Archive for October, 2014

North Kent Marshes

A beautiful day and the chance to spend it birdwatching with Keith and Dave visiting various sites on the North Kent Marshes.

We started at the Strand in Gillingham where keen eyes spotted a Peregrine Falcon perched atop the gas holder. Then onto Funton Creek where there was a distant large flock of Pied Avocet (c200), some Redshank and Pintail. A late Red Admiral fluttered by – a sign of increasing temperature

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Then onto Capel Fleet on the Isle of Sheppy where we saw Marsh Harrier and Buzzard patrolling the marshes and some excellent views of Stonechat in the reed-bed although unfortunately no sign of the Bearded Tits that had been seen earlier that morning. Perhaps the best bird was the small flock of Corn Buntings perched on the wires as these are becoming increasingly difficult to find in Southern England.

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Buzzard


Corn Bunting
By Zeynel Cebeci (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Next stop was at Harty Ferry on the Swale, the strip of water which divides the Isle of Sheppey from the Kentish Mainland. Here there were a large flock of Brent Geese as well as Turnstone, Godwits and Curlew. A Common Darter was also patrolling the salt marsh.

Brent Geese at Harty Ferry

Brent Geese at Harty Ferry

Little Egret at Harty Ferry

Little Egret at Harty Ferry

Female Common Darter

Female Common Darter

Returning via Capel Fleet we were treated to a prolonged sighting of a Short Eared Owl as it sparred with a Buzzard. The flock of Corn Buntings on the wires now numbered over 20


Short-Eared Owl
By Kathy & sam from Beaverton (Short-eared Owl – Ruh-red Road – 1) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Final stop of the day was Elmley NNR where more species were added to the days list including a large party of Golden Plover and a smaller party of Ringed Plover, but the highlight of which was a second sighting of Short-Eared Owl

Elmley Marsh

Elmley Marsh

Mallard and Teal

Mallard and Teal

An excellent days birdwatching both from the number of species seen and foe the views we had of the birds. The highlights for me were Short-Eared Owl and Corn Bunting.

Red-legged Partridge [sp] (Alectoris rufa)
Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Brent Goose [sp] (Branta bernicla)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Marsh Harrier [sp] (Circus aeruginosus)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Kestrel [sp] (Falco tinnunculus)
Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Eurasian Oystercatcher [sp] (Haematopus ostralegus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover [sp] (Charadrius hiaticula)
Black-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa limosa)
Bar-tailed Godwit [sp] (Limosa lapponica)
Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)
Common Redshank [sp] (Tringa totanus)
Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)
Dunlin [sp] (Calidris alpina)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Eurasian Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decaocto)
Short-eared Owl [sp] (Asio flammeus)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Eurasian Skylark [sp] (Alauda arvensis)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
European Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola rubicola)
House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)
Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla alba)
Meadow Pipit [sp] (Anthus pratensis)
Eurasian Rock Pipit [sp] (Anthus petrosus)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)
Corn Bunting [sp] (Emberiza calandra)

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Here are some pictures of visitorsto our feeding station yesterday

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Common Pigeon

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Red Fox

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Grey Squirrel

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Jay

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Magpie

A bright sunny morning and I set out to join a RSPB walk at Footscray Meadows, but encounter problems with transport and so running late decide to divert to have a look at a site nearer home , which I have been meaning to give a look over.

Lamorbey Park in Sidcup is a woodland park around a large lake.

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A pleasant stroll along the southern edge of the lake revealed some Canada and Egyptian Geese plus Mallard, Coot and Moorhens.

Egyptian Goose

Egyptian Goose

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Moorhen

Moorhen

Coot

Coot

Robins along with Blue and Great Tits plus a single Long-tailed Tit flitted in the lakeside trees. In the Parkland a single Mistle Thrush was a pleasant sight. It was suprising to see a Speckled Wood and a Red Admiral butterfly enjoyng the late October sun. The bird list was not extensive but it was a very pleasant morning walk and I will certainly want to return in the summer to look at what dragonflies can be recorded here.

Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter nisus)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
Mistle Thrush [sp] (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)

Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta)
Speckled Wood [sp] (Pararge aegeria)

Views of Vienna (3)

Posted: October 28, 2014 in Austria
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From palaces to metro stations the architecture in Vienna is fantastic

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Westbanhof Station
Photo by Wendy ( https://www.flickr.com/photos/20575593@N00/)

Great White Egret

Posted: October 27, 2014 in Birds, Natural History
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The Great White Egret is an annual but scarce visitor to the UK averaging around 30 reports every year. It is a large white heron which can be told from other native species by colour and by size. In breeding plumage it can be confused with Little Egret but a good view of the bird shows it to be about twice as tall when the neck is extended.

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Its core population breeds in central and eastern Europe although in recent years it has spread west and small populations now breed in Spain, France and the Netherlands. The first pair bred in the UK in 2012 in Somerset.

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A visit today to Bough Beech reservoir near Sevenoaks in Kent. On arriving and scanning the reservoir the first bird seen was a Great White Egret. This is a rare visitor from central Europe, although more frequent each year as it seems to be expanding Westward.

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

This is a UK first sighting for me, having previously only seen it in Austria and Hungary. It was with a Grey Heron and Little Egret which was a good chance to compare the species.

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The Little Egret, also once a rarity in UK, is now a regular breeding bird and there were 5 present at Bough Beech today

Little Egret

Little Egret

Little Egret

Little Egret

Good number of Wigeon and Great Crested Grebe also present. Was fortunate to see a Kingfisher fishing in river. Unfortunately it was through trees and impossible to get any photos.

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Common Pheasant [sp] (Phasianus colchicus)
Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Eurasian Teal [sp] (Anas crecca)
Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Eurasian Great Egret (Ardea alba alba)
Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)
Great Cormorant [sp] (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Common Kingfisher [sp] (Alcedo atthis)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

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Originally known as the ‘Duke of Cornwall’ Class these engines were designed to run on the Cornish lines of the GWR. The first engines were built from 1895 -1899 and then a similar engine known as the Bulldog class replaced them from 1899-1910. In 1936 the Bulldog chassis were fitted with Duke class boilers and the class became known as the ‘Dukedog’.

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92-051  Ex GWR 4-4-0 No. 3217 'Earl of Berkeley' at Sheffield Park
Photo by Hec Tate (https://www.flickr.com/photos/50576141@N03/)

3217
Photo by Hugh Llewlyn (https://www.flickr.com/photos/camperdown/)

3217 was rebuilt at Swindon works in 1938 from Bulldog chassis No.3425 (built 1906) and the boiler and cab from “Duke” class No.3282 (originally named “Chepstow Castle”) built in 1899. Although it was originally intended to name them after Earls, certain of the people involved made it known that they were not particularly impressed about their names being carried on such engines and so the idea was dropped. At the time of nationalisation only 10 Dukedogs were still running and the majority of these were withdrawn in the first years of BR.

3217 arrived at Bluebell railway in February of 1962 and was renamed Earl of Berkeley. It was withdrawn from service in 2011 and is currently awaiting a major overhaul.

3217
Photo by Hugh Llewlyn (https://www.flickr.com/photos/camperdown/)

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The day had begun well as walking to the station I sighted our local Grey wagtail on the roof of a building opposite the Tarn. As I passed it flew back towards the park.

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An afternoon meeting at the British Museum gave the opportunity for a morning of birdwatching in central London. The available options came down to either the London Wetland Centre and the possibility of a Jack Snipe (for me a second ever record and a first for London) or the Yellow-browed warbler in Regents park (also a second ever record and a first for London). Given the elusive nature of Jack Snipe, I plumped for the warbler and was delighted to see that it had been seen this morning (although I was later to hear from the locals that this report may have been a misidentification as it was far from the birds regular haunts). It has been in the same area for 7 days now but this was my first opportunity to see it.

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Arriving at Regents Park and knowing the location where it had been seen I made my way straight there to find that it had been seen only 10 minutes previously in a bush on the edge of the island. A small group waited to see if it would return. An hour passed and then one of the local experts reported he had just heard its distinctive call from another location, but it proved elusive again and we went back to watching it’s favourite bush. 45 minutes later it was relocated again in a pine tree and although some of those present did see it I wasn’t so lucky. My first sighting was a flight view as it moved between trees but it wasn’t very good and if it hadn’t been seen previously I would have been reluctant to identify it. 10 restless minutes later it was relocated in some bushes and I was fortunate to get some excellent views of this attractive warbler as it moved through the bushes. It was very active and so I was unable to get any photos.

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Yellow-browed Warbler
Photo by Dave Curtis (https://www.flickr.com/photos/davethebird/)

Whilst looking for the Yellow-browed Warbler also found a Blackcap and a Chiffchaff as well as the resident woodland birds. On the way out of the park I was fortunate to find a Greater Spotted Woodpecker by the side of the main lake and a very obliging Grey Heron in a tree.Also more Egyptian geese than I recall seeing here before.

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Greater Spotted Woodpecker

Egyptian Geese

Egyptian Geese

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Greylag Goose [sp] (Anser anser)
Canada Goose [sp] (Branta canadensis)
Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Ruddy Duck [sp] (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)
Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot [sp] (Fulica atra)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Mew Gull [sp] (Larus canus)
European Herring Gull [sp] (Larus argentatus)
Lesser Black-backed Gull [sp] (Larus fuscus)
Common Pigeon [sp] (Columba livia)
Stock Dove [sp] (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon [sp] (Columba palumbus)
Rose-ringed Parakeet [sp] (Psittacula krameri)
Great Spotted Woodpecker [sp] (Dendrocopos major)
Eurasian Jay [sp] (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie [sp] (Pica pica)
Western Jackdaw [sp] (Coloeus monedula)
Carrion Crow [sp] (Corvus corone)
Great Tit [sp] (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit [sp] (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Long-tailed Tit [sp] (Aegithalos caudatus)
Common Chiffchaff [sp] (Phylloscopus collybita)
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)
Eurasian Blackcap [sp] (Sylvia atricapilla)
Goldcrest [sp] (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian Wren [sp] (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)
Common Blackbird [sp] (Turdus merula)
European Robin [sp] (Erithacus rubecula)
Dunnock [sp] (Prunella modularis)
Grey Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla cinerea)
Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)
European Goldfinch [sp] (Carduelis carduelis)

LIttle Grebe

Posted: October 23, 2014 in Birds, Natural History
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Little Grebe

Little Grebe

The Little Grebe is one of my favourite birds. It is found across the UK, but is generally absent from upland areas. It breeds on lakes, gravel pits and slow moving rivers although in winter it can often be found on sheltered coasts and estuaries.

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The rich combination of red and dark brown with the prominant white spot at the base of the bill, its breeding plumage, is lost in winter as it reverts to a grey- buff plumage.

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Current estimates put the breeding population at between 4000 and 8000 pairs with a wintering population of around 17000 birds in the UK.

Little Grebe

Little Grebe

Views of Vienna (2)

Posted: October 22, 2014 in Austria
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One of the great things about the city centre is that much of it was built around the same time in the mid-19th century at the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and so there is a unity in the building style, especially around the Imperial palaces and the Ringstraße.

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