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User / Tim Melling
Tim Melling / 5,976 items

N 32 B 1.1K C 9 E May 12, 2019 F Jun 20, 2019
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Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix) was separated from Willow Warbler by Gilbert White in 1768. In a letter to Thomas Pennant he described how by listening to their songs, he had found there are three species of Willow-Wren. He called Wood Warbler the Large Shivering Willow Wren. This perfectly describes the accelerating trill of a song which culminates with the bird vigorously shivering its body. It is larger than Willow Warbler, a brighter green, with a lemon-yellow throat and silky white underparts. Its scientific name Phylloscopus means leaf-gleaner, while a sibilatrix is a whistler, from the song.

Wood Warblers are unusual in that they have two distinctly different songs. They have the familiar accelerating trill, but they also have a slower "hoo hoo hoo hoo".

Wood Warblers used to be a common breeding bird in the Peak District, but in the past 20 years their numbers have dwindled. The new Bird Atlas suggests the population has fallen by 65% since the 88-91 Atlas.

I had forgotten that I had taken this Wood Warbler that I stumbled upon in a wood near Holmfirth on the edge of the Peak District on 12 May.

Tags:   Phylloscopus sibilatrix Wood Warbler West Yorkshire Tim Melling

N 48 B 1.8K C 17 E Apr 29, 2019 F Jun 20, 2019
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I posted a Ringed Plover a few days ago, so here's a Little Ringed Plover for comparison. Little Ringed Plover is a common and widespread summer visitor to Britain but only nested here for the first time in 1938 (Tring Reservoir, Herts). A national survey in 2007 estimated 1239 pairs, breeding as far north as the Moray Firth, which was nearly double the population from the previous national survey in 1984. When the Wildlife and Countryside Act came into law in 1981 the bird was considered rare enough to merit the highest level of protection (Schedule 1) reserved for our rarest breeding birds but it seems a little odd for such a common bird to be on that list today.

When it was first named (by Johannes Scopoli in 1786) there was real doubt that the bird was different to the Ringed Plover so it was given the scientific name dubius (meaning doubtful). This is rather surprising as Little Ringed Plover is smaller with different coloured legs and bill, it has no wing bar plus it has a striking yellow eye-ring. But the name remains today as it was the first valid name given to the species.

Tags:   Charadrius dubius Little Ringed Plover West Yorkshire Tim Melling

N 25 B 2.2K C 5 E May 19, 2019 F Jun 19, 2019
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This is the smallest species of gull in the world and is an incredibly rare breeder in Britain with just a handful of records, all since 1975. But they do spend the winter at sea in British waters, and pass through inland sites in Britain on both spring and autumn passage, though not usually in large numbers. This is a "first summer" Little Gull, which will have hatched the previous summer. The main European breeding grounds are around the Baltic, then discontinuously across Russia to eastern Siberia. I photographed this one on the Humber Estuary in Lincolnshire. They behave more like terns when they feed, picking insects or small fish from the water surface.

DNA studies have placed Little Gull in a genus all by itself, with its closest relative being Ross's Gull.

Tags:   Hydrocoloeus minutus Little Gull Alkborough Lincolnshire Tim Melling

N 55 B 2.3K C 16 E Jun 18, 2019 F Jun 19, 2019
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Just a simple portrait of a widespread breeding bird, but I managed to get an uncluttered background. This was taken at St Aidans RSPB reserve in the Aire Valley yesterday afternoon. You can see all the diagnostic features here; black-tipped scarlet bill, longish legs, and a tail that does not extend beyond the wingtips at rest. Although it is called Common Tern, and it is the one that most people will be familiar with, numerically it is much rarer than Arctic Tern in Britain. We have about 10,000 breeding pairs of Common Tern in Britain, whereas the similar Arctic Tern numbers 53,000 pairs. But Arctic Terns usually nest at high density at a relatively few sites all at the coast, whereas a pair or two of Common Terns nest on inland waterbodies throughout Britain.

The scientific name of Common Tern is Sterna hirundo, the last name it shares with the generic name for Swallow (Hirundo rustica). Named because of the similar forked tail, terns were once known as Sea-swallows.

Tags:   Sterna hirundo Common Tern West Yorkshire Tim Melling

N 58 B 2.3K C 20 E Jun 18, 2019 F Jun 18, 2019
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Most bird books will tell you that the easiest way to tell a Chiffchaff from a Willow Warbler is by the leg colour. Chiffchaffs have dark legs and Willow Warblers pale. Which should make this pale-legged bird a Willow Warbler. But it isn't. It's a Chiffchaff, and was singing "chiff-chaff-chiff-chaff" to confirm its identity. The plumage is rather brown and it looks quite sullied on the underparts, which point to Chiffchaff, as does that noticeable white half-crescent below the eye. But if I had simply taken a photograph and I had not heard it sing, I think I might have passed this one off as Willow Warbler. I took the photograph this afternoon near Oulton in West Yorkshire.

For comparison I have pasted a Willow Warbler in the comments where you can see the similarity in leg colour. But you can also see that Willow Warbler is cleaner and greener.

Incidentally the scientific name of Chiffchaff is Phylloscopus collybita. Phylloscopus means leaf-gleaner, but collybita means money counter, because the chiff-chaff song sounds like someone counting coins off a table top.

Tags:   Phylloscopus collybita Chiffchaff West Yorkshire Tim Melling


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