Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 18, 2017

First Song 2017

Song Thrush heard on 18th January. This makes it 28 days from the winter solstice. and well within the normal range of dates recorded by me since 2008.

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This year is at the 40%, close to the average at 50% (33 days after the winter solstice). Looking at the trend of these dates, no discernible pattern emerges.

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The birds aren’t singing any earlier, year on year.

The annual Central England Temperature record (CET), running back to 1659 now has the 2016 data. The average temperature for 2016 (10.31° C) was almost the same as 2015 (10.27° C).

The yearly values (shown by points connected by a dotted line) are shown in the graphs below, together with a time series analysis of the data, using exponentially weighted moving averages (EWMA)  for the 10 year (red line) and 30 year (blue line). The 10 year (red line) is the decadal behaviour; the 30 year (blue line) is the multidecadal behaviour.   Given the length of the time series, we can look back and identify when the trends changed, by taking the turning points in the blue trend data. Clear warming or cooling trends can be identified when the red trend data rises above the blue trend data (heating), or falls below the blue trend data (cooling). Periods of time when the temperature is stable is highlighted by both the red and blue lines being similar. The blue trend multidecadal behaviour, is perhaps of more interest in understanding climate, rather than the yearly values, which are dependent upon each years weather pattern.  {Click on each image to see it enlarged}.

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Looking at the data since 1850 (when the blue 30 and red 10 year trends were the same, so the temperature was stable) shows the current patterns more clearly. From this period of time onwards, we can be certain that robust thermometry has been used to measure the data.

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Currently the red line trend is above the blue line trend, which indicates a rising temperature, and has been so since 1988. For an overall falling trend, the red line trend must be beneath the blue line trend (as it did from 1880 to 1900). A stable trend in temperature would have both lines moving along together (as it did from 1900 to 1911, and 1964 to 1989). Looking at past behaviour shows it is unwise to believe that any current behaviour will persist indefinitely, and that forecasting on the basis of linear extrapolation of the current trend has limited value as a forecasting method. EWMA only allows forecasting one time step ahead, and this is shown in the graphs (next year’s prediction, based on all the data).

The year to year temperature difference from 1850 until 2016 shows evidence of a stochastic process, as shown below, with a mean value of 0.01° C, and a standard deviation of 0.70° C.

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Thus if the yearly difference in temperature is greater than ± 1.4° C, we know an unusual year has occurred. (±2 standard deviations  or ±95% confidence limits). That has only happened a few times since 1850; the last time in 2011.

Looking at the monthly temperatures is instructive, as it is the basis of the yearly data. Have the trends in temperature in the yearly record above occurred across all months, or are their differences between the months and the seasons?

January

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A complex pattern of gradual increase (1850 until 1940; blue trend = 2.65° C to 4.05° C), followed by a decline (1940 to 1967; blue trend 4.05° C to 3.63° C), followed by the current rise (1967 to 2016; blue trend 3.63° C to 4.27° C). The red trends line reached a peak in 2009, and has declined since then.

February

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Essentially unchanged from 1850 until 1988, when a rapid increase occurred (1988 until 2016; blue trend = 3.61° C to 4.38° C). You can see the red trend line stopped increasing in 2004, and is currently slowly moving back towards the blue trend line.

March

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The trend has been gently up (1893; blue trend = 4.99° C to 1962 = 5.71° C), stationary (1962 to 1987), then an increase (1987; blue trend = 5.71° C to 2013 = 6.32° C). The 30 year trend has declined since then to 6.24° C in 2016. Concomitant to this, the red trend has reversed direction, and is heading towards the blue trend line. This is somewhat similar to the pattern of February. If the red line crosses beneath the blue line, we will know the current warming phase has ended. If both the red and blue lines move along together, a stable trend in temperature will be occurring. Only more time will tell.

April

cet-april-1850-2016

A complex pattern of gradual increase and decrease, with a clear rapid increase starting in 1941, peaking in 1950, then declining until 1987. Since then a gradual increase (1987; blue trend = 7.96° C to 2016 = 8.51° C). As in the earlier months above, the past few years suggest the rate of increase has slowed, having peaked in 2012.

May

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Essentially unchanged since 1850. (1850; blue trend = 11.50° C to 2016 = 11.55° C). The current warming phase began in 1988. The red trend recently reached a peak in 2010 (11.95° C), and has now declined in 2016 (11.75° C).

June

cet-june-1850-2016

Essentially unchanged; if anything a slight decline since 1850. (1850; blue trend = 14.52° C to 2016 = 14.40° C). The red trend recently reached a peak in 2008 (14.76° C), and has now declined; 2016 (14.47° C).

July

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Essentially unchanged from 1850 to 1982. (1850; blue trend = 15.75° C to 1982 = 15.92° C). Thereafter a slight warming trend, indicated by the red trend rising above the blue trend (1982; blue trend = 15.92° C to 2016 = 16.44° C). The red line reached a peak in 2007.

August

cet-august-1850-2016

Essentially unchanged from 1850 to 1975, when the red trend rose above the blue trend in the most recent period (1850; blue trend = 15.38° C to 1975 = 15.60° C). Thereafter a slight warming trend, which plateaued in 2005. (1975; blue trend = 15.60° C to 2005 = 16.21° C) . Since 2005, the blue trend has remained essentially stable (2016 = 16.13° C), and the red trend clearly shows signs of falling back to the blue trend, having peaked in 2006.

September

cet-september-1850-2016

Essentially unchanged from 1850 to 1933 (1850; blue trend = 13.08° C to 1975 = 13.08° C). A gentle increase up to 1962 (1933; blue trend = 13.08° C to 1962 = 13.57° C), then unchanged until 1998 (blue trend = 13.58° C). Thereafter a rise until 2007 (blue trend = 13.92° C), followed by a pause until now 2016 (blue trend = 13.92° C). The red trend shows signs of returning towards the blue trend, having peaked in 2008.

October

cet-october-1850-2016

A gentle rising and falling pattern from 1850 until 1921 (1850; blue trend = 9.53° C to 1921 = 9.42° C). Thereafter a slow steady increase until 1981, with the red trend consistently above the blue trend (1921; blue trend = 9.42° C to 1981 = 10.28° C). A short pause, lasting until 1995 (1981; blue trend = 10.28° C to 1995 = 10.24° C). More recently, another warming phase, currently unbroken (1995; blue trend = 10.24° C to 2016 = 10.76° C). The red line had a recent peak value in 2015.

November

cet-november-1850-2016

A gentle rising and falling pattern from 1850 until 1931, when the red 10 year trend rose above the blue 30 year trend (1850; blue trend = 5.93° C to 1931 = 5.93° C). From 1931, a steady rise in temperature, indicated by the red trend being greater than the blue trend (1931; blue trend = 5.93° C to 1965 =6.50° C), whereafter a short period of stable temperature occurred lasting until 1978 (1965; blue trend = 6.50° C to 1978 =6.38° C), indicted by the red trend and blue trend lines being similar in value. From 1978 until 2016, a period of warming has occurred (1978; blue trend = 6.38° C to 1978 = 7.10° C). The red line currently indicates 2016 as the peak value.

December

cet-december-1850-2016

A rising and falling pattern at the beginning 1850 until 1910 (1850; blue trend = 3.99° C to 1910 =3.95° C), followed by gentle rise until 1925. (1910 blue trend = 3.95° C to 1925 = 4.43° C). Thereafter a holding pattern until 1971 (1925 blue trend = 4.43° C to 1973 = 4.33° C), when the red trend rose above the 30 year blue trend.  Thereafter a warming trend continues until the present notwithstanding the exceptionally cold year of 2010, and warm year of 2015 (1973 blue trend = 4.33° C to 2016 = 4.84° C). The red line indicates 1989 as the peak value.

All the above analysis, month by month suggests recent warming in late autumn and early winter (October & November). Summer seems unchanged over the longer time period. There is clear evidence in recent years of a warming phase which has peaked and is declining. This may presage a period of stable temperatures, or further decline into a cooling period. Only time will tell.

The monthly temperatures going back to 1850 are below, shown on a probability plot.

monthly-averages-1850-2016

You can see the data is all ‘Gaussian/normal’, since they show up as a series of straight lines when plotted on a normal probability graph.

Tabulating the monthly average temperatures for 2016 showed we had one exceptional month (i.e. outside the +/- 95% confidence limits), which was September, the rest being ‘normal’ (i.e. inside the +/- 95% confidence limits).

2016-temps

Behind all these trends in British weather lies the Jetstream. The following offers a guide to what the Jetstream does to British weather.

      • The position of the jet stream over the UK determines the type of weather we experience.
      • If the polar front jet is situated significantly to the south of the UK we will experience colder than average weather, driven by the polar cell.
      • If the polar front jet is situated to the north of the UK we will experience warmer than average weather, driven by the Ferrel cell.
      • If the polar front jet is situated over the UK we will experience wetter and windier than average weather.
      • If the polar front jet has a large amplification then cold air will travel further south than average and warm air will travel further north than average.
      • The direction and angle of the jet stream arriving at the UK will determine what source of air (i.e. cold, dry, warm, wet, from maritime or continental sources) the UK experiences.

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The weather in Britain is ‘difficult’ to predict over the course of a few months, which is why the Brits talk about it all the time.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 15, 2017

Skitey Ducks

A grand Northumbrian word, skitey means slippery. That’s what the waters were at the RSPB reserve at Saltholme when they froze over. The ducks have to manage this change to conditions.

This Shoveler seems not to have minded (I guess the big webbed feet helps).

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Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

(See video here and here).

They manage to steer their way between the ice sheets.

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The water is freezing, but the ducks just get on with it.

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Wigeon (Anas penelope)

Wigeons land gently on the ice, and try not to go flying across it as a flat stone does when thrown on the surface of water.

(See video here and here).

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They cope with the ice and water well.

Pintail kept to the waters to feed.

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Pintail (Anas acuta)

(See video here).

Mallard were also walking on water ice.

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Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)

The female in the pair got a soaking when the male took off to walk on the ice.

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(see video here)

But she too got her turn on the ice.

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Teal were also on the waters

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(see video here)

and on the ice.

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Teal (Anas crecca)

(see video here).

The Teal were getting frisky, and into courtship displays.

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Notice the bottom waggling and head stretching between rival males.

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(see video here).

Gadwall were also on the reserve. This male was upending to feed.

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Gadwall (Anas strepera)

Notice the black bottom, and the white patch, which helps identify it when its head is under the water.

Shelduck were also on the reserve.

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Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

(see video here and here).

In the last video link, a Black Swan appears.

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Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)

Golden Plover are still on the reserve in small flocks.

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Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)

(See video here).

This last bird was showing signs of the dark underbelly which marks their breeding plumage.

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They will soon be leaving for their breeding grounds on the Moors ( North Yorks Moors and Teesdale at the source of the river Tees).

Goldfinch were on the feeders at Wildlife Watchpoint.

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Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)

(see video here)

They squabble too!

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Despite it being freezing, there were flies in the air.

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A Little Egret was stalking on the edge of Paddy’s Pool.

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Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

(see video here)

Finally a poser for us Hide Guides… when is a small gull a juvenile or another species? Look at the bird on the left hand side. Is it a Black Headed Gull, or a Little Gull?

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Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

We think, after debate it’s a Black Headed Gull juvenile. It’s small (hence the doubt), but a Little Gull has shorter legs. So it’s a little Black Headed Gull.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 14, 2017

Tracks in the snow

Left by wild rabbits, the snows on Gisborough Moor mark their passage by their tracks.

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The path onto the Moor is highlighted well against the bright sunshine.

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On the Moor, the sun dazzles.

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The paths stand out in white.

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Further on, the path looks like a slalom.

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The snows cover the heather in patches.

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Red Grouse look for breaks in the snow to feed.

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Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus)

When disturbed, they fly low over the snows, calling as they go.

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Being dark coloured birds, they stand out against the snow.

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Sleddale, a small farmed valley in the middle of Gisborough Moor looks wonderful.

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In the trees on the edge of Gisborough Moor, and unusual call alerts me. It’s a small flock of Crossbills.

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Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)

Also among the flock are Siskins.

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Siskin (Carduelis spinus)

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 13, 2017

Morning Snow

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3rd Snow this winter.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 12, 2017

Sunset and Full Moon

Amidst snow storms and freezing cold, a glimpse of Anti-crepuscular rays with the setting sun.

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Later on, the full moon shines.

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Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 3, 2017

Sanderlings at Saltburn

On the beach at Saltburn, the tide was on the turn.

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(see video here).

The Black headed Gulls search the shoreline for scraps, hoping for chips from the people on the pier.

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Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Sanderling also cover the beach, although since they are small, they are easy to miss.

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They scurry over the beach, restless walkers, following the tide in and out as it slowly retreats, then advances.

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Sanderling (Calidris alba)

I love their reflection from the water on the beach.

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Saltburn cliffs  merge into the slate grey in the light.

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(See video here)

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | January 1, 2017

Sand and Hoar

South Gare is the southerly entrance to the mouth of the river Tees. On the beach, in the shadow of the sun on the sand, the hoar persists, even at midday.

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This is a midwinter phenomenon, when the sun is always low on the horizon, and it is cold.

The birds carry on, regardless of the season.

Oystercatchers hunker down on the beach

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and on the rocks (see video here)

When stirred, they rise into the sky (a parcel of Oystercatchers), and search for somewhere safe to land again.

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Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)

Their other name is a Kleeper, which is what they sound like when they call out (ornithological onomatopoeia).

Another bird present in numbers were Turnstones, which is a good name for their behaviour (see video here).

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Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)

Black headed Gulls in their winter plumage were on the beach and the sea.

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Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

(see video here).

Sanderling are small waders, which wander up and down the beach in search of food.

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Sanderling (Calidris alba)

They are delightful birds to watch.

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When on the move, they are restless (see video here).

Redshanks are also quick moving (see video here).

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Redshank (Tringa totanus)

They look especially elegant when standing in the surf.

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The windfarm out at sea makes n interesting backdrop.

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(see video here and here).

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The steelworks (in a deep slumber) stands out.

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The lighthouse marks the northerly point for ship trying to enter Teesmouth.

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which is duly noted by approaching ships.

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(see video here). Shades of Harmonielehre.

 

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve at Whitby

At Christmas I no more desire a rose
Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth;
But like of each thing that in season grows.

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And in the fading cold of Christmas Eve, Whitby stands silhouetted, with gulls crossing the skies. The sea looks cold.

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Some madd’uns go swimming in that on Boxing Day

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)

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

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

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(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.

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

On the ground they settle, feed and sleep

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

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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.

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Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

(See video here and here).

Gadwall were also on the waters.

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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.

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Pintail (Anas acuta)

(see video here)

Pochard were also on the reserve.

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Pochard (Aythya ferina)

Here’s one diving (see video here)

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

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They are a long way from their summer breeding finery.

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Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

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

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Stonechat (Saxicola torquata)

(See video here)

Also sitting on a fence post was a Merlin.

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Merlin (Falco columbarius)

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

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

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Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)

(see video here)

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

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Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

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

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Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

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

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Red breasted merganser (Mergus serrator)

Greylag Geese are always on the reserve.

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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.

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(See video here)

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

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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.

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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.

Posted by: mynaturaldiary | November 18, 2016

Winter Snow

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Highcliff Nab, early morning; second dusting of snow this winter.

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