Saturday, 12 November 2016

Recent winter birds

Short-eared Owl - last winter at Rainham Marshes was an exceptional one for short-eared owls, there were at least seven throughout the winter period. Wintering numbers fluctuate, some winters you are lucky to see one, I don't know if it is the small mammal population that governs this, i.e. if they have had a good breeding year then there will be plenty of food for the owls. Or, if it is to do with how well the owls fared breeding, a good year higher number of birds. Or, perhaps it's a combination of both or something else completely. If you know message me @Branta_bernicla I'd love to find out.
Short-eared Owl at RSPB Rainham Marshes December 2015

Slavonian Grebe - a smart looking grebe even in winter plumage. Around 1,000 winter around the UK's coastline but they are pretty scarce inland. We have had a couple in recent winters which stuck around and delighted many in Wanstead and near Dartford. Let's hope for another this winter!

Slavonian Grebe at Wanstead Park January 2015

Slavonian Grebe at Wanstead Park January 2015
Great Northern Diver - All divers are the sort of charismatic bird we all love to see, and GND is a big one as well! In breeding plumage they are awesome, but by November they will all be winter birds or juveniles. with basically a black & white plumage. The bill is big and heavy, the crown often looks lumpy and there is a ghost of the neck band which helps to distinguish smaller birds from similar looking winter black-throated divers. A few thousand winter around our coast, particularly in the north. A handful stray inland, especially to the large inland lakes, such as Rutland Water or the London Reservoirs. And just occasionally to smaller lakes like the one below at Fairlop Water recently.

Great Northern Diver at Fairlop Waters November 2015

Great Northern Diver at Fairlop Waters November 2015

Purple Sandpiper - A cracking medium sized wader which often associates with turnstones around the rocky areas of the Essex coastline. Holland Haven & Frinton are favourite and regular haunts as was Southend Pier at one time.

1 of 4 at Holland Haven February 2014