Tag Archives: Birds

Grantham Mandarins

A tweet came in with me tagged into it from a good friend and top local birder Dave Roberts about a pair of Mandarin Ducks he had come across in a local park where the River Witham meanders gently through it while walking his dog. I tweeted back ‘see you in 10’ and off I walked round to the park.

Dave was making his way back to meet me and as I crossed the foot bridge to enter the parkland adjacent to the river I looked; as I normally do when crossing here; for Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail as this spot can prove good for both species. I looked to my right and saw no Grey Wagtail but a distant Grey Heron was seen – halfway there I guess!

Turning to look upstream to my left I scanned for Kingfisher and soon got onto one perched in a tree above the water on the right hand bank.

I crossed the bridge turning left heading into town and saw the Kingfisher was not moving as so spent a few minutes enjoying close but shrub obstructed views of a gloriously fit looking male bird. But he soon dived, missed the catch and re-postioned himself across the bank giving a better view.

Moving on to see where the Mandarins where I was soon looking across to the opposite river bank looking at a lovely pair of Mandarin in with a small group of Mallard.

They did not move too much from a small section of the river only gliding up and then down stream and returning to the same central area they seemed to favour. The pair were not taking lightly to any close drift-bys by the Mallards and were soon pecking at them as they go too close. The male was also looking to protect his female by standing guard next to the female when she was perched on a raised mound and preening.

I eventually moved on back homeward and saw the Kingfisher was too still in the same area and again had the chance to admire the bird and take a few more images through the vegetation as a clear view was not possible once again.

Thanks for the tip off Dave, I wonder how long the Mandarins will linger?

A very memorable week in Lincs.

The week commencing  Mon 22nd Jan. turned out to be a very productive time for me, with some good finds, at least at local level. Monday morning I was keen to get my Marston webs count in, as I’d been away in Gloucs. at the weekend. Nothing overly exciting, a pinkfoot was amongst the c.450 greylags.

Tuesday I decided to nip over to the Kirkby/Woodhall area. Firstly a drive along the banks of the Witham; 22 goosanders noted between the Bain mouth and Kirkstead. Next point of call was Woodhall airfield pits. There was lots and lots of wildlife here. Much scanning through the wigeon eventually turned up a strikingly different bird showing green on the face! Alas it wasn’t the much-prized American, but a hybrid Eurasian X American wigeon, or wacky variant. Very smart duck though. After observing this bird through the telescope at length (it was always quite distant), the short journey to Kirkby pits was made. Again there were birds aplenty to look at, a notable count of 12 redshanks were on an island along with a black-tailed godwit. There are always a lot of large gulls here and I picked up an Iceland gull (2nd winter) on the tip pit. Well, that wasn’t a too shoddy day. The following morning (Weds), another patch visit to Marston beckoned. 2 green sands, 2 chiffchaff, grey wag and 19 curlews were noted. It was getting quite late when I scanned through the large graylag flock. I picked up on a bird that initially I thought was the regularly seen pinkfoot. But a moment later alarm bells rang-it had orange, not pink legs. It wasn’t straightforward as it had been feeding in a muddy field, its bill was covered in mud and legs didn’t look too bright. However, the structure, size, shape and general appearance spelt Bean goose! I circulated the pics between a few mates and posted them on twitter. It was one. 

The following morning the goose was still there and there was no doubt now. It had had a good wash and brush up and was looking superb.The goose attracted one or two visitors and was still in place over the weekend.

On Friday a good search of the sewage works area was called for and it came up trumps with a cracking Siberian tristis chiffchaff. It was easily identifiable on plumage, showing no green tones at-all. Underparts were a lovely silky whitish and the legs were black. Chestnut ear coverts and beady dark eye all added to the look. At times, from below it almost reminded me of a non breeding plumage red breasted flycatcher. This was a really neat looking little bird, frequenting the same bushes as last winter’s lesser whitethroat. There was a regular collybita chiffy too, sometimes alongside for comparison. Staying with the bird for some time, I wanted to hear it call, it wasn’t doing!, it just fed constantly on the many small flies here. Eventually I heard a bullfinch-like call, just once.

Frampton at last

I’d not been to Frampton much this Winter owing to the continuous grey and murky weather we’ve been having and in fact my last trip a month or so ago was so uneventful as to be depressing. Yesterday promised something a bit better so I popped over for a couple of hours. This was also an opportunity to do more testing on my new travel camera, the Nikon P900 as it’s less than two weeks before I visit my Son and his family at Annecy and I would like to be in control of the kit when I get there. One thing about the camera is it’s small sensor which apart from the limited cropping ability does mean less dynamic range and greater depth of field, not always a disadvantage though. Anyhow things went reasonably well and I am now comfortable with photographing fairly static birds (in good light) and even starting to get a grip on birds in flight (bif) although a way to go here.

A few from the day, most at full zoom (2000mm eq.):

And an inflight Egret (with eye injury?) showing the problem of lack of dynamic range in the bright conditions:


As my son and his family live in the Southern half of France now I visit on numerous occasions throughout the year. Carrying my Canon gear is not only unwieldy but fraught with danger, I was recently commanded by a jumped up Ryanair minion to put my cabin baggage in the hold to which I refused as my camera, three lenses and binos wouldn’t be insured. It nearly ended in a punch up but eventually I was let off. Since then I decided to buy a bridge camera with a super zoom lens to use solely as a travel camera and I ended up with a Nikon P900 which zooms from 24 to 2000mm!
With a trip to Annecy coming up in a couple of weeks I needed to get used to the camera so set about practicing on the pair of Buzzards that live opposite my house. The results have been amazing giving me more detail than I could achieve with my 7DII plus Sigma 150-600mm S. The outfit won’t do what the Canon does but for static subjects in good light it will serve me well I hope.
A shot taken from 120 metres at 2000mm, the bird was worm hunting


A fave perch in a dying Oak