29 Mar 2011

The Eider Duck ( a thought)

As you may be well aware I do like to include postings based on my research into ornithology and natural history in earlier times, (1930-1946 being the time span of my interest) by eminent people in this field, for they have paved the way for the interest in natural history and ornithology which is now, thanks to certain TV coverage the societies and people such as B. Oddie, Simon King etc, all playing a part into giving the public and importantly children, for they will be the platform that will launch further interest by making their offspring respect wildlife and not only that be interested in it......

The lot of the female (eider) is suffered to lay her five or six eggs, which are placed in a nest constructed of marine plants, with the warm elastic material in question as a lining, these eggs and the down are taken, she then relines her nest, and lays a second time: the eggs and down are again abstracted. Unable to supply more down, the male now strips his breast, and furnishes a supply, known by its pale colour; on this the female lays two or three eggs, which she is suffered to have unmolested. . .. The quantity afforded by a single female is, when cleaned, about half-a-pound.— Royal Illustrated Natural History (circa 1880). I do believe that Scottish islanders are allowed to glean from the nests of the Eider as they have done for centuries but I am sure the allowed quantities are nowhere the amounts I have shown below.

The table below shows the products obtained from Greenland in 1945-1946, issued by the Danish Foreign Office Journal 1948.

Eiderdown................666 Kilos

Feathers.................. 12,842 Kilos

26 Mar 2011

Possible Queen Wasp.

Had no intention of going anywhere today, so was not likely to do any posting when out of the blue I heard a shriek, indicating some sort of distress, it came from the bedroom, I meandered into the room and was confronted by my good lady pointing in the direction of the window, where, on inspection revealed a very large wasp, now I know nothing about these creatures in that they sting and are a nuisance in the autumn, but I did deduce and concluded that it must be a Queen Wasp due to the size but know little of the life cycle of this flying menace, and no I did not harm it in anyway but merely opened the window and after a few minutes flew away.

22 Mar 2011

Bough Beech

We took a trip to Bough Beech on Sunday mainly to converse and deal with Kay Optiical, ended up with a Leica scope which I am very happy with, and a pair of Swarovski bino's and bought the little lady a very nice pair of Carl Zeiss bino's, set me back a bit never mind its only money,  I may be selling my Canon 400 zoom and 2x converter, thought I may invest in the Canon 800mm long lens.
The area Bough Beech is situated is very pretty country and we did appreciate the views, but I do not think I will be making anymore trips to that location, miss the Waders too much.

16 Mar 2011

Monday 14.3.11 Took a trip to Sheppey the day started bright but it soon clouded over the wind went round into the east so became quite chilly, went first to Leysdown tide out, so were the birds, scoping it revealed large numbers of Oystercatcher. then on to Harty three marsh Harrier spotted but at distance, one Pied Wagtail at the Raptor viewpoint it must be his patch for he is always there, reticently I drove the rest of the way navigating a passage between ruts and high spots, I arrived at the Ferry House with exhaust pipe still intact I gandered the salt marsh with the bino's it was apparent by the noise that there were a great many geese feeding , the binos confirmed my thoughts correctly, revealing a large flock of Brent Geese, it was quite a sight.

On to Elmley driving as far as the farm, did not venture any further, three Redshanks were seen on the flooded fields, and the Lapwing were doing their very impressive courtship displays, one lone Little Egret was quite near the road along with a Grey Heron, three Little Grebe were diving on the flooded meadow to the right approaching the farm, and lastly a Cormorant was drying off his wings on a fence..

Summing up, not much to write home about, but it was nevertheless, a pleasant four hours at one with nature, below are a few pics of my trip.




Brent Geese


Black Headed Gulls

Sadly Posted

It would seem that my Leukistic Jackdaw has vacated my area, he or she was being harrassed by his or her own kind, I do hope this bird finds solace and peace somewhere in mother natures scheme of things.
My scope sold for sixty five pounds, I would have liked a little more but to be fair it was the highest offer, I suppose that is the way things are at the moment, a buyers market, money is tight, but the saving grace was that it went to a budding young birder, his birthday is on  Saturday, the ornithological books offered for free all 34 have been given to charity. many thanks for your interest.

15 Mar 2011

Lone Sentinal

Had the car valeted in Rochester Sunday, I took this while waiting, the whole house is home to umpteen pigeons, it used to be the Market Cafe and is due for demolishion

Sheppey birders do it with style

 I abhore the flytipping cult we are subjected to these days, but I must admit to finding a mirthful side on this occasion. This was taken at Harty on the Fleet bend.

12 Mar 2011

Leucistic Jackdaw

The following pictures of a Jackdaw that has made an appearance in our village over the last few days (three) I would say is Leucistic in that the eyes beak and legs are unaffected. We have a large populous of Jackdaws and this bird does fly with the other birds but when perched is sometimes harassed by his community.

Some time ago 2009 to be exact, I posted a picture of what I thought was an Albino Red Kite, and was corrected on my comment with a further comment that it was in fact a Leucistic or correctly Leukistic colouring, and not an Albino, I did a lot of research on this subject, and found it to be a very interesting branch of ornithology.

Leucism is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird fail to develop properly and are lacking the pigment melanin. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, or, more rarely, completely white creatures.

The main difference between leucism and albinism is that leucism only affects skin and feathers, while albinism can also affect the bill, eyes and legs.

In Leucism, either all, or just some of the pigment cells in the skin and feathers fail to develop. The result is either the entire skin/feather surface, or just patches of the skin/feather surface appearing white or paler than usual. However with leucism the bill, eyes and legs will remain the normal colour but the skin is lacking the pigment melanin

In Leucism, either all, or just some of the pigment cells in the skin and feathers fail to develop. The result is either the entire skin/feather surface, or just patches of the skin/feather surface appearing white or paler than usual. However with leucism the bill, eyes and legs will remain the normal colour but the skin is lacking the pigment melanin

Albinism is a different condition. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is that in albinism the eyes are usually pink or red, and albinism affects the entire animal, not just patches. A completely albino bird is the most rare, lacking any pigment in its skin, eyes, and feathers. The eyes in this case are pink or red, because blood shows through in the absence of pigment in the irises. The beak, legs, and feet are very pale or white. Completely albino adults are very rarely spotted in the wild. They are likely easier targets for predators because their colour distinguishes them from their environment. Falconers have observed that their trained birds are likely to attack a white pigeon in a flock because it is conspicuous. A complete albino often has weak eyesight and brittle wing and tail feathers, which may reduce its ability to fly. In flocks, albinos are often harassed by their own species.

I will be monitoring this bird for as long as it stays around the village, and we do wish it well and sincerely hope it continues to thrive.

Harrassed by his own kind

10 Mar 2011

Spur of the moment.

We took a spur of the moment trip to Nottcutts garden centre, Maidstone for some garden sundries, after which we went to the Potted Garden Nursery at Bearstead, they have revamped the pond area and are sponsered by Kent Wildlife Trust, from the hide had great views of Chaffinch, Tits, Blue, Coal and Great, Dunnock and some great acrobatic squirrels, making easy work of bypassing the anti squirrel devices on the feeders, we then made our way to Hollingbourne and cut across country to the A2 and then onto the lower Rainham Road, and thought why not a visit to Motney Hill, the tide was about right, we parked up at the bottom end of the road, and the rise gives you a great view of the Medway Estuary opposite Kingsnorth Power Station, see picture below.

My observation was quite a few Redshank then in came about eight Dunlin and a short while later a number of Black Tailed Godwits appeared to feed on the last of the exposed mud.

Kingsnorth Power Station

Just over the top of this Levy or Sea Wall are where the waders below were feeding.
Mostly Black Tailed Godwits.

Male Chaffinch


These are very busy little waders, behaviour similar to Sanderling.

Sheppey 07.02

Well, what can I say, what have we done to deserve yet another day of sunshine albeit still rather chilly, this weather induced a visit to Sheppey, starting at Leysdown, the tide was about fifty metres from the shore when we arrived with the tide in flood, on the beach was great acivity, starring some twenty Sanderling who were rushing about at great speed among about fifty Turnstone and about five Redshank, I rattled off a few shots before moving of to Shellness, where we encountered a very obliging Kestrel who allowed a few pictures before meandering off.

A quick visit to Harty, nothing of note on the Fleet and terminated my visit at the Raptor Viewpoint after only seeing two distant Marsh Harriers's.

We then made our way to Elmley, sun still out we drove to Wellmarsh hide, but just past the farm and in the area of the fist gate was a very active Merlin, good numbers of Wigeon and Teal a few distant Curlew and quite a number of Golden Plover at distance.

We sat in the hide in anticipation of an influx of waders pushed of their feeding grounds by the tide, glancing at my watch revealed it was two hours to high water, the wind was funnelling in through the open window apertures allowing the strong NE wind to reduce our body heat considerably, after about an hour of this and coupled with the lack of bird movement we decided to leave, opening the door into the sunshine made us aware of how warm it really was and how chilling it was inside the hide.

Will be posting pic's tomorrow

A view of waterlogged Elmley.


Kestrel at Leysdown from the lay by just before the unmade road at Shellness, he seems to have this area to himself as he is to be always about in the vicinity

Common and Blackheaded Gull at Leysdown.

Curlew Shelduck the rest are Golden Plover, taken with a really wound up Canon, at 600mm.

Redshank, Turnstone and a Sanderling.

Taken at Leysdown


6 Mar 2011

A close encounter.

This month to me is close to a hello goodbye time for some early birds, and a preparation for a goodbye to some winter visitors and a hello very shortly to some of our beloved summer visitors, I see on the blogs I follow that this inclement weather has not curtailed the wanderings of the most hardy of people who enjoy birding as a hobby, I must admit I am a little envious of those that can expose themselves to extreme temperatures and still function as a human being, those days for me unfortunately are a thing of the past, but visiting my local bloggers sites I do make myself aware of what is going on.

I have posted this picture which I took in 1968 for no other reason than I have not anything worth posting. This was a day out when I lived in Snodland, it features a mature stag Fallow Deer which for the moment he posed for this shot gives the impression of tranquillity, not quite, for after taking the shot, he took umbrage at our presence he stood up, and was joined by his subordinates who, along with him made very menacing gestures, we retired walking backwards to some tree's where we remained for a short while to allow normality to return and from the safety of our cover observed the reason for their behaviour, nonchalantly laying and basking in summer sunshine were about twenty females with fawns numbering about eight, had this encounter occurred in the wild, the resulting outcome may well have been different.

The shot was taken with an Exacta 11B with an F2 Tessar Lens and the venue is Knoll Park, Sevenoaks, it took first prize at Reed Paper Mills Photographic Society's annual exhibition of which I was an honorary member.