Friday, January 31, 2014

A Curlew And A Yellow Submarine

Back home from two weeks in Lanzarote with a seemingly endless list of things to do so I put together a blog post until we’re truly up and running. 

One of long list of my holiday emails waiting for catch up concerned the recovery of a Curlew ringed a few years ago. 

Turn the calendar back two and a half years to 9th June 2010. Will and I are in the hills above the market town of Garstang on the western edge of the Bowland hills where we are on the lookout for wader chicks. We found a couple of broods of Curlew chicks that day, eventually tracking down the youngsters despite the frantic and determined efforts of the adult birds to see us off their home patch. 


FC79566 was one of a brood of three healthy chicks ringed that day.

Curlew chicks

Flip the calendar forward to 13 January 2014 and Liverpool John Lennon Airport alongside the estuary of the River Mersey, 7 kms southeast of Liverpool city centreand some 62 kms from Garstang. An airport worker is conducting routine checks of the runways to ensure the safety of planes landing and taking off when he comes across the freshly dead corpse of FC79566. 

 The Mersey Estuary and Liverpool John Lennon Airport -

I contacted the Operations Planner at the airport Andrew Hepworth who told me that the bird was probably hit by an aircraft but as no pilot reported a possible strike the cause of death could not be confirmed. Andrew went on to say that due to their proximity to the Mersey estuary this time of year does result in large numbers of Curlews close by. Groups of Curlews regularly fly over the aerodrome fence boundary and settle on the airfield. As a result the resident bird control operators are constantly shifting them back over the fence and back to the shores of the estuary below. 

“As you appreciate we do get our fair share of dead birds/strikes and these tend to be curlew, woodpigeon, gull species, swifts during the summer, and the odd kestrel.” 

In 2002 Liverpool Aiport was renamed in honour of John Lennon, a founding member of The Beatles, 22 years after Lennon's death. A 7 ft tall bronze statue stands overlooking the check-in hall, and a tribute to the Beatle’s well known song Yellow Submarine graces the entrance to the airport. 

Yellow Submarine at Liverpool John Lennon Airport - Wikipedia

I’ll catch up with fellow bloggers soon and post pictures of Lanzarote. 

Also, as soon as I can find precious time for a determined read, there is a review of a stunning new book Ten Thousand Birds - Ornithology Since Darwin. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Sparrow Fans Only

I’m still out of touch on holiday. So for today’s there’s a pre-scheduled blog post for all the sparrow fans out there itching to get out and check their nest boxes quite soon. I included a set of my pictures of Tree Sparrows from various locations and a variety of places.

I found some fascinating information online about the Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus), a common enough bird where I live but one hard to study as the species is extremely shy. Nesting adults leave nest boxes even as one approaches and care must be taken when ringing nestlings at the correct stage to avoid desertion by the adults. Even watching Tree Sparrows at feeding stations or in everyday field work can be difficult as the species seems to flee from inquisitive human eyes. 

Tree Sparrow
A number of bird species deposit eggs into other nests and it is not easy for parents to tell their own eggs from others. Such parasitism is well documented in many bird species, particularly the cuckoo and cowbird families. Despite the apparent difficulties of studying Tree Sparrows, researchers at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna discovered that Tree Sparrows can recognise eggs deposited by other Tree Sparrows but do not always reject them.

From University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna (2013, December 11). Egg dumping -- and rearing. ScienceDaily.

Tree Sparrow
"Building a nest, laying and incubating eggs and taking care of a hungry brood are very demanding on birds´ energy budgets, so it is obviously in their interests to ensure that the young they are caring for are their own. Brood parasitism sometimes makes this a difficult proposition: strangers -- either of their own kind or of another species -- might want a free ride and deposit their eggs into ready-made nests. The reluctant "hosts" pay a high cost. At the very least, they waste energy on unrelated offspring, while at worst their own eggs or hatchlings are killed by parasitic chicks". 

"Strategies to avoid egg dumping vary from species to species. Birds might count eggs or recognize foreign eggs by variation in colour or size and if possible reject them. But recognizing foreign eggs is not always easy and not all species or individuals succeed. Some birds do not seem to discern even obvious differences, while some that do are physically unable to eject the strange eggs. Even when hosts manage to eject eggs from the nest, their motivation for doing so is unclear. Are they keeping the nest "sanitized" for their brood or are they attempting to prevent parasitism?"

Tree Sparrow

"The Tree Sparrow seems to have evolved strong variation in egg coloration and size between clutches, probably to enhance its ability to discriminate parasitic eggs from its own. To test for the ability to recognize conspecific eggs, Herbert Hoi and colleagues at the Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna introduced both real eggs and cardboard models into the nests of Tree Sparrows. The scientists used flat objects to ensure the birds would easily be able to remove the fake "eggs" if they wanted to (flat objects are easier to grasp with the beak than round ones). To investigate which features made ejection more likely, they included model eggs with features that are not typical of Tree Sparrow eggs". 

Tree Sparrow

The researchers also checked for the sparrows' motivation for ejecting eggs by introducing the models either at the time of egg-laying or during incubation. "If the motivation is to defend against egg-dumping, we would expect egg ejection to happen largely when the females are laying eggs," explains Hoi. "If they do it during incubation, they probably just want to keep the nest clean for their hatchlings”. In two related experiments, the researchers tested the consequences of adding eggs to 30 nest boxes during egg laying and to another 30 during incubation, first using real eggs and then using flat paper models. 

Tree Sparrow

The birds removed foreign eggs from the nest in about a third of cases in the first experiment, although the remainder accepted and continued to incubate parasitic eggs. When flat models were used, 81% of the objects were quickly thrown out, regardless of the time of introduction. The results point to an anti-parasite behaviour, albeit an imperfect one. The birds sometimes seem to have a hard time ejecting foreign eggs with their beaks, although it is also possible that they do not always correctly identify them. 

"Our tests on motivation are interesting. The sparrows threw out foreign objects of a different size more often during the egg-laying stage but they were more careful to remove unusual white objects during the incubation stage," says Hoi. "This shows that avoidance of parasitism is a motivation but nest sanitation also plays a part because the sparrows probably think the white, non-round objects are egg sacks and broken shells, which are usually removed from the nest after the young hatch." 

Tree Sparrow

Over a number of years our local Tree Sparrows have given many a cause for thought, leading one to think that not only is there more to the world of the humble Tree Sparrow than we imagine, and also that they are shrewder than we initially give them credit for. I guess that this interesting piece of research reinforces that impression. 

More news, views and birds later. Another Bird Blog which is back on home territory very soon with pictures from Lanzarote 2014.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Out Of Touch

There’s no local news today because Sue and I are grabbing some winter sunshine on the island of Lanzarote and hoping to see a few birds along the way.

Lanzarote is a Spanish island in the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, about 125 kilometres from the coast of Africa and 1,000 kilometres from the Iberian Peninsula. In 1993, the island of Lanzarote was declared a Biosphere Reserve as it conserves one of the most exceptional ecosystems and volcanic landscapes in the archipelago. Lanzarote was born through fiery eruptions; the solidified lava streams and extravagant rock formations bear witness to that.

The island along with others in the Canary Islands emerged about 15 million years ago after the breakup of the African and the American continental plates. The greatest recorded eruptions occurred between 1730 and 1736 in the area now designated Timanfaya National Park. This is an area where most tourists head to in order to see the spectacular displays of cold water poured onto the ground turning immediately to a spout of steam. As we drive along stopping here and there to explore it is impossible to pause without taking pictures of the dramatic and often deserted landscapes.




The number of bird species is quite low in Lanzarote, even more so during the winter, so anyone arriving here expecting to add a few dozen new species to their list might be sorely disappointed.

The tiny Berthelot’s Pipit is endemic to the Canary Islands and is very common on Lanzarote, almost impossible to miss until its grey-toned plumage melts into the rocky backdrops.

Berthelot's Pipit

The common gull around here is the magnificent Yellow-legged Gull, looking all the more stunning against the volcanic shorelines.

Yellow-legged Gull

The vineyards of La Gería with their traditional methods of cultivation, are a protected area. Single vines are planted in pits 4–5 m wide and 2–3 m deep, with small stone walls around each pit. This agricultural technique is designed to harvest rainfall and overnight dew and to protect the plants from the winds. The vineyards are part of the World Heritage Site as well as other sites on the island.

 La Geria, Lanzarote - Photo credit / CC BY-SA
We plan at least a couple of visits to the saltpans and tidal lagoons at Janubio in the south west of the island where we hope for a good variety of very common waders. Almost guaranteed here are scarce UK birds like Black-winged Stilt and Kentish Plover mixed in with the everyday Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank and Grey Plover of home.

Saltpans - Janubio, Lanzarote

Kentish Plover

Black-winged Stilt

Along the beach and rocky shore near our hotel are Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Sanderling, Whimbrel, and a steady stream of Sandwich Terns fishing the clear waters. Near our hotel in Puerto Calero there are residential streets with large gardens and decent amounts of shrubbery where the common birds are Collared Dove, Chiffchaff, House Sparrow and Desert Grey Shrikes. The shrike, part of the "Grey" shrike complex and formerly known as Southern Grey Shrike, is now considered to one of the several sub-species of  Lanius elegans, the North African Desert Grey Shrike.

Desert Grey Shrike

Where the avenues peter out into the typical dusty, dry Lanzarote landscape the Linnets and Berthelot’s Pipits appear, and with luck a few Trumpeter Finches or Lesser Short-toed Larks. I am told that the related Short-toed Lark (the one with the unstreaked breast) is but a rare visitor to Lanzarote.

Lesser Short-toed Lark

Trumpeter Finch

We’ll choose a sunny wind free day to go looking on the plains in the area of El Jable and Teguise for Houbara Bustard and Cream-coloured Courser, never easy to find but two of the real speciality birds of Lanzarote.

Cream-coloured Courser - Photo credit: Tarique Sani / / CC BY-NC-SA

Wish us luck - back soon. In the meantime I’ll try to keep in contact with Blogger friends through my netbook and the hotel WiFi.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

When Did Birds Learn To Fly?

There's  no news from Another Bird Blog today as I am "Out of the Office". However here is a post with a fascinating piece of information for those interested in the history and evolution of birds.

A study into the aerodynamic performance of feathered dinosaurs, by scientists from the University of Southampton, has provided new insight into the evolution of bird flight. 

“In recent years, new fossil discoveries have changed our view of the early evolution of birds and, more critically, their powers of flight. We now know about a number of small-bodied dinosaurs that had feathers on their wings as well as on their legs and tails: completely unique in the fossil record. However, even in light of new fossil discoveries, there has been a huge debate about how these dinosaurs were able to fly. 

Scientists from the University of Southampton hope to have ended this debate by examining the flight performance of one feathered dinosaur pivotal to this debate — the early Cretaceous five-winged paravian Microraptor. The first theropod described with feathers on its arms, legs and tail (five potential lifting surfaces), Microraptor implies that forelimb-dominated bird flight passed through a four-wing (‘tetrapteryx’) phase and represents an important stage in the evolution of gliding and flapping. 

The Southampton researchers performed a series of wind tunnel experiments and flight simulations on a full-scale, anatomically accurate model of Microraptor. 

Results of the team’s wind tunnel tests show that Microraptor would have been most stable gliding when generating large amounts of lift with its wings. Flight simulations demonstrate that this behaviour had advantages since this high lift coefficient allows for slow glides, which can be achieved with less height loss. For gliding down from low elevations, such as trees, this slow, and aerodynamically less efficient flight was the gliding strategy that results in minimal height loss and longest glide distance. 

Much debate, centred on the position and orientation of Microraptor’s legs and wing shape turns out to be irrelevant – tests show that changes in these variables make little difference to the dinosaur’s flight. 

Dr Gareth Dyke, Senior Lecturer in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Southampton and co-author of the study, says: “Significant to the evolution of flight, we show that Microraptor did not require a sophisticated, ‘modern’ wing morphology to undertake effective glides, as the high-lift coefficient regime is less dependent upon detail of wing morphology.” “This is consistent with the fossil record, and also with the hypothesis that symmetric ‘flight’ feathers first evolved in dinosaurs for non-aerodynamic functions, later being adapted to form aerodynamically capable surfaces.” 

Dr Roeland de Kat, Research Fellow in the Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanics Research Group at the University of Southampton and co-author of the study, says: “What interests me is that aerodynamic efficiency is not the dominant factor in determining Microraptor’s glide efficiency. However, it needs a combination of a high lift coefficient and aerodynamic efficiency to perform at its best.” 

The paper ‘Aerodynamic performance of the feathered dinosaur Microraptor and the evolution of feathered flight’ is published in the latest issue of Nature Communications. Dr Dyke and fellow Southampton palaeontologists showcased their ground-breaking research at the Celebrating Dinosaur Island: Jehol-Wealden International Conference on 21 and 22 September 2013. 

The Isle of Wight (Dinosaur Island) and China are key areas for Cretaceous fossils, especially dinosaurs. To celebrate this connection, Chinese and UK dinosaur palaeontologists will discuss their research at the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton and visit key dinosaur sites on the Isle of Wight and network with tourism and business leaders to build connections for future paleontological research.”

No one should accuse Another Bird Blog of offering its readers a varied diet of birds.

Log in soon for more news, views and photos, this time somewhere warm and sunny. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Staying Warm

I sprayed defroster on the windscreen and then started the old girl up to see the temperature indicator flashing a “1°” warning. Definitely a morning for the heated seat and not hanging around on street corners, so stand by for a mixed bunch of stuff from this morning’s rapid transit whereby I managed five different birding spots in four hours. 

In the half-light there seemed to be good numbers of Little Egrets in the Pilling Roost so I stopped to examine the ghostly shapes in more detail. After two counts the best I could get was 36 and by then the early risers were already on their way out of the trees, others stirring as if to go. Early Whooper Swans, 30+, were flying over from their roost way out on the marsh and then heading south towards the fields of Eagland Hill where counts of 300+ Whoopers are now an everyday occurrence. 

Soon I headed back to Knott End and a check of the 0830 tide. The biting south-easterly wind made for a brief but bitterly cold look, with 1300 Oystercatcher, 6 Turnstone, 85 Dunlin, 60+ Redshank, 70+ Shelduck, 15 Curlew, 140 Lapwing, 12 Twite and 2 Pied Wagtails. 


On passing Lane Ends again I could see a flock of mainly Lapwing which upon closer inspection revealed 6 Redshank, 80+ Starlings and 320 Lapwings. There were more Lapwings and also 120+ Golden Plovers on the Cockerham flash floods and then as I scoped the sea wall, 2 Buzzards again, the birds on foot prospecting both along and up & down the embankment.

I’m not having much luck finding the unseasonal Common Sandpiper at Conder Green, but the 2 wintering Spotted Redshank are ultra-reliable in the creeks below the road, as they were again. 

Spotted Redshank

Also there today and as combined pool and creek counts, 280+ Teal, 30 Wigeon, 6 Curlew, 5 Little Grebe, 15 Lapwing, 4 Goldeneye, 3 Goosander, 1 Tufted Duck. Below is not a very good and also rushed Goosander shot with the equally wary Teal somewhat distant. 



It was here that a walk around the block produced most of the Teal count, also 18 House Sparrow, 1 Tree Sparrow, 1 Reed Bunting, and on the outer marsh 20+ Linnets. 

A wildfowl count at Glasson Dock gave 55 Tufted Duck, 20 Goldeneye, 4 Cormorant, 1 Pochard, 1 Grey Heron and 4 Mute Swan. 

Tufted Duck

I know for sure that next week’s birding will heat up considerably, so stick around Another Bird Blog to see why. 

Linking today to Stewart's Wild Bird Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Having A Grouse

As if the weather wasn’t bad enough. Since the weekend I’ve had my annual bout of the common cold to contend with, not that I’m one to exaggerate symptoms or to grumble as Sue will readily testify. 

Wiki - “The common cold (also known as nasopharyngitis, rhinopharyngitis, acute coryza, head cold, or simply a cold) is a viral infectious disease of the upper respiratory tract which primarily affects the nose. Symptoms include coughing, sore throat, runny nose, sneezing, and fever which usually resolve in seven to ten days, with some symptoms lasting up to three weeks. Well over 200 virus strains are implicated in the cause of the common cold; the rhinoviruses are the most common. 

No cure for the common cold exists, but the symptoms can be treated. It is the most frequent infectious disease in humans with the average adult contracting two to three colds a year and the average child contracting between six and twelve. These infections have been with humanity since antiquity.” 

So I wasn’t going far this morning, just sticking to the car with both the hot air blower and the heated seat turned to “max”. 

With half-decent light for a change I headed up to Glasson Dock hoping to get better shots of the 10/15 Common Goldeneyes regular on the marina there. 

From Wiki again - "Goldeneye and Whistler are common names for a species of small tree-hole nesting northern hemisphere sea ducks belonging to the genus Bucephala. The plumage is black and white. Goldeneyes eat fish, crustaceans and other marine life. The "Whistler" name comes from the noise their beating wings make in flight. 

The Bufflehead was formerly separated in its own genus Charitonetta, while the goldeneyes proper were mistakenly placed in Clangula (as Clangula americana), the genus of the Long-tailed Duck which at that time was placed in Harelda.  

The three living species are: 
  • Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula: they have black bills. Males have a dark green head with a white spot near the bill, under their eye. Females have brown heads.
  • Barrow's Goldeneye Bucephala islandica  
  • Bufflehead Bucephala albeola 
Known fossil taxa are: 
Bucephala cereti (Sajóvölgyi Middle Miocene of Mátraszõlõs, Hungary - Late Pliocene of Chilhac, France) 
Bucephala ossivalis (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Bone Valley, USA), which was very similar to the Common Goldeneye and may even have been a paleosubspecies or direct ancestor.
Bucephala fossilis (Late Pliocene of California, USA) 
Bucephala angustipes (Early Pleistocene of central Europe) Bucephala sp. (Early Pleistocene of Dursunlu, Turkey: Louchart et al. 1998)".

Barrow's Goldeneye -Photo Andrew Reding / / CC BY-NC-ND 

Bufflehead female: Photo / CC BY-SA 

Bufflehead male - Photo: flythebirdpath~}~}~} / / CC BY-NC 

Common Goldeneye is the default goldeneye of the UK, the other two species being but rare visitors when poor weather blows them across the Atlantic Ocean - in that case we could be in for one of either pretty soon. 

Below are my efforts at the Common Goldeneyes of today. Far from perfect pictures, the birds wary in being too close but I was able to use IS400 in today’s better light. Inevitably I took more pictures of the males than of females. Sorry girls, but you have to admit that in some animals the average male of the species is better looking than the run of the mill female.

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye

So Wiki, here a “cure” to the common cold. A bedtime glass or two of the common Grouse, readily obtained from your local supermarket or corner shop. The amber liquid may not actually cure the dreaded sniffles but it’s guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart and give a good night’s sleep.

 The Famous Grouse

If the cure works the blog should be up and running as normal very soon.

Stay tuned, but stay sober. Linking today to Eileen's Saturday Blog and Camera Critters.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

After The Storms

Here in this little corner of Lancashire we escaped the damage inflicted to many parts of the UK by the wind, rain and tidal surges of recent weeks. The abnormally high tides left debris in unaccustomed places, a number of trees lying across the ground and flooded fields that appeared as if by magic. Apart from more damaged fencing, home suffered no ill effects.  

Today I set off for Conder and called in at Pilling, the red sky in the morning displaying a warning which proved remarkably accurate when by 1pm the rain had arrived again, but thankfully not too much wind. 

Pilling - Red Sky In The Morning

I was too late for the Little Egret roost as most seem to have departed, a single bird just setting off for the day and 2 or 3 more on the saltmarsh. Further out on the marsh I counted 112 Whooper Swans at roost with I suspect more hidden from sight in the tidal channel, and maybe some Mute Swans too. 

Whooper Swans

I stopped at Cockerham where I counted 140+ Lapwings on the flood, 3 Little Egrets and 2 patrolling Buzzards. It was too early in the morning for these Buzzards to fly as one was fence hopping and the other strutting around a field in search of earthworms and such like, stopping every now and then to eat before then flying a few yards to another likely spot. As birdwatchers know, Buzzards aren’t the villains that many sportsmen would like to make out. 

Buzzard - Mark Medcalf (CuriousUploaded by snowmanradio) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons 

Some two hours later and on the way back from Conder I stopped here again to find phenomenal numbers of birds on the several flooded fields - 3500 Lapwing, 450 Curlew, 450 Golden Plover and 1500 Starlings but no Buzzards. 

At Conder Pool the aftermath of recent weather was most obvious at the pool. It’s a stretch of water adjacent to a tidal creek where overflow from high tides might occasionally cover the road to sometimes caress the steps of the screen hide. Today the old screen looked forlorn, battered almost beyond recognition by wind and high water, the path gouged away by surges of fast-flowing tides. The water level is now so high that birds normally out of sight on the flash of a pool were now elevated by the high water level and clearly visible to anyone walking the deeply puddled and debris strewn road. 

Sadly it will take more than a month or two for the once-pool now-lake to return to muddy edged wader heaven, but the larger expanse of open water has pulled in the wildfowl. 

Conder "Pool"

Local Kingfishers like to sit on the stone wall of the outflow and study the water some 18 inches below, but the water level is now virtually level with the wall. I hadn’t seen a Kingfisher for a while but this morning I saw one fly from the edge of the creek and head off towards the road bridge. The picture is from the same spot as above, the parapet at the right of the shot, but the photo taken on a sunnier, pre-flood day. 


Wildfowl and wader counts, creek and pool: 290 Teal, 70 Wigeon, 5 Little Grebe, 4 Goldeneye, 2 Tufted Duck, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Little Egret, 1 Spotted Redshank, 30 Redshank, 8 Curlew, 18 Lapwing 

At Glasson Dock the recent storms had sunk someone’s home, the water still invading the slowly disappearing cabin. 

Glasson Dock

A fellow blogger in Ontario recently posted pictures of Goldeneyes, a wary species usually difficult to approach here in the UK, but David's pictures made me try a bit harder today with the gang of 13 Goldeneye on the yacht basin. 

They motored in and out of the centre of the basin according to the passage of humans on the car park or along the tow path; eventually I was able to get a few passable pictures, albeit by using ISO800 in the grey morning light as the birds bobbed up and down on the choppy water. 

Note the yellow/ochre patch between the nail and nostril of the female’s bill, a feature which I must admit I hadn’t properly appreciated when dealing with Goldeneyes at normal distances. Hope your weather improves too David, but please don’t send it this way. 




Other wildfowl here - 1 Pochard, 35 Tufted Duck, 40 Coot, 1 Cormorant. 

More next week from Another Bird Blog - weather permitting.

Linking today to  Wild Bird Wednesday.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Opening The Account

The new page-a-day had waited patiently on the dining room table all day yesterday just aching for somebody to pick it up. It just had to be, so this morning I slipped the little book in the right hand pocket of my old birding jacket and then set off for Knott End and Pilling, the first birding session of 2014. 

Another Bird Blog Diary 2014

With still three hours to high tide at Knott End there wasn’t much doing, the usual tight pack of Oystercatchers forming on the flat shore with just a smattering of Sanderling sticking to the tide line, and 15 Turnstones already on the tiny but unkempt part of foreshore they favour. 

A walk along the esplanade found 40+ Twite, 2 Rock Pipits and 2 Pied Wagtail, and down near the village, the noisy and flighty gangs of Lapwing and Redshanks. Driving through the village I could see the Rooks about the trees above the Library, an old established but now small Rookery as the tall trees eventually succumb to old age. 

I checked the flood at Fluke Hall where the usual Lapwings were absent but 24 Redshanks and a single Black-tailed Godwit were still about. I’m wondering if the Black-tail isn’t too well, as a usually gregarious species turns into a rather lonesome individual. I was still in the car when along the road and above Fluke Hall I spotted a Peregrine, gliding and circling in the direction of the marsh. By the time I reached the trees the falcon had disappeared but I saw it later as I walked the sea wall, beating up the waders, distant and into the light for the inevitable “record shot”.

Black-tailed Godwit


Also on the stubble, spent maize fields and wildfowler’s pools, 26 Linnet, 12 Skylark, 300+ Jackdaw, 25 Woodpigeon, 70 Shelduck, 2 Little Egret, 22 Pintail and 15 Whooper Swans. 

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan

Along the shore were good numbers of Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Dunlin and Knot, the fast rising tide moving the birds quickly and constantly. On the incoming water I noted 2 Red-breasted Merganser and a Goldeneye, plus many hundreds of Shelduck. 



Someone asked me just a day or two ago why many birds fly in formation, so today I took a shot of some pinkies (Pink-footed Geese) in formation flight. 

Pink-footed Geese

The V shape of the flock conserves a bird’s energy. Each bird flies slightly above the bird in front resulting in a reduction of wind resistance. The birds take turns being in the front, falling back when they get tired. In this way, the geese can fly for a long time before they must stop for rest. 

Another benefit to the V formation is that it is easy to keep track of every bird in the group. Flying in formation may assist with the communication and coordination within the group. Fighter pilots often use this formation for the same reason. 

There’s more news, views and pictures on Another Bird Blog during the rest of 2014. Stay tuned.

Linking today to Eileens Saturday BlogAnni's Blog and Camera Critters.
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