Friday, December 31, 2004

Confused Dove

What on earth is schizochroism? I'm certainly not sure - after all, there is enough argument about the definition of alibinism and leucism. It appears to be a plumage abnormality that leads to very pale brown, almost whitish, feathering. It may apply to this Collared Dove, first noticed in my garden on 24 December, although some feathers appear to be two-toned, some normal and some whitish. The overall effect is a strikingly pale bird. Unfortunately it is an irregular visitor but I managed some better pics this morning. Comments welcome.

Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)

A regular plumaged bird for comparison:

All digiscoped with the Nikon CP995, Leica APO77 and 20x eyepiece.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Red-necked Grebe, Ferry Meadows

Another fearless scarce Grebe at Ferry Meadows, hot on the heals of the Slavonian Grebe there from 14-17 Dec, and continuing a very good run of records for one Peterborough's best birding locations. It tended to keep close to the banks of the southeast side of Overton Lake allowing very close views. The all dark eye makes this likely to be an adult winter rather than a first-winter bird. This was only my second in the area and the first in winter plumage. A great find by Kevin Wick's especially as he was without any optical aids at the time.

The last one in the PBC area was back in 1998 so this was an eagerly awaited bird for many local listers. It also means all five of the area's grebes have appeared this year and 1998 was the last time that happened too.

Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)

Digiscoped with the Nikon CP995, Leica APO77 and 20x eyepiece.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Boxing Day

A couple of frosty Boxing Day scenes from the bridleway across the grounds of Elton Hall.

Nikon CP995

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Frosty Fungi

These were among some fungi that caught our eye while out on a post-prandial Christmas Day walk. I particularly liked the frosty effect, for once perhaps enhanced by the need for flash.

Many-zoned Bracket (Coliolus versicolor)

Nikon CP995 with flash.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Dad's first Waxwings

A pre-Christmas family gathering at my sister's place in Suffolk provided the ideal opportunity to show my Dad (who got me interested in birds many, many years ago) his first Waxwings. The flock was using the carpark of the main hospital in Ipswich and performed very nicely as they stripped the rowan berries and came down to the kerbside to drink. I counted 125 but may have doubled up a bit as other counts for the flock were no more than 115.

Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus)

Nikon CP995.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Short-eared Owl, Prior's Fen

A cracking lunchtime outing to Prior's Fen, which has been a bit slow for me on recent visits. Started off by clocking the Bean Geese again, but better weather didn't give any better views as they were spooked just by the car stopping. They flew off but appeared to double back to the same field very soon.

At Prior's Fen a Long-tailed Tit flock caught my attention (always check these) and a rather dull, brownish Chiffchaff was feeding silently among them. I was then distracted by a Short-eared Owl that launched itself up before dropping onto a bank not far away. Unfortunately the brief bright spell had passed so the light was very poor but I wasn't going to pass up the first chance I have ever had to photograph my favourite bird. The pics below aren't too bad considering the shutter was on about 1/8sec!

Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)

Digiscoped with the Nikon CP995, Leica APO77 and 20x eyepiece.

Three Bewick's Swans passed over a couple of times and a Stonechat lingered at the causeway. A Pintail, a couple of Snipe and a surprise visit by 13 Ruff, no doubt displaced from the Nene Washes - where they headed back to when disturbed by a low jet, all added interest. Finally a Kingfisher belted off down one of the drains on the way back to Stonebridge Corner. Not a bad haul for a lunchtime.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Grey Geese on a Grey Day

A party of 9 grey geese have been seen off and on in the Nene Washes area since 4 Dec at least. By now they had settled down to feed on beet tops on a field at Bassenhally Moor (the farmland between the North Bank and Thorney Dyke Road).

Although these had been reported as Tundra Bean Geese up to now, longer views today showed one to be a large adult Pink-footed Goose. This just goes to show how closely related some of these 'species' are, since there is not much more difference between the Pink-foot and Tundra as between the Tundra and Taiga. In this case the Pink-foot may originate from the population breeding in Svalbard (rather than the bulk of East Anglian winterers, which come from Iceland/Greenland), which is more likely to come into contact with Tundra Beans. In total there were 5 adult and 3 juvenile Tundra Bean Geese and one adult Pink-footed Goose.

I have only seen Bean Geese once before locally and that was in exactly the same field - although on that occasion they were with White-fronted Goose and Bewick's Swans.

They were fairly distant and the conditions on this very dull and cold day made viewing difficult and photography even harder. The following shot of the 5 adult Beans (including one with an extensive orange bill and white base) and the Pink-foot is certainly what is usually described as a "record shot".

Tundra Bean Geese (Anser fabalis rossicus) and Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) (third from left)

Digiscoped with the Nikon CP995, Leica APO77 and 32x eyepiece.