Wednesday, 31 March 2021

The Solway revisited ... winter meets spring ...

 In lovely spring sunshine today - once the morning mist had lifted Chiffchaffs were singing everywhere ...






Yet thousands of Barnacle and Pink-footed Geese were in the air ...



... landing for a time on the saltmarsh before little groups headed north across the water ...


... by Campfield Scrape some closer Pinkfeet grazed ...


... while Shelducks and Wigeon occupied the pool ...



... a Little Egret looked lovely in the hazy sun ...


Over the high tide in the calm conditions there was little movement into the estuary ... five Red-breasted Mergansers and six Pintail were about the best there was on offer ... two Wheatears gave more of a hint of spring and the ever present Tree Sparrows were prospecting the barns ...














Thursday, 18 March 2021

Geltsdale and the North Pennines spring into life ... at last ...

 It was very welcome news when we were told that we could resume survey work under the auspices of the BTO and RSPB ... both these bodies had closed down monitoring ... so how nice to be doing WeBS counts and raptor monitoring once again and feeling that travelling anywhere at all for these purposes was legitimate ... 

This post is the first for 2021 that relates to observations outside of what can be seen from my house ... Ritson Graham ( The Border Naturalist ) famously said that there is no such thing as spring in the North Pennines ... well, he should have been here this week listening to Skylarks singing in the sunshine at 450m on Byers Pike ...

Golden Plovers were still in quite large flocks on the middle ground ... circling round and round ...



... and giving lovely views as they passed overhead time and again ...




Lapwings very clearly on territory on the lower parts of the fells and performing their extravagant displays ...




On Stagsike Meadow RSPB Geltsdale the fence posts were once again occupied by singing birds ... this fine male Reed Bunting unperturbed by passers-by ...




Goldeneys were still on Tindale Tarn in fair numbers while other duck species were now becoming scarce ... 

... and a pair of Common Gulls looked poised to claim a nest site ...








Friday, 5 March 2021

Redwing showing characteristics of Icelandic Redwing

A flock of about 200 Starlings were feeding in a field at Hallbankgate, North Cumbria on 4th March.  A little further away at around 150m range some Fieldfares and Redwings moved nervously as they fed on the short grazed turf. One of the Redwings was strikingly more heavily marked on the breast with dense dark streaks which merged to form large dark patches in parts -

.


There is a brief view of one of the other Redwings behind, showing the much paler overall look and the less heavily streaked breast. 

 This shows one of the paler birds -



   


 Video grabs show the features better.   The putative Icelandic bird Turdus iliacus coburni  shows these features - 
 Darker mantle colour
 More ochre coulour of supercilium 
 More heavily marked under-tail coverts
 Rusty brown legs


In contrast the other Redwings had - 
 Paler mantles with a grey cast
 Whiter supercilia 
 Cleaner under-tail coverts 
 Pale straw coloured legs

Friday, 22 January 2021

The Common Gull from yesterday ... why it was nothing other than L.c.canus

Following seeing and phonescoping this gull yesterday I asked the opinion of Jamie Partridge, Steve Clifton and Derek Charles ...

Interestingly they had all seen similarly dark mantled Common Gulls but more interestingly they had not concluded that any of these had been anything other than the ssp canus ( European Common Gull ).

The 2016 paper in Dutch Birding -Identification of the Larus canus complex by Peter Adriaens and Chris Gibbins highlights some important points -

- the mantle colour of L.c.heinei ( Russian Common Gull ) is not necessarily any darker than that of L.c.c.

- the pale iris colour occurs in 20% of heinei - so a dark iris is not a deal breaker for that

Yesterday's gull showed a number of features pointing to canus -

- bare parts pale coloured                        heinei has bright yellow

- head streaking                                       heinei is white headed with a streaked boa

- p4 without black spots                          heinei has black spots on p4



in addition the white mirrors on p9 andp10 would be smaller on heinei which would also have a complete black band on p5 rather than just a single spot as this bird shows.

Many thanks to Jamie, Steve and Derek for pitching in with this interesting bird.


Thursday, 21 January 2021

Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Winter Birding in Cumbria ... felltop and estuary ... wonderful wild places ...

 Dark mornings, wind, rain and fog can seem off putting ... but with the right mindset getting out there to some of the more extreme habitats can be a great experience ...

Searching for Snow Buntings does not necessarily bring quick rewards ... over the years I remember seeing them on a whole range of Lakeland tops ... but rarely in the same place consistently ...

Last week Great Dodd seemed benign as I approached from the east ... the summit ridge was a different story with the mist piling in on a brisk westerly and limiting visibility seriously ... a lone bird flew by and kept going ... no sign as I looked over the area where it had faded into ... 

Then three birds were suddenly there right in front of my lunch shelter ... photographic conditions were poor in thick mist and a vicious wind but against all odds I got some usable images ...

This first-winter male Plectrophenax nivalis insulae was a lovely looking bird ...


... then off away into the mist ...

The River Eden below Rockcliffe this morning was a different sort of wild place as I walked down the right bank in steady rain ... the juvenile Iceland Gull that had been present for a few days was swimming in the shallows along with a group of Mallards ... maybe not the most charismatic company to keep but then it walked up onto the shingle ... later it gave nice fly by views and fed on the top of the grassy bank ... 







A bird to brighten the most dismal of days !

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Long-billed Dowitcher back at Campfield ... some ID thoughts ...

 

The Cumbrian Long-billed Dowitcher was first found in November 2019 at Campfield Scrape and remained there until at least February 2020.  What was presumably the same bird was subsequently seen at Wedholme Flow, spent some time in summer plumage at Port Carlisle and then became regular at Old Anthorn during the autumn of 2020.  Today it was again at Campfield Scrape ... initially feeding along with some roosting Redshanks ...



before swimming to another island to join some rather unwelcoming Teal ...

Today's view was distant and the bird never lifted its wings ...

An interesting article on dowitcher ID and underwing pattern came to my notice just recently through a tweet by Steve Clifton which had been prompted by the presence of a Long-billed Dowitcher at Scorton in North Yorks.


... this made me look back at an image of the L-b D that I'd taken in September at Old Anthorn ...


... and shows nicely the pale faintly marked underwing coverts and axillaries with sparse barring - just as a L-b D should have ...

The full article is here - subalpinebirding

About

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Underwing pattern in dowitchers

May 17 

Written By Guillermo Rodriguez Lazaro

...thanks to Steve for that


















subalpinebirding

About

Current Page:Blog

ID Galleries

Underwing pattern in dowitchers

May 17 

Written By Guillermo Rodriguez Lazaro