Monday, 4 January 2010

New year... new bird!!

The more time goes by, the less often I spot 'firsts'.  Makes sense - when I first got into birding, practically every bird I saw drew a "Oh my god, what is that!!".  Now that I've seen a lot more birds, it's obviously more rare to find one that I haven't seen before.

But that's exactly what happened today!!  I feel very privileged indeed to have seen it, as it is one of Britain's most threatened birds, and pretty rare in this part of the country - as well as difficult to spot.  Birders in this country are lucky to see even just one in their lifetime... 

Before I fill you in, I want to share a few other shots from today.  I went out for a couple of hours - freezing cold, blue sky, snow everywhere.  It was beautiful.  And a proper birder's treat :)

First up was a Bullfinch:

On my way up towards Sutton reservoir, I had to get a shot of one of my faves, a Long-Tailed Tit:

A little later, I watched a contortionist Treecreeper for a while:

I reached the reservoir in the hope of spotting a Kingfisher, as I saw one flash before my eyes once last year, and have kept meaning to come back ever since.  Not much showing Kingfisher-wise however, so I watched this Wren for a while - I love the over-the-shoulder glance:

I'd been out for a couple of hours by this point and the sun had moved to an inconvenient position, so I headed back down the hill to where my car was parked.  Before leaving though, I thought I'd just have one last look down the lane where I originally saw the Bullfinch.  I watched some Long-Tailed Tits for a while, then turned around when I heard what I thought was a Nuthatch. 

What I saw was this:

Obviously a Woodpecker - but what you can't tell from this shot is that it was the size of a Sparrow.  Which makes it not your run-of-the-mill Great Spotted, but the much much rarer Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.  As I said, these are one of the most threatened birds in Britain, with numbers having declined by 80% over the past 30 years.  Approx. 2,000 pairs remain in Britain, compared to approx. 40,000 pairs of the Great Spotted variety - and most of the remaining birds are in the South.  All of this meant that I feel incredibly privileged to have spotted this bird just a short distance from where I live.

I would've been happy enough to have had time to snatch just one shot, but it seemed completely unaware of my presence, and I was able to watch it for several minutes, making its way up (and then down - backwards!) the tree:

The following shot was the best I was able to get:

It eventually flew into another tree, and got so high that I was no longer able to see it.  No matter - I went home hungry and buzzing!

As well as the birds pictured here, other birds of interest were several Redwing, Goldfinches, and, just before I reached my car, a UBOP (Unidentified Bird Of Prey).  I might make it a belated New Year's resolution to work on identifying birds of prey...  other than Kestrels, the rest leave me stumped! 

Also, to save up or start playing the lottery so that I can one day afford a 500mm lens.  Until then, I'll have to keep making do with my 300mm...

That's almost it for today, but thought I'd leave you with a shot I took at sunset from my bedroom window - the silhouettes of all the neighbourhood crows off to roost for the night:

Right, I'm off to email the British Trust for Ornithology and the RSPB to tell them of my sighting :)


  1. Fantastic - Not just seeing one but to photograph a LSW is phenomonal. I've yet too see one but will be trying again many times this year.

  2. A great capture. Well done. Needless to say I have not seen one let alone photographed it.

  3. I'm not jealous ;)

  4. Great photos.Never seen one round here.
    Last one i saw was on Alderley Edge some years ago.
    Just goes to show how great birding is.

  5. thanks guys! i have to admit i didn't realise quite how rare they are until i got home and did some research. i feel even more privileged now - especially as it was literally right next to the road, so easy to spot. birding is great indeed :)