Venus Pool - 11 Feb 18

Here are a few images from my visit to Venus pool this afternoon.

A fine pair of Mallard. These foraging for food dropped at the feeders in the woodland hide at the SOS Reserve at Venus Pool.
A trio of Chaffinches seem unconcerned about the Mallard. We see the curly tail on the drake Mallard – a very strong gene that is present in most drake hybrids.
What exactly is the evolutionary path that produces the extraordinary plumage on this male Pheasant?

The feeders were alive with tits of course. Here is, obviously, a Blue Tit. Apparently the eyes of Blue Tits ‘see’ their blue the same way as we see the blue of Kingfisher. Looks quite vivid to me anyway.
And an always engaging Long-tailed Tit.

A female Chaffinch is actually quite attractive if understated.

Rather shy today and the lone example we found was this female Brambling. Although a male would not have the full black head of a breeding adult yet it would show a vertical black area between the bill and the eye. There would also be some yellow on the bill.

Also eating the food dropped from the feeders was this vole sp. But which? One possibility is Short Tailed Field Vole, but that begs the question of how ‘short’ is ‘short’...?
The strong rufous colouring, especially on the neck, and the relatively large ears means this is a Bank Vole.

The rufous tone is well illustrated here.

Once finished with the woodland hide we went in to the (expanded) main hide where there was a fine array of ducks and drakes to get to grips with. Here is a drake Common Shelduck – he has the larger swelling at the base of the bill.
He was also part of the synchronised drowning competition – he is on the left with the brighter undertail.

A fine drake (Common) Teal in great light. Note particular the long scapulars hanging across the back.

And a pair of (Common) Teal. Note the short pale horizontal stripe under the duck’s tail. This can be used to identify ducks of this species from all other small brown ducks even at long range.

Here, at the back, we see a fine drake Pintail, though rather distant and not as crisp as I would have liked. We see the long ‘pin’ tail and the distinctive neck white stripe on the otherwise chocolate head and neck. Over-exposed pair of Shoveler in the foreground.

Another view. The black bill is very obvious. A duck Shoveler again in the foreground: this a typical view of this species which seems to spend its entire time with its distinctive bill hidden as it sifts food from the water.

A rather better shot of a pair of Shoveler with the drake keeping a careful eye on me.

There were a number of very busy Common Snipe running around and feeding – hence hard to ‘freeze’ the action. Note the rufous tail-feathers. It is now thought that birds with ‘brighter’ tail feathers are in better condition. The result is that these feather, held open to vibrate in the air when the bird does its diving display flight, make more noise as they are also stronger. This indicates a ‘better’ mate to the females on the ground.

(Ed Wilson)