Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Cuba isn't far from Somerset!

Happy New Year!
Recent days have seen me travelling out of the county to C.U.B.A!  Unfortunately that’s the County, used to be Avon, not the Caribbean island........
Chew Valley Lake provided the first lifer of the year, in the form of a very confiding Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis). This North American vagrant Gull is similar to our own Common Gull (Larus canus), but differs in having a pale eye, heavier bill with a thicker dark band & yellower legs. The pale eye & heavier bill give it a more brutish look than Common gull. It readily came to hand outs of bread & i had to back off with the 600mm.
The long staying Spotted sandpiper (another American vagrant) was in its usual haunt along the concrete bank of Herriot’s pool & gave great views & allowed some images to be taken, albeit in terrible light. The photo shows a few spots developing on the lower breast & flanks.
A short visit to Blagdon Lake failed to turn up the Long-tailed duck.
Back in the home county & Catcott lows reserve held seven adult Bewick’s swans & a confused juvenile that would rather hang out with the resident Mutes.  A large female peregrine falcon seen to it that the thousands of Lapwing, did not settle.  Amongst them were a group of 50 (ish) Golden plover & a dozen Black-tailed godwits.  As darkness fell, commuting Starlings took avoiding action when a Sparrowhawk scythed through their ranks.
In the east of the county, at Torr reservoir, the resident Canada goose flock held a few interlopers. A Richardson’s cackling goose (tiny version of a Canada goose, barely bigger than a Mallard), three Barnacle geese & a single Bar-headed goose.  Now all three of these species are kept in wildfowl collections & are probably of dubious origin (i.e. escapees, not wild birds), but you never know................... I will leave that decision with you!
The Brue estuary at Burnham on sea held yet another yank vagrant in the form of a Lesser yellowlegs, a wader. I found it in its usual place (its been about for a while) on a floating barrel, on a small pool to the side of the channel. A stealthy slow crawling approach let me get to within 20m. After getting the shots i just lay back & was contemplating the crawl back when off it went into the channel. At least it meant i didnt have to crawl back through the stinking strand line.

Richardsons cackling goose- tiny with a darker breast

Bar-headed goose in same Canada flock

Ring-billed gull

Common gull for comparison. Far more gentile expression.

Ring-billed gull

Spotted sandpiper (spots just starting to show)

Juvenile Bewick's swan

Lesser yellowlegs