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!” 😁 ⬇️ My video ⬇️

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

Thanks 🙂

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. 😆

Many thanks,

Adam 🙂

The Annual Rutland Romp!

“The Annual Rutland Romp!” ??  I’m referring to the British Birdwatching Fair, the Birdfair of course! 🙂  Last week was my 5th time at the fair (I’ve been going every year since 2010).  It’s on for 3 days over a weekend in mid August, and has been on every year for more than 25 years!  I love that it’s not just people from all over Britain visiting Rutland Water, but people from all over the world that migrate to England’s smallest county for this annual and eventful occasion too!

Birdfair 2010 - Me and Simon King OBE.
Birdfair 2010 – Me and Simon King OBE

Over the years – despite its name – Birdfair has evolved to not just be about birds and aiding their conservation, but wildlife and conservation overall.  I often refer to it as a wildlife festival before telling people the name of it.  It is an amazing place to meet and be surrounded by like-minded passionate people, and rub shoulders with TV personalities 😉  There are talks from wildlife TV presenters, naturalists, conservationists and filmmakers, as well as authors and photographers too.  I could only do two days of the fair and arrived on Saturday, with my wildlife photographer friend, James Burman – who has taken some stunning pictures.  We camped at Rutland Water Camping, on the lovely Hambleton Peninsula – where we saw Foxes and a Badger 🙂

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Chris Packham’s talk was brilliant – in short; it was about cutting the crap regarding what dangers children might face outdoors, and to let them experience and enjoy nature in all its glory!  Chris featured three young wildlife enthusiasts, who in turn talked about their experiences and passion for nature, and what they have been up to.  I realised they each represented a region of England: Josie Hewitt – The South, Connor Coombes – The North and Georgia Locock – The Midlands.  All of their talks were very good, and insightful 🙂  I’m hoping this is a progressive change, as it’s really nice hearing from a diverse range of people on stage in the Events Marquee.  Connor with his Cumbrian accent and Georgia with her West Midlands accent (similar to my own), I couldn’t help but be moved, it was refreshing and humbling!

In various other marquees you can find hundreds of stands selling and promoting the latest products for wildlife enthusiasts – gadgets and clothing, scopes to sculptures, binoculars to bird food and eGuides to eco-holidays! 😀  I mainly go to the festival to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and to share it all with them! ❤

This year - Me & James Burman (that's Alex & Gordon looking at the Birdfair programme) :)
Birdfair 2015 – Me & James Burman (Alex & Gordon looking at the Birdfair programme) 🙂

Birdfair 2015 - Christine Hall and Me
Birdfair 2015 – Christine Hall and Me 😀

Since my 2nd time, I have met up with my friend Christine Hall, a great wildlife camerawoman, photographer and conservationist.  It’s possible you’ve seen her video of a Red Squirrel on a previous series of Autumnwatch, it was slipping down a post whilst trying to get peanuts from a bird-feeder, and you may have recently seen her in the Springwatch Unsprung audience 😉

It was really good meeting Yusuf Akhtar, Victoria House and a mixture of AFON and NGB members (to name a few); Alexandra Hoadley, Ryan Clark, Susan Jones, Josie Hewitt, James Common, Georgia Locock, Drew Lyness, Billy Stockwell, Sorrel Lyall, Tom Mason and James O’Neill.  Plus it was really nice catching up with Peter Cooper, Jack Perks, Josh Jaggard and Matt Collis 🙂

Birdfair 2011 - second time meeting Mike Dilger, first time meeting Bill Oddie.
Birdfair 2011 – Mike Dilger, Bill Oddie OBE and Me!

Birdfair 2015 - Me and Kate MacRae
Birdfair 2015 – Me with Kate MacRae

Every year at the Bushnell stand I chat to WildlifeKate quite a lot, we came to realise we’ve never had a photo taken together, so the picture above is the only one ever for now 😛

Birdfair 2015 - Mike Dilger and Me
Birdfair 2015 – Mike Dilger and Me

Mike Dilger and I chat quite a lot too, this year he bumped into me – in the Art Marquee – James and I happened to be getting to know the illustrator of his new book, Darren Woodhead – a wonderful artist.  Mike’s new book is being released next year!

Simon King’s talk this year – as well as hearing about his recent wildlife filmmaking – contained a much needed reminder; a bit more needs to be done to conserve the natural world.  We were made aware that nature is losing places in the dictionary!  Words like Snowdrop are being taken out and replaced with the likes of “selfie” and “blog”.  So I was pleased that towards the end of his talk we were informed about the Simon King Wildlife Project, which is a new charity assisting in the prevention of the degradation of the natural world, globally.  The project intends to safeguard habitats, reclaim land for nature and engage people with wild creatures and wild places, which in turn will help keep the natural world intact! 🙂

Before my entry comes to an end – wildlife I observed around the reserve:

  • Common Sandpiper
  • Greenshank
  • Muntjac Deer
  • Ospreys
  • Hornets
  • Hares
  • Barn Owl

Thanks for visiting 😀

Day 20 – 30 Days Wild

Reading About Birds

#30DaysWIld
#30DaysWIld
Today I was sorting out the blog for yesterdays Random Act of Wildness – “Admire the setting Sun”, it was raining and I had work later.  I wasn’t really left with many options, due to the constraints (time and weather).  So, I chose to read a non-fiction book on the bus to work (wildlife related of course).

Refreshing my knowledge and filling in any gaps.
Refreshing my knowledge and filling in any gaps.
The bird on the front of the book is an American Goldfinch, it’s just a funky Siskin to us Brits 😛  I really like the first two paragraphs in the introduction for Section One of the book, so I’ve quoted them below:

Birds are not only one of the most successful groups in the animal kingdom but they hold a special position in our awareness of the natural world.  They are often the most obvious living creatures in a landscape (their apparent confidence borne of an ability to fly to safety) and their bright colours and melodic songs have long been admired by man.  Yet it is only recently that we have begun to fully appreciate just how intricate their lives are.
The 8000 or so species of birds have evolved over millions of years and have adapted to many different modes of life.  If one was to take a single feature which places the birds apart from all other animals it would be the development of feathers.  These complex and delicate structures not only make flight possible but also serve many other functions, notably providing insulation from cold or wet and furnishing attractive or eye-catching plumages for use in courtship and territorial rituals.

Such great facts! ❤  What a top way to introduce readers to a book all about birds.

I have to stop myself from quoting more paragraphs, so I’ll just quote one more.  From the top of page 8:

Birds have lived on earth for far longer than man or any of the mammals.  When giant dinosaurs roamed the world, there were already many kinds of birds inhabiting the forests, and wetlands and the marine environment.  They included some types which we would recognise today, such as grebes, herons and waterfowl.  In fact, it seems that birds are probably descended from small dinosaurs called coelurosaurs which ran standing up on their hind legs and balancing with their tails, much as birds do today.  Compsognathus is a typical coelurosaur.

This book was published in 1989 by The Hamlyn Publishing Group Limited.  It has 3 sections in all; Biology of Birds, Bird Habitats of the World and Bird Families of the World – covering all aspects.  It has a mixture of stills and illustrations, I think it’s a brilliant book.

Thanks for reading 🙂