Sedge Warbler

Sedge Warbler 

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The sedge warbler is a small, quite plump, warbler with a striking broad creamy stripe above its eye and greyish brown legs. It is brown above with blackish streaks and creamy white underneath.

Breeding across Europe and western and central Asia and is migratory. After feeding up post-breeding, they migrate quickly across southern Europe and the Sahara from August to September. 

Behaviour

Its song is a noisy rambling warbler compared to the more rhythmic song of the reed warbler.

Male sedge warblers commence singing only a few hours after arriving on their breeding territory. The song is given from a bare perch such as a reed stem or bush.

Song-flights are also performed: while singing, the bird takes off, rises to a height of around 2–5 meters and then after a short circling flight, makes a slow, ‘parachuting’ descent.

Feeding

They feed on most insects including mayflies, dragonflies, damselfies, grasshopper, bugs and moths.

Locking antlers

Locking antlers

Two Red Stags engaging in a fierce mating battle in the rutting season.

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Red deer are ruminants, characterized by a four-chambered stomach.

The red deer is one of the largest deer species and the largest land mammal in the UK, they also inhabit most of Europe.

Appearance

With males (stags) standing 107-137 cm at the shoulder and weighing 90-190 kg. Adult females (hinds) reach a height of 107-122 cm at the shoulder and weigh 63-120 kg. Deer on the open hill in Scotland are smaller than those in lowland English woodland.

Behaviour 

The breeding season rutting, occurs from the end of September to November.

Stags return to the hind’s home range and compete for them by engaging in elaborate displays of dominance including bellowing, parallel walks and fighting.  Serious injury and death can result from fighting  between stags of similar size.  The dominant stag then ensures exclusive mating with the hinds.

Despite being sexually mature before their second birthday in productive woodland populations, only stags over five years old tend to mate.  In woodland populations hinds over one year old give birth to a single calf after an eight-month gestation, between mid-May to mid-July. Puberty may be delayed until three years old in hill hinds, which may give birth only once every two or three years.

Some Scottish hill populations suffer heavy infant mortality at and shortly after birth and during their first winter. Lifespan can be, exceptionally, up to 18 years.

Little owl with a vole

Little owl with a vole

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Little Owl were introduced to the Uk in the 19th century and are now widespread in Europe.

The little owl is small and chunky measuring roughly 21 cm in height.

They can be seen in the daylight, usually perching on a tree branch, telegraph pole or rock.

In flight it has long, rounded wings, rapid wing beats and flies with a slight undulation.

Breeding Bird Survey data suggest that little owl numbers are declining, with the UK population estimated to be down by 24 per cent between 1995 and 2008

This particular little owl nests in a old unused barn.

Grasshopper Warbler singing

Grasshopper Warbler singing

Grasshopper Warbler is a species of Old World warbler.

Breeding across much of temperate Europe and western Asia and migrates in the winter to Africa.

A Rare bird not often seen they have a rattling song likened to the sound of insects such as crickets. Even when you hear one it can be difficult to locate it due to the ventriloquial effect of its singing.

Population of this bird has sadly dropped dramatically making it a rare breed.

Behaviour

This bird seldom takes to the wing but spends its time scurrying through dense vegetation, flitting from twig to twig or running along the ground. They have a peculiar high-stepping gait and long stride as it moves along horizontal stems, looking slender and tapering.

It seldom flies, soon diving back into cover, and when it alights it often raises and flares its tail to show its streaked under-tail coverts. It has been known to feign injury in order to distract a potential predator.

Breeding
Male common grasshopper warblers try to attract females by displaying to them. They walk or run along twigs with tail spread, fluttering their wings as they raise and lower them. 

Both sexes take part in nest-building. Their nest is well-concealed and built close to the ground. In  grass tussocks, gorse bushes, reed beds, tangled hedgerows, scrub and among coarse heather plants .

A clutch of four to six eggs is laid.

Parents are involved in incubating the eggs which takes about fourteen days. The chicks are fed on insects. They fledge in twelve to thirteen days and there are usually two broods in the season.

Young birds become mature at a year old and the highest recorded age for this species is five years.

Redwing eating berries

Redwing eating berries

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A UK winter visitor from North and East Europe , which moves around in flocks feeding on berries in hedgerows.

Barn Owl taking off

Barn Owl taking off

Barn Owl taking off

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The Barn Owl – With heart-shaped face, buff back and wings and pure white underparts.

The barn owl is a medium-sized, pale-coloured owl with long wings and a short, squarish tail. There is considerable size variation across the subspecies with a typical specimen measuring about 33 to 39 cm (13 to 15 in) in overall lengt. Barn owls have a typical wingspan of some 80 to 95 cm (31 to 37 in).

The barn owl is a distinctive and much-loved countryside bird.

Widely distributed across the UK, and indeed the world,  also referred to as the common barn owl. The Tytonidae, which forms one of the two main lineages of living owls, and the other being the typical owls (Strigidae).

Barn owls have suffered declines through the 20th century. It is thought to have been adversely affected by organochlorine pesticides such as DDT in the 1950s and ’60s.

Due to barns owls being mainly nocturnal birds they are poorly monitored by the Breeding Bird Survey. Because of  this, numbers may have increased between 1995-2008.

The barn owl is nocturnal over most of its range, but in Britain and some Pacific islands, it also hunts by day.  A specialist  in hunting animals on the ground.

Nearly all of their food consists of small mammals which they locate by sound, their hearing being very acute. They mate for life unless one of the pair gets killed, when a new pair bond may be formed. Breeding takes place at varying times of year according to locality, with a clutch, averaging about four eggs, being laid in a nest in a hollow tree, old building or fissure in a cliff. The female does all the incubation, and she and the young chicks are reliant on the male for food.

Barn owls are a Schedule 1 and 9 species.

Male Goldeneye

Male Goldeneye

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A goldeneye is a medium sized diving duck. Adult males ranges from 45–51 cm and weigh approximately 1,000 g , while females range from 40–50 cm and weigh approximately 800 g.

Males look black and white with a greenish black head and a yellow eyes . Females are mottled grey with a chocolate brown head. In flight, birds show a large area of white on the inner wing.

Habitat 

Goldeneye Ducks are found in the lakes and rivers of boreal forests across Canada and the northern United States, Scandinavia, the Baltic States,  northern Russia and highlands of Scotland.

Being migratory birds they winter in protected coastal waters and open inland waters at more temperate latitudes. 

Due to harsh weather conditions goldeneyes winter south. Therefore they arrive from Scotland and Northern Europe to coastal areas lower in the UK.  From August to December and return north in February and March.

Feeding

Being diving birds they forage underwater, eating  on mussels, insect larvae, small fish and plants.

Nesting

Goldeneyes nest in cavities in large trees, where they return year after year. Goldeneyes will also readily use nest boxes

A female does all the incubating and is abandoned by the male 1 to 2 weeks into incubation. 

The young are capable of flight at 55–65 days of age.

Female red head Goosander

Female red head Goosander

Goosanders breed beside rivers and lakes in Iceland, Scandinavia and Northern UK.  And winter in the southern UK , France and Balkans.

These handsome diving ducks are a member of the sawbill family. So called because of their long, serrated bills, used for catching fish. The Goosanders are the largest sawbilled duck.

Description

Goosanders are a medium sized duck measuring 58–72 cm  long with a 78–97 cm  wingspan and a weight of 0.9–2.1 kg males average slightly larger than females.

Both female and males  have a crest of longer head feathers. But these usually lie smoothly rounded behind the head, not normally forming an erect crest.

Adult males are easily distinguished, the body white, the head black with an iridescent green gloss, the rump and tail grey. The wings largely white on the inner half, black on the outer half.

Females are largely grey, with a reddish-brown head, white chin, and white secondary feathers on the wing. Juveniles (both sexes) are similar to adult females but also show a short black-edged white stripe between the eye and bill. The bill and legs are red to brownish-red, brightest on adult males, dullest on juveniles.

Cuddling Black Swans

Cuddling Black Swans

Male and female black swans.

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The black swan is a very large waterbird. It has a long S-shaped neck and an red bill with white flight feathers.

A species of swan which breeds mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia.  Black swans were introduced to various countries as an ornamental bird in the 1800s, but have escaped and formed stable populations.

The black swan utters a musical and far reaching bugle-like sound, called either on the water or in flight, as well as a range of softer crooning notes.

What they eat:

Water plants and algae 

Female stonechat preening

Female stonechat preening

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Stonechats are robin sized birds.

Males have striking black heads with white around the side of their neck, orange-red breasts and a mottled brown back.

Females lack the male’s black head, but have brown backs and an orange tinge to their chests. Birds are frequently seen flicking their wings while perched, often doing so on the tops of low bushes.

As its name suggests, birds utter a sharp loud call that sound like two stones being tapped together.

They breed in western and southern parts of the UK, but disperse more widely in winter.

What they eat:

Invertebrates, seeds and fruit (e.g. blackberries).