Spent a couple of hours at Emsworthy Mire yesterday and eventually saw a couple of male cuckoos.
Made my day!
If you hear or see a cuckoo in Devon please log the details with Devon Birds – here.
Dartmoor is now one of the last strongholds for this declining species ……
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.
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!
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 ….
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.
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 Red-legged Partrdge
A Red Squirrel – part of the Tresco introduction programme
Out in the gardens – away from the feeders
The introduced Golden Pheasant
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.
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
There were some obliging male stonechats on St Mary’s yesterday
This one was on Penninis Head
And this one – feeding young was at Periglis
There was also a Short-toed Lark on Penninis
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.
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 Blackbird – Scilly Blackbirds have very red bills
A reflection of the Little Bittern
Off hunting again
Backlit in the late afternoon sunshine
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
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.