Monday, 31 March 2014

A few more photos of the Coue's Arctic Redpoll


From left to right, Mealy Redpoll, Coue's Arctic Redpoll and Lesser Redpoll. All of these birds were originally on the same photo, I've just moved the Lesser a bit closer to the other two for better comparison. Notice how pale the bird I'm calling Coue's is compared to the Lesser, especially on its back and flanks. There is hardly any brown in the Coue's. Furthermore, its flanks are clearly white and not the buff colour of the Mealy and Lesser. I've attached a series of photos below which all show the Mealy and the Coue's, and on every photo you can see that the Coue's is clearly paler with white flanks and probably rump, illustrating that the white effect on the first photo is not just a one off trick of the camera, it's consistent through lots of other photos of the bird. Also, look at the white mark under the eye of the Coue's and the bright white wing bar, and then compare with other photos available on the internet of the bird. Finally, check out the small bill of the Coue's compared to the Mealy.

Lee Evans has done an excellent write up of Arctic Redpoll identification here.  A couple of quotes from that guide include [Exilipes (Coue's)] has "predominantly gleaming white undertail coverts" and "gleaming white rump, with some occasional streaking at the sides and at each end". The rump is not really visible on any of my photos, but clearly the area around the undertail is gleaming white. Lee goes onto say "Mealies often show white ‘tram-lines’ but do not have such intense white ground colouration". I believe that my photos do show more than just tramlines, the ground colour is clearly white.  Also note that if you look at the second photo on Lee's guide, you will see that although Coue's has an extensive white rump, it is not always visible when the birds wings are closed (see second photo down).







Eccleston Mere

Ring Ouzel 1 m
Gadwall 3 (2mm, 1f)
Kingfisher 1

I thought I heard a Common Sandpiper, but couldn't find it in the fading light. It might not have been.

The Ring Ouzel was a great sight in the field behind the yacht club hut. Occasionally it would fly up into the hedge but always returned to exactly the same patch of grass. My first Ring Ouzel at Eccleston Mere. Thanks to Ray for the tip off.

Year 180 (Ring Ouzel), Eccleston Mere 164. At the end of March last year I was on 149 for the year and it took me until 28th April to reach 180.



Appleton Reservoir, Warrington

Willow Warbler 2 singing
Blackcap 1 singing
Sand Martin 2
Chiffchaff 3 singing

Year 179 (Willow Warbler)

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Shaw Moss, Hollingworth Lake CP

Garganey 2 (m&f)
Little Ringed Plover 1
Teal 6
Raven 3
Redshank 2

Year 178 (Garganey)

Wildboarclough

Golden Plover 5 displaying and calling
Curlew 5 bubbling
Wheatear 2
Dipper 1
Grey Wagtail 2
Red Grouse 1

Redpolls in Macclesfield

Coue's Arctic Redpoll 1 
Common "Mealy" Redpoll 3
Lesser Redpoll 10

Year 177 (Coue's Arctic Redpoll)

We were in Macclesfield for first light hoping to see the Coue's Arctic Redpoll. At about 6:30am We saw a bird which we were unsure about at the time, but now having looked at the photos and compared them to those of the bird which are available elsewhere on the internet, it clearly is the Coue's that we saw. We also saw a few nice Mealys.

Photos were very difficult given the dark position of the feeders and the poor early morning light. However, below are a selection showing the pale bird which I consider to be the Coue's. Notice how pale it looks compared to the Lesser Redpolls, how small its bill looks and how white its underparts are. I'm happy with the id, but any opinions welcome.


































It's the bird on the right. Notice how white its underparts are compared to the bird on the left (which I think is a Mealy).


Now its the bird in the middle. Notice how small the bill looks and how big, bull necked and pale it is compared to the bird on the right, which is a Lesser.


Notice the white mark under the eye. This is not a feature of species, but it is a feature of the Coue's in Macclesfield and it is obvious in other photos of the bird on Bird Guides. Notice also how small its bill is compared to.......


This Mealy Redpoll.


Lesser Redpoll (left) and Mealy Redpoll (right). Notice the size difference!

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Eccleston Mere

Lesser Redpoll 15
Sand Martin 4
Water Rail 1 still in western ditch and showing well
Bullfinch 4
Oystercatcher 2
Gadwall 2 (m&f)
Buzzard 1
Kingfisher 1


Friday, 28 March 2014

Mere Sands Wood

This Robin was singing away merrily at Mere Sands Wood this morning. Also several Chiffchaffs and two Goldeneye (not singing!).

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Uffington White Horse, Oxfordshire

Here's another ancient site to set the spine tingling! Of all of the chalk figures in Britain, the Uffington White Horse is thought to be the oldest, dating back to the Bronze Age (1000 - 700 BC), a good 1000 years or more after the completion of Stonehenge! To put that into context, William the Conqueror (1066) was conquering Britain nearly 1000 years ago. So for the Bronze Age people who carved out the White Horse, the Stonehenge builders were at least as distant and as ancient as William the Conqueror is to us today! Quite a sobering thought...

However, back to the White Horse. It was created by digging deep trenches and filling them with chalk. Strangely, the true shape of the figure can only be viewed from the air. Sounds like aliens were involved to me.




This is about the best view you can get of the horse from the ground.


There was a Red Kite flying around the valley in front of the horse.


Fortunately it did come a bit closer!





This is the horses head from above, looking down the valley.


Yellowhammer.

Lepe Country Park, Hampshire

Lesser Yellowlegs 1

Year 176 (Lesser Yellowlegs)

The long staying yellowlegs was more or less standing in exactly the same position that I saw it in at the end of last year. However it did at least prove that it wasn't plastic by flying around a couple of times, even looking like it might be displaying on one occasion. It also looked like it was coming into summer plumage which was nice.


Lesser Yellowlegs (honest!).


Turnstone.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Ibsley Common, Hampshire

Great Grey Shrike 1

Year 175 (Great Grey Shrike)

At last!  The Great Grey Shrike was in Digden Bottom on the edge of Ibsley Common, and not on the top of the common, which is where I looked yesterday. It was a bit distant but was a very good view through the scope.



It was a frosty start in the New Forest.

A few holiday snaps from Wiltshire


My journey today took me right past Stonehenge. I don't care how touristy it may seem at times (and it was difficult to get a photo with nobody on), Stonehenge is an awesome sight. I don't want to turn all druid on you, but it really makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when I see it. A very special place, well deserving of its World Heritage status.


I was delighted to find this Snake's Head Fritillary growing in a field in Wiltshire. This is a rare species in the UK which is commonest in Wiltshire. The significance of this species is that it means that the grassland it grows in is community type MG4 which is unimproved grassland, a rare community type in the UK. Virtually all grasslands in the UK have been "improved" in some way, either by adding lots of nutrients or by over grazing. Unimproved grassland is untouched by nutrients or heavy grazing.


Roe Deer.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Ibsley Common, Hampshire

Dartford Warbler 2 singing
Woodlark 3 calling, displaying and singing
Stonechat 10
Curlew 1 bubbling

Year 174 (Dartford Warbler, Woodlark)

I used to think of the New Forest as a hot, sunny place, but that myth was well and truly dispelled this afternoon as I got a right good soaking high up on Ibsley Common, near Fordingbridge. I failed to see the long staying Great Grey Shrike (surprise, surprise), but I was well compensated by great views of Dartford Warbler and Woodlark.


Dartford Warbler.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Eglwyseg Circular, World's End

We walked from World's End, along the base of the Eglwyseg cliffs as far as Rock Farm, before returning to the car via the Clwydian Way and Cyrn-y-brain. The views were superb, the best birds were a Goshawk and a Wheatear.


Don't look so smug, you're not even a year tick!


Saturday, 22 March 2014

Beddmanarch Bay, Anglesey

Slavonian Grebe 4 (inc. one in partial summer plumage)
Great Northern Diver 1
Bar-tailed Godwit 40
Turnstone 40


Partial summer (below) and winter plumage Slavonian Grebes.

Holyhead Old Harbour

Black Guillemot 3
Great-northern Diver 2

Year 171 (Black Guillemot)


Great Northern Diver

Glaslyn Ospreys are back! Gwynydd

Osprey 2 (male and female)
Red-breasted Merganser 3 (2 males, 1 female)
Whooper Swan 40

Year 170 (Osprey)

The Ospreys were hanging around the nest, with the male often flying off and then returning with sticks and on one occasion a fish which he passed to the female. When he returned to the nest they were seen to mate.


The Glaslyn nest site with Snowdonia behind.


Red-breasted Mergansers displaying.




The victorious male with his prize!

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