BBC Winterwatch

Hi Wildlife Friends,
Not much report today as the birds are keeping their heads down until ‘Christophe’ passes through – Weather looks better tomorrow and Friday.😎
In case it happened to have escaped your notice Winterwatch is back for a two week series. Watch BBC2 at 8:00pm for some calming down after all the Hoo Haa in Washington. There was not a lot of colour on view in last night’s episode except for Chris Packham’s anorak – Red ! What colour will it be tonight I wonder?

Here’s a winter robin to get you in the mood.

Goosander Gallery

Today I paid my first visit of 2021 to Wollaton Park. As usual on and around the lake there were water birds a plenty including a couple of herring gulls in addition to the ducks, geese and black headed gulls. However I was pleased to spot several groups of goosanders which are diving ducks. The hooked beak is serrated for holding on to its slippery fish prey. They are notoriously shy so it is difficult to get a close up view but I did manage some reasonable photos.

This is a male. The head is almost black but in the right light it has a greenish sheen similar to a male mallard but less bright. You can see by the bow wave they are very powerful swimmers and this one can’t wait to get as far from me as possible.

A fellow birder drew my attention to a couple of ducks roosting close to the lake’s island. I was pleased to identify them for her as female goosanders. In this view the sturdy legs explain why they are such powerful swimmers.

This crow allowed me to get quite close. It might have been asleep judging by its eye but it soon stirred into action when I threw down a handful of sunflower hearts. Unlike the line from Dylan Thomas’ ‘Under Milk Wood’ ( ….. sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea) this fine specimen has a distinct blue tone.

I have now visited my three local birding spots since recovering from depression and IT FEELS GREAT! I make no apologies for bombarding my followers and friends with birdpics at every opportunity because I have a whole year’s worth of birding to catch up on! If the weather is clear then expect another posting! I also post pictures on Twitter @beestonbirdman if you are a twitterer.

Stonechat @ ANR

Despite failing light yesterday afternoon (12/01/21) I managed to get some good views of a male stonechat in the Erewash Fields just over the border (the River Erewash) into Derbyshire but still part of Attenborough Nature Reserve. They usually perch openly on the top of (eg) dead thistles which makes photographing them a lot easier. My only problem was obstruction by the cattle that occupy the field which is why it is also a good site for spotting cattle egrets. I think they associate people coming to the fence with fresh food supplies.

Return to Highfields Nottingham University Park

I celebrated my birthday with a tram ride to Highfields for a take-away latte and a wander alongside the lake. It was a bit chilly but the trees offered some shelter. The majority of birds were black headed gulls with Canada and Egyptian geese, swans, a pied wagtail, some common pochard, tufted ducks and mallard, coot and moorhen, three male goosanders, a little egret and some cormorants. This juvenile mute swan posed nicely for me on the thin ice.

Back to Attenborough NR

After a long break, lasting most of 2020, I was delighted to be able to visit my favourite nature reserve this morning. The weather was ideal, clear and bright with no wind. Much of the water was frozen over as can be seen from my first shot of black headed gull near the Visitor Centre.

In the brambles near the visitor centre I spotted a small bird with a sharp beak scurrying about. I managed one clear shot which enabled a fellow birder to identify it as a Chiffchaff some of which, like blackcaps, are overwintering in the UK. Later, by the Trent I saw several Bullfinches – this is a male.

As I was walking alongside the Trent large flock of geese flew honking loudly up the river and made their way to the Clifton Pond. I thought these might be some of the Pink Footed Geese that have been reported in the area. However they look more like Greylags to me but it was thrilling to see such a huge flock

The Crow Family of Birds

I hesitate to use the scientific term for the Crow Family of birds because it is too similar to the virus that plagues us at the moment. Google ‘Crow Family’ and you will see what I mean. Today a couple of Jackdaws popped into the garden to have a go at the coconut shell but were soon seen off by their more colourful cousin, a Magpie.

We have had a Crow in the garden recently but not the other common family member the Jay. The blue Ceonothus flowers are past their best but they have been alive with bees

Beeston Birdman Back Again

Well I really haven’t gone away. My camera has been playing up but I am coping until I can get it repaired. This is on top of the current restrictions that are affecting us all and some health issues. I have had the odd good spot (e.g. GS & Green Woodpecker) in the garden but this Sparrowhawk was the only decent picture I managed to get.

I took a brief trip to Highfields today (29/05). The new extended water area by the Tottle Brook was almost dry but I did spot a Mandarin Duck family nearby with two young and a rather colourful shot of an Egyptian Goose pair with young in the Stepping Stones area.

If you wish to see some of the latest spots from Attenborough including the Slavonian Grebe in his summer plumage and other Notts sightings have a look at http://www.nottsbirders.net/latest_sightings.html and click on the 2020 Gallery link. There are some of my shots in there!

Red Admiral in the Garden

Under the current circumstances I’m sure you will understand that any wildlife postings I am able to make will mainly be garden based.

Yesterday we saw our first Brimstone butterfly of the year in the garden and this morning our first Red Admiral spent some time feeding on some pink flowers allowing me to take several shots in the lovely sunshine.