Saturday, 21 May 2016

Swan, Gull and Duck Scrum

We visited St Ives in Cambridgeshire a few weeks ago and while we were standing on the bridge which spans the Great Ouse we were watching the various Swans, Gulls and Ducks that were there.

There were a few young Mute Swans, with their grey/brown plumage, grey bills and developing black knob on the top of their beaks.


There was one lone Coot, with it's white facial shield, bill and red eyes, pecking away at anything edible on the surface of the river.


There was a large flock of Black Headed Gulls riding the small current, some of them already showing signs of their breeding plumage, prior to the brown/black hood, they have a dark spot behind their eye, as seen in the pictures below.


Their beaks also become redder as their breeding plumage develops but they always have a black end to their beaks.


Their were several adult Mute Swans gracefully gliding along.



When I asked if anybody knew what type of Duck this was, I was amazed at the response of 'Magpie', but sure enough there is a breed of  Domestic Duck called Magpie, due to the colouration being like a Mapgie.  However I think this is more likely a Domestic Mallard, apparently Domestic Mallards were bred with White Ducks to make them more appealing.



There has to be one that wants to stand out 'or sit down' in a crowd.


Another one of the many juvenile swans.


A gathering of Swans, Gulls and Ducks.


They are all getting excited as a family have turned up with some bread for them.


Now this is a first for me seeing Gulls riding on the back of the Swans to get a better view of where the bread is coming from.


Feeding frenzy.



Monday, 25 January 2016

Female Gadwell

Looking similar to a female Mallard, the differences being, the female Gadwell is more streamlined and has a smaller, squarer head, with a dark beak with an orange edge.  It also doesn't have the blue hind wing of a Mallard.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Spotting Diary: Sunday 17th January 2016

Our walk this lunchtime took us along a public bridle way which winds its way through some of the agricultural land between Fordham and Soham in Cambridgeshire before returning back towards Fordham.  The weather was cold around 4 degrees C, cloudy but dry and with just a light breeze.

On one of the ploughed fields just off the main road were a lot of Fieldfare's.  Up until a couple of weeks ago we had never seen a Fieldfare 'in the flesh' before, we had been away from the UK for 10 years up until our return late in August, now we getting to see lots of them.  We met a local farmer along this same walk a couple of days ago and he told us that they had only arrived here in the last 10 days and are regular visitors to these fields.

I don't always take my camera on our walks, as sometimes it is nice just to walk without looking at every potential photo opportunity so have only managed to get a couple of shots of a Fieldfare, in very poor light, but they are my first photos to go with my first sightings.

Being part of the Thrush family the Fieldfare is about the same size and shape but has a couple of distinguishing colours, one being the blue/grey head and the other is white underparts and underwings.



Both male and females have the same colouration, the only colour variation is that the adult birds have slightly more white around the flanks in winter, with more dark chevrons appearing in summer.

Further along our walk we disturbed a Kestrel that had been perched on a bush.

Then darting across the road in front of us was a Brown Hare, by the time we had reached the part of the road where we had seen it, we could see it hammering across the open field.  This is one animal that I have yet to get a photo of, one day.

Walking along part of the Bridal Way lined with bushes we spotted several Blue Tits hopping around looking for insects and chattering away to each other.

We then spotted another Kestrel which we had disturbed from its vantage point on top of the one of the trees.

Several of the hedgerows are made up of Blackthorn which is already covered in blossom and has been for a couple of weeks now.  At the base of the hedgerows are some large patches of Periwinkle covered in their blue flowers.

We saw several male and female Blackbirds hopping around the hedges they look like they have already paired up for the coming year.

Walking back through the village we spotted several gardens with daffodils and narcissus in bloom as well as the light purple/pink flowers of the Elephants Ears.

There was one very large Wood Pigeon pecking away at something on the grass verge and as usual loads of Collard Doves sitting around watching the world go by.

There were also a lot of groups of Gulls flying high over head, maybe a sign of how unsettled it is on the coast at the moment.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Santa's Reindeer

Two of Santa's Reindeer getting in plenty of rest at Scotsdales's Garden Centre in Fordham, prior to their busy schedule.



Friday, 20 November 2015

Autumn Colours

You do not have to walk far, especially this year, to enjoy the browns, oranges and yellows of Autumn.

A golden Sycamore leaf that has come to rest on the ground.


Looking down at the river I noticed a Grey Wagtail peering back at me through the tree branches, as it was perched on a tree stump on the edge of the water.  The Grey Wagtail can be identified by its bright yellow underside, grey back and yellowish/green rump.  It is resident in the UK all year.


Autumn would not be Autumn without the inquisitive, friendly, orange chested Robin.  This common garden bird is resident all year in the UK.



One of our regular walk paths is littered with autumn leaves.


Wherever you go you will generally find a white feather.


I am not sure what small tree these small berries are on?


I was being watched by a Grey Squirrel high up in the trees.  It did stop for a brief moment to allow me to get a shot.


Some more of the autumn leaves, this time from the Plane tree.



Rigidoporus ulmarius - Bracket Fungus, they are common and widespread in the UK and can be found growing low down on deciduous trees.  They are not edible.


I am not sure what type of mushroom/fungus this is, it seemed quite unusual as it had a stalk with a flat top and bottom area?


These were growing next to it, so maybe it was just a distorted one?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Top Common, Beeston Regis, Norfolk

After my 'Twitcher' experience we carried on walking around Top Common and I came across several new sightings.

These are Indian Balsam flowers, they are native to the Himalayas, it is recorded that it was first sown in the UK around 1837.  Over the years it has spread to grow in the wild.





A single Bracket Fungi or also known as Shelf Fungi, growing on a fallen tree branch.  They can grow on either live or dead wood.


The fluffy seed-heads of the Goldenrod.  When the Goldenrod is in flower it is a bright yellow colour and belongs to the Aster family.  They are native to North America, with some species being introduced to Europe and the UK.


A sea of blue of the Sea Aster belonging to the Daisy family.  It can be found along the coasts of most of Europe.



Golden, bronzed, autumn colours sprinkled with bright red berries.


The Holly Bush, one of the classic images of Christmas.  The Holly Bush can be found World Wide.


This very small and difficult flower to photograph because of its size, is a Tormentil.  It belongs to the Rose family and is an effective medicinal herb.


Another of the very small flowers, which you had to be careful not to tread on as you walked through the grass, was the white flowers of the Grass Of Parnassus.  It can be found in most of Europe including the UK.


The ground around the Top Common is very boggy and you will see lots of Slugs in the grass.  This one looks like a Spanish Slug, due to its large size and red/brown colour.  They are a non native species to the UK, but have become widely established.


Acorns on the Oak Tree.  We had been living away from the UK for 10 years, but returned this year. I don't know if it is my extra interest in nature or the fact that the Oak Trees are having a revival, but I am noticing far more Oak Trees, all be it, that most of them are quite young looking trees.


We recently watched a program on 'A Year In The Life Of An Oak Tree' and one of the things I learnt about was the Gall Wasp which lays its eggs in the buds which then alters the acorn, these are called Knopper Galls.  We noticed this happening on this particular tree.


The red berries of the Rowan Tree or Mountain Ash a tree native to the UK.


A small mushroom hiding in the grass under one of the trees.


Can you spot the apples?  There has been a bumper crop of apples around this year, and here in the Top Common, the Crab Apple Trees have certainly kept up the trend.



I am not sure what type of mushroom/fungus this is, in fact when I first saw it I wasn't even sure it was.


A Sweet Chestnut that has burst open from its shell and dropped from the tree.


I think these lovely golden yellow flowers gently bobbing in the wind are Golden Rod, they are part of the Daisy family but can grow up to a metre in height.


This thistle looks like a Spear Thistle which is native to the UK.