A treecreeper in the garden this morning

It is a bright and cold morning in Exeter and I was pleased to see a treecreeper on one of my large oak trees.

Funny thing about treecreepers is they always go up a tree looking for insects with their heads / beaks upwards – this contrasts with nuthatch who go downwards with their heads / beaks pointing down!

There are a good selection of birds in the garden at the moment including a family group of bullfinches, nuthatches, great tits, coal tits, blue tit and marsh tit.

Dotterels and a Golden Plover

Yesterday was my last day on Scilly for a while – managed to get up to the Golf Course to see a couple of Dotterel and a summer plumage Golden Plover

Female Dotterel on the left, the Golden Plover’s back in the middle and a male Dotterel on the right – they were distant and there was a bit of a heat haze but hopefully you get the idea!

Female Dotterel

Male Dotterel and the golden Plover

The Golden Plover

They will all be heading north  to the high uplands

And I am heading to Dartmoor for 10 Tors ….

The Little Bittern revisited

Birding is taken very seriously on Scilly by the select few

Here is is Joe Pender (Scillonian, boatman and  seabird legend)  with his spaniel – both on the Little Bittern

Out in the open and a fabulous performer

There is only one way to get a goby down your gullet

Always alert and on the case

Britain’s latest breeding bird – the same size as a moorhen!  It is tiny.

There are few benefits to climate change but this is one.

 

 

Tresco birds and squirrels

A great day’s birding on Tresco

A Black-winged Stilt

Two birds on thenGreat Pool – the first since 2006 (I think)

A Blue-headed wagtail

An Eastern race of the Yellow Wagtail

A male Pintail

A Shelduck

A Red-legged Partrdge

A Robin

A Red Squirrel – part of the Tresco introduction programme

Out in the gardens – away from the feeders

The introduced Golden Pheasant

Little Ringed Plover

There was a Little Ringed Plover on the Pool at Lower Moors yesterday.

The yellow ring around the eye helps distinguish this species from the Ringed Plover

It is a long time since I’ve seen a Little Ringed Plover – used to see them in Northamptonshire on newly excavated gravel pits when I lived there in the 1980s and 1990s.

Peninnis Head

I spent the morning yesterday on Peninnis Head – it was very breezy and cold.

The ‘lighthouse’ on the point

Thrift by a rock

White horses out at sea

A Ring Ouzel

A well marked male was very skulking and elusive – the best photo I could manage

A cracking Wheatear

The islands are fully of wheatears at the moment – amazing that none stay to breed – all the birds are migrants on their way to the uplands

Out to sea the Royal Marines were battling the waves on their way to the Islands – must have been an uncomfortable crossing

They finally arrived – four landing craft in all – with their valuable cargoes – 4 gigs ready for the weekend

Two smaller craft were moored up by the Quay

More Scilly Birds

It was a glorious day on Scilly yesterday – I walked over 12 miles and my shorts and flip flops had their first outing of the year too. I photographed a selection of common birds and re-visited the Little Bittern.


A Wheatear


One of Scilly’s numerous and very tame Song Thrushes


A Mallard at Higher Moors


A Gadwall at Higher Moors


A Dunlin approaching full summer plumage


A Coot


A Blackbird – Scilly Blackbirds have very red bills


A reflection of the Little Bittern


Off hunting again


Backlit in the late afternoon sunshine

Little Bittern at Lower Moors

I was lucky enough yesterday to get a tipoff from Spider, a resident birder on Scilly who told me that there was a Little Bittern at Lower Moors on St Mary’s. Little Bitterns can be very skulking but this adult female was very obliging.


Little Bitterns are very small herons – the Collins Field Guide describes them as being smaller than a Moorhen. They are agile climbers. Here the female is in hunting mode.


She has seen a fish and pounces


Head right up to swallow


Here is a second sequence of her catching a fish


Attack


Success


A head on shot


At last she come right out into the open


This is probably my favourite photograph

Until pretty recently Little Bitterns were considered very rare passage migrants in the UK. In 1984 a pair bred in Yorkshire. Then in 2010 they bred in the Somerset Levels for the first time and have bred there again since.

The Somerset Levels have seen a concerted effort by RSPB, The Wildlife Trust and Natural England to create new and extensive wetland areas and this combined with climate change has attracted Little Bitterns to the UK.

It will be interesting to see how their colonisation develops and whether they spread to the large habitat creation projects in the East Anglian Fens at places such as Wicken Fen, Lakenheath Fen and the Great Fen.