Grey Heron - Ardea Cinerea
The grey heron (Ardea cinerea) is a long-legged predatory wading bird of the heron family, Ardeidae, native throughout temperate Europe and Asia and also parts of Africa. It is resident in much of its range, but some populations from the more northern parts migrate southwards in autumn. A bird of wetland areas, it can be seen around lakes, rivers, ponds, marshes and on the sea coast. It feeds mostly on aquatic creatures which it catches after standing stationary beside or in the water or stalking its prey through the shallows.
The birds breed colonially in spring in "heronries", usually building their nests high in trees. A clutch of usually three to five bluish-green eggs is laid. Both birds incubate the eggs for a period of about 25 days, and then both feed the chicks, which fledge when seven or eight weeks old. Many juveniles do not survive their first winter, but if they do, they can expect to live for about five years.
In Ancient Egypt, the deity Bennu was depicted as a heron in New Kingdom artwork. In Ancient Rome, the heron was a bird of divination. Roast heron was once a specially-prized dish; when George Neville became Archbishop of York in 1465, four hundred herons were served to the guests.
The grey heron 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.
Fish, amphibians, small mammals and insects are taken in shallow water with the heron's long bill. It has also been observed catching and killing juvenile birds such as ducklings, and occasionally takes birds up to the size of a water rail. It may stand motionless in the shallows, or on a rock or sandbank beside the water, waiting for prey to come within striking distance. Alternatively, it moves slowly and stealthily through the water with its body less upright than when at rest and its neck curved in an "S". It is able to straighten its neck and strike with its bill very fast.
Small fish are swallowed head first, and larger prey and eels are carried to the shore where they are subdued by being beaten on the ground or stabbed by the bill. They are then swallowed, or have hunks of flesh torn off. For prey such as small mammals and birds or ducklings, the prey is held by the neck and either drowned, suffocated, or killed by having its neck snapped with the heron's beak, before being swallowed whole. The bird regurgitates pellets of indigestible material such as fur, bones and the chitinous remains of insects. The main periods of hunting are around dawn and dusk, but it is also active at other times of day. At night it roosts in trees or on cliffs, where it tends to be gregarious.
Tags: Grey Heron Heron Herons Birds. Avian Animal Animals Wildlife. Wildbirds Wetlands Water-Birds Waders Waterways Wildlife Photography Jeff Lack Photography Estuaries Estuary Lakes Ponds Canals Seashore Coastal Birds Coastline Marshland Marshes Reservoirs Reeds Reed Beds Countryside Nature
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Wryneck - Jynx Torquilla
The wrynecks (genus Jynx) are a small but distinctive group of small Old World woodpeckers. Jynx is from the Ancient Greek iunx, the Eurasian wryneck.
Like the true woodpeckers, wrynecks have large heads, long tongues which they use to extract their insect prey and zygodactyl feet, with two toes pointing forward, and two backwards. However, they lack the stiff tail feathers that the true woodpeckers use when climbing trees, so they are more likely than their relatives to perch on a branch rather than an upright trunk.
Their bills are shorter and less dagger-like than in the true woodpeckers, but their chief prey are ants and other insects, which they find in decaying wood or almost bare soil. They re-use woodpecker holes for nesting, rather than making their own holes. The eggs are white, as with many hole nesters.
The two species have cryptic plumage, with intricate patterning of greys and browns. The adult moults rapidly between July and September, although some moult continues in its winter quarters. The voice is a nasal woodpecker-like call.
These birds get their English name from their ability to turn their heads almost 180 degrees. When disturbed at the nest, they use this snake-like head twisting and hissing as a threat display.
Approx: 280 birds
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Dipper - Cinclus Cinclus
aka Water Ouzel
Dippers are members of the genus Cinclus in the bird family Cinclidae, named for their bobbing or dipping movements. They are unique among passerines for their ability to dive and swim underwater.
They have a characteristic bobbing motion when perched beside the water, giving them their name. While under water, they are covered by a thin, silvery film of air, due to small bubbles being trapped on the surface of the plumage.
Dippers are found in suitable freshwater habitats in the highlands of the Americas, Europe and Asia. In Africa they are only found in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. They inhabit the banks of fast-moving upland rivers with cold, clear waters, though, outside the breeding season, they may visit lake shores and sea coasts.
The high haemoglobin concentration in their blood gives them a capacity to store oxygen greater than that of other birds, allowing them to remain underwater for thirty seconds or more, whilst their basal metabolic rate is approximately one-third slower than typical terrestrial passerines of similar mass. One small population wintering at a hot spring in Suntar-Khayata Mountains of Siberia feeds underwater when air temperatures drop below −55 °C (−67 °F).
Dippers are completely dependent on fast-flowing rivers with clear water, accessible food and secure nest-sites. They may be threatened by anything that affects these needs such as water pollution, acidification and turbidity caused by erosion. River regulation through the creation of dams and reservoirs, as well as channelization, can degrade and destroy dipper habitat.
Dippers are also sometimes hunted or otherwise persecuted by humans for various reasons. The Cyprus race of the white-throated dipper is extinct. In the Atlas Mountains dippers are claimed to have aphrodisiacal properties. In parts of Scotland and Germany, until the beginning of the 20th century, bounties were paid for killing dippers because of a misguided perception that they were detrimental to fish stocks through predation on the eggs and fry of salmonids.
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Wild Boar Piglets.......
Wild Boar - Sus Scrofa
Forest of Dean
Status in Britain
Wild boars were apparently already becoming rare by the 11th century since a 1087 forestry law enacted by William the Conqueror punishes through blinding the unlawful killing of a boar. Charles I attempted to reintroduce the species into the New Forest, though this population was exterminated during the Civil War.
Between their medieval extinction and the 1980s, when wild boar farming began, only a handful of captive wild boar, imported from the continent, were present in Britain. Occasional escapes of wild boar from wildlife parks have occurred as early as the 1970s, but since the early 1990s significant populations have re-established themselves after escapes from farms, the number of which has increased as the demand for meat from the species has grown. A 1998 MAFF (now DEFRA) study on wild boar living wild in Britain confirmed the presence of two populations of wild boar living in Britain; one in Kent/East Sussex and another in Dorset. Another DEFRA report, in February 2008, confirmed the existence of these two sites as 'established breeding areas' and identified a third in Gloucestershire/Herefordshire; in the Forest of Dean/Ross on Wye area. A 'new breeding population' was also identified in Devon. There is another significant population in Dumfries and Galloway. Populations estimates were as follows:
The largest population, in Kent/East Sussex, was then estimated at approximately 200 animals in the core distribution area.
The second largest, in Gloucestershire/Herefordshire, was first estimated to be in excess of 100 animals. Legally classified as dangerous wild animals, the group is known to be feral descendants of domestic (Tamworth) pigs abandoned nearby. Their numbers grew by 2016 to at least 1500 and the Forestry Commission planned to reduce the total to a manageable 400. "Adult males can reach twenty stone (125 kg), run at thirty miles an hour, and can jump or barge through all but the strongest fences. Also, they are not afraid of humans, so (unlike deer) you can't just shoo them out of your garden."
The smallest, in west Dorset, was estimated to be fewer than 50 animals.
Since winter 2005/6 significant escapes/releases have also resulted in animals colonizing areas around the fringes of Dartmoor, in Devon. These are considered as an additional single 'new breeding population' and currently estimated to be up to 100 animals.
Population estimates for the Forest of Dean are disputed as at the time that the DEFRA population estimate was 100, a photo of a boar sounder in the forest near Staunton with over 33 animals visible was published, and at about the same time over 30 boar were seen in a field near the original escape location of Weston under Penyard many miles away. In early 2010 the Forestry Commission embarked on a cull, with the aim of reducing the boar population from an estimated 150 animals to 100. By August it was stated that efforts were being made to reduce the population from 200 to 90, but that only 25 had been killed.
The failure to meet cull targets was confirmed in February 2011.
Wild boars have crossed the River Wye into Monmouthshire, Wales. Iolo Williams, the BBC Wales wildlife expert, attempted to film Welsh boar in late 2012. Many other sightings, across the UK, have also been reported. The effects of wild boar on the UK's woodlands were discussed with Ralph Harmer of the Forestry Commission on the BBC Radio's Farming Today radio programme in 2011. The programme prompted activist writer George Monbiot to propose a thorough population study, followed by the introduction of permit-controlled culling.
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Rock Pipit - Anthus petrosus
The Eurasian rock pipit is closely related to the water pipit and the meadow pipit, and is rather similar in appearance. Compared to the meadow pipit, the Eurasian rock pipit is darker, larger and longer-winged than its relative, and has dark, rather than pinkish-red, legs. The water pipit in winter plumage is also confusable with the Eurasian rock pipit, but has a strong supercilium and greyer upperparts; it is also typically much warier. The Eurasian rock pipit's dusky, rather than white, outer tail feathers are also a distinction from all its relatives. The habitats used by Eurasian rock and water pipits are completely separate in the breeding season, and there is little overlap even when birds are not nesting.
The Eurasian rock pipit is almost entirely coastal, frequenting rocky areas typically below 100 metres (330 ft), although on St Kilda it breeds at up to 400 metres (1,300 ft). The Eurasian rock pipit is not troubled by wind or rain, although it avoids very exposed situations. It may occur further inland in winter or on migration.
The breeding range is temperate and Arctic Europe on western and Baltic Sea coasts, with a very small number sometimes nesting in Iceland. The nominate race is largely resident, with only limited movement. A. p. kleinschmidti, which nests on the Faroe Islands and the Scottish islands, may move to sandy beaches or inland to rivers and lakes in winter. A. p. littoralis is largely migratory, wintering on coasts from southern Scandinavia to southwest Europe, with a few reaching Morocco. Wanderers have reached Spitsbergen and the Canary Islands, but records in Europe away from the coast are rare.
The Eurasian 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 alights, whereas its relative is warier and flies some distance before landing again. Eurasian rock pipits are usually solitary, only occasionally forming small flocks.
Estimates of the breeding population of the Eurasian rock pipit vary, but may be as high as 408,000 pairs, of which around 300,000 pairs are in Norway. Despite slight declines in the British population and some range expansion in Finland, the population is considered overall to be large and stable, and for this reason it is evaluated as a species of least concern by the IUCN.
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