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Searching for Spring

It has been raining for weeks now and our garden is so saturated that it is out of bounds, unless we decide to create a mud bath. In a search for some hope of spring, we braved the elements and went for a long walk in Forest Farm. Despite drizzly beginnings, the weather brightened occasionally and, as there was a rugby match on in town, the bird hides were deserted. We were treated to the sight of a beautiful female kingfisher; I tried to capture a photo by holding my compact camera lens up to the eyepiece of my binoculars. The result is less than impressive but at least I know what the bird is supposed to look like! We also had an unparalleled view of a green woodpecker plus various blue tits, great tits, chaffinches, grey wagtails and a little goldcrest. Seeing snowdrops and a primrose made it feel as though we were at least heading in the right direction.

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Who says British birds are dowdy?!

I have often travelled abroad and stared in awe at such avian splendours as flycatchers, parakeets or humming birds; it’s easy to forget that amongst our own birds (if a bird introduced by the Romans can by now be considered ‘ours’) there are also some real beauties and the male pheasant must surely be on the list. This chap’s plumage was dazzling and, if I had been a female pheasant, very alluring.

Male Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus). Arundel WWT.

Ruddy Ducks at Arundel WWT

It seems that these chaps are threatening to oust our British indigenous white-headed ducks by interbreeding with them, using ‘aggressive courting behaviour’ according to a wiki on the subject. This particular trio were safe and sound at the Arundel Wildlife and Wetlands Trust Centre in West Sussex.

Ruddy Ducks (Oxyura jamaicensis) at Arundel WWT. February 2011

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