Sunday, September 14, 2014

Birmingham birds

About a month ago I bought a camera which allows me to take photographs of some of the local birdlife. The very small ones are really difficult to capture and ideally I need a more powerful telephoto lens. This morning a young robin remained close enough for me to take a few snaps. A beautiful songster (member of the thrush family) it is the most common English bird.

Yesterday I got quite close to a carrion crow with white primary and secondary wing feathers. What creates this pigmentation change is a gene mutation called leucism. One of the reasons I saved up for the camera was to try and get some pictures of a white magpie of which I had taken photos with my phone but no close-ups. Alas I have not seen this bird for three or four months, and it looks like it may no longer be around.

My first capture, of which I am quite proud, was of a buzzard. Buzzards are commonplace in Wales. Unusually they appear to be moving inland and my information is that there are six known breeding pairs in Birmingham.

Mute swans are easy to capture on camera. Graceful and slow-moving they are also very powerful birds.

But it is the offspring, the cygnet or 'ugly duckling' as Hans Christian Andersen called it, that has caused most comment. The photo below picks out the veins in its webbed foot as the sunlight shines through.

From another angle a circular nodule can be seen at the base of its foot. It made me question whether that is where the term signet ring is derived. After all it appears to be wearing it at the base of its middle claw and it is chunky too! Or is this just a coincidence.

Finally here is a heron. It can regularly be found at the same spot at the same time of day. It is encouraging to know that our rivers are recovering as the heron and kingfisher populations increase in Birmingham.

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