Thursday, 2 December 2010

Preston Redshanks and Mergansers

Seeing that I'd spent the last 2 weeks on the River Ribble during my lunch, I thought I would have a change, so I went the other way down the River Ribble LOL. I'd been driving myself mad by returning to the same spot for the last 2 weeks just to capture a shot of the Kingfisher I keep catching sight of. So to take my mind off this I headed to the opposite end of the Ribble which took me to Holme Road Allotments which has a great vantage point over the River, plus numerous trees in small wooded areas that has obviously attracted a lot in the past, due to most of the berries being decimated.

On parking up and getting my camera kit altogether, I heard the distinctive high, thin "seee seee seee" call of a flock of Long Tailed Tits (no puns please, am sick of hearing them now). These small, gregarious and noisy birds usually flit from tree to tree in flocks of up to 20 birds. Easily recognisable by its distinctive colouring, black and pink back and a black band on a white head. Plus having a tail that is bigger than its body (hence the name). On this occasion not close enough for a photograph but below is one I took last year of a juvenile Long Tailed Tit to give you an idea.

Long Tailed Tit (Juvenile) - Preston Docklands
After walking through the gate and heading closer to the river I noticed a group of Redshanks being their usual wary selves.  No sooner had I approached the bank slowly to take a few shots they conspicuously flew off with there noisy, sharp, and annoyed "tyew-yu-yu" call.  These wading birds are common on most coasts but becoming scarcer inland in areas where drainage has destroyed wet grassland.  So they seem to be taking advantage of the low tides and heading further up the Ribble to feed on insects, worms and crustaceans that they probe and pick at within the mud.  Not to difficult to identify, as it has a whitish belly with black spots, bright red legs and a long straight red-based bill but the calls nearly always give it away.  And lucky for me I was eventually able to get one decent enough shot for you to see what I describe.

Redshank - River Ribble (Holme Road)
Continuing down the path and looking around for anything else of interest, I noticed two birds on the other side of the River.  Looking through the camera lens I could make out that they were male and female Red-breasted Mergansers, how the hell could I tell you might ask, well for me this is the best time of year to see Red-breasted Mergansers as they usually winter at sea, on sheltered coasts and estuaries and the Ribble is perfect for this.  A long, slim duck with a slender red sawbill used for catching fish.  The male has a dark head and what I would describe as a punk style mohican, while the female has a ginger brown head.  No shot of the Mergansers am afraid as they were to far in the distance to get a decent shot.  Like I have mentioned before that 150-500mm lens will be added to my camera lens collection very soon, then long distance shots WILL happen.

After 40 minutes, I decided that I couldn't cope with the cold any longer and decided to bugger off back to work for a brew.  Not a bad 40 minutes and may head back there tomorrow as not a bad little site at all and beats sitting in the office eating my lunch.

Other noticeable sightings: Grey Squirrel, 7 x Magpies, Teal and Blue Tits.

Hope people found this post a bit more informative than my usual posts.  It's something that got mentioned to me and I hope people that don't know that much about wildlife start pick up on these things and in-turn it will assist them when they are out and about. 


Thanks Nath think am gonna enjoy this blogging alot more now.  Great advice mate.

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