coquet nature lover

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Update on common ringed plover 895838

Apologies for these shots which I intended to post at the end of March but unfortunately photography and blogging has had to take a bit of a back seat the last few weeks.  Anyhow, it's back to business and the borrelho strikes again! 

Just to remind you, borrelho is portuguese for common ringed ploverIf you are new to my blog, you might want to click here common ringed plover ring number 895838 to find out more about this bird which was rung as a chick in Sandasandar, Iceland in May 2010

Santa Luzia

The Ria Formosa National Park is a protected coastal region situated in the Algarve, Portugal. It was established as a nature reserve with UNESCO protected status way back in 1987. It is also part of Natura 2000 network of specially protected areas across the European Union and designated a site of international importance under the Ramsar convention (an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands).

Santa Luzia overlooks the lagoons and waterways of the Ria Formosa. With its amazing habitat, which includes saltmarshes and mudflats, it is a haven for migratory birds travelling through Africa, Europe and the North Atlantic areas of Iceland and Greenland.

Here are some photos of our seven year old ringed plover '895838' which Joao in Portugal kindly sent me last month to share on my blog. This stretch of coastline, just along from the fish market in the fishing village of Santa Luzia is where the ringed plover returns year after year after breeding in Iceland.  

(Common ringed plover: Fr-Bécasseau variable   D-Alpenstrandläufer)
(Dunlin: Fr-Grand gravelot   D-Sandregenpfeifer)

Santa Luzia proudly proclaims itself as the 'Capital do Polvo' (octopus capital) of Portugal and on weekdays, an auction takes place when the colourful fishing boats return in the mornings with their catch. 

Fish market where the ringed plover hangs out!

With the recent sightings, the South Iceland Research Centre, based at the University of Iceland, has been able to update their records for this individual bird and my contact informs me he is expecting her to arrive back in Iceland anytime now. 

You might be also be interested to know that the first ringed plovers return to Iceland as early as the 1st April. It is likely however that just a few will arrive at this time. More birds will arrive on the mudflats in Iceland between 15-20 April and there will be a peak between approximately 28 April and 03 May. The final peak occurs between 15-30 May and this large flock will include Greenland birds passing through Iceland on the way to their breeding grounds.

It is quite amazing when you stop to think about it!
Clutch of four eggs (Bodvar©)

Cute common ringed plover chick (Bodvar©)
For new followers of my blog, here are two photos which were taken in Iceland. I'm sure you will agree, the photography is superb and a real privilege to share with you

Now if you are thinking about Iceland or Portugal as a holiday destination, please keep your eyes open for our ringed plover and of course any other birds you might spot with rings. The research centre needs your help to continue their amazing work.

No one knows what triggers bird migration but we do know that successful migration depends largely on weather conditions. So, fingers crossed for a safe passage and favourable winds for this bird's amazing journey back to Iceland.
I am indebted to Joao in Portugal and the South Iceland Research Centre for all their assistance and also for making me smile when they told me they have named the bird after me! At last a claim to fame and I am very honoured. Thank you!

If you are interested, click here for other posts on the Algarve coastline

Ria Formosa rediscovered 

Sea birds of the Sagres peninsular

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Gliding into Spring

Le corbeau ne vole que le jour
Le hibou ne vole que la nuit
Le cygne vole la nuit et le jour
(Extract from 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' by Vicor Hugo - 1802-1885) 

Welcome to my garden 

First up the blooms ....

next up a few regular visitors ....  

although the lesser redpoll and the brambling will be off any day now

Blackbird guarding his nesting spot

Blackbirds just love fruit!

Lesser redpoll feeding on niger seed

Yes, the bullfinch is high in the pecking order!

Nuthatch - a woodland bird that can walk down a tree

Greenfinch - male with bright plumage

Siskin (m) perched on a branch

Long-tailed tit with a tail bigger than its body

Brambling - only appeared in my garden this year in March 
Better late than never!
Dunnock showing its blue-grey head and breast

followed by a visit to the greenhouse ....
apricot blossom

peach blossom

lone olive

just one olive but..... five lemons!

and finally to see who is nesting in the orchard....

Red-legged partridges snoozing in the sunshine

Wood pigeon - photo taken 12/03/17
Now this youngster must surely be one of the earliest in the north this year! It can fly quite well so was probably born back end of January. This bird is amazingly tame considering it was our first encounter - clearly doesn't know of the local cats' hunting abilities and the many threats posed to birds from humans. Hopefully the orchard will become a safe haven.

'Now who's that over there?'

'Oh, is it Mum or maybe Dad?'

'Time for a top up feed!'

As Oliver Twist said '... I want some more'

'No second helpings for me!'

Good night and sweet dreams!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Last of the winter light

Recollections of a coastal walk by Coquetnaturelover

The Northumberland coast which stretches almost 100 kilometres is an incredibly beautiful part of the UK where you can see a huge diversity of resident and migrant birds in their natural environment throughout the year.

Boulmer beach

With the exception of the shore larks on the beach at East Chevington, the photos in this post were taken between Boulmer and Low Newton by the Sea - a stretch of coastline just a few miles long. So you see, there's no need to travel the whole coast to see the amazing wildlife on offer here - not to mention the beautiful beaches!  If you decide to pay a visit, it might be an idea to take a few sandwiches and a drink as you may end up walking much further than you originally planned!  And, don't forget to check out the tides before you head out...

The wintering shore larks in the next couple of photos were taken last month before the high winds of Storm Doris hit the UK. There were about half a dozen shore larks foraging on the beach - too far out to photograph but luckily a couple did come closer allowing a better view.

Boulmer (pronounced Boomer), is a small fishing village, approximately six miles east of the market town Alnwick (pronounced Ann-ick ). The coastline here is stunning and lined with dunes - a wonderful spot to visit if you enjoy walking and birdwatching.

Winter is a great season to take photographs as on a clear day, the warmth of the light will add atmosphere to your nature and wildlife images without you having to alter your camera's settings! Sometimes the best close up shots actually come out with my phone - especially when I'm photographing plants and flowers.  

The next sequence of photos were taken late afternoon with the sun arcing low in the sky, bathing the beach in a warm reflected light.

.... the beaches 


.... and the birds

Bartailed godwit
Sanderling probing
Oystercatchers foraging on the beach
Eiders coming into land
Goldeneye - has to be a favourite!
Flock of dunlin with redshank and sanderling
Long-tailed ducks - not easy to photograph!
Purple sandpiper at Football Hole, Low Newton by the Sea
Spot the turnstone if you can!
Grey heron in a pool behind the dunes
These pools are called dune slacks and occur in low-lying hollows between dune ridges. In winter when the water table is high, these depressions can often flood as seen in the above photo

Later in the year, I will try to get some snaps of the moisture loving plants that thrive in dune habitats. See my post from July last year for photos of pyramidal orchids, bloody craneshill and rest-harrow. Click here to view A walk at Beadnell Bay - Creeping willow is another plant supported by dune slacks which I've seen on Holy Island. Must remember to get a photo next time I'm up that way!

Hen harrier hunting over the dunes
Stonechats can often be seen in the dunes
Greylag geese coming home to roost at Low Newton by the Sea

Looking for a sunset bird in the winter
by Robert Frost

The west was getting out of gold,
The breath of air had died of cold,
When shoeing home across the white,
I thought I saw a bird alight.

In summer when I passed the place
I had to stop and lift my face;
A bird with an angelic gift
Was singing in it sweet and swift.

No bird was singing in it now.
A single leaf was on a bough,
And that was all there was to see
In going twice around the tree.

From my advantage on a hill
I judged that such a crystal chill
Was only adding frost to snow
As gilt to gold that wouldn't show.

A brush had left a crooked stroke
Of what was either cloud or smoke
From north to south across the blue,
A piercing little star was through.