Venus Pool and Shawbury - 29 Jan 18

Later today I went to Venus Pool and then onto Shawbury.

Venus Pool

A visit to the SOS reserve at Venus Pool was not entirely successful. I had forgotten that some of the hides would be closed to allow them to be extended. The necessary work had clearly disturbed the birds and there were very few present on the water. I went to the more or less undisturbed woodland hide where, with the rain clouds not entirely cleared it was rather dull, making photography difficult. However ... I persevered. Female ducks are really attractive when seen well: here a duck Mallard of course.

I know they are not truly wild, being supplemented by birds put down expressly for shooting. Male Pheasants are nevertheless very handsome birds.

How could I resist another shot? And how could anyone shoot such a magnificent bird.

Ready for another view?

Moorhens are quite colourful when seen in close-up.

Out in the open there were more than 500 Lapwings swirling around, mostly high up or in the distance. This small group came closer.

A female Great Spotted Woodpecker – no red on the nape (the rather strange cast obvious on the nape is a very out-of-focus twig in the foreground).
Another view (the out-of-focus twig is almost vertical through the bird’s body).

Always a challenge to get Long-tailed Tits to stay still long-enough to get a sharp shot – especially in the rather gloomy conditions.
A different view.

A male Chaffinch. Lots of colours in its very complex plumage. Note the feet show signs of ‘scaly leg’ – caused by mites. Apparently the birds are in discomfort but it does not make them unwell (how do ‘they’ know?).

Against the light I was unsure what species this was – Linnet or Lesser Redpoll. A record shot and a bit of editing and we see the red ‘poll’ and the small black ‘moustache’ under the small pointed yellow bill. So Lesser Redpoll it is.
Typically the sun came out as I was leaving: a Reed Bunting. Not in full plumage the dark cheeks are sufficient to identify it as a male. In this plumage it is very similar to the rare Rustic Bunting – there was one here last winter. However Rustic Bunting would show a pink bill.


Later I went to Shawbury to watch the helicopters and was distracted by this Kestrel. When you look at illustrations in field guides separation of male and female looks easy. It often isn’t and the only ‘clincher’ for me here is the barring on the edge of the outer tail-feather – so it is a female.
This view we see the whole barred undertail confirming it is a female. A male’s undertail is plain grey with a black tip.

(Ed Wilson)