Spring is Springing!

Blackthorn flower, minature Iris Reticulata (garden) and Snowdrops still showing well.

Blackbirds by the Trent at ANR looking in peak condition. I think we have a couple of pairs in he garden.

There were two nuthatches visiting the bird table at the Beeston end of ANR but didn’t manage to get both of them in one shot. I presume they are a pair so we might see babies later. A very bossy robin trying to intimidate one of the nuthatches.

A grey squirrel poised to grab some of the sunflower hearts I was putting out.

Two birds catching the sun at ANR, a male reedbunting and a robin – half of what seemed to be a pair.

An immature mute swan swimming in a brook that feeds into the ponds at ANR and a lone red crested pochard among the other waterfowl. Three greylag geese flying down river. I took this to show how much the Trent was in flood.

Finally, from ANR, I saw several buzzards on my walk around the reserve but this one was the closest, flying over the Church Pond.

We are seeing lots of activity in the garden as we approach the spring. We have pairs of bluetits. great tits and dunnock and I’m pretty sure I saw two coal tits this morning. However our resident goldcrest remains single. I am getting some very nice views of it that have been well received on Twitter (@beestonbirdman) as has this VIDEO CLIP of it taking a bath. Keep a lookout for fledgelings and please unfreeze the birdbath if we have another overnight frost.

“We only get pigeons!”

If I had a pound for every time someone says “We only get pigeons!” when I try engage them in my passion for birding I might have had enough to fill the car with petrol. Nevertheless pigeons are considered a nuisance in public areas and we are discouraged from feeding them. If that had been the rule on Trafalgar Square in 1964 then Mary Poppins would have needed a serious re-write. ‘Feed the Birds, tuppence a bag?” I don’t think so. But this much maligned species deserves a closer look.

This week I have added some more tree branches to the feeding station to make more natural looking perches for photographing the birds. The users so far have been mostly pigeons but if you take a closer look at them the variety and beauty of their plumage may surprise you. These are all Feral pigeons. It is only in the last few years that many of them have ventured into the garden, possibly as a result of the discouragement of feeding in public places. Even in this small sample you can spot some differences.

These are all feral pigeon visitors to our garden. I have seen one with the light brown colouring from time to time but this week two identical ones paid a visit (top left). I posted this image on Twitter (@beestonbirdman) where it generated quite a lot of interest. The commonest colouration is the all over grey plumage in various shades with patches of green and purple sheen. I see apure white example only rarely.

These are Stock Doves which are much less common than feral pigeons. With overall grey/blue plumage and their trademark iridescent green patch these birds usually arrive in the garden in ones and twos.

Two views of a Wood Pigeon. The second image was taken today on our newly installed luxury bird table. They are generally a bit plumper than the other ‘pigeons’ and, in the mature birds, the white collar is a distinctive feature.

The Collared Dove is the last of the ‘pigeons’ in this posting. A more delicate member of the family like the stock dove it tends to be seen in ones and twos. The plumage is a soft blend of buff and grey with some dark feathers on the wing. The black collar is a defining feature of this lovely bird.

I hope this posting has made you think twice and look closer when you see one of these birds rather than dismissing them all with “It’s only a pigeon!” Another distinguishing feature of this family of birds can be found by looking at the eye. Some of them are very different. Can you match these eyes to the correct bird? I’ve hidden the answers in one of the pictures above. 😎

Birds from Odd Angles

As it is forecast to be another wet and windy May day (in the UK) I thought I would post some pictures I have taken over the last few years of birds from an unusual point of view in the hopes that they will raise a smile and take our minds of the miserable weather. I have already published many of these on twitter @beestonbirdman. I’ve listed all the names below but in random order as a bit of a challenge. 🙂

Drake Teal – Dunnock – Ferruginous Duck – Male House Sparrow – Baby Goldfinch – Baby Bluetit – Long Tailed Tit – Goldcrest – Nuthatch – Starling – Waxwing – Juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker

Information about formatting

I do my best to lay out each posting in a neat and tidy manner but sometimes the email notification that you receive squeezes the images and text into a narrow format which undoes all my careful formatting. My last post, the ‘tails’ quiz is a particularly extreme example. The only way round this is for you, my faithful followers, to view the actual post in your favourite browser at beestonbirdman.blog. By the way we seem to be getting viewers from all over the world. Recent new countries are Philippines, Singapore, Hungary, Latvia and the first one from S. America, Ecuador. Some of these arise from me mentioning the blog on Twitter @beestonbirdman. Thanks to all followers and viewers and stay safe. BB 🙂

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.