Thursday, December 17, 2009

10th December 2009: Pennington Flashes, Hants, UK

Making best use of a rare sunny day, I persuaded my family to come for an afternoon walk at Pennington, where there just happened to be some nice habitat for waterbirds!

A Bar-tailed Godwit flew over as we arrived, showing a very different upper and underwing pattern to the Blackwits seen in the morning.

Three Northern Lapwings with a couple of female Eurasian Teals sandwiched in between. The old name for Northern Lapwing used to be Green Plover, and in the sun, it's easy to see why.

This flight pic shows the extraordinary wingshape of this species.

One of many overflying Eurasian Skylarks.

Choo Eng asked me to photograph a Magpie and a Wood Pigeon. Here's the first. Wood Pigeons are easy to see but it always seems such an effort to get my camera to point in their direction that I may fail to get any pics of them at all.

A Pied (White) Wagtail on the flooded fields. A rarity I've yet to catch up with in Malaysia.

There were quite good numbers of dabbling ducks on the flooded fields - Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Mallard and Eurasian Teal. I only managed to photograph the latter.

A male Eurasian Teal displaying to a female. Female Eurasian Teal can be distinguished from the superficially similar Garganey by, among other things, the pale flash at the side of the tail, the plainer face pattern, slimmer bill and by the fact that the rear end doesn't angle upwards as it tends to in Garganey.

A male Northern Shoveler in eclipse plumage. These are fairly unmistakeable if a decent view of the bill is had!

There was a good number of Red-breasted Mergansers offshore, and this subadult male briefly joined the dabbling ducks in one of the pools inland of the seawall. Mergansers are fish-feeders; the attendant Black-headed Gull obviously knew this and shadowed the merganser constantly.

The merganser soon got fed up of this, and headed back into open water, jettisoning excess baggage in the way!

Later on I watched this smart adult male come in to land on the river.

There were three Slavonian Grebes also out on the river, always nice birds to see in winter - here are two of them.

Spotted Redshanks are real rarities in Malaysia, and, despite keeping eyes and ears peeled, I've yet to see one there. So I was happy to renew my acquaintance with the species today. A sharp 'chewit' spun me round in time to see this 'SpotRed' gliding in to land - too quick for my camera to adjust to get the correct exposure unfortunately! The call is one of the best ways to locate them (though Pacific Golden Plover can sound deceivingly similar), and the plain wing pattern is an easy and quick way to eliminate Common Redshank.

Once landed, they're a bit more difficult. They have a surprisingly Common Redshank-like shape, but the long, droop-tipped bill is a good distinguishing characteristic.

In non-breeding plumage, they are grey rather than brown above, and the red on the bill-base is limited to the lower mandible (both mandibles are red at the base on Common). They have a characteristic preference for hunting in deeper water, where they are adept swimmers (but they don't spin like phalaropes).

The finely white-notched tertials and well-marked head pattern are two other good features.

A Water Rail made a typically furtive dash from one piece of cover to another.

A Ruddy Turnstone incoming.

Several of these were busily head-butting the seaweed to expose prey beneath.

1 comment:

Richard King said...

Great photos. You sure that's the UK? Looks far too sunny and blue!