Thursday, 11 December 2014

Where's Wally the Ringed Plover

There’s no sign of a red and white striped shirt, bobble hat, or glasses in today’s challenge. Wally (or Waldo in the US & Canada) has competition from a small wading bird very well hidden along the pebble shoreline of Loch Ewe at Aultbea. This is the bird mentioned in my last blog that had me smiling and stumbling in a hurry to capture photos!

Wet pebbles and seaweed along this shoreline made for tricky walking at times. Too busy looking down at our feet we didn’t even notice the delightful small group of Ringed Plovers (possibly juveniles by their less distinct black collar) until we were upon them – and we got very close!

Having remembered the Little Ringed Plovers that captured everyone’s imagination when BBC Springwatch were at Pensthorpe National Park back in 2010 that was what I thought I was seeing! However, not being as familiar with wading birds as garden ones I didn’t realise there were two quite similar Plovers.

One of the main differences between the Little Ringed Plover and the more common Ringed Plover is in the eye detail - the Little Ringed Plover has a distinctive yellow eye ring. As the name suggests the Little Ringed Plover is smaller too but I couldn’t tell these differences when taking my photos. Ringed or not this was one of the highlights of this ‘gardenwatching’ year!

Where's the Little Plover then? Let the challenge begin… can you spot it? Note some image files are larger so you have a sporting chance - just click on them ;-)

(1) There’s a definite two Little Plovers above – perhaps there’s even a third ;-)

(2) Zooming out - can you see three Plovers now? I believe there’s a fourth ;-)

(3) A good challenge now (answer at post end) - there are five Plovers to spot!

(4) An even harder challenge (answer at post end) - five Plovers to spot ;-)

(5) This is what we are looking for - it’s brownish grey matches the pebbles.

(6) Here’s some views from different angles to help you :-)

(7) Two Plovers this time – after the clues can you spot them more easily?

(8) Two Plovers again – have your eyes become used to seeing them now?

(9) So very well camouflaged as a pebble – only one Ringed Plover this time.

(10) A tricky two Ringed Plovers – I missed the second until just now ;-)

(11) Doubting myself now - could the sure two Plovers have a companion hiding?

So our snow predicated last weekend and so far this week has been pretty much a no show (all slush) allowing me time to indulge in some fun with this post on my first ever Ringed Plover sighting back in August. I hope you enjoyed the fun too - how did you get on?

Perhaps today we will see heavier snowfall and the newest little garden visitor I thought I spotted here might return. The snow does bring more garden visitors to the feeders. However, the winds have been wild and we don't want blizzards on the roads for drivers. Wishing you all a safe weekend where ever you travel.

There’s a little more info from the RSPB on the Ringed Plover below and if you follow the link you’ll see a distribution map showing it as a resident around most of the coast of the UK and Ireland. Where’s the Ringed Plover… well if you know where to look you might just spot it ;-)

”The ringed plover is a small, dumpy, short-legged wading bird. It is brownish grey above and whitish below. It has a orange bill, tipped with black, orange legs and a black-and-white pattern on its head and breast. In flight it shows a broad white wing-stripe. Breeds on beaches around the coast, but has also now breeding inland in sand and gravel pits and former industrial sites. Many UK birds live here all year round, but birds from Europe winter in Britain and birds from Greenland and Canada pass through on migration.”
RSPB Birds by name: Ringed Plover

Answers: Locations of the five Ringed Plovers in images (3) and (4).

Copyright: Original post published on by blog author Shirley, December 11th 2014.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Friday @ the Flicks - Swallows before the snow

The forecast of snow for Sunday has triggered another unplanned Friday @ the Flicks! It doesn’t seem that long since the Swallows were seen swooping along fields and across back roads making drivers jumpy. Gosh… how fast this year seems to have gone.

Are we really ready for snow swirling around us when we walk outside? No? Okay let’s head back to the middle of August to Swallows swirling around instead. Just how I managed to stay put as they flew so close around me I really don’t know...

Swallows feeding & chattering, 53 sec without music, try HD quality.

Ha-ha… the lengths we bloggers go to get a video for a blog post ;-) Perhaps joining Midmarsh John on a regular basis will help me get through all the many video captures I have sitting. Ha-ha… but then if I plan to do so it may not happen. We will take this idea on a week by week basis then ;-)

A holiday week in the small fishing village of Aultbea in the North-West Highlands of Scotland was where the video capture above was taken. The weather could have been kinder but our cottage location on the shores of Loch Ewe (about 30 km west of Ullapool) more than made up for it.

We stayed in the very well appointed, long white house on the right.
You can see the field where the swallows were feeding alongside it.

We had a delightful driveway and walk down to the road with swallows
feeding on the left in this view. The video was taken at the bottom.

In contrast, across the road an open view of Loch Ewe and over to the Torridon Mountains was still. Aultbea has a small harbour at Aird Point on the RHS.

Morning and evening walks along the pebbled shoreline kicked up some surprise sightings. How very well camouflaged the feeding birds there were. At the start, I didn’t even notice them (just like in my first gardenwatch days) but once my eye accustomed to this new environment I had the fun of trying to identify what I was seeing and trying to capture images.

One bird species that I had never seen before was also darting around in groups around the fields beside our cottage and its ID had me struggling. However the highlight (in garden/shore watching terms) was a small group of birds spotted on a sunny lunchtime walk further along the shoreline to where the first photo was taken from. Having an idea on ID this time, I was thrilled and smiling for the rest of the afternoon.

Should snow dust/cover the garden this Sunday we can look forward to some interesting garden visitors with photo and video opportunities. If the snow’s a no show then I’ll sort through the delightful shoreline bird sighting that had me smiling. Any guesses which bird it was?

Wishing you all a great weekend – whatever the weather brings you :-)

Copyright: Original post published on by blog author Shirley, December 5th 2014.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Hairy shield bug

Hairy shield bug, surprise find weeding in Mum’s Rockery, May 2014 (iPhone).

Copyright: Original post published on by blog author Shirley, December 3rd 2014.