If you're a birder, you'll know what a life list is. It's basically a list of all the bird species one has observed and positively ID'd in one's lifetime. This blog is a record of my "critter" life list (mostly of birds), including photos I've taken over the years, some of the actual lifer if I was lucky enough to get the shot. Don't expect National Geographic quality stuff here, just the work of an amateur photog who loves to trudge out into nature.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Chroicocephalus ridibundus (Black-Headed Gull)

6/12/17 Leeds Castle, Kent, England:







LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Black-Headed Gull

SPECIES: Chroicocephalus ridibundus

FAMILY: Laridae (Gulls, Terns & Skuas)

LIFE LIST DATE6/12/2017

LOCATION: Leeds Castle, Kent, England, UK

From Wikipedia:
The black-headed gull is a small gull that breed in much of Europe and Asia, and also in coastal eastern Canada. Most of the population is migratory and winters further south, but some birds reside in the milder westernmost areas of Europe. Some black-headed bulls also spend the winter in northeastern North America. As is the case with many gulls, it was previously placed in the genus LarusIt breeds in colonies in large reed beds or marshes, or on islands in lakes, nesting on the ground. Like most gulls, it is highly gregarious in winter, both when feeding or in evening roosts. It is not a pelagic species and is rarely seen at sea far from coasts.
The black-headed gull is a bold and opportunistic feeder. It eats insects, fish, seeds, worms, scraps, and carrion in towns, or invertebrates in ploughed fields with equal relish. It is a noisy species, especially in colonies, with a familiar "kree-ar" call. Its scientific name means laughing gull.

Aythya fuligula (Tufted Duck)

6/12/17 Leeds Castle, Kent, England: 







LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Tufted Duck

SPECIES: Aythya fuligula

FAMILY: Anatidae (Ducks, Geese & Swans)

LIFE LIST DATE6/12/2017

LOCATION: Leeds Castle, Kent, England, UK

From Wikipedia:

The adult male is all black except for white flanks and a blue-grey bill with gold-yellow eyes. It has an obvious head tuft that gives the species its name. The adult female is brown with paler flanks, and is more easily confused with other diving ducks. In particular, some have white around the bill base which resembles the scaup species, although the white is never as extensive as in those ducks
The only duck which is at all similar is the drake greater scaup which, however, has no tuft and a different call.
The tufted duck breeds throughout temperate and northern Eurasia. It occasionally can be found as a winter visitor along both coasts of the United States and Canada. These ducks are migratory in most of their range, and overwinter in the milder south and west of Europe, southern Asia and all year in most of the United Kingdom. They form large flocks on open water in winter.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Branta leucopsis (Barnacle Goose)

6/12/17 Leeds Castle, Kent, England:








  


LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Barnacle Goose

SPECIES: Branta leucopsis

FAMILY: Anatidae (Ducks, Geese and Swans)

LIFE LIST DATE6/12/2017

LOCATION: Leeds Castle, Kent, England, UK

From Wikipedia:

"Over 94,000 winter in the UK (over 20% of the world population) and 9,000 in Ireland. There are over 1,000 feral breeding birds in the UK, which appear to be increasing. On their Arctic breeding grounds some colonies nest on islands but many are on steep, inaccessible cliffs near the sea or overlooking fjords with rich feeding grounds nearby. Grazes vegetation, especially leaves, stems and seeds. Also uses bill to pull up roots and crush harder matter." 

Cygnus atratus (Black Swan)

6/12/17 Leeds Castle, Kent, England:


   
Black Swans with a Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) and Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)


   





 Cygnets (aka baby swans)


LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Black Swan

SPECIES: Cygnus atratus

FAMILY: Anatidae (Ducks, Geese and Swans)

LIFE LIST DATE6/12/2017

LOCATION: Leeds Castle, Kent, England, UK

From Wikipedia:

The black swan (Cygnus atratus) is a large waterbird, a species of swan which breeds mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia. A New Zealand subspecies was apparently hunted to extinction by Māori, but the species was reintroduced to New Zealand in the 1860s. Within Australia they are nomadic, with erratic migration patterns dependent upon climatic conditions. Black swans are large birds with mostly black plumage and red bills. They are monogamous breeders that share incubation duties and cygnet rearing between the sexes.
Black swans were introduced to various countries as an ornamental bird in the 1800s, but have escaped and formed stable populations
The black swan is common in the wetlands of southwestern and eastern Australia and adjacent coastal islands. 
The black swan's preferred habitat extends across fresh, brackish and salt water lakes, swamps and rivers with underwater and emergent vegetation for food and nesting materials. Permanent wetlands are preferred, including ornamental lakes, but black swans can also be found in flooded pastures and tidal mudflats, and occasionally on the open sea near islands or the shore.
The black swan is also very popular as an ornamental waterbird in western Europe, especially Britain, and escapees are commonly reported. As yet, the population in Britain is not considered to be self-sustaining and so the species is not afforded admission to the official British List, but the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust have recorded a maximum of nine breeding pairs in the UK in 2001, with an estimate of 43 feral birds in 2003-2004.

Corvus monedula (Western Jackdaw)

6/12/17 Leeds Castle, Kent, England

 6/12/17 Leeds Castle, Kent, England

6/12/17 Leeds Castle, Kent, England

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Jackdaw

SPECIES: Corvus monedula

FAMILY: Corvidae (Crows, Jays & Magpies)

LIFE LIST DATE6/12/2017

LOCATION: Leeds Castle, Kent, England, UK

From Wikipedia:

The western jackdaw is found from north-west Africa through all of Europe, except for the extreme north, and eastwards through central Asia to the eastern Himalayas and Lake Baikal. To the east, it occurs throughout Turkey, the Caucusus, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and north-west India. It is the second smallest member of the genus Corvus. Most of the plumage is a shiny black, with a purple sheen on the crown, forehead and secondaries, and a green-blue sheen on the throat, primaries and tail. The cheeks, nape and neck are light grey to silver-grey, and the underparts are slate-grey.
Western jackdaws inhabit wooded steppes, pastures, cultivated land, coastal cliffs, and towns. They thrive when forested areas are cleared and converted to fields and open areas. Habitats with a mix of large trees, buildings, and open ground are preferred.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Motacilla alba (Pied Wagtail)

6/12/17 Leeds Castle, Kent, England

 6/11/17 Parking area at Stonehenge, Wiltshire, S. England

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Pied Wagtail

SPECIES: Motacilla alba

FAMILY: Motacillidae (Wagtails, Longclaws & Pipits)

LIFE LIST DATE6/11/2017

LOCATION: Stonehenge, Wiltshire, Salisbury Plain, S. England, UK

From Wikipedia:
The white wagtail (Motacilla alba) is a small passerine bird in the wagtail family Motacillidae, which also includes the pipits and longclaws. This species breeds in much of Europe and Asia and parts of north Africa. It is resident in the mildest parts of its range, but otherwise migrates to Africa. It has a toehold in Alaska as a scarce breeder. 
The white wagtail is an insectivorous bird of open country, often near habitation and water. It prefers bare areas for feeding, where it can see and pursue its prey. In urban areas it has adapted to foraging on paved areas such as car parks. It nests in crevices in stone walls and similar natural and man-made structures.

Corvus frugilegus (Rook)

 6/11/17 Stonehenge, Wiltshire, Salisbury Plain, S. England





   




LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Rook

SPECIES: Corvus frugilegus

FAMILY: Corvidae (Crows, Jays & Magpies)

LIFE LIST DATE6/11/2017

LOCATION: Stonehenge, Wiltshire, Salisbury Plain, S. England, UK

From Wikipedia:
Rooks are distinguished from similar members of the crow family by the bare grey-white skin around the base of the adult's bill in front of the eyes. The feathering around the legs also looks shaggier and laxer than the congeneric carrion crow. Their colonial nesting behaviour gave rise to the term rookery. 
Rooks are resident in Great Britain, Ireland and much of north and central Europe but vagrant to Iceland and parts of Scandinavia. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Alopochen aegyptiaca (Egyptian Goose)


6/8/17 Hyde Park, London, UK

 6/8/17 Hyde Park, London, UK

 6/8/17 Hyde Park, London, UK

 6/8/17 Hyde Park, London, UK 

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Egyptian Goose

SPECIES: Alopochen aegyptiaca

FAMILY: Anatidae (Ducks, Geese & Swans)

LIFE LIST DATE6/8/2017

LOCATION: Hyde Park, Central London, UK

From Wikipedia:

The Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) is a member of the duckgoose, and swan family Anatidae. It is native to Africa south of the Sahara and the Nile Valley.
Egyptian geese were considered sacred by the Ancient Egyptians, and appeared in much of their artwork. They have been raised for food and extensively bred in parts of Africa since they were domesticated by the ancient Egyptians. Because of their popularity chiefly as ornamental bird, escapees are common and small feral populations have become established in Western Europe.[

Taxonomy[edit]

The Egyptian goose is believed to be most closely related to the shelducks (genus Tadorna) and their relatives, and is placed with them in the subfamily Tadorninae. It is the only extant member of the genus Alopochen, which also contains closely related prehistoric and recently extinct species. 
It swims well, and in flight looks heavy, more like a goose than a duck, hence the English name. It is 63–73 cm (25–29 in) long.
The sexes of this species are identical in plumage but the males average slightly larger. There is a fair amount of variation in plumage tone, with some birds greyer and others browner, but this is not sex- or age-related. A large part of the wings of mature birds is white, but in repose the white is hidden by the wing coverts. When it is aroused, either in alarm or aggression, the white begins to show. In flight or when the wings are fully spread in aggression, the white is conspicuous.
The voices and vocalisations of the sexes differ, the male having a hoarse, subdued duck-like quack which seldom sounds unless it is aroused. The male Egyptian goose attracts its mate with an elaborate, noisy courtship display that includes honking, neck stretching and feather displays. The female has a far noisier raucous quack that frequently sounds in aggression and almost incessantly at the slightest disturbance when tending her young.

Distribution[edit]

This species breeds widely in Africa except in deserts and dense forests, and is locally abundant. They are found mostly in the Nile Valley and south of the Sahara. While not breeding, it disperses somewhat, sometimes making longer migrations northwards into arid regions of the Sahel. It has also been introduced elsewhere: Great Britain, the NetherlandsFrance, and Germany have self-sustaining populations which are mostly derived from escaped ornamental birds. Escapes have also bred on occasion in other places, such as Texas, Florida and New Zealand. The British population dates back to the 18th century, though only formally added to the British list in 1971. In Britain, it is found mainly in East Anglia, in parkland with lakes. It was officially declared a pest in the United Kingdom in 2009.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Cygnus olor (Mute Swan)


6/8/17 The Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park, London


 6/8/17 The Serpentine Lake, Hyde Park, London


6/12/17 Leeds Castle, Kent, London

6/12/17 Leeds Castle, Kent, London

LIFE LIST NOTES:

COMMON NAME: Mute Swan

SPECIES: Cygnus olor

FAMILY: Anatidae (Ducks, Geese & Swans)

LIFE LIST DATE6/8/2017

LOCATION: Hyde Park, Central London, UK

"Mute" swan because it is less vocal than other species of swans. 

From The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds of the World by David Alderton:

These graceful swans can be seen in a wide variety of habitats and may even venture out on to the sea, although they will not stray very far from the shore. They prefer to feed on aquatic vegetation but can sometimes be found grazing on short grass. Pairs are very territorial when breeding an the male swan will actively try to drive away people with fierce movement of the wings if they venture too close. 

Distribution: Resident throughout the British Isles and adjacent areas of Western Europe. Localized introduced populations found in South Africa, eastern USA, Australia and New Zealand.