For The Love Of British Birds

RSS
Dec 2
BLACK-TAILED GODWIT
Limosa limosaBy Dean Eades
Black-tailed Godwits are large wading birds. In summer, they have bright orangey-brown chests and bellies, but in winter they’re more greyish-brown. Their most distinctive features are their long beaks and legs, and the black and white stripes on their wings. Female Black-tailed Godwits are bigger and heavier than the males, with a noticeably longer beak (which helps the sexes to avoid competing for food with each other). They are very similar to Bar-tailed Godwits, which breed in the Arctic. Black-tailed Godwits have longer legs, and bar-taileds don’t have striped wings. As the names suggest, the tail patterns are different, too.
It’s easiest to see Black-tailed Godwits from late summer through winter with the best places to see them being estuaries and coastal lagoons. Black-tailed Godwits will also visit wetland sites inland. We also have a small, vulnerable breeding population, on a select few wet meadows and marshes, which migrate to west Africa for winter. Birds from Iceland spend winter in the UK.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/b/blacktailedgodwit/index.aspx
Conservation Status: Red.

BLACK-TAILED GODWIT

Limosa limosa
By Dean Eades

Black-tailed Godwits are large wading birds. In summer, they have bright orangey-brown chests and bellies, but in winter they’re more greyish-brown. Their most distinctive features are their long beaks and legs, and the black and white stripes on their wings. Female Black-tailed Godwits are bigger and heavier than the males, with a noticeably longer beak (which helps the sexes to avoid competing for food with each other). They are very similar to Bar-tailed Godwits, which breed in the Arctic. Black-tailed Godwits have longer legs, and bar-taileds don’t have striped wings. As the names suggest, the tail patterns are different, too.

It’s easiest to see Black-tailed Godwits from late summer through winter with the best places to see them being estuaries and coastal lagoons. Black-tailed Godwits will also visit wetland sites inland. We also have a small, vulnerable breeding population, on a select few wet meadows and marshes, which migrate to west Africa for winter. Birds from Iceland spend winter in the UK.

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/b/blacktailedgodwit/index.aspx

Conservation Status: Red.

YELLOWHAMMER
Emberiza citrinellaBy Mark Hancox
The Yellowhammer is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae. It is common in all sorts of open areas with some scrub or trees and form small flocks in winter.
The Yellowhammer is a robust 15.5–17 cm long bird, with a thick seed-eater’s bill. The male has a bright yellow head, yellow underparts, and a heavily streaked brown back. The female is much duller, and more streaked below. The familiar, if somewhat monotonous, song of the male is often described as A little bit of bread and no cheese.
Its natural diet consists of insects when feeding young, and otherwise seeds. The nest is on the ground. 3-6 eggs are laid, which show the hair-like markings characteristic of those of buntings.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowhammer
Conservation Status: Red.

YELLOWHAMMER

Emberiza citrinella
By Mark Hancox

The Yellowhammer is a passerine bird in the bunting family Emberizidae. It is common in all sorts of open areas with some scrub or trees and form small flocks in winter.

The Yellowhammer is a robust 15.5–17 cm long bird, with a thick seed-eater’s bill. The male has a bright yellow head, yellow underparts, and a heavily streaked brown back. The female is much duller, and more streaked below. The familiar, if somewhat monotonous, song of the male is often described as A little bit of bread and no cheese.

Its natural diet consists of insects when feeding young, and otherwise seeds. The nest is on the ground. 3-6 eggs are laid, which show the hair-like markings characteristic of those of buntings.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellowhammer

Conservation Status: Red.

SLAVONIAN GREBE
Podiceps auritusBy Mark Hancox
The Slavonian Grebe is arguably the most attractive of the UK’s breeding Grebes, with its golden ear tufts and trilling calls. It looks similar to the Black-necked Grebe in winter but has whiter cheeks which almost meet at the back of the neck. Due to its small breeding population it is an Amber List species.
In the breeding season Slavonian Grebes are mainly found north and south of the Great Glen and in Strathspey. They can also be watched in the breeding season at the RSPB Loch Ruthven nature reserve. In winter they can be found around UK coasts with the Moray Firth, the Firth of Forth, the Clyde Estuary and Islay in Scotland and Pagham Harbour, Sussex being important sites.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/s/slavoniangrebe/index.aspx
Conservation Status: Amber.

SLAVONIAN GREBE

Podiceps auritus
By Mark Hancox

The Slavonian Grebe is arguably the most attractive of the UK’s breeding Grebes, with its golden ear tufts and trilling calls. It looks similar to the Black-necked Grebe in winter but has whiter cheeks which almost meet at the back of the neck. Due to its small breeding population it is an Amber List species.

In the breeding season Slavonian Grebes are mainly found north and south of the Great Glen and in Strathspey. They can also be watched in the breeding season at the RSPB Loch Ruthven nature reserve. In winter they can be found around UK coasts with the Moray Firth, the Firth of Forth, the Clyde Estuary and Islay in Scotland and Pagham Harbour, Sussex being important sites.

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/s/slavoniangrebe/index.aspx

Conservation Status: Amber.

KESTREL
Falco tinnunculusBy Mark Hancox
The Kestrel is a familiar sight with its pointed wings and long tail, hovering beside a roadside verge. Numbers of Kestrels declined in the 1970s, probably as a result of changes in farming and so it is included on the Amber List. They have adapted readily to man-made environments and can survive right in the centre of cities.
Kestrels can be seen all year round and are found in a wide variety of habitats, from moor and heath, to farmland and urban areas. The only places they do not favour are dense forests, vast treeless wetlands and mountains. They are a familiar sight, hovering beside a motorway, or other main road. They can often be seen perched on a high tree branch, or on a telephone post or wire, on the look out for prey.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/k/kestrel/index.aspx
Conservation Status: Amber.

KESTREL

Falco tinnunculus
By Mark Hancox

The Kestrel is a familiar sight with its pointed wings and long tail, hovering beside a roadside verge. Numbers of Kestrels declined in the 1970s, probably as a result of changes in farming and so it is included on the Amber List. They have adapted readily to man-made environments and can survive right in the centre of cities.

Kestrels can be seen all year round and are found in a wide variety of habitats, from moor and heath, to farmland and urban areas. The only places they do not favour are dense forests, vast treeless wetlands and mountains. They are a familiar sight, hovering beside a motorway, or other main road. They can often be seen perched on a high tree branch, or on a telephone post or wire, on the look out for prey.

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/k/kestrel/index.aspx

Conservation Status: Amber.


GOLDCREST
Regulus regulusBy Mark Hancox
With the Firecrest, the Goldcrest is the UK’s smallest bird. They’re dull greyish-green with a pale belly and a black and yellow stripe on their heads, which has an orange centre in males. Their thin beak is ideally suited for picking insects out from between pine needles.
Goldcrests can be seen at any time of the year with pine forests being the best places to see them. They also range around in flocks of other small birds during autumn and winter. They’re widespread and common across the whole of the UK; in autumn, large numbers arrive on the east coast from Scandinavia and make their way across dunes to more suitable habitat.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/g/goldcrest/index.aspx
Conservation Status: Green.

GOLDCREST

Regulus regulus
By Mark Hancox

With the Firecrest, the Goldcrest is the UK’s smallest bird. They’re dull greyish-green with a pale belly and a black and yellow stripe on their heads, which has an orange centre in males. Their thin beak is ideally suited for picking insects out from between pine needles.

Goldcrests can be seen at any time of the year with pine forests being the best places to see them. They also range around in flocks of other small birds during autumn and winter. They’re widespread and common across the whole of the UK; in autumn, large numbers arrive on the east coast from Scandinavia and make their way across dunes to more suitable habitat.

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/g/goldcrest/index.aspx

Conservation Status: Green.


HOBBY
Falco subbuteoBy Mark Hancox
The Hobby is about the size of a Kestrel with long pointed wings, reminiscent of a giant Swift. It has a dashing flight and will chase large insects and small birds like Swallows and Martins. Prey is often caught in its talons and transferred to its beak in flight. Can accelerate rapidly in flight and is capable of high-speed aerial manoeuvres, even Swifts and Swallows often cannot outpace or outmanoeuvre a Hobby.
Hobby’s can be seen in the UK from April onwards and mainly leave in September and October. They now breed across central, southern and eastern England, into S Wales and just about reaching northern England and S Scotland. They are best looked for hunting over woodland edges and heathlands where there is plenty of large insect prey. Gravel pits are a popular feeding areas in late summer when there is plenty of food.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/h/hobby/index.aspxhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_Hobby
Conservation Status: Green.

HOBBY

Falco subbuteo
By Mark Hancox

The Hobby is about the size of a Kestrel with long pointed wings, reminiscent of a giant Swift. It has a dashing flight and will chase large insects and small birds like Swallows and Martins. Prey is often caught in its talons and transferred to its beak in flight. Can accelerate rapidly in flight and is capable of high-speed aerial manoeuvres, even Swifts and Swallows often cannot outpace or outmanoeuvre a Hobby.

Hobby’s can be seen in the UK from April onwards and mainly leave in September and October. They now breed across central, southern and eastern England, into S Wales and just about reaching northern England and S Scotland. They are best looked for hunting over woodland edges and heathlands where there is plenty of large insect prey. Gravel pits are a popular feeding areas in late summer when there is plenty of food.

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/h/hobby/index.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eurasian_Hobby

Conservation Status: Green.

BLACK SWAN(I was inspired to do this after seeing a pair swimming along the River Stour today)
Cygnus atratusBy Peter Killey
The Black Swan is a large waterbird which breeds mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia. Black Swans are primarily black-feathered birds, with white flight feathers. The bill is bright red, with a pale bar and tip; and legs and feet are greyish-black. They are monogamous breeders that share incubation duties and cygnet rearing between the sexes.
The Black Swan is very popular as an ornamental waterbird in western Europe, especially Britain, and escapes are commonly reported. As yet the population in Britain is not considered to be self-sustaining and so the species is not afforded admission to the official British List, but the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust have recorded a maximum of nine breeding pairs in the UK in 2001, with an estimate of 43 feral birds in 2003/04.
A colony of Black Swans in Dawlish, Devon has become so well associated with the town that the bird has been the town’s emblem for forty years.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Swan
Conservation Status: No Status.

BLACK SWAN
(I was inspired to do this after seeing a pair swimming along the River Stour today)

Cygnus atratus
By Peter Killey

The Black Swan is a large waterbird which breeds mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia. Black Swans are primarily black-feathered birds, with white flight feathers. The bill is bright red, with a pale bar and tip; and legs and feet are greyish-black. They are monogamous breeders that share incubation duties and cygnet rearing between the sexes.

The Black Swan is very popular as an ornamental waterbird in western Europe, especially Britain, and escapes are commonly reported. As yet the population in Britain is not considered to be self-sustaining and so the species is not afforded admission to the official British List, but the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust have recorded a maximum of nine breeding pairs in the UK in 2001, with an estimate of 43 feral birds in 2003/04.

A colony of Black Swans in Dawlish, Devon has become so well associated with the town that the bird has been the town’s emblem for forty years.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Swan

Conservation Status: No Status.

COAL TIT
Periparus aterBy Mark Hancox
Not as colourful as some of its relatives, the Coal Tit has a distinctive grey back, black cap, white cheeks and white patch at the back of its neck. Its has a smaller, more slender bill than Blue or Great Tits meaning it can feed more successfully in conifers. A regular visitor to most peanut feeders, they will take and store food for eating later. In winter they join with other Tits to form flocks which roam through woodlands and gardens in search of food. Coal Tits can be seen all year round in woodland, especially conifer woods, parks and gardens.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/c/coaltit/index.aspx
Conservation Status: Green

COAL TIT

Periparus ater
By Mark Hancox

Not as colourful as some of its relatives, the Coal Tit has a distinctive grey back, black cap, white cheeks and white patch at the back of its neck. Its has a smaller, more slender bill than Blue or Great Tits meaning it can feed more successfully in conifers. A regular visitor to most peanut feeders, they will take and store food for eating later. In winter they join with other Tits to form flocks which roam through woodlands and gardens in search of food. Coal Tits can be seen all year round in woodland, especially conifer woods, parks and gardens.

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/c/coaltit/index.aspx

Conservation Status: Green

WHITE-TAILED EAGLE
Haliaeetus albicilla
The White-Tailed Eagle, also known as the Sea Eagle, Erne, or White-Tailed Sea-Eagle is the largest UK bird of prey (and is sometimes considered the fourth largest Eagle in the world). It is a close cousin of the Bald Eagle and occupies the same ecological niche, but in Eurasia. It has a brown body with a conspicuously pale head and neck which can be almost white in older birds. The tail feathers of adults are white. In flight it has massive long, broad wings with ‘fingered’ ends. Its head protrudes and it has a short, wedge-shaped tail. It went extinct in the UK during the early 20th century, due to illegal killing, and the present population has been reintroduced.


The White Tailed Eagle is a rare breeding bird which was previously confined to the west coast of Scotland, though a reintroduction programme is taking place in east Scotland.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/w/whitetailedeagle/index.aspxhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-tailed_Eagle
Conservation Status: Red.

WHITE-TAILED EAGLE

Haliaeetus albicilla

The White-Tailed Eagle, also known as the Sea Eagle, Erne, or White-Tailed Sea-Eagle is the largest UK bird of prey (and is sometimes considered the fourth largest Eagle in the world). It is a close cousin of the Bald Eagle and occupies the same ecological niche, but in Eurasia. It has a brown body with a conspicuously pale head and neck which can be almost white in older birds. The tail feathers of adults are white. In flight it has massive long, broad wings with ‘fingered’ ends. Its head protrudes and it has a short, wedge-shaped tail. It went extinct in the UK during the early 20th century, due to illegal killing, and the present population has been reintroduced.

The White Tailed Eagle is a rare breeding bird which was previously confined to the west coast of Scotland, though a reintroduction programme is taking place in east Scotland.

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/w/whitetailedeagle/index.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White-tailed_Eagle

Conservation Status: Red.

SPARROWHAWK
Accipiter nisusBy Mike Atkinson
Sparrowhawks are small birds of prey. They are adapted for hunting birds in confined spaces like dense woodland, so gardens make ideal hunting ground. Adult male Sparrowhawks backs and wings are bluish-grey with orangey-brown bars on their chest and belly. Females and young birds are brown on their back and wings, with brown bars underneath. Sparrowhawks have bright yellow or orangey eyes, long, yellow legs and long talons. Females are larger than males, as with most birds of prey.


Sparrowhawks can be seen at any time of year; you might see birds displaying to each other in early spring, when males perform a ‘rollercoaster’ flight, climbing up and diving back down again to impress females.
Sparrowhawks breed in woodland but also visit gardens and more open country. They can be seen in towns and cities, as well as rural areas. Listen for the alarm calls of smaller birds as they spot a Sparrowhawk and will alert other birds in the area to the danger. In the UK Sparrowhawks are found everywhere, except for parts of the Scottish Highlands, the Western Isles and Shetland.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/s/sparrowhawk/index.aspx
Conservation Status: Green.

SPARROWHAWK

Accipiter nisus
By Mike Atkinson

Sparrowhawks are small birds of prey. They are adapted for hunting birds in confined spaces like dense woodland, so gardens make ideal hunting ground. Adult male Sparrowhawks backs and wings are bluish-grey with orangey-brown bars on their chest and belly. Females and young birds are brown on their back and wings, with brown bars underneath. Sparrowhawks have bright yellow or orangey eyes, long, yellow legs and long talons. Females are larger than males, as with most birds of prey.

Sparrowhawks can be seen at any time of year; you might see birds displaying to each other in early spring, when males perform a ‘rollercoaster’ flight, climbing up and diving back down again to impress females.

Sparrowhawks breed in woodland but also visit gardens and more open country. They can be seen in towns and cities, as well as rural areas. Listen for the alarm calls of smaller birds as they spot a Sparrowhawk and will alert other birds in the area to the danger. In the UK Sparrowhawks are found everywhere, except for parts of the Scottish Highlands, the Western Isles and Shetland.

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/s/sparrowhawk/index.aspx

Conservation Status: Green.

PINTAIL
Anas acutaBy Dean Eades
Slightly bigger than a Mallard, these long-necked and small-headed ducks fly with curved, back pointed wings and a tapering tail, making this the best way to distinguish them from other ducks in the UK. The Pintail is a ‘quarry’ species, meaning that it can be legally shot in winter, but - unlike in other parts of Europe - it does not appear that shooting is affecting their population status in the UK. The small breeding population and significant winter population make them an Amber List species.
Pintails can be seen all year round with wintering birds arriving from September and numbers peaking in December. The return migration takes place from late February into March. Pintails are a localised species and reside at sheltered coasts and estuaries. Particularly large concentrations are found on sites such as the Dee Estuary, Solway Estuary and Ouse Washes.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/p/pintail/index.aspx

Conservation Status: Amber.

PINTAIL

Anas acuta
By Dean Eades

Slightly bigger than a Mallard, these long-necked and small-headed ducks fly with curved, back pointed wings and a tapering tail, making this the best way to distinguish them from other ducks in the UK. The Pintail is a ‘quarry’ species, meaning that it can be legally shot in winter, but - unlike in other parts of Europe - it does not appear that shooting is affecting their population status in the UK. The small breeding population and significant winter population make them an Amber List species.

Pintails can be seen all year round with wintering birds arriving from September and numbers peaking in December. The return migration takes place from late February into March. Pintails are a localised species and reside at sheltered coasts and estuaries. Particularly large concentrations are found on sites such as the Dee Estuary, Solway Estuary and Ouse Washes.

Conservation Status: Amber.
GOLDFINCH
Carduelis carduelisBy Dean Eades
A highly coloured Finch with a bright red face and a yellow wing patch. Sociable, often breeding in loose colonies, they have a delightful liquid twittering song and call. Their long fine beaks allow them to extract otherwise inaccessible seeds from thistles and teasels. Increasingly they are visiting birdtables and feeders. In winter many UK goldfinches migrate as far south as Spain.
Goldfinches can be seen all year round anywhere there are scattered bushes and trees, rough ground with thistles and other seeding plants. Likes orchards, parks, gardens, heathland and commons. Goldfinches are less common in upland areas and most numerous in southern England.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/g/goldfinch/index.aspx
Conservation Status: Green.

GOLDFINCH

Carduelis carduelis
By Dean Eades

A highly coloured Finch with a bright red face and a yellow wing patch. Sociable, often breeding in loose colonies, they have a delightful liquid twittering song and call. Their long fine beaks allow them to extract otherwise inaccessible seeds from thistles and teasels. Increasingly they are visiting birdtables and feeders. In winter many UK goldfinches migrate as far south as Spain.

Goldfinches can be seen all year round anywhere there are scattered bushes and trees, rough ground with thistles and other seeding plants. Likes orchards, parks, gardens, heathland and commons. Goldfinches are less common in upland areas and most numerous in southern England.

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/g/goldfinch/index.aspx

Conservation Status: Green.

GREAT TIT
Parus majorBy Mike Atkinson
The largest UK Tit, Great Tits are green and yellow with a striking glossy black head with white cheeks and a distinctive two-syllable song. It is a woodland bird which has readily adapted to man-made habitats to become a familiar garden visitor. It can be quite aggressive at a birdtable, fighting off smaller Tits. In winter it joins with Blue Tits and others to form roaming flocks which scour gardens and countryside for food.
Great Tits can be seen all year round in woodlands, parks and gardens across the UK. They are only absent only from the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/g/greattit/index.aspx
Conservation Status: Green.

GREAT TIT

Parus major
By Mike Atkinson

The largest UK Tit, Great Tits are green and yellow with a striking glossy black head with white cheeks and a distinctive two-syllable song. It is a woodland bird which has readily adapted to man-made habitats to become a familiar garden visitor. It can be quite aggressive at a birdtable, fighting off smaller Tits. In winter it joins with Blue Tits and others to form roaming flocks which scour gardens and countryside for food.

Great Tits can be seen all year round in woodlands, parks and gardens across the UK. They are only absent only from the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland.

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/g/greattit/index.aspx

Conservation Status: Green.

CHAFFINCH
Fringilla coelebsBy David Plant
The Chaffinch is the UK’s second commonest breeding bird, and is arguably the most colourful of the UK’s finches. Its patterned plumage helps it to blend in when feeding on the ground and it becomes most obvious when it flies, revealing a flash of white on the wings and white outer tail feathers. It does not feed openly on bird feeders - it prefers to hop about under the bird table or under the hedge. You’ll usually hear chaffinches before you see them, with their loud song and varied calls.
Chaffinches can be seen all year round in woodland, hedgerows, fields, parks and gardens.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/c/chaffinch/index.aspx
Conservation Status: Green.

CHAFFINCH

Fringilla coelebs
By David Plant

The Chaffinch is the UK’s second commonest breeding bird, and is arguably the most colourful of the UK’s finches. Its patterned plumage helps it to blend in when feeding on the ground and it becomes most obvious when it flies, revealing a flash of white on the wings and white outer tail feathers. It does not feed openly on bird feeders - it prefers to hop about under the bird table or under the hedge. You’ll usually hear chaffinches before you see them, with their loud song and varied calls.

Chaffinches can be seen all year round in woodland, hedgerows, fields, parks and gardens.

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/c/chaffinch/index.aspx

Conservation Status: Green.

MOORHEN
Gallinula chloropusBy Dean Eades
Moorhens are blackish with a red and yellow beak and long, green legs. Seen closer-up, they have a dark brown back and wings and a more bluish-black belly, with white stripes on the flanks.
Moorhens can be seen at any time of year, at any time of day around ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, or even ditches in farmland. Moorhens can live in cities as well as the countryside. In the UK they breed in lowland areas, especially in central and eastern England. They’re scarce in northern Scotland and the uplands of Wales and northern England. UK breeding birds are residents and seldom travel far.
Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/m/moorhen/index.aspx
Conservation Status: Green.

MOORHEN

Gallinula chloropus
By Dean Eades

Moorhens are blackish with a red and yellow beak and long, green legs. Seen closer-up, they have a dark brown back and wings and a more bluish-black belly, with white stripes on the flanks.

Moorhens can be seen at any time of year, at any time of day around ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, or even ditches in farmland. Moorhens can live in cities as well as the countryside. In the UK they breed in lowland areas, especially in central and eastern England. They’re scarce in northern Scotland and the uplands of Wales and northern England. UK breeding birds are residents and seldom travel far.

Source: http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/m/moorhen/index.aspx

Conservation Status: Green.