There has been little to report from Thornton recently so I am attempting to lift the gloom with some highlights of my trip to Sri Lanka. Above is Sloth Bear, and my first Leopard below.
Whale watching was excellent with Pygmy Blue Whale and Spinner Dolphins on all three trips.
We also had these two probable Sei Whales. However, at present I cannot rule out Brydes and hope to confirm this soon.
Back at home I did at last add Snipe to my Thornton year list.A Woodcock was also flushed at Browns' wood. As I write this the Beast from the East is on its way, so hopefully something interesting might appear before years end. Some Wild Swans, a Smew or some Waxwings would be nice!
Two male Red-crested Pochard were off Wood bank on Sunday 18th
It was nice of these two gents to be present for the November Webs count. The only problem was that they had hidden behind the willows when I eventually returned with my camera. So these are record shots taken through the foliage. No sign of them on Monday am. Other highlights are 47 Lapwing on the dam, and a Chiffchaff with the tit flock on the 17th.
I would normally keep the Thornton Blog for Thornton birds but I weakened! So here are some Shetland celebs! Hooded Crow is everywhere as are Ravens.
My first tick of the trip a Buff bellied pipit from North America or Asia. Much less streaked than Meadow Pipit and, well buffer!
My favourite, Yellow-Browed Warbler from the Siberian Taiga. There is bound to be one some where in Leicestershire just waiting to be found.
The Snowball! Hornemanns Arctic Redpoll.
1st winter Black Guillemot.
Is it a Pallid Harrier? I hope so!!!!
Siberian Stonechat showing the lovely plain rump.
A female Blackcap, one of my favourite birds.
Photogenic Grey Seals, these ones on the rocks near to Tesco in Lerwick!
So what is frequenting Thornton, well we did the October Webs count. No surprise, both the Scoter and Ruddy ducks had departed, but the highlight was a stunning Kingfisher in the autumn sunshine. Other birds today included a male Blackcap, Goldcrests, Redwing, and Skylarks. Two migrating Swallows were also seen, but I am confused as to why they were flying north!
The Marsh Harrier was still present at 1330 today 26th Sept. It was hunting over Thornton and Browns Wood. At about 1400 it flew over the village and disappeared towards Desford lakes. Two Ravens also flew over at 1030.
A juvenile Sparrowhawk takes a rest on the decking.
A juvenile or female Marsh Harrier was hunting over Browns Wood at 1530 today(24th Sept). Probably a juvenile as the plumage looks very fresh. Also a pair of Wigeon and a Kingfisher on the res and plenty of hirundines.
Breaching Gervais beaked whale, at sea 200 miles west of Morocco and not on the res!
It has been rather quiet recently with few sightings of note and I have also been away. The highlight was a fly through Osprey on the 28th August. There were also up to four Spotted Flycatchers at the end of the month, some juvs indicating breeding success. On the 17th September a Hobby and 2 Ravens were fly overs. The first Webs count took place on the 16th and over 700 birds were recorded. This included 235 Mallard and 147 Coot. Up to 5 Grey Wagtails have been at the out flow and today a juv. Blackbird was trying to eat a freas water Crayfish. The highlight of my recent vacation was the sighting of a Gervais Beaked Whale 200 miles off the Moroccan coast. This species is rarely recorded alive at sea.
A Red Kite that flew over Thornton towards the west on 27th June.
A Trout leaps for joy at the arrival of 16 Common Scoter during the heavy rain of the 6th July.
This photo shows 16 birds, with just 2 females. Common Scoter breed on the high lands of Scandinavia. The groups that we see at this time of year tend to be mainly males ,as the females are with young. It seems that some take a route from the Wash to the Severn. This group beats the 13 I had at Thornton on June 8th 2002. They had gone the next day. Well done Dave for finding them.
A flock of 8 Common Sanpipers were photographed by Dave Wright at Thornton on Saturday.It is a strange time of year to have so many. Too late for breeding birds going north and too early for birds returning. Perhaps they are failed breeders, that have been affected by the changing levels of our northern rivers.
Some of my images of the damage caused by the Moderate to Strong Tornado that hit the eastern end of the dam on 28th June.The track of the Tornado could be traced by the damage to trees.It seems to have travelled in a generally N.E. direction from Newbold Verdon via Merrylees, Thornton and Newtown Linford. A T3 causes some bigger trees to be snapped or uprooted. This seemed to reflect the type of damage I saw. In other placess it may have been a T 2 , when there is general damage to trees,with some big branches twisted or snapped off and small trees uprooted.A T 3 has wind speeds of between 93-114mph.I was in Birstall where there was no Tornado but hale stones that put small dents in cars.At least it was not a Super tornado, a T 10, which can result in entire houses being lifted bodily from foundations and carried some distance! What I found remarkable was the small zone of intense damage. Only afew metres away there seemed to be little impact.There was also the rather eerie affect of the flattened grass in the meadows, as though everything had been gently smoothed down. So is this the sign of increased Global Warming or just one of the 30-70 Tornadoes that we get each year in the UK?
In the autumn I managed to catch 157 Lesser Redpoll at Thornton. On the 30th Oct. I caught 3 birds that on plumage seemed very different to the others. They were paler and seemed to have more contrast in their plumage. They were less brown and distinctly paler. I considered that they were Common Redpoll. The wing lengths were in the lower range at 70 and the longest being 72. The weights were however only between 10-11 gms. Thanks to the efforts of John Cranfield of Stanford R.G. my error has been corrected. They were infact Lessers. As John rightly says , with this difficult group it is important to take all criteria into account before assigning to race. I will be again attempting to catch Redpoll this autumn. I should now be better informed and less likely to make a mistake in my i.d. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who views any of the blogs I contribute to to have no hesitation in putting me right!