Posted by: mynaturaldiary | December 1, 2016

Curlews in the cold

At the RSPB reserve at Saltholme, the Curlews have begun to gather in numbers for winter, having abandoned their summer breeding grounds on the Moors.

161201-08h09m24s4

16120119h38m22s29

Curlew (Numenius arquata)

Their elegant curved bills probe the mud, as the following video shows.

(See video here).

They have a haunting cry, which they occasionally give.

16120119h38m00s70

The ducks surrounding the Curlew are Wigeon. The males have a distinctive orange stripe on their heads.

1612010226

Wigeon (Anas penelope)

They are on the waters and grassland all over the reserve. There will be high hundreds of these birds wintering with us.

16120116h42m32s99

The males have a distinct orange stripe on their heads this time of year.

161201-06h24m24s112

16120117h22m34s85

They feed on the grasslands, but fly to the safety of the water when they feel threatened (see video here). Once things have calmed down , they climb out again (see video here). The backdrop to the reserve is industrial, and yet the birds seem not to mind (see video here and here).

The skies are full of Lapwings, as again they winter on the reserve.

161201100

They take off at the slightest hint of danger (see video here).

1612017710

1612017711

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

They take to the sky when a predator shows (in this case a peregrine).

1612017714

They move in distinct groups (prides of Lapwing) which weave around each other, in order to confuse any hunter.

1612017722

(See videos here, here, here and here). I love their wheeling flight, it awakens the augur within me.

Notice how they settle down on the ground, then at the slightest movement take off again. Life at the edge of being eaten every moment makes them skittish, and rightly so.

16120117h01m15s83

16120117h01m36s20

16120117h01m47s118

161201-08h07m47s35

161201-08h08m30s211

1612017735

When they settle, they drift down individually from their local pride (see video here and  here).

On the ground they settle, feed and sleep

16120108h40m38s177

16120108h40m50s55

(see video here and here). Notice the Golden Plover behind the Lapwings in this video.

16120116h41m58s32

161201-06h18m29s188

16120116h04m58s117

Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

They too are numbered in the hundreds right now, and take to the air with the Lapwings when in danger (see video here).

Another duck seen was the Shoveler, which has a large bill.

16120117h03m58s170

Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

(See video here and here).

Gadwall were also on the waters.

161201-06h29m07s144

161201-07h57m59s48

161201-07h58m21s20

Gadwall (Anas strepera)

The grey males have a very rich herringbone pattern, which is best seen under bright light.

(See video here)

As were Pintail.

16120117h16m28s242

16120117h16m36s84

16120117h16m50s215

Pintail (Anas acuta)

(see video here)

Pochard were also on the reserve.

16120116h53m57s44

Pochard (Aythya ferina)

Here’s one diving (see video here)

This one swam behind a Black Headed gull in winter plumage.

16120116h53m48s215

They are a long way from their summer breeding finery.

161201-06h19m30s6

Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

On a gatepost on the way to the Saltholme Pool hide, a Stonechat sat on a fence.

161201-12h00m00s149

Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)

(See video here)

Also sitting on a fence post was a Merlin.

16120119h49m37s148

Merlin (Falco columbarius)

It scans the surroundings all the time by turning its head.

16120119h49m51s35

16120119h50m01s136

Another predator that keeps still for long periods of time is a Grey Heron.

161201-06h25m24s210

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

(see video here)

As does a Little Egret, which is smaller than a Heron.

16120116h51m18s9

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

In the far distance, a Cormorant sat on a post.

161201-06h28m23s214

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Another bird which catches fish (hence a hooked bill) is a Red breasted merganser.

161201-12h02m00s150

Red breasted merganser (Mergus serrator)

Greylag Geese are always on the reserve.

161201-06h27m01s158

161201-06h27m29s159

Greylag Goose (Anser anser)

The bird on the left preened itself, working its head back towards its tail where its uropygial gland resides. That’s where it gets the oil to waterproof its feathers.

161201-06h20m47s252

(See video here)

A flight of Barnacle Geese flew in, making a wonderful sight.

161201-12h01m00s150

Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis)

Here‘s the video of them circling, then landing.

Finally, another elegant visitor upon the water; Rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cycno, a Black Swan.

16120108h42m02s8

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)

(see video here). It’s almost certainly an escaped ornamental bird, as they are not native to this country. It looks very elegant nonetheless.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: