The blackcap, sometimes referred to as the northern nightingale, is a distinctive greyish warbler, the male has a black cap, and the female black cap has a chestnut one. Its delightful fluting song has earned it the name ‘northern nightingale’. Although primarily a summer visitor birds from Germany and north-east Europe are increasingly spending the winter in the UK.

New findings

Since the 1960s, the number of blackcaps which spend winter in the UK has grown and grown. It’s no longer a rare sight to see them in your garden in the middle of winter.

Just what are they doing? Surely blackcaps should be heading for warmer climes? After all, the UK’s no place for a warbler in winter…

We’ve known for a while that the blackcaps that come to Blighty for winter tend to have been hatched or breed in southern Germany. We found that out from ringing, where birds are fitted with a uniquely-numbered, lightweight metal ring which can be read and reported if they’re found or caught again – extract taken from RSPB.

Images by CRUSH Photography©

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The beautiful mandarin duck was introduced from the Far East, where it can still be found in China, Japan, Korea and parts of Russia. It escaped, or was deliberately released, from captivity in the UK. They are actually quite shy birds, often hiding beneath overhanging willows and usually only forming small flocks.

How to identify

A beautiful, unmistakable duck: male mandarins have elaborate plumage with orange plumes on their cheeks, orange ‘sails’ on their back, and pale orange sides; the female is dull in comparison, with grey heads, brown backs and white eyestripe.

Distribution

Introduced from China and now found on park lakes and other wetlands with overhanging trees, mainly in South East England, but also in North England, Wales and Scotland.

Habitats

Did you know?

The mandarin duck nests in holes in trees, sometimes high up and a long way from the water. Shortly after the ducklings hatch, the female flies down and tries to coax the young to jump from the nest. Once they have left the tree and made their way back to water, the father will return to the family and help to protect the ducklings.

All Images by CRUSH Photography©

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Acknowledgements: Extract taken from The Wildlife Trusts

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The colourful male bullfinch is unmistakable with his bright pinkish-red breast and cheeks. It has a grey back, black cap and tail, and bright white rump. The flash of the rump in flight and piping whistled call are usually the first signs of bullfinches being present. They feed voraciously on the buds of various trees in spring and were once a ‘pest’ of fruit crops.

The Bullfinch is a medium-sized to large finch, round in shape with a large, robust bill.

Both adult males and females have a black cap that extends forward around the bill, together with a grey back, black wings (with a grey-white wing bar), black tail and white rump.

The underparts of the colourful male bullfinch are rose-red, while those of the female and juveniles are pinkish-grey.

Juvenile Bullfinches have a brown head, lacking the black cap of the adults, but show similar wing, rump and tail markings.

The call note is a low, piping ‘deu-deu’ (sometimes ‘deu’), while the song is highly variable, though usually quiet in nature and audible only over short distances.

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Acknowledgements: Extracts taken from British Trust for more...

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The Western Osprey is 0.9–2.1 kg (2.0–4.6 lb) in weight and 50–66 cm (20–26 in) in length with a 127–180 cm (50–71 in) wingspan. The upperparts are a deep, glossy brown, while the breast is white and sometimes streaked with brown, and the underparts are pure white.

'Osprey' By CRUSH Photography©

Description

The sexes appear fairly similar, but the adult male can be distinguished from the female by its slimmer body and narrower wings. The breast band of the male is also weaker than that of the female, or is non-existent, and the underwing coverts of the male are more uniformly pale. It is straightforward to determine the sex in a breeding pair, but harder with individual birds.
Osprey

The Western Osprey

The head of the Western Osprey is white with a dark mask across the eyes, reaching to the sides of the neck. The irises of the eyes are golden to brown, and the transparent nictitating membrane is pale blue. The bill is black, with a blue cere, and the feet are white with black talons. A short tail and long, narrow wings with four long, finger-like feathers, and a shorter fifth, give it a very distinctive appearance.

'Osprey' By CRUSH Photography©
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