|Campbells (front) with Duclairs behind and a regular Mallard|
In the centre of the water gulls surfed the unusually choppy (for a reservoir) water - they were nearly all Black-headed gulls, with a handful starting to develop their breeding plumage of deep brown on their heads. As usual, I checked for other types of gull amongst them. With a quick glance any interlopers often stand out because of their considerably larger size - previously at Sutton I have seen Herring and Lesser Black-backed gulls mingling with their considerably smaller comrades, today the giant among them was a single Common gull. Also almost them, and almost indistinguishable amongst all the Black-headeds with its similar size was [what I'm sure is] a Mediterranean gull, just developing the black hood which it has in breeding plumage. This was a first for me locally, but also not a bird I would expect to see here in eastern Cheshire at all, their distribution in the UK generally being restricted to the southern and eastern coasts of England. It was a bit of a 'bad photography day' and I only managed a record shot...
|Mediterranean gull (left) amongst 100+ Black-headed gulls|
|Coming home to roost - Black-headed gulls|
Sitting on some steps at the western end of the reservoir (where I was nicely sheltered from the wind) I watched as Great crested grebes fished for Perch - it was impressive both how many dives seemed to result in a successful catch, and also how the birds manage to swallow the unfortunate and comparatively large fish whole! In this relatively small reservoir I saw at least 5 Great crested grebes, all but one starting to develop their striking copper coloured breeding plumage for which they are so renowned. It is heartening to know and see how well they are now faring, having previously been hunted almost to extinction here for the plume trade so that well-to-do women in Victorian times could have hats adorned with their feathers. This unsustainable hunting (do we ever learn?) of native birds led to early legislation being introduced in order to afford birds some degree of protection, such as the Sea Birds Preservation Act of 1869 and the Wild Birds Protection Act of 1880. Despite these, the trend for ever more elaborate and exotic plumage (even, to the extent to whole (stuffed) birds) being used to decorate hats, led to the foundation of the RSPB in 1889 by women who opposed this cruel trade.
All of which leads me neatly into a quick reminder that this weekend is the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch, details for which can be found here. I shall grab a coffee and binoculars and start my hour of watching how many and which species of birds visit the garden this year (hopefully the rain might even stop for some of it....).
|Grebe with Perch|