Wednesday, 27 February 2013

In the Presence of Royalty

She may not look anything other than ordinary but this Mute Swan is a princess.

I know this because it says so on her leg.
On an otherwise unremarkable wander around Willen Lakes a group of Swans clambered out onto the bank. One I noticed had two metal rings, one on each leg. The one on the right was a standard BTO ring. But the one on the left simply bore the words  DYERS ROYALTY

This would be due to it being rung on the River Thames during the annual Swan Upping Ceremony.
There are two groups who carry this out, The Worshipful Company of Vigntners and  The Worshipful Company of Dyers.
 I have sent in the details of the other ring in to the BTO and wait to hear the full details of where and when the bird was ringed.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

In the Land of Chiffchaffs

I had the opportunity to visit Ecton Sewage Works today.
Large numbers of overwintering Chiffchaffs have been reported here over the last few weeks. In addition there have been up to three of the Siberian race of this species amongst them, and as I had never seen this type before I decided to take a look.
 The reason the birds had decided this was an ideal place to see out the cold weather was due to the outlet stream from the sewage farm being a few degrees warmer than would be expected and hence there were many small flies present.
 When I eventually found the right place I was amazed. There were small birds everywhere, mainly Long-tailed Tits, but amongst them Chiffchaffs - lots of them, also Robins, Wrens and a single Goldcrest.
 Looking through the Chiffchaffs at least one bird stood out from the rest, being very pale grey in fact almost white - this was a Siberian Chiffchaff. I'm sure I saw more than one but never at the same time, so can't say for definite

Siberian Chiffchaff

Siberian Chiffchaff (it's not a trick of the light, it really was this pale)

 I estimate there must have been about twenty Chiffchaffs within a 100 yard stretch, all flitting in and out of the waterside Willows. I've never seen anything like it, even in the summer. Quite amazing.
Common Chiffchaff
There were probably about 30 Long-tailed Tits present as well.
Long-tailed Tit


Sunday, 17 February 2013

A visit to see 'Black Belly'

I had been intrigued when I heard that a Dipper had turned up in Norfolk last November. They are normally a bird of the western half of the country.
 It turned out that it was actually a visitor from the continent as it was of the Black-bellied form rather than the standard brown-bellied type.
 I never considered going to see it as at the time as it was extremely elusive and subsequently disappeared.
 However last month the bird was rediscovered on a backwater of the River Thet in Thetford.

As I had never seen the continental form of Dipper before, this morning I took a trip out.

Thetford is a town I have been past many times but never stopped at. I mst say I wished I had as it it is a lovely place, very unspoilt with the river flowing right through it.

The Dipper was easily found at the site it has been frequenting over the winter and was incredibly confiding showing down to 3 or 4 yards.
 A Kingfisher was also seen nearby, but it appears I missed another couple of Goodies. A couple of Otters live on the river and are constantly seen in various places through the town.
 A photographer showed me pictures he had taken the day before of them sitting out on the bank just the other side of the river. He had seen one of them just before I arrived but typically I couldn't find them.

Black-bellied Dipper

Taking a Dip