Posted by: mynaturaldiary | October 13, 2013

Rail at the northerlies

Stiff northerly winds mixed with rain greets all at  the RSPB reserve at Saltholme.

The wind and rain comes courtesy of a low pressure system over Britain,


and perhaps Aquillo, god of the north winds.

Shoveler, with their enormous bills were showing well.

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Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

This Teal seemed very happy, quacking away in a brief moments sunshine.

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Teal (Anas crecca)

Did you see him blink?

The Wigeon are returning in ever increasing numbers, and some males have lost their eclipse plumage to regain their bold yellow head stripe.

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Wigeon (Anas penelope)

Gadwall were also there, with the males in their distinctive grey herringbone pattern and black backsides.

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Gadwall (Anas strepera)

Notice in this last picture both the male and female Gadwall blinked, so their eyes have a white appearance.

Mallard, as ever, were on the reserve.

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Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

And quickly {on the surface} Tufted Duck.

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Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)

There were plenty of Little Grebe, which is a nice sight, after a long absence for me. They also are sometimes tricky to see as they also dive for their food.

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Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Another small bird seen were Dunlin.

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Dunlin (Calidris alpina)

Other waders were Black tailed Godwits, with their impressive beaks

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Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)

and Little Egret

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Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

In the skies were clouds of Lapwing, many displaying against each other.

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Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

and also Curlew

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Curlew (Numenius arquata)

In the distant skies, a large skein of geese (possibly Pink Footed?) passed over.

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More obviously, Canadian Geese passed the hide, allowing good views of them in flight. They too were in a ‘V’, but a much smaller formation.

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Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

A bold Crow came up to the window at Saltholme hide.

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Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)

And the Black Headed Gulls are now in their winter plumage.

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Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Trichomonosis has done for my local population of Greenfinches. I haven’t seen one at home at Cafe Twitch since I found one last summerdying of this disease. Since then, none. So it was with great pleasure I saw one on the reserve.

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Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)

Skulking in the long grass before the Phil Stead Hide were Moorhen.

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Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)

Their green legs offer some camouflage, but their red bills are a giveaway. What they need is some real camouflage, like our next bird. Today’s star attraction was a Water Rail, which also appeared by Phil Stead Hide .

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He kept hidden for up to 1hour at a time, then appeared for about 5 minutes.

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Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)

During one of the skulks in the long grass from the Water Rail, a sparrowhawk landed some 3m away from the hide. Cue some rapid pictures {too rapid = overexposed, but you get the drift}.

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Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Bird watching at Saltholme is 90% predictable, and 10% unbelievable!

More soon!

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