Common Loon at Pitsford Reservoir

Wednesday last week (09/01/2019) I spent a day at Pitsford Water in Northamptonshire, with James Burman. We were there to track down one, if not both, of the Great Northern Divers (GND) a.k.a Common Loon, which are currently wintering there.

On our long walk around this vast body of water (starting at the Dam), we saw the usual suspects, along with approx four Goldeneye (drake & hen), two Great White Egrets (on the other side of the Causeway) and two lovely Stonechat (male & female at the Causeway entrance) on some flowering Gorse.

After getting a good look at the Stonechat pair and a quick scan of the water, we were going to walk speedily to where the sailing club part is, as there had been an update on the reports of them and one had been seen there, and James says: “Adam, I’ve seen something that definitely isn’t a Cormorant! It has just dived.” So we stopped with our binoculars at the ready and James pointed it out when it resurfaced, I didn’t need my bins to confirm it was what we were looking for! As it was by the waters edge and I recognised it instantly! I exclaimed: “That’s it! That’s the Great Northern Diver!” ๐Ÿ˜ โฌ‡๏ธ My video โฌ‡๏ธ

Recently I read that British GNDs mainly winter in the Mediterranean, and the ones that winter in the UK are usually from Iceland.

Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

Waxwing Winter

Six years ago it was a similar mild and wet December, I happened to be looking on Twitter when I saw a tweet announcing that there was a large flock of Waxwings, at the Midlands best garden centre, Webbs of Wychbold in north Worcestershire.

It had been several years since the last irruption of Waxwings and it wasn’t a bird many people had seen, I had never seen any before and so like many people from all over the West Midlands region (and maybe further afield), I descended on Webbs of Wychbold.

Of course I took my trusty video camera along with me, it would have been madness not to get footage of these beautiful birds! Journalists at the local BBC Studios in Birmingham got wind of ‘something going on’ and so I decided to inform them of what it was and sent them a copy of the video I made (below).

BBC Birmingham loved my video, so I met up with Environment Correspondent, Dr David Gregory-Kumar and his lovely producer and cameraman, to be part of a news package on the Waxwing irruption (below).

Today I found out the collective noun for Waxwings is a museum or an earful. ๐Ÿ˜†

Many thanks,

Adam ๐Ÿ™‚

Wildlife in April

Dash out in between the drip, drip, drop, little April showers and see the wildlife detailed in my short videos below:

(2012)

(2011)

Thanks for visiting ๐Ÿ™‚ x

Upton Warren: Eurasian Curlew

The now classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, UK Amber and Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, Eurasian Curlew are still holding on at Upton Warren in the landlocked county of Worcestershire in the West Midlands region, and they can be seen throughout autumn and winter, roosting at The Flashes most evenings.

For waders they’re large and tall, approx the size of female a Pheasant – making them the largest European wading bird.  Their haunting call (‘Cur-lee’) is unmistakable – it’s one of my favourite bird calls – it can be heard from February through to July on its breeding grounds; wet grasslands, farmland, heath and moorlands.  From July onwards coastal numbers start to build up and peak in January.

Curlews feed on worms, shrimps and shellfish.  The largest concentrations of them are found at Morecambe Bay, the Solway Firth, the Wash and the Dee, plus, the Severn, Humber and Thames estuaries.  Their greatest breeding numbers are found in north Wales, the Pennines, the southern uplands and east Highlands of Scotland and the Northern Isles.

The agricultural intensification (e.g drainage and reseeding) of upland farmland and moorland – plus the afforestation of moorland – is a big factor in the decline of their breeding population.

Thanks for visiting ๐Ÿ™‚

Wildlife in March

Despite Snowmageddon, the Beast from the East and Storm Emma, some animals will still be going about their business as usual, if you can believe it!  The videos below are of what you may see if you venture out, if not, then you got to enjoy these species in detail in the comfort of your home, and maybe would have learnt a thing or two about them as well!

  (2012) 

(2011)

Thanks for visiting ๐Ÿ™‚ x

Wildlife in December

Out of the videos I have made, these three videos are definitely some of my ‘favourites’, as I love Water Rails, Whooper Swans and enjoy feeding the birds, and playingaround in the kitchen.  ๐Ÿ˜€

We were pretty much Frozen Britain recently, certainly in the West Midlands…

Packed full of fun facts (2011):

Thanks for your visit! ๐Ÿ˜‰
x

Wildlife in November

Look up, look down, look all around!  Up in the air or on the ground! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Woodcock (top). Siskin (left). Jack Snipe (right)

Informative videos (2011):  

Richard Hampshire is a top man. ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks for visiting! ๐Ÿ˜€

The Annual Rutland Romp! 2

From Friday 18th to Sunday 20th I attended the 29th annual Birdfair โ€“ if you donโ€™t know what that is and havenโ€™t read my post from two years ago: click here!

Adam Canning at Birdfair 2017
Had just arrived!

Due to prior commitments I didnโ€™t attended last year and this year I almost never went.  If you remember my post about Birdfair two years ago, you may have worked out that this makes it my 6th year at this remarkable wildlife festival/convention!  It has been a busy few months leading up to the fair, with my new conservation qualification โ€“ so it was somewhat a last minute decision to go.  My three day e-tickets werenโ€™t purchased until the beginning of the week!  Missing another year would not sit right with me.

Day 1

On the Friday I didnโ€™t arrive until 2.30pm, happily receiving my yellow wristband, late, I know โ€“ which was due to finalising camping arrangements at Wing Hall. ๐Ÿ˜›  We never plan it, yet it always happens, every time I arrive the first person I bump into is Mike Dilger!  Mike made me feel so welcome at my first ever Birdfair back in 2010 and he has been quite encouraging about my wildlife presenting career.  For those that donโ€™t know, I co-presented a 5 part series called The Wild Side on Cambridge TV. ๐Ÿ™‚

Meeting Mike Dilger 2010
Birdfair 2010 – my first ever photo with Mike Dilger

Nowadays I have people to hold my coats / jackets for me. . .  I’m kidding! ๐Ÿ˜‰  Shortly afterwards, whilst making my way to Marquee 8, I saw my good friend and co-presenter, Jamie Wyver. ๐Ÿ˜€

Me. Gary. Jamie
Birdfair 2017 – Me, my partner Gary & Jamie Wyver

Just as we were catching up and letting Gary know what to expect etc (as he had never been before), our friend Stephen Le Quesne plus our Twitter & Birdfair pals, Paula and Gail bumped into us!  I had my picture taken with Stephen as we’ve not had one since 2011! (At the WWT London Wetland Centre!).

Stephen Le Quesne and Adam Canning
Birdfair 2017 – Stephen Le Quesne and Me

Mine and Stephen’s pals, Paula and Gail didn’t get in on the photo sadly.  It was really nice seeing them since my absence!  ๐Ÿ™‚  Then it was off to Marquee 8, to pay a visit to the A Focus On Nature (AFON) stand to say hi and show my support for their new campaign Now for Nature, at the time the stand was manned by Ryan Clark and Andreas Fopp.

After a bit of a wander around the other marquees, I saw my first talk which was Brexit & the Environment: the way forward – chaired by Rob Lambert, it was really good.  Everybody on the panel pretty much agreed with one another on the issues raised, and to summarise; they strongly believed that conservation NGOs have to work closely with farmers and DEFRA for a sustainable and environmentally friendly future.  My sentiments exactly.

Before the fair I had came across some work by the Butterfly Brothers and saw that they were putting together the very first show garden at this years Birdfair, to go alongside their stand.  So of course I had to pay them a visit.  They were inundated with admirers and enquirers, understandably so.  It was great meeting them and having a good old chin wag about wildlife gardening and how it is gradually becoming accepted as a โ€˜thingโ€™ and how itโ€™s fashionable now.  It was fantastic to discover they won Best Stand in Show! ๐Ÿ˜€

Butterfly Brothers Show Garden
Birdfair 2017 – The Butterfly Brothers Show Garden – this picture does it no justice!

Over the years, there has certainly been a shift in the way people garden, and this was very apparent at this year’s BBC Gardenersโ€™ World Live. There were lots more naturalistic designs and wildlife-friendly show gardens, which is great inspiration to help people continue to think differently and take wildlife into consideration with their planting choices.  For two years I have been advocating nature friendly gardening whilst Iโ€™m there and interviewing the garden designers, Editor of the magazine and the TV presenters. ๐Ÿ™‚

Adam Canning at GWL 2017
BBC Gardeners’ World Live 2017

You may not find my last photo of the day funny, but I do, it was taken at The Urban Birder stand (Marquee 8).

Moth on The Urban Birder Tshirt
Birdfair 2017 – a moth really wanting to be a bird!

Just before I was leaving, I saw Lucy McRobert and it just seemed natural for us to embrace after a full on day, her’s more so than mine!  โค

Day 2 

The day before, I arrived late and broke with tradition – which is visiting and catching up with Kate MacRae first thing, on the Bushnell stand (before or after bumping into Mike, of course).  So as soon as I arrived for day two, I sought out Wildlife Kate and we had our overdue catch up.  I was hoping to get a photo with her, as like with Stephen, only one photo of us together existed.  Before I could ask we noticed there were customers looking like they needed a hand, so like the professional Kate is, she went and helped them out and I left her to it. ๐Ÿ™‚

IMG_2075
Birdfair 2015 – Me and Kate MacRae

Next stop was the Events Marquee to see Mike Dilger’s talk, So you want to be a wildlife presenter?!  Everything he discussed I somewhat related to, and it was nice seeing clips from the packages he has done for the BBCโ€™s The One Show โ€“ some of them I saw first on the showโ€™s broadcasts.   Sometime afterwards he and I had a wee catch up.

Mike Dilger and Adam Canning
Birdfair 2017 – Mike Dilger and Me

Afterwards I realised the time and raced over to catch the last few minutes of Megan Shersby‘s fascinating talk – How to start learning grasshoppers and crickets without really trying in the Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre.

How to start learning grasshoppers and crickets without really trying
Birdfair 2017 – Megan Sherby’s talk

There were a few familiar faces in the audience.   (Which you canโ€™t see in the above photo).  Megan and I had never met before, so I said hello to her after the talk and it was a must to get a picture together, wearing our fabulous animal themed clothing etc.

Adam Canning and Megan Shersby - Birdfair 2017
Birdfair 2017 – Me and Megan Shersby

Then it was a late lunch followed by Bird Brain of Britain – chaired by Stephen Moss, which was thoroughly enjoyable, as ever and David Lindo – The Urban Birder won!

Gary and I wandered around the various marquees again, before it was my mate Jack Perks‘ talk – Freshwater Fishes of Britain, which honestly was very interesting!  I had a wee catch up with Jack before hand.  It was great seeing him and Josh Jaggard again, plus meeting Cain Scrimgeour.  Straight after Jack’s talk, it was time for the annual A Focus On Nature (AFON) members photograph and the end of the day!  Ben Eagle was kind enough to introduce himself to me after the photo was taken.

Birdfair 2017 - AFON Members
Birdfair 2017 – AFON Members Photo

Day 3 

After the first two days, I needed a late start, so it was decided I wouldn’t arrive at the fair until a few minutes before a talk by the one and only Bill Oddie!

Pacific Birds Thank You
Birdfair 2017 – I arrive for day three

Bill’s talk was entitled Tales of a Ludicrous Bird Gardener – Definitely not just another book about wildlife gardening. It was brilliant, and as ever he was hilarious and frank.  I have seen and met Bill a few times before, at previous Birdfairs and at the WWT London Wetland Centre โ€“ when he was doing a talk with Stephen Moss.

Birdfair 2011 - Mike Dilger, Bill Oddie & Adam Canning
Birdfair 2011 – Mike Dilger, Bill Oddie & Me!

It isnโ€™t just you, people often think the above is a family photo โ€“ as far as I know weโ€™re not related, unfortunately. . . aha!   It is Mr. Oddie who inspired me to get into wildlife film-making and presenting, with the various series he has presented, one of them being Springwatch.  Bill Oddie is essentially the father of Springwatch, without him it would not exist today!  Of course I love Sir David Attenboroughโ€™s documentaries, but it was Bill who felt more like an on screen grandfather to me, teaching me and maintaining my love of British wildlife. โค

Bill Oddie and Adam Canning Birdfair 2017
Birdfair 2017 – Bill Oddie and Me

The last talk I saw was Simon King‘s and as ever, we heard about his recent wildlife film-making and he gave us a much needed reminder and awakening.  In short, it was to get us to think about our shopping habits and how it is affecting the countryside โ€“ meaning our demand is influencing how the rural landscape is farmed, thus intensive farming is causing the loss of our wildlife through destruction of its habitat.  Simon suggests we go back to eating seasonally and reduce the amount of dairy products we consume, this will lessen the pressure on farmers and in turn, the land!

Land Requirements
Birdfair 2017 – Land requirements for our food

I apologise for the quality of the photo, but you can just make out what the table is telling you.

Thanks for reading ๐Ÿ™‚

Wildlife in August

A lot of birds are quieting down now, but Yellowhammers ๐Ÿค are continuing to sing away!  Plus this is another great month for seeing some beautiful Butterflies! ๐Ÿฆ‹ 

(The videos below were made a few years ago)

Thanks for visiting! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Wildlife in July

Summer is a great time to see Butterflies, thanks to Buddleja growing just about anywhere, you can see these beautiful creatures in urban places as well as suburban and rural.

Below are three short videos acting as a guide to the Butterflies of High Summer:

Thanks for visiting! ๐Ÿ™‚