Thursday, November 30, 2006

Black-headed Gull

Melanistic Black-headed Gull, Milton, 30th Nov 2006, © Dick Newell
One of two seen previously at Grafham, this bird was so completely coloured grey that staining seems to be unlikely. The underparts were subtly paler. The wings and tail were wholly dark apart from a white outer primary shaft. The bill and legs were both darker and the bird seemed slightly smaller than other Black-headed Gulls present (RGN).

Caspian Gull

Adult Caspian Gull, Milton, 30th Nov 2006, © Dick Newell
Large bird, so probably male. Classic appearance.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Female Great Spotted Woodpecker

Female Great Spotted Woodpecker, Aldreth, © Simmon Stirrup. When Simon photographed this female she was sheltering under a horizontal branch during a thunderstorm and maintained this position for at least 15 minutes. (JL).

Male Great Spotted Woodpecker

Male Great Spotted Woodpecker, Aldreth, © Simon Stirrup. As natural food supplies dwindle with the onset of winter, Great Spotted Woodpeckers increasingly supplement their diets at garden peanut feeders. (JL).

Friday, November 24, 2006


Jay, Little Gransden, Adrian George. Whilst irregular in Adrian's garden, this Jay is one of four birds that have been visiting recently. (JL).

Northern Golden Plovers

Northern Golden Plovers, Fen Drayton, © Steve Adams
We do well in Cambs. for spectacles like this. (RGN).

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Yellow-legged Gull

Two first winter Yellow-legged Gulls, Long Drove, Cottenham, © Dick Newell

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Common Kingfisher

Common Kingfisher, Ferry Meadows Country Park, © Mike Weedon.
Adult males can easily be told from adult females by their all-dark lower mandible. While juveniles show dark bills as well, their plumage is more subdued and they have grey feet.

European Robin

European Robin, Bluebell Wood, © Mike Weedon.
This Robin was so tame Mike had to back away to get it in focus! (JL).

Common Pheasant

Cock Pheasant, Mike Weedon, Bluebell Wood, © Mike Weedon.Common Pheasants quickly learn where food is available and regularly visit feeding stations.


Male Chaffinch, Bluebell Wood, 21st November © Mike Weedon. At this time of the year Chaffinch numbers are at their highest and they often form large flocks at regular feeding sites.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Yellow-legged Gull

Adult Yellow-legged Gull, Milton, 20th Nov 2006, © Dick Newell
Apart from the yellow legs, birds like this are easy to pick out with their long wings, dark grey back and gleaming white head.

Caspian Gull

2nd winter Caspian Gull, Milton, 20th Nov 2006, © Dick Newell
It is not uncommon for birds of this age to show a very similar pattern of greater-coverts to 1st winter birds.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Caspian Gull

2nd winter Caspian Gull, 18th Nov 2006, Long Drove, Cottenham, © Dick Newell
I was unable to read the ring number on this bird. Although it has typical plumage, head and bill-shape, a small eye and the characteristic line from eye to eye across the rear crown, its wings look a little short and the legs look thicker than normal, so it may contain some Herring Gull genes. (RGN)

American Golden Plover

Juvenile American Golden Plover, Pymore, 18th November 2006, © Richard Bonser.
This just shows how sharp-eyed one needs to be to pick one of these out of a large flock of Golden Plovers. The clues are in the prominent eye-stripe, slightly smaller in size, slimmer shape with an attenuated rear end, and a greyer wash to the under-parts.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Juvenile Shag

Juvenile Shag, Dog-in-a-Doublet, © Mike Weedon. Another great close-up of this lingering juvenile. (JL).

Friday, November 10, 2006

Golden Plover

Golden Plover, 10th Nov 2006, March, © Duncan Poyser
The anaemic individual in the foreground is possibly a 'flavistic' bird though clearly still an Eurasian GP on structure. (JL).


Dotterel, 10th Nov 2006, March, © Duncan Poyser
Duncan did well to capture this image of the adult Dotterel in the distant Golden Plover flock at March. (JL).

Tree Sparrow

Tree Sparrow, 10th Nov 2006, RSPB Ouse Washes, © Garth Peacock
Ouse Washes. Interesting to note both these Tree Sparrows show the yellow bill base sides recently commented on by various members which appear to be unrelated to age or sex. (JL).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Probable hybrid Herring x Glaucous Gull

Probable hybrid 2nd winter Herring x Glaucous Gull, 8th Nov 2006, Long Drove Cottenham, © Dick Newell
This bird could just be a northern argentatus Herring Gull, but the overall shape of the bird, and particularly the head and bill shape,with a typical young Glaucous Gull pattern, combined with an overall pale colouration, including a uniform pale tail without a terminal bar, completely patterned tertials, pale fringed primaries and huge translucency in the primaries lead me to believe that it contains a lot of Glaucous Gull genes. (RGN).

Common Stonechat

Male Common Stonechat, 8th Nov 2006, Wimpole Hall Estate, © Jim Lawrence
While reasonably regular on passage and uncommon as winter visitors to Fenland, Stonechats are like dragon's teeth in south Cambs, so I was delighted to encounter this adult male on the Wimpole Hall Estate. (JL).

Monday, November 06, 2006


Shag, 6th Nov 2006, Dog-in-a-doublet, © Kevin Durose

As a maritime species it is perhaps unsurprising this bird has a taste for flounders. Sadly the glint in the eye of the fish was soon extinguished! (JL).


Shag, 6th Nov 2006, Dog-in-a-Doublet, River Nene , © Max Catterwell
Amazingly this isn't the first ringed Shag from the Isle of May recorded in Cambs. The 2004 Bird Report carries details of another seen at Roswell Pits on January 8th, 2004 that had a similar ring and originated from The Isle of May where it was ringed on June 3rd, 2003. (JL).


Shag, Dog-in-a-Doublet, River Nene, 6th Nov 2006, © Jonathan Taylor
A bit of quick detective work by Dick Newell today established this bird (G8975) was ringed as a chick, in a brood of one, on the Isle of May, Firth of Forth on the 11th July this year. (JL).


Shag, River Nene, Rings End, Guyhirn. 6th Nov Will Bowell
This juvenile follows the annual pattern of a handful of Shags that venture inland to Cambs during the winter period. As this bird was seen to fly off in the right direction, it is likely to be the same bird as the one found at the Dog-in-a-Doublet the following day. See above. (JL).

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Common Stonechat

Common Stonechat, 5th Nov 2006, Wicken Fen, © Garth Peacock
This apparent 1st winter male was photographed by Garth while he was unsuccessfully waiting for some owl action. (JL).

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Reed Buntings

Reed Buntings, Prior's Fen, © Mike Weedon. These evocative back-lit images perfectly capture the mood of a winter's afternoon in the Fens. (JL).

Friday, November 03, 2006

Greylag Goose

Greylag, Ferry Meadows Country Park, © Mike Weedon. The orange bill of this bird indicates it is of the nominate European race as one would expect. The Asiatic subspecies rubrirostris
shows an all-pink bill and has distinctly paler plumage tones. (JL).

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Caspian Gull

Adult Caspian Gull, Long Drove Cottenham, 2nd Nov 2006, © Dick Newell.
Classic head and bill-shape, with a small beady eye. This bird also demonstrated a perfect wing-tip pattern, grey tongues into the black, very large white tip to P10 and large white tongue on inner web of P10. (RGN).

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Adult Male Brambling, Landbeach, 1st Nov 2006, © Dick Newell.

This was a nice thing to turn up on my drive while John Oates was visiting (RGN)

Yellow-legged Gull

1st winter Yellow-legged Gull, Long Drove Cottenham, 1st November 2006, © Dick Newell.

Although not looking long-winged enough in this view, this bird has a complete suite of features that make this identification easy, including: stubby bill, flat-topped head, shadow behind the eye, heavily anchored, pale-based scapulars contrasting paler than wing-coverts, solid dark tertials fringed white, dark 'hand' with window restricted to inner primaries formed by pale inner webs, and a big white, spotted tail with crisp black tail-band (RGN).