Posted by: mynaturaldiary | July 15, 2009

How do they do that?

Some migratory birds have to navigate vast distances to find summer breeding grounds. Last week, the RSPB reserve at Saltholme had a few returning Sand Martins, which soon built up to over 100… So how do they know where to go? I’m glad they do, as they nest in a specially prepared bank. close to the visitors centre.

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In the air they move around at high speed, taxing the camera’s ability to take a decent photograph.

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Only occasionally do I get a glimspe of their face, and the brown ring that surrounds their neck.

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Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)

The other summer visitors are still much in evidence. First the Common Terns, who are still very much in evidence all over the site.

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Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

There are about 500 pairs at Saltholme!

Yellow Wagtails have also had a good breeding summer, with some 7 pairs nesting. Their young look quite grey.

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The adults seem to be fading from their brightest plumage, though still yellow.

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Yellow wagtail (Motacilla flava)

Lapwings have noticeably increased in numbers. Last month, only a few pairs were seen, but now flocks are present.

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The sunlight catches their iridescent plumage as they search for food.

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Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

We look forward to even more on the reserve soon. Redshanks were also seen in numbers, with their unmistakeable legs.

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Redshank (Tringa totanus)

Another wader I saw was a juvenile Little Ringed Plover.

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Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius)

They look quite different to the adults without the dark bands around their neck and head.

Mother Greylag Goose led her brood out onto the waters.

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Greylag goose (Anser anser)

In the far distance, I saw a Pink-footed goose amongst a group of Greylag geese. This mades it easy to miss in the flock, but easy to identify against the other geese, given it’s head is much darker, and it’s bill is browner and smaller, compared to the orange bill of the Greylag. Look at the bird on the right hand side below and you’ll see what I mean.

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Pink-footed goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)

Also in the far distance, a troika of Dunlin were feeding by some Common Terns.

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Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

Close by, a Cormorant sunned himself.

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Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

You can see in the picture above a Mute Swan, one of many in this family grouping.

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Closer to the visitors cenre, a solitary swan makes his way across the water.

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Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

Also on the water was a female Tufted Duck, with a bright yellow eye.

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Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

There were many Little Grebes, their colours bright in the sunlight.

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Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

They can dive and remain submerged for amazing distances given their size.

On a far bank a female Ruff was seen. They look similar to Redshank, but they have a smaller bill which droops slightly downwards.

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Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)

I’ll finish this post with a fight. Gulls are ever present on the site. This Black Headed Gull

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Black headed gull (Larus ridibundus)

had a fight with a Grey Heron…

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Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

… eventually forcing it into the air and away.

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Responses

  1. […] Grey Heron (last seen in this diary being mobbed by a Black Headed Gull) was also stalking […]


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