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.
On Tuesday I got up somewhat early, to arrive in Leicestershire for sunrise, where I met up with my friend James Burman. We planned to have a full day to locate, observe and film (or photograph in James’s case) his local Kingfishers, which frequent a river in the middle of a fairly busy town.
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. 😆
Two years ago my friend Jamie Wyver and I visited the wonderful Welney Wetland Centre, near Wisbech in the east of England (Norfolk). We were there filming for episode five of our TV series, The Wild Side, which was commissioned and broadcast by Cambridge TV (now called That’s Cambridge). The main subject of course, was the beautiful Bewick’s and Whooper Swans, as they migrate there each year in their thousands from Artic Russia and Iceland. You’ll see in the last part of the episode (below), I was given the amazing opportunity to perform a floodlit feed!
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!
Joined up with midlands naturalist Adam L. Canning for a trip over to Hilbre Island, Cheshire yesterday for a winter fix of waders and sea ducks. A total of 7hrs was spent on the island with Adam, resulting in a number of notable species: Purple Sandpiper, Common Scoter, Rock Pipit, Brent Goose (ssp. hota), Common Eider and an unseasonable Northern Gannet to name but a few.
The perfect lighting gave way for some ample photographic opportunities of the wintering Purple Sandpipers on the island, I’ve uploaded several onto the blog. Hopefully you’ll be able to make out the purple iridescence which gives them their name.
So, it’s February and quite a lot of us are seeing signs of spring. But what wildlife is there to see? Well, here are my four short fact filled informative videos; on some cool bird species you should look and listen out for this month!
If you’ve not seen or heard of Wildlife Monthly;click here.
This month’s instalment features one of our large feathery winter visitors from the high Arctic; the Bewick’s Swan. Part of the “Wild Swans” family, they’re not sedentary but are free-roaming and make a lot more noise than Mute Swans do – with their load trumpeting calls which often mark their arrival. They are also famously known for their individual black and yellow beak markings – allowing each bird to be identified and studied, which the staff at WWT Slimbridge in Gloucestershire, have been doing since the 1960’s. They’re named after the celebrated bird illustrator, Thomas Bewick – and funnily enough, the yellow on a Bewick’s Swan’s beak forms the letter B!
To see my video on the Whooper Swan (another member of the Wild Swan family) click here.