66 Photos - Feb 7, 2012
Photo: 52 Bird Species Project
A re-post because I'm creating a separate album for this project.
The basic premiss being to shoot a different species of bird every week during 2012, however I joined the project late and will need to play catch up, in addition I may stack some extra shots in because my health has a habit of throwing me a curve ball when I under take a project like this.

Bird N°1 - Red Grouse - (Lagopus lagopus scotica)
A medium sized bird of the grouse family which is found in heather moorland in Great Britain and Ireland. It is usually classified as a subspecies of the Willow Grouse but is sometimes considered to be a separate species Lagopus scoticus. The Red Grouse is herbivorous and feeds mainly on the shoots, seeds and flowers of heather. It will also feed on berries, cereal crops and sometimes insects. Considered a game bird and is shot in large numbers during the shooting season which traditionally starts on August 12, known as the Glorious Twelfth. There is a keen competition among some London restaurants to serve freshly killed grouse on August 12, with the birds being flown from the moors and cooked within hours. The flavour of grouse, like most game birds, develops if the bird is hung for a few days after shooting and before eating. Roasting is the most common way to cook a grouse.

Info taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Grouse

#nature #52birds #birds #photography   #bird1  Photo: Bird N°2 - House Sparrow ♂
Latin: Passer domesticusPhoto: Bird N°2 - House Sparrow ♀ Latin: Passer domesticusPhoto: Bird N°3 - European Robin - Erithacus rubecula
The adult European Robin is 12.5–14.0 cm (5.0–5.5 in) long and weighs 16–22 g (9/16–13/16 oz), with a wingspan of 20–22 cm (8–9 in). The male and female bear similar plumage; an orange breast and face lined by a bluish grey on the sides of the neck and chest. The upperparts are brownish, or olive-tinged in British birds, and the belly whitish, while the legs and feet are brown. The bill and eyes are black. Juveniles are a spotted brown and white in colouration, with patches of orange gradually appearing.
Well known to British and Irish gardeners, it is relatively unafraid of people and likes to come close when anyone is digging the soil, in order to look out for earthworms and other food freshly turned up. Indeed, the robin is considered to be a gardener's friend and for various folklore reasons the robin would never be harmed. Male Robins are noted for their highly aggressive territorial behaviour. They will attack other males that stray into their territories, and have been observed attacking other small birds without apparent provocation. Such attacks sometimes lead to fatalities, accounting for up to 10% of adult Robin deaths in some areas.

For Further Info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Robin

#nature #52birds #birds #photography #wildlifewednesday #windowwednesday   #bird3  Photo: Bird N°2 - Dunnock - Prunella modularis
A small brown and grey bird. Quiet and unobtrusive, it is often seen on its own, creeping along the edge of a flower bed or near to a bush, moving with a rather nervous, shuffling gait, often flicking its wings as it goes. When two rival males come together they become animated with lots of wing-flicking and loud calling. Inhabits any well vegetated areas with scrub, brambles and hedges. Look in deciduous woodland, farmland edges, parks and gardens. Keeps largely on the ground and often close to cover.

Info from: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/d/dunnock/index.aspx

#nature #52birds #birds #snowdrops #photography   #bird2  Photo: Bird N°5 - Blackbird ♂ . .. ... Latin: Turdus merulaPhoto: Bird N°7
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea
The Grey Heron is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in the milder south and west, but many birds retreat in winter from the ice in colder regions. It has become common in summer even inside the Arctic circle along the Norwegian coast.

It is a large bird, standing up to 100 cm (39 in) tall and measuring 84–102 cm (33–40 in) long with a 155–195 cm (61–77 in) wingspan. The body weight can range from 1.02–2.08 kg (2.2–4.6 lb). Its plumage is largely grey above, and off-white below. Adults have a white head with a broad black supercilium and slender crest, while immatures have a dull grey head. It has a powerful, pinkish-yellow bill, which is brighter in breeding adults. It has a slow flight, with its long neck retracted (S-shaped). This is characteristic of herons and bitterns, and distinguishes them from storks, cranes and spoonbills, which extend their necks. The call is a loud croaking "fraaank".

Food and feeding
It feeds in shallow water, catching fish, frogs, and insects with its long bill. Herons will also take small mammals, reptiles and occasionally warbler nestlings, plovers, young and adult snipes, takes ducklings and tern chicks and other small birds. It will often wait motionless for prey, or slowly stalk its victim. In the Netherlands, the Grey Heron has become a very common species in recent decades by moving into urban environments in great numbers. There, the herons also make use of food discarded by humans. They will also visit Zoos at feeding times to take advantage of birds such as penguins and pelicans and some individuals even make use of people feeding them at their homes. Similar behaviour on a smaller scale has been reported in Ireland.

This species breeds in colonies in trees close to lakes, the seashore or other wetlands, although it will also nest in reedbeds. It builds a bulky stick nest.

Info from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_Heron

#52birds #birds #birdphotography #nature #naturephotography #naturethursday #scotland #scotlanduk #ukphotography #aberdeenshire +UK Photography Community
#photography     #naturefacts   #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity   #uk  Photo: Bird N°8
Moorhen - Gallinula chloropus

The name moorhen is misleading and is, in fact, a corruption of mirehen or marshhen, which gives a much truer picture of its natural habitat. The Moorhen is a distinctive species, with dark plumage apart from the white undertail, yellow legs and a red facial shield. The young are browner and lack the red shield. It has a wide range of gargling calls and will emit loud hisses when threatened. A mid-to-large sized rail, it can range from 30 to 38 cm (12 to 15 in) in length and span 50 to 62 cm (20 to 24 in) across the wings.
This species will consume a wide variety of vegetable material and small aquatic creatures. They forage beside or in the water, sometimes upending in the water to feed. It is often secretive, but can become tame in some areas. Despite loss of habitat in parts of its range, the Common Moorhen remains plentiful and widespread. They fight over territories and also hop around Lily pads.
The nest is a basket built on the ground in dense vegetation. Laying starts in spring, between mid-March and mid-May in N hemisphere temperate regions. About 8 eggs are usually laid per female early in the season; a brood later in the year usually has only 5-8 or even less eggs. Nests may be re-used by different females. Incubation lasts about three weeks. Both parents incubate and feed the young. These fledge after 40–50 days, become independent usually a few weeks thereafter, and may raise their first brood the next spring. Apparently this is the only bird in the UK that does this.
Further Reading: http://www.moorhen.me.uk/moorhen1.htm

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk #aberdeenshire  Photo: 52 Bird Species in a Year Project
I have been flagging with this, but in my book the important thing is to finish the year with a library of 52 species of birds in it rather than necessarily shooting one per week.

Bird N°6
Lapwing   Vanellus vanellus

Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), also known as the Peewit, Green Plover, is a bird in the plover family. It is common through temperate Eurasia. It is highly migratory over most of its extensive range, wintering further south as far as north Africa, northern India, Pakistan, and parts of China. It migrates mainly by day, often in large flocks. Lowland breeders in westernmost areas of Europe are resident. It occasionally is a vagrant to North America, especially after storms, as in the Canadian sightings after storms in December 1927 and in January 1966.

It is a wader which breeds on cultivated land and other short vegetation habitats. 3–4 eggs are laid in a ground scrape. The nest and young are defended noisily and aggressively against all intruders, up to and including horses and cattle.

This lapwing is a 28–33 cm (11–13 in) long bird with a 67–87 cm (26–34 in) wingspan and a body mass of 128–330 g (4.5–12 oz). It has rounded wings and a crest. It is the shortest-legged of the lapwings. It is mainly black and white, but the back is tinted green. Females and young birds have narrower wings, and have less strongly marked heads, but plumages are otherwise quite similar.
Peewit describes the bird's shrill call. This is a vocal bird in the breeding season, with constant calling as the crazed tumbling display flight is performed by the male. The call they make is usually a wheezy "Pee-Wit, Wit Wit, Eeze Wit" during it's display flight, these birds also make squeaking or kitten-like mewing sounds.
It feeds primarily on insects and other small invertebrates. This species often feeds in mixed flocks with Golden Plovers and Black-headed Gulls, the latter often robbing the two plovers, but providing a degree of protection against predators.
Like the Golden Plovers, this species prefers to feed at night when there is moonlight.

Info from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Lapwing

#photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk   #lapwing  Photo: Bird N°9
Jackdaw -Corvus monedula

Length: 33 cm (13")
Wing Span: 67-74 cm (27-30")
Weight: 220-270 g (8-9 oz)
Breeding Pairs: 390 000 aprox

The Jackdaw is our smallest crow - smaller than a Carrion Crow or Rook, but about the same size as a Jay. Like all the crows, Jackdaws are inquisitive and intelligent birds. Adult Jackdaws are all black apart from their grey nape, shoulders and ear-coverts and light grey (almost white) eyes. The bill and legs are black. Juvenile birds have a less prominent grey nape, etc. Their eyes are a pale blue in the first year, turning to brown in the spring of their second year and eventually to light grey. Compared with the other crows, its flight is more hurried - similar to a pigeon. Their call is a high-pitched metallic sounding "kyow" or "tchack", after which it is named.

The Jackdaws diet is greatly varied:
-preying on animals, such as insects, worms and mice
-feeding on vegetation, such as seeds, berries and fruit
-scavenging on landfill sites or in gardens for scraps.

Jackdaws will take over old nests of larger birds or use holes in trees and buildings. The nest is made from twigs and lined with hair, rags, bark, soil, and many other materials. Jackdaws nest in colonies and often close to Rooks. The smooth, glossy pale blue eggs are marked with blackish-brown, and approximately 36 mm by 26 mm. The female incubates the eggs by herself. After the young hatch, they are fed by both parents.
Breeding Starts late April
Number of Clutches 1
Number of Eggs 4-6
Incubation (days) 17-18
Fledge (days) 28-32
British birds are mostly resident, though upland breeding birds migrate south and west to lowland regions and Ireland for the winter. Meanwhile, the wintering population is increased by immigrants from northern Europe, which arrive along the east coast in the autumn. Jackdaws are thriving and this is largely a result of improved breeding performance and the Jackdaw's diverse diet.

Info from: http://www.garden-birds.co.uk/birds/jackdaw.htm

#52birds   #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds     #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #ukPhoto: Bird N°10
Coal Tit - Periparus ater britannicus
The Coal Tit, Periparus ater, is a passerine bird in the tit family Paridae. It is a widespread and common resident breeder throughout temperate to subtropical Eurasia and northern Africa.

The Coal Tit is 10–11.5 cm in length, and has a distinctive large white nape spot on its black head. The head, throat and neck of the adult are glossy blue-black, setting off the off-white sides of the face (tinged grey to yellow depending on subspecies) and the brilliant white nape; the white tips of the wing coverts appear as two wingbars. The underparts are whitish shading through buff to rufous on the flanks. The bill is black, the legs lead-coloured, and irides dark brown. The young birds are duller than the adults, lacking gloss on the black head, and with the white of nape and cheeks tinged with yellow.Subspecies
The British race Periparus ater britannicus has an olive hue to its brownish-grey back plumage, distinguishing it from the continental European nominate subspecies Periparus ater ater and Periparus ater abietum in which the back is bluish grey without a hint of green or brown. The Irish race Periparus ater hibernicus is distinguished from britannicus by the pale sulphur-yellow cheeks, breast and belly. It also has a paler rump (due to light fringes of the uppertail coverts) and a larger bill than its relatives from Britain and the Continent.

The Coal Tit is an all-year resident throughout almost all range, making only local movements in response to particularly severe weather; only the Siberian birds have a more regular migration. Very rarely, vagrants may cross longer distances; for example the nominate subspecies of continental Europe was recorded in Ireland once in 1960 and once before that, but apparently not since then. Coal Tits will form small flocks in winter with other tits. This species resembles other tits in acrobatic skill and restless activity, though it more frequently pitches on a trunk, and in little hops resembles a treecreeper (Certhia). Its food is similar to that of the others; it is keen on beechmast, picks out the seeds from fir (Abies) and larch (Larix) cones, and joins Carduelis redpolls and siskins in alders (Alnus) and birches (Betula). It will also visit gardens to feed on a variety of foods put out, particularly sunflower seeds. A favourite nesting site is a hole in a rotting tree-stump, often low down, and the nest is deep within the hole; holes in the ground, burrows of mice or rabbits, chinks between the stones in walls, old nests of Pica magpies or other large birds, and squirrel dreys are also occupied. The materials, moss, hair and grass, are closely felted together, and rabbit fur or feathers added for lining. Seven to eleven red-spotted white eggs of the usual tit type are laid, usually in May; this species breeds usually once per year.

Info from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_Tit

#52birds   #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds     #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #ukPhoto: Bird N°11 - Blue Tit .. .. .. Latin: Cyanistes caeruleus obscurusPhoto: Bird N°12 - Pheasant  ♂ Latin: Phasianus colchicusPhoto: Bird N°12 - Pheasant ♀ Latin: Phasianus colchicusPhoto: Bird N°12
Oystercatcher - Haematopus ostralegus

The Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) also known as the Common Pied Oystercatcher, or (in Europe) just Oystercatcher, is a wader in the oystercatcher bird family Haematopodidae. It is the most widespread of the oystercatchers, with three races breeding in western Europe, central Eurasia, Kamchatka, China, and the western coast of Korea. No other oystercatcher occurs within this area.
This oystercatcher is the national bird of the Faroe Islands, where it is called tjaldur.

The Oystercatcher is one of the largest waders in the region. It is 40–45 centimetres (16–18 in) long (bill 8–9 cm) with a wing-span 80–85 centimetres (31–33 in). They are obvious and noisy plover-like birds, with black and white plumage, red legs and strong broad red bills used for smashing or prising open molluscs such as mussels or for finding earthworms. Despite its name, oysters do not form a large part of its diet. The bird still lives up to its name, as few if any other wading birds are capable of opening oysters at all. This oystercatcher is unmistakable in flight, with white patches on the wings and tail, otherwise black upperparts, and white underparts. Young birds are more brown, have a white neck collar and a duller bill. The call is a distinctive loud piping. The bill shape varies; oystercatchers with broad bill tips open molluscs by prising them apart or hammering through the shell, whereas pointed-bill birds dig up worms. Much of this is due to the wear resulting from feeding on the prey. Individual birds specialise in one technique or the other which they learn from their parents.

This is a migratory species over most of its range. The European population breeds mainly in northern Europe, but in winter the birds can be found in north Africa and southern parts of Europe. Although the species is present all year in Ireland, Great Britain and the adjacent European coasts, there is still migratory movement: the large flocks that are found in the estuaries of south-west England in winter mainly breed in northern England or Scotland. Similar movements are shown by the Asian populations. The birds are highly gregarious outside the breeding season. The nest is a bare scrape on pebbles, on the coast or on inland gravelly islands. 2-4 eggs are laid. Both eggs and chicks are highly cryptic. Because of its large numbers and readily identified behaviour, the Oystercatcher is an important indicator species for the health of the ecosystems where it congregates. Extensive long-term studies have been carried out on its foraging behaviour, in northern Germany, in the Netherlands and particularly on the River Exe estuary in south-west England. These studies form an important part of the foundation for the modern discipline of behavioural ecology.

The scientific name Haematopus ostralegus comes from the Greek haima αἳμα blood, pous πούς foot and Latin ostrea oyster and legere to collect or pick. The name oystercatcher was coined by Mark Catesby in 1731 as a common name for the North American species H. palliatus, described as eating oysters. Yarrell in 1843 established this as the preferred term, replacing the older name Sea Pie.

Info from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_Oystercatcher

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #ukPhoto: Bird N°14 - Siskin ♂  ...  ..  .  Latin: Carduelis spinusPhoto: Bird N°15 - Lesser Redpoll ♂ Latin: Carduelis cabaretPhoto: Bird N°15 - Lesser Redpoll ♀  Latin: Carduelis cabaretPhoto: Bird N°15
Curlew  - Numenius arquata

Not an easy bird to shoot, it seemed a bit flighty and it was well camouflaged finally it appeared on the ridge enabling me to get the shot.

The Eurasian Curlew, Numenius arquata is a wader in the large family Scolopacidae. It is one of the most widespread of the curlews, breeding across temperate Europe and Asia. In Europe, this species is often referred to just as "the Curlew" and in Scots known as the "*Whaup*".

This is the largest wader in its range, at 50–60 cm (20–24 in) in length, with a 89–106 cm (35–42 in) wingspan and a body weight of 410–1,360 g (0.90–3.0 lb). It is mainly greyish brown, with a white back, and a very long curved bill. Males and females look identical, but the bill is longest in the adult female. It is generally not possible to recognize the sex of a single Eurasian Curlew, or even several ones as there is much variation; telling male and female of a mated pair apart is usually possible however.
The familiar call, from which this bird gets it name, is a loud curloo-oo.
The only similar species over most of the Curlew's range is the Whimbrel (N. phaeopus). This is smaller, and has a shorter bill with a kink rather than a smooth curve. Flying birds may resemble a Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica) in winter plumage, but that species is smaller, has a slightly upturned bill, and its feet are barely longer than the tail tip; in the Eurasian Curlew the feet are longer, forming a conspicuous "point". This is a migratory species over most of its range, wintering in Africa, southern Europe and south Asia. Occasionally, a vagrant individual reaches places far away from its normal range, such as Nova Scotia or the Marianas. It is present all year in the milder climate of Ireland, Great Britain and the adjacent European coasts. It is generally wary. Highly gregarious outside the breeding season, the Eurasian Curlew feeds by probing soft mud for small invertebrates, but will also pick small crabs and earthworms off the surface if the opportunity arises. The nest is a bare scrape on taiga, meadow or similar habitat. 3-6 eggs are laid in April/May, and incubated for about a month to hatching. This is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies. Formerly classified as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN, it was suspected to be rarer than generally assumed. Following the evaluation of its population size, this was found to be incorrect, and it is consequently uplisted to Near Threatened status in 2008; though it is still a rather common bird, its numbers are noticeably declining. In Ireland, for example, the breeding population is estimated to have declined by 86% in the last 30 years.

Info from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_Curlew

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #ukPhoto: Bird N°16
Mistle Thrush - Turdus viscivorus
I'm not even sure how I saw this bird to begin with, it was down it the heather and only it's head was visible. As you can see here the colouring of the Mistle Thrush is the perfect camouflage amongst the heather. After a few minutes it hoped up on to the top of the heather and I got a few shots in before it took flight.

Shot Details
Exposure - 1/250th second
Aperture - f5..6
ISO - 400
Focal Length - 250mm

The Mistle Thrush - Turdus viscivorus is a member of the thrush family Turdidae. It is found in open woods and cultivated land over all of Europe and much of Asia. Many northern birds move south during the winter, with migrating birds sometimes forming small flocks.

The Mistle Thrush averages about 27 cm long, larger than the similar Song Thrush. The sexes are similar, with plain greyish brown backs and neatly round-spotted underparts. The breast has much less buff than the Song Thrush.

The male sings its loud melodious song from a tree, rooftop or other elevated perch, often during bad weather or at night, and starting relatively early in the spring — hence the Mistle Thrush's old name of "Stormcock". The song is like a harder and simpler version of the Blackbird's. The alarm call is said to sound like a football rattle (a form of musical ratchet) or machine gun.
It is omnivorous, eating insects, worms, small reptiles, seeds and berries. A Mistle Thrush will defend a berry-bearing tree against other thrushes in winter. Mistletoe berries are amongst its diet.
They nest in trees, laying several eggs in a neat cup-shaped nest lined with grass. The smooth, glossy pale blue eggs have reddish-brown spots, and are approximately 15 mm by 13 mm. The female incubates the eggs by herself. After the young hatch, they are fed by both parents.

The Mistle Thrush is resident with most birds being sedentary, but some do migrate; for example, some Scottish birds winter in Ireland and others make it to France. A few Scandinavian and northern European Mistle Thrushes winter in the UK, especially down the east coast.
Juveniles disperse in July.

Info from:

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk  #morayPhoto: Bird N°18 - Pied Wagtail Latin: Motacilla alba yarrelliPhoto: Bird N°18
Greenfinch ♂-  Carduelis chloris

The European Greenfinch, or just Greenfinch Carduelis chloris, is a small passerine bird in the finch family Fringillidae.  The genus Carduelis might be split up and in this case, the greenfinches would be separated in their old genus Chloris again.  This bird is widespread throughout Europe, north Africa and south west Asia.  It is mainly resident, but some northernmost populations migrate further south.  The Greenfinch has also been introduced into both Australia and New Zealand.  Woodland edges, farmland hedges and gardens with relatively thick vegetation are favoured for breeding.  It nests in trees or bushes, laying 3-8 eggs.  This species can form large flocks outside the breeding season, sometimes mixing with other finches and buntings.  They feed largely on seeds, but also take berries and seeds.  The Greenfinch is 15 cm in length with a wing span of 24.5-27.5 cm and is similar in size and shape to a House Sparrow, but is mainly green, with yellow in the wings and tail.  The female and young birds are duller and have brown tones on the back.  The bill is thick and conical.  The image is of a male Greenfinch which has lighter coloured "Cheeks" than the female.

+Brian Rose +Jacky Hayward 

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk  Photo: Bird N°20: Chaffinch ♀  ... .. .  Latin: Fringilla coelebsPhoto: Bird N°20:  Chaffinch ♂  Latin: Fringilla coelebsPhoto: Bird N°20
Carrion Crow - Corvus corone
In my experience they are a very common bird, but often mistaken for Rooks, Ravens, Jackdaws or Hooded Crows,  these two were resting on a neighbours television areal.   They are frequently be found sitting on chimney pots bathing in smoke which helps kill flees/mites which often infect them.

The plumage of Carrion Crow is black with a green or purple sheen, much greener than the gloss of the Rook. The bill, legs and feet are also black. It can be distinguished from the Common Raven by its size (48–52 cm or 18 to 21 inches in length) and from the Hooded Crow by its black plumage, but there is frequent confusion between it and the Rook. The beak of the Crow is stouter and in consequence looks shorter, and whereas in the adult Rook the nostrils are bare, those of the Crow are covered at all ages with bristle-like feathers.

Distribution and Habitat
This species breeds in western and central Europe, with an allied form or race C. c. orientalis (50–56 cm or 19 to 22 inches in length) occurring in eastern Asia. The separation of these two populations is now believed to have taken place during the last ice age, with the closely allied Hooded Crow (now given species status) filling the gap between. Fertile hybrids occur along the boundary between these two forms indicating their close genetic relationship.  This is an example of the parapatric speciation model described by Ernst Mayr. The range of this hybrid of these two species appears to be moving to the northwest.

The Rook is generally gregarious and the Crow solitary, but Rooks occasionally nest in isolated trees, and Crows may feed with Rooks; moreover, Crows are often sociable in winter roosts. The most distinctive feature is the voice. The rook has a high-pitched kaaa, but the Crow's guttural, slightly vibrant, deeper croaked kraa is distinct from any note of the rook.  The Carrion Crow is noisy, perching on the top of a tree and calling three or four times in quick succession, with a slight pause between each series of croaks. The wing-beats are slower, more deliberate than those of the Rook.  Like all Corvids, Carrion Crows are highly intelligent, and are among the most intelligent of all animals.

Though an eater of carrion of all kinds, the Carrion Crow will eat insects, worms, grain, small mammals, and scraps and will also steal eggs. Crows are scavengers by nature, which is why they tend to frequent sites inhabited by humans in order to feed on their household waste. Crows will also harass birds of prey or even foxes for their kills. Crows actively hunt and occasionally co-operate with other crows to make kills.
Crows have become highly skilled at adapting to urban environments. In a Japanese city, carrion crows have discovered how to eat nuts that they usually find too hard to tackle. One method is to drop the nuts from height on to a hard road in the hope of cracking it. Some nuts are particularly tough, so the crows drop the nuts among the traffic. That leaves the problem of eating the bits without getting run over, so some birds wait by pedestrian crossings and collect the cracked nuts when the lights turn red.

The bulky stick nest is usually placed in a tall tree, but cliff ledges, old buildings and pylons may be used as well. Nests are also occasionally placed on or near the ground. The nest resembles that of the Common Raven, but is less bulky. The 3 to 4 brown-speckled blue or greenish eggs are incubated for 18–20 days by the female alone, who is fed by the male. The young fledge after 29–30 days.  It is not uncommon for an offspring from the previous years to stay around and help rear the new hatchlings.  Instead of seeking out a mate, it looks for food and assists the parents in feeding the young.

Info from - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrion_Crow

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #ukPhoto: Bird N°22  - Eider Duck ♀ .. 
Latin - Somateria mollissimaPhoto: Bird N°22  - Eider Duck ♂. .
Latin - Somateria mollissimaPhoto: Bird N°22
Common Starling  -  Sturnus vulgaris vulgaris
Although seen in their millions in the spectacular winter aerial displays, starlings have suffered a dramatic population crash in recent years. Once a common sight in both urban and rural areas of Britain, starling numbers have dropped by a staggering 92% in woodlands.
These beautiful and comical birds emit a variety of chuckles and whistles along with numerous imitations of other bird songs. From a distance they look a dull black but up close the myriad of colours in their feathers becomes visible.
After I shot this individual I later spotted a small flock of Starlings "grazing" on the insects that were buzzing around the seaweed on the beach, not a behavior I've seen before.

The Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), also known as the European Starling or just Starling, is a passerine bird in the family Sturnidae.
This species of starling is native to most of temperate Europe and western Asia. It is resident in southern and western Europe and southwestern Asia, while northeastern populations migrate south and west in winter to these regions, and also further south to areas where it does not breed in Iberia and north Africa. It has also been introduced to Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, North America, and South Africa.

It is 19–23 cm (7.5–9.1 in) long, with a wingspan of 31–44 cm (12–17 in) and a weight of 60–100 g (2.1–3.5 oz). The plumage is shiny black, glossed purple or green, and spangled with white, particularly strongly so in winter. Adult male European Starlings are less spotted below than adult females. The throat feathers are long and loose, and used as a signal in display. Juveniles are grey-brown, and by their first winter resemble adults though often retain some brown juvenile feathering especially on the head in the early part of the winter. The legs are stout, pinkish-red. The bill is narrow conical with a sharp tip; in summer, it is yellow in females, and yellow with a blue-grey base in males, while in winter, and in juveniles, it is black in both sexes. Moulting occurs once a year, in late summer after the breeding season is finished; the fresh feathers are prominently tipped white (breast feathers) or buff (wing and back feathers). The reduction in the spotting in the breeding season is achieved by the white feather tips largely wearing off. Starlings walk rather than hop. Their flight is quite strong and direct; they look triangular-winged and short-tailed in flight.

Behavior and Habitat
Common Starlings prefer urban or suburban areas where artificial structures and trees provide adequate nesting and roosting sites. They also commonly reside in grassy areas where foraging is easy like on farmland, grazing pastures, playing fields, golf courses, and airfields.  They occasionally inhabit open forests and woodlands and more rarely in shrub land.  Common starlings have also adapted to coastal areas, where they nest and roost on cliffs and forage amongst seaweed. Their ability to adapt to a large variety of habitats has allowed for their dispersal and establishment throughout the world—resulting in a habitat range from coastal wetlands to alpine forests, from sea level to 1900 metres above sea level.  It is a highly gregarious species in autumn and winter. Flock size is highly variable, with huge flocks providing a spectacular sight and sound usually occurring near roosts. These huge flocks often attract birds of prey such as Merlins or Sparrowhawks.  Flocks form a tight sphere-like formation in flight, frequently expanding and contracting and changing shape, seemingly without any sort of leader. Very large roosts, exceptionally up to 1.5 million birds, can form in city centres, woodlands, or reedbeds, causing problems with their droppings. These may accumulate up to 30 cm deep, killing trees by their chemical concentration; in smaller amounts, the droppings are, however, beneficial as a fertiliser, and therefore woodland managers may try to move roosts from one area of a wood to another to spread the benefit and avoid large toxic deposits.  Huge flocks of more than a million Starlings are observed just before sunset in spring in southwestern Jutland, Denmark. There they gather in March until northern Scandinavian birds leave for their breeding ranges by mid-April. Their flocking creates complex shapes against the sky, a phenomenon known locally as sort sol ("Black Sun").  Flocks of anything from five to fifty thousand Starlings form in areas of the UK just before sundown during mid winter. These flocks are commonly called a Starling "Moot".

European Starling is insectivorous, and typically consumes insects including caterpillars, moths, and cicadas, as well as spiders. While the consumption of invertebrates is necessary for successful breeding, starlings are omnivorous and can also eat grains, seeds, fruits, nectar, and garbage, if the opportunity arises.

Unpaired males begin to build nests in order to attract single females. Males often decorate the nest with ornaments (such as flowers) and fresh green material which the female later disassembles upon accepting him as a mate. The males sing throughout much of the construction and even more so when a female approaches his nest. Following copulation, the male and female continue to build the nest. Common nesting locations include inside hollowed trees, buildings, tree stumps, and man-made nest-boxes. Nests are typically made out of straw, dry grass, twigs and inner lining made up of feathers, wool, and soft leaves. Construction typically takes 4 to 5 days and may continue through incubation. fresh herbs are added to nests and work as insect repellent.
Starlings are both monogamous and polygamous; although broods are generally brought up by one male and one female, occasionally the pair may have an extra helper. Pairs may be part of a larger colony, in which case several other nests may occupy the same or nearby trees.

The breeding season begins in early spring and summer. Following copulation, female European Starlings will lay an egg on a daily basis over a period of several days. If an egg is lost during this time period, she will lay another egg to replace it. The eggs (4-5) are small elliptical blue (and occasionally white) eggs that commonly have a glossy appearance to them. Incubation lasts 13 days, although the last egg laid may take 24 hours longer than the first to hatch. Both parents share the responsibility of sitting on top of the eggs. However, the female spends more time incubating the eggs than the male, and is the only parent to do so at night (while the male returns to the communal roost). The young are born blind and naked. They develop light fluffy down within 7 days of hatching and sight within 9 days. Nestlings remain in the nest for 3 weeks, where they are fed continuously by both their parents. Fledglings continue to be fed by their parents for 1–2 weeks. Pairs can raise up to three broods per breeding season, frequently reusing and relining the same nest. Within two months, most juveniles have molted and gained their first basic plumage. Juveniles acquire their adult plumage the following year.
Intraspecific brood parasites are common in European Starling nests. Female "floaters" (unpaired females during the breeding season) present in colonies often lay eggs in another pair's nest. Additionally, fledglings have been reported to invade their previous nests or neighboring nests and evicting the new brood.

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk #northeastuk  Photo: Bird N°24: Greater Spotted Woodpecker .....  .... ... .. .  Latin: Dendrocopos majorPhoto: Bird N°24
Arctic Tern - Sterna paradisaea
One of many species I shot on the Farne Islands last week, the Arctic Tern has a circumpolar breeding distribution covering the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.  The species is strongly migratory being famous for it's incredible journeys, seeing two summers each year and probably more daylight than any other creature on the planet.  It migrates from its northern breeding grounds along a winding route to the oceans around Antarctica and back, a round trip of about 44,300 miles each year.  This is by far the longest regular migration by any known animal.  The Arctic Tern flies as well as glides through the air, performing almost all of its tasks in the air.  One example of this bird's remarkable long-distance flying abilities involves an Arctic Tern ringed as an unfledged chick on the Farne Islands, Northumberland, UK, in the northern summer of 1982, which reached Melbourne, Australia, in October 1982, a sea journey of over 22,000 km (14,000 mi) in just three months from fledging.  Arctic Terns are long-lived birds, with many reaching thirty years of age, the longest recorded life span is 34 years, although the average lifespan is about 20 years.  A study in the Farne Islands estimated an annual survival rate of 82%.
It nests once every one to three years (depending on its mating cycle); once it has finished nesting it takes to the sky for another long southern migration.

A medium-sized bird, they are 33–39 cm (13–15 in) in length with a wingspan of 76–85 cm (26–30 in). The adult plumage is grey above, with a black nape and crown and white cheeks. The upperwings are pale grey, with the area near the wingtip being translucent. The tail is white, and the underparts pale grey. Both sexes are similar in appearance. The winter plumage is similar, but the crown is whiter and the bills are darker.  Juveniles differ from adults in their black bill and legs, "scaly" appearing wings, and mantle with dark feather tips, dark carpal wing bar, and short tail streamers.  During their first summer, juveniles also have a whiter forecrown.  While the Arctic Tern is similar to the Common and Roseate Terns, its colouring, profile, and call are slightly different. Compared to the Common Tern, it has a longer tail and mono-coloured bill, while the main differences from the Roseate are its slightly darker colour and longer wings. The Arctic Tern's call is more nasal and rasping than that of the Common, and is easily distinguishable from that of the Roseate.

The Arctic Tern has a variety of calls; the two most common being the alarm call, made when possible predators (such as humans or other mammals) enter the colonies, and the advertising call. The advertising call is social in nature, made when returning to the colony and during aggressive encounters between individuals. It is unique to each individual tern and as such it serves a similar role to the bird song of passerines, identifying individuals. Eight other calls have been described, from begging calls made by females during mating to attack calls made while swooping at intruders.

Breeding begins around the third or fourth year.  Arctic Terns mate for life, and in most cases, return to the same colony each year.  Courtship is elaborate, especially in birds nesting for the first time.  Courtship begins with a so-called "high flight", where a female will chase the male to a high altitude and then slowly descend.  This display is followed by "fish flights", where the male will offer fish to the female.  Courtship on the ground involves strutting with a raised tail and lowered wings.  After this, both birds will usually fly and circle each other.  Both sexes agree on a site for a nest, and both will defend the site.  During this time, the male continues to feed the female. Mating occurs shortly after this.  Breeding takes place in colonies on coasts, islands and occasionally inland on tundra near water.  It often forms mixed flocks with the Common Tern.  It lays from one to three eggs per clutch, most often two.  It is one of the most aggressive terns, fiercely defensive of its nest and young.  It will attack humans and large predators, usually striking the top or back of the head.  Although it is too small to cause serious injury to an animal of a human's size, it is still capable of drawing blood, and is capable of repelling many raptorial birds and smaller mammalian predators such as foxes and cats.  Other nesting birds, such as alcids, often incidentally benefit from the protection provided by nesting in an area defended by Arctic Terns.  The nest is usually a depression in the ground, which may or may not be lined with bits of grass or similar materials. The eggs are mottled and camouflaged.  Both sexes share incubation duties.  The young hatch after 22–27 days and fledge after 21–24 days.  If the parents are disturbed and flush from the nest frequently the incubation period could be extended to as long as 34 days.
When hatched, the chicks are downy. Neither altricial nor precocial, the chicks begin to move around and explore their surroundings within one to three days after hatching.  Usually, they do not stray far from the nest. Chicks are brooded by the adults for the first ten days after hatching.  Both parents care for hatchlings.  Chick diets always include fish, and parents selectively bring larger prey items to chicks than they eat themselves.  Males bring more food than females.  Feeding by the parents lasts for roughly a month before being weaned off slowly.  After fledging, the juveniles learn to feed themselves, including the difficult method of plunge-diving.  They will fly south to winter with the help of their parents.

Ecology and Behaviour
The diet of the Arctic Tern varies depending on location and time, but is usually carnivorous.  In most cases, it eats small fish or marine crustaceans.  They eat mainly fish, sand ells being a particular favourite, on the Farne Islands at least, and small marine invertebrates.     Prey species are immature (1–2 year old) shoaling species such as herring, cod, sand eels, and capelin.   Among the marine crustaceans eaten are amphipods, crabs and krill.  Sometimes, these birds also eat molluscs, marine worms, or berries, and on their northern breeding grounds, insects.  Arctic Terns sometimes dip down to the surface of the water to catch prey close to the surface.  They may also chase insects in the air when breeding.  It is also thought that Arctic Terns may, in spite of their small size, occasionally steal food from other species by swooping at birds so as to startle them into releasing their catches.  In turn skuas, gulls, and other tern species will often harass the birds and steal their food.  They often form mixed colonies with other terns, such as Common and Sandwich Terns as they do on the Farne Islands.

#52birds   #birdphotography   #birds   #birding   #birdloversworldwide   #naturephotography   #nature   #FarneIslands   #Farne   #nationaltrust   #arctictern   #wildlifephotography   #wildlife   #birdphotographymonday   #birdphotographs   #naturemonday   #naturephotographers   #pixelworld   #ukphotographycommunity   #ukphotography   #northeastuk   #uk  Photo: Bird N°25 Arctic Tern chick Latin: Sterna paradisaeaPhoto: Bird N°25 Arctic Tern chick calling for food.  .. ..  .. ..
Latin: Sterna paradisaeaPhoto: Bird N°25
Sandwich Tern  -  Sterna sandvicensis
While on the Farne Islands I managed to get a shot of all Three species of Tern that had bred there this year.  I thought I'd share them one after the other so that you can clearly see the differences between them.  The Sandwich Tern is in the middle of this image with the black head and the yellow tipped beak, in front of it is a Juvenile Sandwich Tern.
The Sandwich Tern is a medium-large tern with grey upperparts, white underparts, a yellow-tipped black bill and a shaggy black crest which becomes less extensive in winter with a white crown. Young birds bear grey and brown scalloped plumage on their backs and wings. It is a vocal bird. It nests in a ground scrape and lays one to three eggs.

Terns, family Sternidae, are small to medium-sized seabirds, gull-like in appearance, but usually with a more delicate, lighter build and shorter, weaker legs. They have long, pointed wings, which gives them a fast buoyant flight, and often a deeply forked tail. Most species are grey above and white below, and have a black cap which is reduced or flecked with white in the winter. The Sandwich Tern is a medium-large tern, 37–43 cm (15–17 in) long with an 85–97 cm (33–38 in) wingspan,  their thin sharp bill is black with a yellow tip. Its short legs are black. Its upperwings are pale grey and its underparts white, and this tern looks very pale in flight, although the primary flight feathers darken during the summer.  In winter, the adult Sandwich Tern's forehead becomes white.  Juvenile Sandwich Terns have dark tips to their tails, and a scaly appearance on their back and wings, like juvenile Roseate Terns, a species that has been known to breed on the Farne Islands, but not this year.  The Sandwich Tern is a vocal bird; its call is a characteristic loud grating kear-ik or kerr ink.

Sandwich Terns breed in very dense colonies on coasts and islands, and exceptionally inland on suitable large freshwater lakes close to the coast.  It nests in a ground scrape and lays one to three eggs. Unlike some of the smaller white terns, it is not very aggressive toward potential predators, relying on the sheer density of the nests—often only 20–30 cm (7.9–12 in) apart and nesting close to other more aggressive species such as Arctic Terns and Black-headed Gulls to avoid predation, here you can see the Black-headed Gull in the background.  The Sandwich Tern feeds by plunge-diving for fish, almost invariably from the sea. It usually dives directly, and not from the "stepped-hover" favoured by Arctic Tern. The offering of fish by the male to the female is part of the courtship display.

#52birds   #birdphotography   #birds   #birding   #birdloversworldwide   #naturephotography   #nature   #FarneIslands   #Farne   #nationaltrust   #sandwichtern   #wildlifephotography   #wildlife   #birdphotographymonday   #birdphotographs   #naturemonday   #naturephotographers   #pixelworld   #ukphotographycommunity   #ukphotography   #northeastuk   #uk   #northumbria   #northumberland   #wildlifephoto  Photo: Bird N°27
Common Tern - Sterna hirundo
The Common Tern is very difficult to identify, looking very similar to the Arctic Tern and Roseate Terns, it was only with the help of the National Trust Wardens that I managed to find and shoot all three species on the Farne Islands.
Common Tern is 31–35 cm (12.2–13.8 in) long, including a 6–9 cm (2.4–3.5 in) fork in the tail, with a 77–98 cm (31–39 in) wingspan. It weighs 110–141 g (3.9–5.0 oz).  Breeding adults have pale grey upper parts, very pale grey underparts, a black cap, orange-red legs, and a narrow pointed bill that can be mostly red with a black tip. The upperwings are pale grey, but as the summer wears on, the dark feather shafts of the outer flight feathers become exposed, and a grey wedge appears on the wings. The rump and tail are white, and on a standing bird the long tail extends no further than the folded wingtips, unlike the Arctic and Roseate Terns in which the tail protrudes beyond the wings. There are no significant differences between the sexes. In non-breeding adults the forehead and underparts become white, the bill is all black or black with a red base, and the legs are dark red or black. The upperwings have an obvious dark area at the front edge of the wing, the carpal bar. Terns that have not bred successfully may start moulting into non-breeding adult plumage from June, but late July is more typical, with the moult suspended during migration. There is also some geographical variation, Californian birds often being in non-breeding plumage during migration. Juvenile Common Terns have pale grey upperwings with a dark carpal bar. The crown and nape are brown, and the forehead is ginger, wearing to white by autumn. The upperparts are ginger with brown and white scaling, and the tail lacks the adult's long outer feathers. Birds in their first post-juvenile plumage, which normally remain in their wintering areas, resemble the non-breeding adult, but have a duskier crown, dark carpal bar, and often very worn plumage. By their second year, most young terns are either indistinguishable from adults, or show only minor differences such as a darker bill or white forehead.
The Common Tern has a wide repertoire of calls, which have a lower pitch than the equivalent calls of Arctic Terns. The most distinctive sound is the alarm KEE-yah, stressed on the first syllable, in contrast to the second-syllable stress of the Arctic Tern. The alarm call doubles up as a warning to intruders, although serious threats evoke a kyar, given as a tern takes flight, and quietens the usually noisy colony while its residents assess the danger. A down-slurred keeur is given when an adult is approaching the nest while carrying a fish, and is possibly used for individual recognition (chicks emerge from hiding when they hear their parents giving this call). Another common call is a kip uttered during social contact. Other vocalizations include a kakakakaka when attacking intruders, and a staccato kek-kek-kek from fighting males.
The Common Tern breeds in colonies which do not normally exceed 2,000 pairs, but may occasionally number more than 20,000 pairs. Colonies inland tend to be smaller than on the coast. Common Terns often nest alongside other coastal species, such as Arctic, Roseate and Sandwich Terns, Black-headed Gulls, and Black Skimmers. Especially in the early part of the breeding season, for no known reason, most or all of the terns will fly in silence low and fast out to sea, this phenomenon is called a "dread."
On their return to the breeding sites, the terns may loiter for a few days before settling into a territory, and the actual start of nesting may be linked to a high availability of fish. Terns defend only a small area, with distances between nests sometimes being as little as 50 cm (20 in), although 150–350 cm (60–130 in) is more typical. As with many birds, the same site is re-used year after year, with a record of one pair returning for 17 successive breeding seasons. Around 90 percent of experienced birds reuse their former territory, so young birds must nest on the periphery, find a bereaved mate, or move to another colony. A male selects a nesting territory a few days after his arrival in the spring, and is joined by his previous partner unless she is more than five days late, in which case the pair may separate.
The defense of the territory is mainly by the male, who repels intruders of either sex. He gives an alarm call, opens his wings, raises his tail and bows his head to show the black cap. If the intruder persists, the male stops calling and fights by bill grappling until the intruder submits by raising its head to expose the throat. Aerial trespassers are simply attacked, sometimes following a joint upward spiraling flight. Despite the aggression shown to adults, wandering chicks are usually tolerated, whereas in a gull colony they would be attacked and killed. The nest is defended until the chicks have fledged, and all the adults in the colony will collectively repel potential predators.
Pairs are established or confirmed through aerial courtship displays in which a male and a female fly in wide circles up to 200 m (600 ft) or more, calling all the while, before the two birds descend together in zigzag glides. If the male is carrying a fish, he may attract the attention of other males too. On the ground, the male courts the female by circling her with his tail and neck raised, head pointing down, and wings partially open. If she responds, they may both adopt a posture with the head pointed skywards. The male may tease a female with the fish, not parting with his offering until she has displayed to him sufficiently. Once courtship is complete, the male makes a shallow depression in the sand, and the female scratches in the same place. Several trials may take place until the pair settle on a site for the actual nest. The eggs may be laid on bare sand, gravel or soil, but a lining of debris or vegetation is often added if available, or the nest may be rimmed with seaweed, stones or shells. The saucer-shaped scrape is typically 4 cm (1.5 in) deep and 10 cm (4 in) across, but may extend to as much as 24 cm (10 in) wide including the surrounding decorative material. The Common Tern tends to use more nest material than Roseate or Arctic Terns, although Roseate often nests in areas with more growing vegetation.  Terns are expert at locating their nests in a large colony, in addition they have the ability to locate the eggs in an adaptation to life in an unstable, wind-blown and tidal environment.
The peak time for egg production is early May, with some birds, particularly first-time breeders, laying later in the month or in June. The clutch size is normally three eggs; larger clutches probably result from two females laying in the same nest. Egg size averages 41 × 31 mm (1.6 × 1.2 in), although each successive egg in a clutch is slightly smaller than the first laid. The average egg weight is 20.2 g (0.7 oz), of which 5 percent is shell. The egg weight depends on how well-fed the female is, as well as on its the position in the clutch. The eggs are cream, buff, or pale brown, marked with streaks, spots or blotches of black, brown or grey which help to camouflage them. Incubation is by both sexes, although more often by the female, and lasts 21–22 days, extending to 25 days if there are frequent disturbances at the colony which cause the adults to leave the eggs unattended; nocturnal predation may lead to incubation taking up to 34 days. On hot days the incubating parent may fly to water to wet its belly feathers before returning to the eggs, thus affording the eggs some cooling.  The precocial downy chick is yellowish with black or brown markings, and like the eggs, is similar to the equivalent stage of the Arctic Tern. The chicks fledge in 22–28 days, usually 25–26. Fledged juveniles are fed at the nest for about five days, and then accompany the adults on fishing expeditions. The young birds may receive supplementary feeds from the parents until the end of the breeding season, and beyond. Common Terns have been recorded feeding their offspring on migration and in the wintering grounds, at least until the adults move further south in about December.
Like many terns, this species is very defensive of its nest and young, and will harass humans, dogs, muskrats and most diurnal birds, but unlike the more aggressive Arctic Tern, it rarely hits the intruder, usually swerving off at the last moment. Adults can discriminate between individual humans, attacking familiar people more intensely than strangers. Nocturnal predators do not elicit similar attacks; colonies can be wiped out by rats fortunately there are no mammalian predators on the Farne Islands. Common Terns usually breed once a year. Second clutches are possible if the first is lost. Rarely, a second clutch may be laid and incubated while some chicks from the first clutch are still being fed. The first breeding attempt is usually at four years of age, sometimes at three years.
Food and Feeding
Common Tern feeds by plunge-diving for fish, from a height of 1–6 m (3–18 ft), either in the sea or in freshwater lakes and large rivers. The bird may submerge for a second or so, but to no more than 50 cm (18 in) below the surface. When seeking fish, this tern flies head-down and with its bill held vertically. It may circle or hover before diving, and then plunges directly into the water, whereas the Arctic Tern favours a "stepped-hover" technique, and the Roseate Tern dives at speed from a greater height, and submerges for longer. The Common Tern typically forages up to 5–10 km (3–6 miles) away from the breeding colony, sometimes as far as 15 km (9 miles). It will follow schools of fish, and its west African migration route is affected by the location of huge shoals of sardines off the coast of Ghana; it will also track groups of predatory fish or dolphins, waiting for their preyPhoto: Bird N°28: - Adult European Shag -  Latin: Phalacrocorax aristotelisPhoto: Bird N°28 J. European Shag Latin: Phalacrocorax aristotelisPhoto: Bird N°26
Gannet  -  Morus bassanus
This Immature Gannet was photographed around the Farne Islands just off the Northumberland coast, however they don't breed there, they breed 40 miles up the coast at Bass Rock in the outer part of the Firth of Forth,  off the East Lothian coast.  Bass Rock was once famously described by Sir David Attenborough as "one of the wildlife wonders of the world" and somewhere I really need to visit.

Young birds are dark brown in their first year, and gradually acquire more white in subsequent seasons until they reach maturity after five years.
Adults are 81–110 cm (32–43 in) long, weigh 2.2–3.6 kg (4.9–7.9 lb) and have a 165–180 cm (65–71 in) wingspan. Before fledging, the immature birds (at about 10 weeks of age) can weigh more than 4 kg (8.8 lb). Their plumage is white with black wing tips. The bill is light bluish. The eye is light blue, and it is surrounded by bare, black skin. During breeding, the head and neck are brushed in a delicate yellow.

Their breeding range is the North Atlantic. They normally nest in large colonies, on cliffs overlooking the ocean or on small rocky islands. The largest colony of this bird, with over 60,000 couples, is found on Bonaventure Island, Quebec, but 68% of the world population breeds around the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland, with the largest colonies on the Bass Rock (whence the species' Latin name) and Boreray, St Kilda.
In the United Kingdom, gannets are a protected species. However, a legal exception is made for the inhabitants of the district of Ness (also known as Nìs) of the Isle of Lewis who are allowed to kill up to 2000 gannets (locally known as guga) annually to serve as a traditional local delicacy—the taste is described as fishy.  Many of these gannets are taken from Sula Sgeir, which is itself named after them.  I'm not a fan of this type of exception to protected species, if a species is protected then it should be protected end of story.

Gannet pairs may remain together over several seasons. They perform elaborate greeting rituals at the nest, stretching their bills and necks skywards and gently tapping bills together.
They are migratory and most winter at sea, heading further south in the Atlantic.
These birds are spectacular divers, plunging into the ocean at high speed, with their bodies completely straightened out like an arrow before striking the water. If a fish is taken after diving, gannets swallow the fish underwater before surfacing. Although they are strong and agile fliers, they are clumsy in takeoffs and landings. They mainly eat small fish (2.5–30.5 cm in length) which gather in groups near the surface. Virtually any small fish (roughly 80–90% of the diet) or other small pelagic species (largely squid) will be taken opportunistically. Various cod, smelt, and herring species are most frequently taken.
Although Northern Gannet populations are now stable, their numbers were once greatly reduced due to loss of habitat, removal of eggs and killing of adults.
Predators of eggs and nestlings include Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls, Common Ravens, ermine, and red fox. The only known natural predator of adults is the Bald Eagle, though large sharks and seals may rarely snatch a gannet out at sea.

#52birds   #birdphotography #birdloversworldwide #birds #birding #naturephotography #nature #wildlifephotography #wildlifephoto #wildlife #northeastuk #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #uk #farneislands #farne #northumbria #northumberland   #nationaltrust   #wildlifewednesday #scotland   #scotlanduk   #bassrock   #gannets   #birdspecieslink  Photo: Bird N°27
Atlantic Puffin  -  Fratercula arctica
Becoming a bit of a clichéd shot now, but there is really nothing like a Puffin with 8 or more sand eels in it's bill that it just needs to be taken.  It took quite a while for one to appear, but when it did, to my surprise it stood around for several minutes making no attempt to find it's young, it's mate or devour them itself.
The Atlantic Puffin, it is the only puffin species which is found in the Atlantic Ocean. The curious appearance of the bird, with its large colourful bill and its striking piebald plumage, has given rise to nicknames such as '"clown of the ocean,"  and  "sea parrot".

The Atlantic Puffin is 26–29 centimetres (10–11 in) in length (bill 3–4 cm), with a 47–63 centimetres (19–25 in) wingspan. The male is generally slightly larger than the female, but they are coloured alike. This bird is mainly black above and white below, with grey to white cheeks and red-orange legs. The bill is large and triangular and during the breeding season is bright orange with a patch of blue bordered by yellow at the rear. The characteristic bright orange bill plates grow before the breeding season and are shed after breeding. The bills are used in courtship rituals, such as the pair tapping their bills together. During flight, it appears to have grey round underwings and a white body; it has a direct flight low over the water. The related Horned Puffin (Fratercula corniculata) from the North Pacific looks very similar but has slightly different head ornaments.
The Atlantic Puffin is typically silent at sea, except for soft purring sounds it sometimes makes in flight. At the breeding colonies, its commonest call is a trisyllabic kaa-aar-aar, while the birds make a short growl when startled.

Feeding areas are often located 100 km (60 mi) or more, offshore from the nest sites  — although when provisioning young the birds venture out only half that distance. Atlantic Puffins can dive to depths of up to 70 m (200 ft) and are propelled through the water by their powerful wings, which are adapted for swimming; the webbed feet are used as a rudder while submerged. When hunting, Puffins may collect several small fish, such as herring, sprats and sand eels, zooplankton, crustaceans and mollusks. The tongue is used to hold the fish against spines in the palate, leaving the bill free to open to catch more fish. The fish, which may number up to twelve, are held in the bill with the heads facing in alternate directions.

The Atlantic Puffin is sexually mature at the age of 4–5 years; the species is monogamous and gives biparental care. They are colonial nesters, excavating burrows on grassy cliffs – they will also nest amongst rocks and scree. The species can face competition from other burrow nesting animals such as Rabbits, Manx Shearwaters and occasionally Razorbills. Male puffins perform most of the work of excavating or clearing out the nest area, which is sometimes lined with plants, feathers or seaweed. The only time spent on land is to nest; mates are found prior to arriving at the colonies, and mating takes place at sea. The breeding season for Atlantic puffins is normally in the summer, with eggs laid in June and July.  A single-egg clutch is produced each year, and incubation responsibilities are shared between both parents. Total incubation time is around 39–45 days, and the chick takes about 49 days to fledge. At fledging, the chick leaves the burrow unaccompanied, usually during the evening, and flies or swims out to sea. Contrary to popular belief, young puffins are not abandoned by their parents (although this does occur in some other sea birds, such as shearwaters). Synchronous laying of eggs is found in Atlantic Puffins in adjacent burrows.
The eyes and beak of the male have a special appearance, acquired in the spring, during the breeding season. At the close of the breeding season, these special coatings and appendages drop off in a molt.

#52birds   #birdphotography #birdloversworldwide #birds #birding #naturephotography #nature #wildlifephotography #wildlifephoto #wildlife #northeastuk #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #uk #farneislands #farne #northumbria #northumberland   #nationaltrust   #wildlifewednesday   #pixelworld   #puffin  Photo: Bird N°31 Black-legged Kittiwake .. ..... ..... ..... ...  Latin: Rissa tridactylaPhoto: Bird N°31 Black-legged Kittiwake .... ... ..  ... . .. . Latin: Rissa tridactylaPhoto: Bird N° 29
Barn Swallow  - Hirundo rustica
For a break from all those sea birds, and yes I have more to come, here is a fledgling Barn Swallow which in the UK is known simply as Swallow.   Which is the most widespread species of swallow in the world. It is a distinctive passerine bird with blue upperparts, a long, deeply forked tail and curved, pointed wings. It is found in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas; they  breed across the Northern Hemisphere. Strongly migratory, and their wintering grounds cover much of the Southern Hemisphere as far south as central Argentina, the Cape Province of South Africa, and northern Australia.  A bird of open country which normally uses man-made structures to breed and consequently has spread with human expansion. It builds a cup nest from mud pellets in barns or similar structures and feeds on insects caught in flight. This species lives in close association with humans, and its insect-eating habits mean that it is tolerated by man.

The adult male Swallow is 6.7–7.5 inches long including 0.8–2.8 inches of elongated outer tail feathers. It has a wingspan of 12.6–13.6 inches and weighs 0.56–0.78 oz. It has steel blue upperparts and a rufous forehead, chin and throat, which are separated from the off-white underparts by a broad dark blue breast band. The outer tail feathers are elongated, giving the distinctive deeply forked "swallow tail." There is a line of white spots across the outer end of the upper tail.
The female is similar in appearance to the male, but the tail streamers are shorter, the blue of the upperparts and breast band is less glossy, and the underparts more pale. The juvenile is browner and has a paler reddish-brown face and whiter underparts.
The song of the Swallow is a cheerful warble, often ending with su-seer with the second note higher than the first but falling in pitch.

Being an aerial insectivore it has great manoeuvrability.  The Swallow typically feeds 23–26 ft above shallow water or the ground, often following animals, humans or farm machinery to catch disturbed insects, but it will occasionally pick prey items from the water surface, walls and plants. In the breeding areas, large flies make up around 70% of the diet, with aphids also a significant component.

The male Swallow returns to the breeding grounds before the females and selects a nest site, which is then advertised to females with a circling flight and song. The breeding success of the male is related to the length of the tail streamers, with longer streamers being more attractive to the female.  Both sexes defend the nest, but the male is particularly aggressive and territorial. Once established, pairs stay together to breed for life, but extra-pair copulation is common, making this species genetically polygamous, despite being socially monogamous.  The female lays two to seven, but typically four or five, reddish-spotted white eggs. The eggs are 0.6 x 0.8 inches in size, and weigh 0.07 oz, of which 5 percent is shell. In Europe, the female does almost all the incubation period which is normally 14–19 days, with another 18–23 days before the altricial chicks fledge. The fledged young stay with, and are fed by, the parents for about a week after leaving the nest. Occasionally, first-year birds from the first brood will assist in feeding the second brood. There are normally two broods, with the original nest being reused for the second brood and being repaired and reused in subsequent years. Hatching success is 90% and the fledging survival rate is 70–90%. Average mortality is 70–80% in the first year and 40–70% for the adult. Although the record age is more than 11 years, most survive less than four years.

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk     #summerphotos   #birdspecieslink  Photo: Bird N°33 Black-headed Gull  Latin: Chroicocephalus ridibundusPhoto: Bird N°33 Black-headed Gull Latin: Chroicocephalus ridibundusPhoto: Bird N°31
Guillemot  -  Uria aalge
This is the only shot I got of a Guillemot, as their young had fledged and they were back at sea.  The shot was taken from a boat, so sadly this is as good a shot as I could get.

The Common Guillemot is 15–18 inches in length with a 24–29 inch wingspan. Male and female are indistinguishable in the field and weight ranges between 2 lb in the south of their range to 2.3 lb in the north. A weight range of 1.71–2.8 lb has been reported. In breeding plumage, the Guillemot is black on the head, back and wings, and has white underparts. It has thin dark pointed bill and a small rounded dark tail. After the pre-basic moult, the face is white with a dark spur behind the eye.  Legs are grey and the bill is dark grey. Occasionally, adults are seen with yellow/grey legs. In May 2008, an aberrant adult was photographed with a bright yellow bill.
The plumage of first winter birds is the same as the adult basic plumage.  The chicks are downy with blackish feathers on top and white below. By 12 days old, contour feathers are well developed in areas except for the head. At 15 days, facial feathers show the dark eyestripe against the white throat and cheek.

Guillemots can venture far from its breeding grounds to forage; distances of 100 km and more are often observed though if sufficient food is available closer by, birds only travel much shorter distances. The Common Guillemot mainly eats small schooling forage fish 200 mm long or less, such as polar cod, capelin, sand lances, sprats, sandeels, Atlantic cod and Atlantic herring. Capelin and sand eels are favourite food, but what the main prey is at any one time depends much on what is available in quantity. It also eats some molluscs, marine worms, squid, and crustaceans such as amphipods. It consumes 20-32 grams of food in a day on average. It is often seen carrying fish in its bill with the tail hanging out.

Breeding and Young
Guillemots nest in densely-packed colonies (known as "loomeries"), with up to twenty pairs occupying one square metre at peak season. Common Murres do not make nests and lay their eggs on bare rock ledges, under rocks, or the ground. They first breed at four to six years old and average lifespan is about 20 years.
Immature birds return to the natal colony, but from age 5 onwards ~25% of birds leave the colony, perhaps dispersing to other colonies.  High densities mean that birds are close contact with neighbouring breeders. Common Guillemots perform appeasement displays more often at high densities and more often than Razorbills. Social preening is common both between mates and between neighbours, this helps to reduce parasites, and it may also have important social functions. Frequency of social preening a neighbour correlates well with current breeding success, this may function as a stress-reducer; ledges with low levels of social preening show increased levels of fighting and reduced breeding success.
Courtship displays including bowing, billing and mutual preening. The male points its head vertically and makes croaking and growling noises to attract the females. The species is monogamous, but pairs may split if breeding is unsuccessful.
Eggs are large (around 11% of female weight) and are pointed at one end. There are a few theories to explain their pear shape:
1 If disturbed, they roll in a circle rather than fall off the ledge.
2 The shape allows efficient heat transfer during incubation.
3 As a compromise between large egg size and small cross-section. Large size allows quick development of the chick. Small cross-sectional area allows the adult bird to have a small cross-section and therefore reduce drag when swimming.
Eggs are laid between May and July for the Atlantic populations.  The eggs vary in colour and pattern to help the parents recognize them, each egg's pattern being unique. Colours include white, green, blue or brown with spots or speckles in black or lilac. After laying, the female will look at the egg before starting the first incubation shift. Both parents incubate the egg for the 28 to 34 days to hatching in shifts of 1–38 hours.
Eggs can be lost due to predation or carelessness. Crows and Gulls are opportunist egg thieves.
The chicks will leave the nest after 16 to 30 days (average 20–22 days), and glide down into the sea, slowing their fall by fluttering as they are not yet able to fly. Chicks glide from heights as high as 457 m (1,500 ft) to the water below. Once the young chick has left the nest, the male is in close attendance for up to two months. The chicks are able to fly roughly two weeks after fledging. Up until then the male feeds and cares for the chick at sea. In its migration south the chick swims about 1000 km. The female remains at the nest site for up to 36 days after the chick has fledged (average 16 days).

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk   #gulls     #gull   #birdspecieslink    #northeastuk #naturemonday  Photo: Bird N°32
Rock Pipit  - Anthus petrosus
A small bird that I only spotted because of the guano coated rocks, but again it was at the limit of my 55-250mm Lens's capability to capture it.  I was lucky that there was a National Trust Ranger on hand to make the identification for me, because I must admit I was stumped by this "LBB" (Little Brown Bird - bird can be substituted with a longer word beginning with "B").

The Rock Pipit is an undistinguished looking species on the ground, mainly dark brown above and heavily streaked buff below. It has dark legs, pale grey outer tail feathers and a longish dark bill. Its dark plumage is an adaptation to the rocky coasts on which it breeds and winters.  They range in size between 15.5–17cm and in weight 20–28g.

The Rock Pipit nests are well concealed in a cleft in a rock or among rocks they are insulated with moss and dry straw then lined with grass.  The female constructs the nests and will lay 3-5 eggs per brood, they may rear two broods each year.  The female will incubate the eggs for 14 or 15 days and the chicks will fledge in 16 days.

The Rock Pipit is insectivorous like its relatives and seeks out much of its prey on foot. Rock Pipits tend to be found along rocky coasts, whereas Water Pipits favour damp grassland. While they may be occur in the same general area occasionally, they are rarely found in the same habitat. The Rock Pipit is a much more approachable bird than the Water Pipit. If startled, it flies a fairly short distance, close to the ground, before it lands again.

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk   #gulls     #gull   #birdspecieslink    #naturemonday   #Rockpipit  Photo: Bird N°33 
Razorbill -  Alca torda
Another bird I was lucky to catch, since it's palls had all left the Farne Islands when I visited in mid July.  The Razorbill is in the centre of the image, if your thinking it looks similar to the Guillemot and the Puffin (two of which sneaked into the frame) you'd be right because they are related all being members of the Alcidae (Auk) family.

The Razorbill has white underparts and a black head, neck, back and feet during breeding season. A thin white line also extends from the eyes to the end of the bill.  During the nonbreeding season, the throat and face behind the eye become white, and the white line on the face becomes less prominent. The thick black bill has a blunt end. It is large for an alcid and its mean weight ranges from 17.8 to 31 oz. The female and male adults are very much alike, having only small differences such as wing length. The wing length of adult males ranges from 7.9–8.5 inches while that of females ranges from 7.9 to 8.4 inches.

During breeding, both male and female protect the nest. Females select their mate and will often encourage competition between males before choosing a partner. Once a male is chosen, the pair will stay together for life.  Individuals only breed at 4–5 years of age. As pairs grow older they will occasionally skip a year of breeding. A mating pair will court several times during breeding periods to strengthen their bond. Courtship displays include touching bills and following one another in elaborate flight patterns. Once the pre-laying period begins, males will constantly guard their mates by knocking other males away with their bills.  The pair will mate up to 80 times in a 30 day period to ensure fertilization. Females will sometimes encourage other males to engage in copulation to guarantee successful fecundity.
Throughout the pre-laying period Razorbills will socialize in large numbers. There are two types of socializing that occur. Large groups will dive and swim together in circles repeatedly and all rise up to the surface, heads first and bills open. Secondly, large groups will swim in a line weaving across each other in the same direction.  Nests are usually confined among the rocks or slightly more open. Some sites are along ledges however crevice sites seem to be more successful due to reduced predation.  Since chicks do not have the ability to fly nests close to sea provide easy access when leaving the colony. Generally razorbills do not build a nest; however, some pairs often use their bills to drag material upon which to lay their eggs.  Many birds will return to the same nest site year after year.  Females lay a single egg per year. The egg is an ovoid-pyramoidal shape, ground in color and has dark brown blotches. Incubation occurs generally 48 hours after laying the egg. Females and males take turns incubating the egg several times daily for a total of approximately 35 days before hatching occurs.  Razorbill chicks are semi-precocial.  During the first two days after hatching, the chick will spend the majority of its time under the parent’s wing. There is always one parent at the nest site while the other goes to sea to collect food for the chick. The hatchling develops a complete sheath 10 days after hatching. After 17–23 days the male parent will accompany the chick to sea.

Feeding & Diet
Razorbills dive deep into the sea using their wings and their streamlined bodies to propel themselves toward their prey. While diving, they rarely stay in groups but rather, spread out to feed. The majority of their feeding occurs at a depth of 25 meters but they have the ability to dive up to 120 meters below the surface. During a single dive an individual can capture and swallow many schooling fish, depending on their size. Razorbills spend approximately 44.0 percent of their time foraging at sea. When feeding their young, they generally deliver small loads. Adults will mainly feed only one fish to their chick with high feeding deliveries at dawn and decreased feeding 4 hours before dark. Females will generally feed their chicks more frequently than males.] They may well fly more than 60 miles out to sea to feed when during egg incubation, but when provisioning the young, they forage closer to the nesting grounds, some dozen kilometers away, and often in shallower water.  The diet of a Razorbill is very similar to that of a Guillemot. It consists generally of mid water schooling fish such as Capelin, Sand lance, juvenile Cod, Sprats and Herring. It may also include crustaceans and sea invertebrates.

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk   #gulls     #gull   #birdspecieslink     #northeastuk   #wildlifewednesday     #farneislands  Photo: Bird N° 34 
Herring Gull -  Larus argentatus
Some will be glad to know that I'm getting towards the end of my species shots from the Farnes Islands, although I may post some extra shots with a shorter comment.

The male Herring Gull is 24–26 inches long and weighs 2.3-2.8 lb while the female is 22-24.5 inches and weighs 1.8-2.2 lb. The wingspan is 54–59 inches. Adults in breeding plumage have a grey back and upperwings and white head and underparts. The wingtips are black with white spots known as "mirrors" . The bill is yellow with a red spot and there is a ring of bare yellow skin around the pale eye. The legs are normally pink at all ages but can be yellowish in some subspecies.  Non-breeding adults have brown streaks on the head and neck. Male and female plumage is identical at all stages of development, however adult males are often larger.  Juvenile and first-winter birds are mainly brown with darker streaks and have a dark bill and eyes. Second-winter birds have a whiter head and underparts with less streaking and the back is grey. Third-winter individuals are similar to adults but retain some of the features of immature birds such as brown feathers in the wings and dark markings on the bill. The European Herring Gull attains adult plumage and reaches sexual maturity at an average age of four years old.

Herring Gull flocks have a loose pecking order, based on size, aggressiveness and physical strength.  Adult males are usually dominant over females and juveniles in feeding and boundary disputes, whilst adult females are typically dominant when selecting nest sites.  Communication between these birds is complex and highly developed — employing both calls and body language.  Two identical vocalizations can have very different (sometimes opposite) meanings, for example — depending on the positioning of the head, body, wings and tail relative to each other and the ground in the calling gull.
Unlike many flocking birds,  European Herring Gulls do not engage in social grooming and keep physical contact between individuals to a minimum. Outside of the male/female and parent/chick relationship, each gull attempts to maintain a respectful 'safe distance' from others of its kind.  Any breach of this results in fighting, though severe injuries are seldom inflicted.

These are omnivores and opportunists like most Larus gulls, and will scavenge from garbage dumps, landfill sites, and sewage outflows, with refuse comprising up to half of the bird's diet. It also steals the eggs and young of other birds (including those of other gulls), as well as seeking suitable small prey in fields, on the coast or in urban areas, or robbing plovers or lapwings of their catches. Herring Gulls may also dive from the surface of the water or engage in plunge diving in the pursuit of aquatic prey, though they are typically unable to reach depths of greater than 1–2 metres due to their natural buoyancy. Despite their name, they have no special preference for herrings, in fact, examinations have shown that echinoderms and crustaceans comprised a greater portion of these gulls' stomach contents than fish, although fish is the principal element of regurgitations for nestlings.  Herring Gulls can frequently be seen to drop shelled prey from a height in order to break the shell. In addition, the Herring Gull has been observed using pieces of bread as bait with which to catch goldfish. Vegetable matter such as roots, tubers, seeds, grains, nuts and fruit is also taken to an extent.  Herring Gull is fully capable of consuming seawater, utilizing specialized glands located above the eyes to remove excess salt from the body (which is then excreted in solution through the nostrils and drips from the end of the bill), it will drink fresh water in preference, if available.

Courtship & Reproduction
During courtship, the hen will approach the cock on his own territory with a hunched, submissive posture whilst making begging calls (similar to those emitted by young gulls). If the cock chooses not to attack her and drive her away, he will respond by assuming an upright posture and making a mewing call. This is followed by a period of synchronised head-tossing movements, after which the cock will then regurgitate some food for his prospective mate. If this is accepted, copulation will follow. A nesting site will then be chosen by both birds. Herring Gulls are almost exclusively sexually monogamous and may pair up for life, provided that the couple are successful in hatching their eggs.
Two to four eggs, usually three, are laid on the ground or cliff ledges in colonies, and are defended vigorously by this large gull. The eggs are a dark blotched, olive color. They are incubated for 28–30 days. Breeding colonies are predated by great black-backed gulls, harriers, corvids, herons and raccoons.
Juveniles use their beaks to "knock" on the red spot on the beaks of adults to indicate hunger. Parents typically disgorge food for their offspring when they are "knocked". The young birds are able to fly 35–40 days after hatching and fledge at six weeks of age. Chicks are generally fed by their parents until they are 11–12 weeks old but the feeding may continue up to six months of age, if the young gull continues to beg. The male feeds the chick more often than the female before fledging, the female more often post-fledging.
Like most gulls, Herring Gulls are long lived, with a maximum age of 49 years recorded.

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk    #gulls     #gull   #birdspecieslink     #northeastuk  Photo: Bird N°38 Great Black Backed Gull. - Latin: Larus marinusPhoto: Bird N°38 Great Black Backed Gull ... .. ... .. ... ... .. Latin: Larus marinusPhoto: Bird N°38.  Great Black Backed Gull ... ... ... ... ...
Latin: Larus marinus.  .. .... ..
(& Two Shags)Photo: Bird N°39 Common Buzzard Latin: Buteo buteoPhoto: Bird N°39 Common Buzzard .. Latin: Buteo buteoPhoto: Bird N°40 Mallard ♀ - .... .... Latin:  Anas platyrhynchosPhoto: Bird N°40 Mallard ♂ - .... ..... Latin:  Anas platyrhynchosPhoto: Bird N°38
Tree Sparrow;  Passer montanus

Tree Sparrow is 5–5½ in long, with a wingspan of about 8.25 in and a weight of 0.86 oz making it roughly 10% smaller than the House Sparrow. The adult's crown and nape are rich chestnut, and there is a kidney-shaped black ear patch on each pure white cheek; the chin, throat, and the area between the bill and throat are black. The upper parts are light brown, streaked with black, and the brown wings have two distinct narrow white bars. The legs are pale brown, and the bill is lead-blue in summer, becoming almost black in winter.
This sparrow is distinctive even within its genus in that it has no plumage differences between the sexes; the juvenile also resembles the adult, although the colours tend to be duller. Its contrasting face pattern makes this species easily identifiable in all plumages; the smaller size and brown, not grey, crown are additional differences from the male House Sparrow.  When the Tree Sparrow and the larger House Sparrow occur in the same area, the House Sparrow generally breeds in urban areas while the smaller Eurasian Tree Sparrow nests in the countryside and can frequently found on coasts with cliffs, in empty buildings, in pollarded willows along slow water courses, or in open countryside with small isolated patches of woodland. The Tree Sparrow shows a strong preference for nest-sites near wetland habitats, and avoids breeding on intensively managed mixed farmland.

Tree Sparrow reaches breeding maturity within a year from hatching, and typically builds its nest in a cavity in an old tree or rock face. Pairs may breed in isolation or in loose colonies and will readily use nest boxes. The untidy nest is composed of hay, grass, wool or other material and lined with feathers, which improve the thermal insulation. A complete nest consists of three layers; base, lining and dome. The typical clutch is five or six eggs, white to pale grey and heavily marked with spots, small blotches, or speckling; they are 0.8 x 0.6 in in size and weigh 0.08 oz, of which 7% is shell. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 12–13 days before the altricial, naked chicks hatch, and a further 15–18 days elapse before they fledge. Two or three broods may be raised each year, birds breeding in colonies produce more eggs and fledglings from their first broods than solitary pairs, but the reverse is true for second and third clutches.

Tree Sparrow is a predominantly seed and grain eating bird which feeds on the ground in flocks, often with House Sparrows, finches, or buntings. It eats weed seeds, such as chickweeds and goosefoot, spilled grain, and it may also visit feeding stations, especially for peanuts. It will also feed on invertebrates, especially during the breeding season when the young are fed mainly on animal food; it takes insects, woodlice, millipedes, centipedes, spiders and harvestmen.

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk #treesparrow  Photo: Bird N°39
Magpie - Pica pica
Sorry for the poor quality of this shot, hopefully I will be able to get a better shot soon, but I just wanted to keep up at this time of year as there is not much time for catching up again if you get behind now.

Magpie is one of the most intelligent birds, and it is believed to be one of the most intelligent of all animals.  The expansion of its nidopallium is approximately the same in its relative size as is found in chimpanzees, orangutans and humans. Magpie is 17–18 inches in length - in the adult over 50% of this is tail - and a wingspan of 20–24 in.  Its head, neck and breast are glossy black with a metallic green and violet sheen; the belly and scapulars (shoulder feathers) are pure white; the wings are black glossed with green or purple, and the primaries have white inner webs, conspicuous when the wing is open. The graduated tail is black, shot with bronze-green and other iridescent colours. The legs and bill are black. The young resemble the adults, but are at first without much of the gloss on the sooty plumage. The male is slightly larger than the female.
When Magpies pass each other in open country, they command attention by rapidly moving their wings and chattering. When the bird lands, the long tail is elevated and is carefully carried clear of the ground.
Like other corvids, such as crows, the Magpie usually walks, but it can also hop quickly sideways with wings slightly opened. The Magpie and the rest of its family are fond of bright objects.  The Magpie will eat any animal food. These foods include young birds and eggs, insects, scraps and carrion. The bird will also eat acorns, grain and other vegetable substances.
Magpies are common to suburban areas but can be more shy and cautious in country areas. The birds do not avoid humans unless they are harassed. Sometimes two or more birds display "teasing" behaviour towards animals such as cats. It is thought that this behaviour may be to scare away potential predators and egg thieves.  In winter, Magpies often form groups to feed and roost at night. Early in the year, large numbers collect together for mating in gatherings Charles Darwin described as "marriage meetings".
The magpie has been observed taking small songbirds down in flight. This behaviour was once thought to occur only in birds of prey.

Magpies have been observed engaging in elaborate social rituals, possibly including the expression of grief. Mirror self-recognition has been demonstrated in European magpies. The magpie is thus one of a small number of species, and the only non-mammal, known to possess this capability. The cognitive abilities of the Eurasian Magpie are taken as evidence that intelligence evolved independently in both corvids/crows and primates. This is indicated by feats such as tool use, their ability to hide and store food across seasons, episodic-like memory, and the ability to use one's own experience in predicting the behavior of conspecifics. Various behaviours have been observed that indicate intelligence. It has been observed that they cut up their food in correctly sized proportions, depending on the size of their young. In captivity magpies have been observed counting up to get food, imitating human voices, and regularly using tools to clean their own cages. In the wild, they organise themselves into gangs, and use complex strategies when hunting other birds, and when confronted by predators.

Magpies are territorial and stay in their territory all year, even in north of the species range. The pairs are monogamous, and remain together for the duration of their lives. Should one of the two die, the widow or widower will find a new partner from the stock of yearlings.
Mating takes place in spring. In the courtship display, the males rapidly raise and depress their head feathers, uplift, open and close their tails like fans, and call in soft tones quite distinct from their usual chatter. In the display the loose feathers of the flanks are brought over and the primaries, and the patch on the shoulders is spread so as to make the white conspicuous, presumably to attract the female eye. Short buoyant flights and chases are part of the courtship.  Tall trees are selected by the Magpie for its bulky nest; it is firmly attached to a central fork in the upper branches. The framework of the sticks is cemented with earth and clay, and a lining of the same material is covered with fine roots; above is a stout though loosely built dome of prickly branches with one well-concealed entrance. When the leaves fall these huge nests are plainly visible. Where trees are scarce, and even in well-wooded country, nests are at times built in bushes and hedgerows.  The eggs, small for the size of the bird, number from five to eight, and as many as ten are recorded; they show much variation in ground and marking, but a usual type is blue-green with close specks and spots of brown and grey. They are laid in April, and only one brood is reared unless disaster overtakes the first clutch.

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk #magpie    Photo: Bird N°40 
Golden Plover   Pluvialis apricaria
Here the Golden Plover is in it's winter plumage, which at Ythan Estuary is an incredibly good camouflage.  The Ythan Estuary is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and along with Forvie National Nature Reserve, the fifth largest sand dune system in Britain, is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage.

This species is similar to two other golden plovers. American Golden Plover, Pluvialis dominiica, and Pacific Golden Plover, Pluvialis fulva, are both smaller, slimmer and relatively longer-legged than European Golden Plover.
Breeding adults are spotted gold and black on the crown, back and wings. Their face and neck are black with a white border; they have a black breast and a dark rump. The legs are black. In winter, the black is lost and the plover then has a yellowish face and breast and white underparts.

Breeding Habitat
Their breeding habitat is moorland and tundra in the northernmost parts of Europe and western Asia. They nest on the ground in a dry open area. They are migratory and winter in southern Europe and north Africa. Around 500,000 birds winter in Ireland and Great Britain. Although generally common, its range has contracted somewhat in the past due to habitat destruction. For example, in the 19th century it disappeared as a breeding bird in Poland and only occurs there as a migrant nowadays; its breeding population in Central Europe apparently was a relict of the last ice age.

These birds forage for food on tundra, fields, beaches and tidal flats, usually by sight, although they will also feed by moonlight. They eat insects and crustaceans, also berries.

+Frank Garufi Jr. Sorry but another annoying species where the male and female look alike.  ;-)

#52birds  #photography     #naturefacts   #nature   #birds    #birdloversworldwide #birdinfocus #birding #birdphotography #naturephotography #wildlifephotography #wildlife #pixelworld #breakfastclub #ukphotographycommunity #ukphotography #scotlanduk #scotland #uk    #wildlifewednesday     #aberdeenshire       #riverside   #newburgh   Photo: Bird N°44 Scaup - .... .... ... ... Latin: Aythya marilaPhoto: Bird N°43
Whooper Swan - Cygnus cygnus
This was as close as these Swans got to us in the hide and was not easy to identify but the shape of the head and colour of the bill just made it possible.  The Mute Swan has a black bulbous part at the top of the bill, which is orange, whereas the Whooper Swan has a yellow bill and has a more normal head shape.  The Bewick's Swan is not normally seen overwintering this far north, so while most identification tools compare them it would be extremely unusual for the Bewick to be here.

Whooper Swan is similar in appearance to the Bewick's Swan. However, it is larger, at a length of 55–65 inches and a wingspan of 81–108 inches.  They are considered to be amongst the heaviest flying birds with a weight rage of 16–35 lb.  It has a more angular head shape and a more variable bill pattern that always shows more yellow than black (Bewick's Swans have more black than yellow).

Distribution and Behaviour
Whooper swans require large areas of water to live in, especially when they are still growing, because their body weight cannot be supported by their legs for extended periods of time. The whooper swan spends much of its time swimming, straining the water for food, or eating plants that grow on the bottom.
Whooper swans have a deep honking call and, despite their size, are powerful fliers. Whooper swans can migrate many hundreds of miles to their wintering sites in northern Europe and eastern Asia. They breed in subarctic Eurasia, further south than Bewicks in the taiga zone. They are rare breeders in northern Scotland, particularly in Orkney, and no more than five pairs have bred there in recent years. This bird is an occasional vagrant to western North America. Icelandic breeders overwinter in the United Kingdom and Ireland, especially in the wildfowl nature reserves of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

Their preferred breeding habitat is wetland, but semi-domesticated birds will build a nest anywhere close to water. Both the male and female help build the nest, and the male will stand guard over the nest while the female incubates. The female will usually lay 4-7 eggs. The cygnets hatch after about 36 days and have a grey or brown plumage. The cygnets can fly at an age of 120 to 150 days. Whooper swans pair for life, and their cygnets stay with them all winter; they are sometimes joined by offspring from previous years. They breed from mid-May in solitary pairs with well-defined territories (non-breeders remaining in flocks separate from breeding pairs).

Moulting and Migration
Adults undergo a post-breeding moult period between late-July and early-August when they become flightless for c.30 days (5-6 weeks), males starting to moult before the females. Non-breeding individuals moult at the same time as breeders, but whilst breeding pairs tend to moult in their breeding territories non-breeders moult in large congregations. After moulting the species begins to migrate south from late-September to October the precise timing determined by weather conditions and arrives on the wintering grounds by October or November. The species departs for the breeding grounds again from March to April or early-May. Outside of the breeding season the species is highly sociable, migrating in small flocks or family groups and congregating into flocks of up to 300-400 individuals in the winter. The species roosts on areas of open water adjacent to its feeding areas.  On migration the species frequents lakes, estuaries and sheltered coasts. It traditionally winters on freshwater lakes and marshes, flood lands  brackish lagoons and coastal bays although low-lying coastal agricultural land  and wet pastures are now used increasingly.

The species is predominantly herbivorous, its diet consisting of the leaves, stems and roots of aquatic plants, grasses, sedges and horsetails. During the winter the species also takes agricultural grain, vegetables (e.g. potatoes and turnips) and acorns, and on the breeding grounds young birds often take adult and larval insects. Adults may also supplement their diet with marine and freshwater mussels.

#birdphotography   #birdloversworldwide   #birdinfocus   #birding   #naturephotography   #naturemonday   #nature   #wildlifephotography   #wildlife   #aberdeenshire   #scotland   #scotlanduk   #ukphotographycommunity   #ukphotography   #uk   #breakfastclub   #pixelworld   #wildfowl   #swan   #swansunday   #whooperswan  Photo: Bird N°41
Redshank  - Tringa totanus
A wading bird with red to orange legs. It has a long beak , red at the base. Its plumage is brown white striped underneath and brown above.

The Redshank travels rocky shores, sandy or muddy, walking a pace easy and fast, pecking at the surface. It finds its food by watching, and only very rarely by digging the mud or sand. They are migratory and often migrate at night.

Redshank nests everywhere in Europe in wet meadows and marshes. It winters mainly in the Mediterranean region and Africa. Some remain in estuaries or wetlands in Britain and Western Europe.

When breeding its diet consists of insects, spiders and worms.  During the non-breeding season they also eat molluscs, crustaceans and occasionally small fish and tadpoles.

Redshanks are monogamous, and couples return to the same place with the same or partner. The breeding season extends from April to June The nest is a shallow depression in the ground near or under vegetation or grass at the foot of which serve roof. The male builds the base and socket complete with twigs and leaves. Average of 4 eggs are laid. Both parents take turns to incubate for 22 to 25 days. A day later, the young disperse from the nest to feed themselves, supervised by parents. Initially, two parents care for the young, but when the female is away from the first site. The male usually watches over the young for a month, but sometimes the couple will share the job of raising the young.

#52birds   #birdphotography   #birdloversworldwide   #birdinfocus   #birding   #naturephotography   #nature   #wildlife   #wildlifephotography   #pixelworld   #breakfastclub   #scotland   #scotlanduk   #aberdeenshire   #ukphotographycommunity   #ukphotographycommunity   #uk   #wadingbird   #wadingbirdwednesday  Photo: Collared Dove  Streptopelia decaocto
A relative newcomer to Scotland arriving here in 1957, having had a remarkably quick progression from the Middle East and South East Europe.  This was a natural increase is the birds range so is not viewed as an alien species, just a new one.  They feed predominantly on grain, berries and seeds, but they have been known eat the occasional caterpillar and  aphid.  This is a bird that likes to be around human activity, but does not like city centres preferring to be in areas where there is active gardening and farming, however it tends to stay clear of moorland and mountains too.Photo: Bird N°48 Goldfinch  Latin: Carduelis carduelisPhoto: Bird N°49 Woodpigeon Latin:Columba palumbusPhoto: Bird N°50 - Coot
Latin:  Fulica atra
This water bird is one of the few birds that moult all their flight feathers simultaneously which makes them flightless for a short time between June & September,  the rest of their feathers start to moult in May.  The Coot nests among aquatic plants close to other Coots, occasionally they will rear two broods in a summer.  Nesting begins at the end of April, they lay 5-7 eggs and they are incubated by both parents for 21 - 24 days.  The female will brood the hatchlings for the first 3-4 days while the male takes responsibility for feeding them, thereafter they share brooding and will continue to feed them for 30 days.  They hatchlings will be able to fly after 55 days.

#birds   #birds4all   #birdloversworldwide   #birdsinfocus   #birding   #birdphotographymonday   #birdphotographs   #birdphotography   #naturemonday   #naturephoto   #naturephotography   #nature   #coot   #ashington     #northumberland   #england   #ukphotographycommunity   #ukphotography   #waterbirds   #waterbirdwednesday   #birdsgallery      #breakfastclub   #pixelworld   #hqsbirds  +10000 PHOTOGRAPHERS    #wildlifewednesday   #wildlifephotography   #wildlife   #birdwatching   #birdwatcher   #birdwatch  +Robert SKREINER    #rspb   +RSPB Scotland +RSPB South Suffolk CoastPhoto: Bird N°51 Fulmer   Latin: Fulmarus glacialisPhoto: Bird N°52 - Avocet
Latin:- Recurvirostra avosetta

I wanted to put this project to bed with a great bird and it had been a long time since the 52 week part had fallen apart (thanks to my health) so when I photographed a bird that had been extinct in the UK I figured that was the one.

The Avocet is the symbol of the RSPB and a stunning bird, I photographed this one at Cresswell Pools in Northumberland, England.

The Avocet was declared extinct as a breeding bird in the UK in 1842 but began to recover in 1947, colonising areas of wetland on the South and East coasts of England.  Until their arrival at Wearside Wetland Trust at Washington in 2006, the nearest breeding pairs were in Teesside and Yorkshire, with fewer than 900 pairs in the UK.  In May 2011, two chicks hatched at Northumberland Wildlife Trust’s Cresswell Pond reserve, making it the UK’s most northerly breeding site.

A true success story for conservation and protection projects.

#avocet   #rspb   #wadingbird   #northumberland  #england   #uk   #ukphotographycommunity  #ukphotography  #nature #bird    #naturephotography #naturephoto  #naturemonday #birds4all   #birdloversworldwide #birds #birdsinfocus #birding #birdsgallery #hqsbirds #birdwatching #birdwatcher #birdwatch #conservation   #protection    #birdwatchingtuesday #1000photographers #breakfastclub   #pixelworld #wildlifephotography #wildlife #wildlifephotos   #wildlifephotographers #birdconservation   #wetlandtrusts   #wetlands   #wildlifeconservation   #wildlifepreservation   #birdpreservation