Introducing us

FeaturedIntroducing us

We are Alison and Lee, and we love bird watching around Retford and beyond.  We don’t have any fancy equipment: just binoculars and a basic 30x zoom camera.  We don’t boast any rare sightings or go chasing around the country to spot something unusual; rather, we delight in the ordinary – the birds you can spot every day if you go out walking around your locality.  We aim to encourage you to do just that.  Often it’s just being in the right place at the right time – like this kingfisher who just happened to sit there while we were walking past!  There’s so much amazing nature right on our doorsteps!

Advertisements

Birding firsts

sb4.JPG

We’ve had an exciting start to the new year!  Actually it began on the last day of 2018, when we visited Filey Brigg.

SB.jpg

We’d heard that there were snow buntings on the path above the cliffs, so, while we were staying at our caravan on the east coast, we decided to pay a visit and see if we could spot them.

sb6.JPG

We thought they might have been difficult to find, but no sooner had we set foot on the path than three of them flew up in front of us, one landing on the signpost.

sb7.JPG

Of course, we were delighted!

sb2.JPG

They continued to pose for us for quite some time, flying only short distances, for example, in the above picture they went to the cliff edge.

sb8.JPG

Most of the time they just sat on the path in front of us, and even allowed us to record a short video clip.

sb9.JPG

Snow buntings visit the UK in the winter from the Arctic region, and are not too commonly seen on our shores.  They have been on our wishlist for a sighting for years!

sb5.JPG

They are large buntings, with plumage camouflaged for the snow.  Their mainly white plumage is quite striking.  They really were beautiful birds, and so obliging to photograph!

Filey Brigg3.JPG

Filey Brigg

Next time we will bring more birding firsts – what a great start to the year!

Egrets, I’ve had a few…

egret.jpg

In our last post we mentioned we’d seen a bird we had never spotted in King’s Park, Retford, before.  Here it is!

egret2.jpg

We’ve featured the little egret before (in a previous post: The egrets have landed), but it was a complete surprise when this one turned up on our doorstep in the local park.

egret2.jpg

Little egrets are a small, heron-like bird becoming increasingly more widespread in the UK, but still a relative rarity.

egret3.jpg

This one was happily strolling along the grass in the park among the crows, jackdaws and other birds which make the park their home.

egret4.JPG

In the above picture you can make out the little egret’s yellow feet: a distinctive feature which sets them apart from other egrets.

egret5.JPG

There are other species of egret now appearing in the UK, such as the great white egret.  We saw one of these recently at Hornsea Mere, but it was too far away to get a decent photograph.  These have also been spotted at Idle Valley nature reserve.

egret6.JPG

Yesterday morning (Boxing Day) I was walking the dog down the River Idle close to home, when I spotted the little egret in the field near the river.  Lee confirmed it had moved from the park, so we could assume it was the same one.  I was able to get quite close to it, but unfortunately didn’t have a camera with me.  It was amazing to stand and watch it up so close – a real Boxing Day treat!

We hope all our readers had a good Christmas and would like to wish you a very Happy New Year.

 

Merry Christmas!

song thrush.JPG

Today we’re bringing a variety of birds we’ve seen around our local Retford area and a few from Filey from a couple of weeks ago.

song thrush2.JPG

This beautiful song thrush was among the berries at King’s Park, and we think made a lovely winter picture.

song thrush3.JPG

Lee also spotted the slightly larger mistle thrush, but didn’t get a picture of this one.

song thrush4.JPG

Another member of the thrush family, the blackbird, was having a rummage among the ground.

blackbird.JPG

The great tit below was in Lee’s garden, eating the food he puts out for the birds regularly.

great tit.jpg

The remainder of the birds in today’s post were seen around Filey, mainly at Filey Dams nature reserve.

Filey.JPG

Filey2.JPG

We’ll be paying Filey another visit soon, when we visit our caravan during the winter break.

As soon as we got to the reserve, we spied a great spotted woodpecker, who hung around for a while letting us get some pictures.

gsw.JPG

At the nature reserve there was a juvenile whooper swan all on its own.

whooper.JPG

These swans are winter visitors, and are not as common as our more familiar mute swans.

whooper2.JPG

We also saw lots of wigeon: a beautiful duck which visits the UK in the winter.

wigeon.jpg

They make an amazing whistling noise, which is unmistakable.

wigeon2.jpg

Next time we’re going to bring to you another exciting bird Lee spotted in King’s Park – we’ve never seen one there before!

We would like to wish all our readers a very Happy Christmas and New Year, and, of course, Happy Birding!

A twite spot

A twite spot

twite.JPG

We spent the weekend at our caravan at Barmston beach, and found some more exciting birds!

twite2.JPG

While we were walking across the seafront, a flock of birds kept landing on the beach, flying up to the fields and cliffs, and then settling on the beach again in front of us.

twite3.jpg

At first we thought they were linnets, but on closer inspection we discovered they had a more tawny appearance with a buff-coloured head.

twite4.JPG

We checked in our field guide when we got back to the caravan, and confirmed that they were in fact twites.  Twites are not very common, and are currently on the red list.  There are not many places where they can be seen, but one of those is the coastal fields of the east coast.

twite5.JPG

We were delighted to see these birds, and in such a great number.  There must have been at least 20 of them.

We also found that the hooded crows were still there, and managed to get a little closer.

hoody.JPG

hoody2.jpg

hoody3.jpg

hoody4hoody5hoody6hoody7

Amazing!  We also saw some other lovely birds, which we’ll share with you shortly.

Swanning around

BNS2.JPG

During a recent visit to Hornsea Mere, we were delighted to find this beautiful swan, which stood out from the mute swans on the water.

BNS3.JPG

As its appearance suggests, it is a black-necked swan.

BNS.JPG

It was strikingly different and a beautiful sight to see!

BNS4.JPG

In the above picture you can see it in comparison with the mute swans: it is a much smaller swan.

BNS9.jpg

In this picture it was having a swim alongside a couple of male tufted ducks: another very attractive bird.

BNS8.JPG

Black-necked swans are natives of South America, and we had never seen one outside of captivity before.

BNS5.JPG

It is likely that this one escaped from a local collection, but it seemed to be quite happy and getting along fine with the other swans on the water.

BNS6BNS7

However it got there, it was certainly a joy to see and Lee enjoyed taking pictures of this incredibly photogenic bird.

BHG.JPG

And to finish, here’s a couple of very common black-headed gulls in winter plumage.  In the spring they will regain their beautiful chocolatey-brown heads – but we think they’re still very attractive as they are!

Hoodies!

hoodies2

We spent last weekend at our second home at Barmston beach, and, despite the poor weather, enjoyed some interesting birding.

hoodies.jpg

One morning,  Lee had a walk across the beach and spotted some crows coming into land which looked very different from the usual ones we see there.

hoodies3.jpg

As he approached, he could see that they were hooded crows, and there was a pair of them.

hoodies4.jpg

You can see from the pictures that, instead of being black all over like our familiar carrion crows, they have grey backs.

hoodies5.jpg

In the above picture, you can see one of the hooded crows with some oystercatchers.  Hooded crows are commonly found in Scotland, but they rarely come down as far as this. This made it a really exciting spot!  They hung around for a while and then flew off when some horses approached.

hoodies6.jpg

We also saw a manx shearwater over the sea the following day, but didn’t manage to get a photograph as it was quite distant.

chaffinch bempton.jpg

We paid another visit to Bempton, and saw this beautiful chaffinch.

ltt2.jpg

Plus a super long-tailed tit – always a pleasure to see.

Barmston beach.JPG

Even in the colder weather, we love being at our seaside home, and are often surprised by the birds that turn up there.

Next time we’ll bring some more birds to you from nearby Hornsea Mere, where we met an exciting bird we’d not seen before!

 

Just a couple of blackbirds

blackbird 2.JPG

Today we’re looking at one of our most common garden birds: the blackbird.

blackbird 3.JPG

The first pictures are of a female blackbird Lee encountered in King’s Park in Retford.

As you can see, the female blackbird is brown rather than black, and is often speckled or streaky in appearance.

Blackbirds have a beautiful mellow song, which is always a pleasure to hear, particularly in the mornings and evenings.

blackbird 4.jpg

They eat insects, worms and berries, so these trees in the park make a good feeding area for them.

blackbird 5.jpg

Blackbirds are very territorial, and they will sometimes fight to defend their area.

blackbird.JPG

They will rear 2-3 broods in a year, and nest anywhere there is suitable cover.  In fact, this year one of them had several attempts to nest in the wheel arch of a car on our caravan site!

jackdaws.jpg

And finally, not blackbirds but still black birds: these two jackdaws made a pretty picture sitting in the trees in the park!