Wednesday 21 February 2024

Wild Bird Wednesday 604 - Snettisham

Stettisham is a small town on the on the east coast of The Wash in the UK. There is an RSPB reserve there that gives 'views across brackish lagoons, salt marsh and a vast expanse of mudflats'.  It's basically wader heaven.

I was lucky enough to be there on two days when very high tides coincided with the sunrise.  This means that huge flock of Red Knot are pushed off their muddy feeding grounds by the rising tide.  

This does two things - firstly it makes the Knot (and other waders) fly around in huge groups over the mud.  I'm not 100% sure this is technically a murmuration as I think that term may only apply to Starlings - but I sure somebody will correct me if I'm wrong.  Anyway, the visual impact in the same - huge groups of birds in the air at once: twisting and turning - and in the case of the Knot, the whole flock flashing pale white as their underwings show.  And the sound they make as they fly over your head - utterly remarkable.

The second thing that happens is that once the birds have been pushed off the mud they roost in there 10's of thousands on a single bank - but those pictures are for another day,










Of course, being out at dawn presents other photographic opportunities as well.





As you will have gathered, I'm in the UK at present.  If anybody wants to see other pictures from this continuing trip you can find me on FaceBook.  

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Tuesday 13 February 2024

Wild Bird Wednesday 603 - Cuban Trogon

The Cuban Trogon (Priotelus temnurus) is endemic to Cuba, where it is also the national bird. The colours of this bird match the Cuban flag - which is probably why it's the national bird.  In Spanish it is called Tocororo, which is probably onomatopoeic based on its repeated call of toco-toco-tocoro-tocoro.

As you can see in some of these pictures it has a very distinctive tail shape - and this is especially helpful in identifying the bird when it is silhouetted against bright light.









I have to say it's a pretty spectacular bird.

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Wednesday 7 February 2024

Wild Bird Wednesday 602 - Cuban Tody

This delightful little bird is a Cuban Tody (Todus multicolor) - for once this is a specie where the scientific name needs to explanation!

The Todies are a family of tiny birds found only in the Caribbean.  They form a distinct group with a which also includes the kingfishers, bee-eaters and rollers.  I think you can see the 'kingfisher energy' in some of these pictures.

It will be no surprise to learn that the Cuban Tody is only found on Cuba - and it was an utter delight every time we saw one.

The species is small in size with a length of 11 cm and weighing 5.9 g (0.21 oz). It has a large head relative to body size, and a thin, flat bill which it use to catch insects, but will also eat fruit and small lizards.









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Wednesday 31 January 2024

Wild Bird Wednesday 601 - Cattle Egret

There is some dispute over the taxonomy of this week's WBW bird - its a Cattle Egret, which some authorities split into two species, while other consider them to be a single species.

I'll go with the taxonomy that is used by eBird which makes these Eastern Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus coromandus)

Originally native to parts of Asia, Africa, and Europe, it has undergone a rapid expansion in its distribution and successfully colonised much of the rest of the world in the last century.

These pictures were taken at large colony in Bali, Indonesia.  The colony stretches down the main street of a village of Petula, and the birds are noisy, conspicuous and a little smelly!










We had to dodge very heavy rain storms during the day, and its reasonable to say that some of the egrets looked a little less than happy about the weather!

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Wednesday 24 January 2024

Wild Bird Wednesday 600 - Bee Hummingbird

 Welcome to the 600th WBW! And as this is a special week, we have a special bird.

The Bee Hummingbird (Mellisuga helenae) is endemic to Cuba, and is also the smallest known bird in the world.

Females weigh 2.6 g and are 6.1 cm long, the males are slightly smaller with an average weight of 1.95 g and length of 5.5 cm.  In other words we are looking at a bird which is about the same size as the first joint of your thumb, and a weight (mass really!) of about 1/2 a sugar cube.

By any measure, that's small.












The male has bluish upper parts, and the rest of the underparts mostly greyish white.  Females are bluish green with a pale grey underside. Like all hummingbirds, this species lays two eggs - they are about the size of a frozen pea!

As you can see from the final picture, these birds were active around species feeders - but what a sight!

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Wednesday 17 January 2024

Wild Bird Wednesday 599 - Glossy Ibis

The Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) is the least abundant of the three species of Ibis we have in Victoria.  It's always I good species to find - and one that I don't see all that often.

I knew, but had forgotten (!), that two had been seen at Werribee in recent weeks and when I happened upon then I was rather pleased.  

These have to have been two of the busiest bird I have ever watched, they were feeding ceaselessly for the 20 minutes I watched them.  I really was a case of head down and feed.  They also had a remarkable knack of hiding behind small plants!

I think that these pictures do show the glossy nature of their plumage - although it took a large number of pictures to catch the iridedsence of their plumage.





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