Sunday, 28 March 2010

Lonsdale Reservoir last Sunday

I have been so busy and/or tired this week that I am only just managing to get this out now. I went to Lonsdale Reservoir last Sunday and, at last, mission Little Grebe was successful with a pair by the reed bed at one end of the reservoir :) #39 for the year.

I had barely started going round that a jogger asked me if I'd seen the owl, then by the tree I met some people who'd come specially to see it, so it's become a local celebrity it seems :)

Nearby I heard a Chiffchaff, then another on the other side which I spotted briefly. #40. The male Kestrel was sitting in a tree, I didn't spot its mate. Jackdaws, Stock Doves, but no Egyptian Geese.
A crow was picking up nesting material on the path, and another one was making a strange noise I don't recall hearing before:


On the water, there were still a few Common and Black-headed Gulls, but not that many. I couldn't see any Shovelers, but there were still some Tufted Ducks, Teals and Pochards. There had been mention on the Londonbirders wiki of likely unclipped Mandarins so I has a good look for them. Finally found them, and they gave me the run-around initially, moving from one side to the other, hiding behind the vegetation, but I think I finally got photos showing full winged birds. #41

Last visit I had done, over a month ago, a pair of Grey Herons had started building a nest on one of the rafts. They were still there:

This time, from the other side, I noticed that there was a second one, much lower one, on another raft:

Back closer to the nest, I was busy photographing the Mandarins when I heard noise from the herons' nest: the other had arrived for an exchange, the end of which I managed to video:

Nesting Grey Herons

Now that I have a bike, it will hopefully be less than a month before my next visit, with not having to spend 1hr30 just to get there and back anymore...

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

a slice of mandarin

Last Saturday, on my way to watch a friend race on the river, I spotted this female Mandarin among the barges at Furnival Gardens. I don't know if it is the same one I saw in February, and mentioned in this post, but, if not, it's her body double. I took photos on my way back home, on my way there the branch she's perched on was at water level.

I had previously seen her (difficult to imagine that there are that many of them lurking about around Fulham) in February, preening on the foreshore.

I like how the water appears to be boiling around her, but also how clear it was.

The difference between her two wings is fairly obvious this way.

For bigger versions and more photos click on the photos above or go to my gallery.

Friday, 12 March 2010

between you and me and a packet of crisps

I went by the Thames yesterday afternoon, more to stretch my legs than anything, but, you never know, my luck of the previous day could have continued. No such luck, and unlikely as the Thames was chock-a-block with rowing boats, I assume it was the Junior Head of the River or something.
Unsurprisingly, there wasn't much out there, though a good quantity of Black-headed Gulls were congregating by Hammersmith Bridge. A pair of Gadwalls were a surprise, I barely saw any all winter, and, now, barely any other duck, and there they were!
Then this pair of geese arrived. I'd seen them before, pretty sure, as I was cleaning up the foreshore slightly further south last week. One, I assume the female, a classic Canada Goose, the other one of those Canada x Greylag hybrids which pop up from time to time. I tried to ignore them, but they kept on passing by, and then the hybrid one started honking. I couldn't resist any longer and got my camera out.

"Hey you! Stop taking photos!"

geese"And a packet of crisps swims by..."

"What sweet music we make"


Wednesday, 10 March 2010

of boats, ducks and gulls

It was a bit strange by the Thames when I did the weekly shopping trip today. First, it was freezing cold but for a few seconds it felt like I was by the Mississippi when this boat sailed by:

It is called The Elizabethan, and is apparently a perfect replica of an 1890s Mississippi Stern-wheeled Paddle Steamer. "The Elizabethan is one of the largest vessels on the Thames for private charter, with an enviable reputation for excellent cuisine and service."

Second, there seemed to be more big gulls than in recent times, mostly Herring Gulls, but also 3 Great Black-backed Gulls. Considering I've hardly ever seen one there, seeing 3 at once was quite something, especially as 2 of them were engaged in loud courtship behaviour.

Lastly, there was a duck I wouldn't mind for my patch, a Pintail. Minding its own business on its lonesome.


For bigger versions, and more photos, click on one of the photos above or go here.

To finish, some gulls, just because. This pair was involved in a lot of courtship while I was there. I assume it's the male at the back and the female at the front, she somehow has a bit more of a feminine look to her. I quite like the composition of this photo but it doesn't show how hard they had to work to stay put against the wind.

A younger one on one of the numerous bicycles to be found on the foreshore unfortunately.

I quite like juvenile and 1st winter plumages, the only reason why I'm adding this one.

Friday, 5 March 2010

of birds and bees

I have finally processed some of the photos of Redwings in Margravine Cemetery I took on a sunny 17th January.





After 2 months 1/2, nearly 3 now, of their presence, I shall miss the little fellows when they leave. It's been difficult to find them the past 2 days. I would initially find a few up in a tree, sometime singing, then a few more, and then they would finally end up on the ground looking for worms. That part they prefer, between Barons Court and Queens Club, will seem empty.


I felt very much under the weather today, but it looked so nice that I went and spent an hour in Margravine Cemetery. Primarily to check on the Redwings, then on the Great Spotted Woodpeckers. I haven't found yet if and where they've decided to nest this year, but they gave me fantastic views today. I even had them both in the same tree for a few minutes. First the male:

Then the female. First in a fairly classic pose:

woodpeckerThen a more unusual angle:

Then, I think I have been spotted:

woodpeckerThat didn't distract her from finding food:

woodpeckerEven trying her best Blue Tit impression:

Lastly, the sunshine on the crocuses, now in full bloom:

And on one of those crocuses, a bumblebee, covered in pollen! I actually saw 2 today.