apologies for posting yet more Caspian Gull pictures, as the only way to really get to grips with this difficult species is to keep looking and learning. It is fascinating to compare the interest my Waxwing posts created in comparison to the ones about gulls. For some reason most of you appear to prefer pretty pictures of Waxwings?

The number of gulls visiting Shawell A5 Lagoons is on the increase. There was well over a thousand gulls at lunchtime today. An adult Caspian Gull put in a brief appearance, but didn't stay long. Resuming my search, I immediately came across another Caspian Gull - this one was a real classic individual. I identified it as a 3rd-winter due to the size of the dark mark on its bill; the lack of white tips on most of the primary feathers; the faint streaking on the  neck and the longest primary feathers (P10) showed just small white mirrors . All the standard features were there and this bird looked really sleek and had a very small head in comparison to its body. Almost all of the images I have taken of Caspian Gulls on water show they hold their heads high on an upward stretched neck. Other gull species obviously lift their heads up, but not as often as Caspians appear to. The adult re-appeared later, but photography was difficult as the light was too bright.

3rd-winter Caspian Gull
3rd-winter Caspian Gull

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Waxwing Update

The Waxwings are still in Stoney Stanton today and the number has risen to 25.

I found 17 more this morning in Hinckley by the McDonalds on the Northern Perimeter Road. They were feeding on exactly the same type and colour of berry that the Stoney Stanton birds are feeding on. Basically I was passing and I remembered a berry bush that had looked promising in the past, so I took a look on the off chance and bingo there they were.

I have got my eye on a few more locations, so hopefully more flocks will turn up locally.

The local Blackbirds have been posing well at times on the berry trees, so I thought I should show one of them off to you. Anyway this male deserves to get a bit of attention as he is really smart.

Monday, 3 December 2012

More Waxwings

I couldn't resist adding a few more images of these stunning birds - enjoy!

Nineteen were there today.

Sunday, 2 December 2012


I managed to join the Waxwing party today, as 12 Waxwings were still present in Stoney Stanton by the school on Station Road. It was made even better as the sun was out and the skies were perfect.

A Great Day - Two Caspians Gulls and a Famous Victory

I had had a productive morning but the cold weather and the lack of birds encouraged me to head home early. I was also keen to see how England would get on against the mighty All Blacks. I had argued with a South African friend during the week that England were making progress, however, that just got me a cocky smile. The New Zealanders obviously weren't in agreement with him, as they had already made their excuses mid-week - a virus was it?

Anyway England stuffed them! 

I guess time will tell whether this is the start of something great, but for now:

England 38 New Zealand 21 - get in there!

I couldn't find a home grown version of the highlights, so this one is the selected highlights that the New Zealanders are more comfortable with. Funny how it doesn't show the England players reacting to the final whistle.

Try this one:

Earlier in the day I was at my usual Saturday morning hang out - Shawell A5 Lagoons. The day started well with a colour ringed Herring Gull, T:090, which had been ringed in Aberdeenshire during 2010. It had also been seen at Shawell back in January of this year by Neil Hagley. Also two more colour ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls put in an appearance. I had seen JL67, a Norwegian ringed bird in March this year, but the other one, DXJ, was new and was a Gloucestershire ringed bird.