Saturday, 31 January 2015

Winter Thrushes

A sign of cold weather.

The gathering of Fieldfares and Redwings ...

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Bathtime for angels

Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)

From a series of shots recently taken in Lancashire ...

Monday, 26 January 2015


Goosander (Mergus merganser)

The elegant Goosander (males depicted) is a scarce winter visitor and passage migrant in my home county of Sussex. The British breeding population, located mainly in the Peak District and Scotland, is estimated at around 3,500 pairs, with a wintering population of 12,000 birds. Key sites are the county’s reservoirs, Pagham Harbour, the River Adur and pits around Rye Bay, though it can sometimes be found on any sizeable inland body of water. When birds are recorded in Sussex they tend to be very mobile with many only staying for a single day before moving on.

M. merganser nests in holes excavated by woodpeckers or natural cavities in mature hardwood trees with entry holes usually more than 15m above the ground. It shows a preference for cavities with openings c.12cm wide and internal diameters of c.25cm in trees close to or up to 1km away from water. When natural tree-nesting sites are not available the species will use artificial nestboxes or may nest among tree roots in undercut banks, on cliff ledges, in rock clefts or in dense scrub or loose boulders on islands. Sometimes several females may nest in the same tree, especially on islands that provide suitable nesting sites in lacustrine or coastal locations.

The accompanying images were taken in North Wales.


Cowser, R., 2014. Goosander. The Birds of Sussex. Thetford: British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Books on behalf of the Sussex Ornithological Society, p. 133.
Wilson, T.J., 1996. Goosander. Birds of Sussex. Sussex Ornithological Society, pp. 184-186.

BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Mergus merganser. Downloaded from on 25th January 2015.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Herring Gull

Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)

Widely distributed along our coastlines, L. argentatus is both an evocative symbol of the seaside but also perhaps one the main species of bird that comes into conflict with people, given its urban nesting habits, loud calls, and sometimes aggressive behaviour during the breeding season. Despite major national population declines, public antipathy to urban nesting has led to various deterrents being employed, with varying degrees of success. Sadly, very few methods tackle the root causes of their success which are that our dwellings offer safe, elevated nest sites and our habits present them with an easily accessible and continuous supply of food. Ongoing human attitudes will affect the spread of this species in the urban environment and changing rules about the way we deal with landfill and fishing bycatch may play their part, as may climate change.

A winter plumaged adult and juvenile are pictured.


Newnham, J., 2014. Herring Gull. The Birds of Sussex. Thetford: British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) Books on behalf of the Sussex Ornithological Society, pp. 320-321.
Newnham. J, 1996. Herring Gull. Birds of Sussex. Sussex Ornithological Society, pp. 320-3