Sunday, 5 December 2010

St Mary's Delight

Hubby and I popped down to St Mary's this afternoon...mad I know in the freezing weather we have had lately, but a cracking hour was spend scanning the fields and pond.
First thing we noticed on arrival were these poor birds sheltering behind tufts of grass I think they are Purple Sandpipers, but I may be wrong. There were everywhere in the field opposite the pond and they did look incredibly cold. Unfortunately they all had their backs to us so getting a clear shot for ID was quite a task. Groups of 3-4 birds were scattered through out the field but after a few minutes hoping they would turn around we headed to the pond.
At the first viewing point opposite the field we were delighted to spot what we first thought was a Siskin, but after downloading the photos this afternoon we discovered what we think is a Yellowhammer, a Tick for me. I came to this
conclussion by the colour of it's legs and the lack of black on it's head. If it is a Yellowhammer then Its a cracking feeling when you compare a couple of birds and Id it correctly. A cracking little bird a delight to watch. It hung around for quite a while feeding on some seeds and nuts someone had left on the fence.
Birds spotted from here were Robin, Lapwing, Wren, Goldfinch and an absolute delight Snipe. A few were spotted at the waters edge and 2 took flight and landed in the field beside some Curlew and some more Lapwing.
We were starting to feel cold at this point and headed to the small exposed beach which was in

the process of being engulfed by waves. Ringed Plover were spotted, Oystercatchers, Redshank, Turnstones and a little higher up on the bank Pipits were popping their heads up here and there. The tide was in and Hubby didn't hang around to get some photos for his Flickr site but an excellent afternoon birding. Cold and ready for a hot cuppa we headed for home.


  1. Hello there, The waders in your first picture are Golden Plovers and in these conditions they struggle to find food. Your second and third pictures are indeed a Yellowhammer (1st winter female) and what cracking shots they are too!



  2. Hello, Yippee Yellowhammer, small victory I know but great all the same. I notice the Golden Plover's bill is different to the Purple Sandpiper so I will have to check that more closely next time.

  3. Hello Michelle,

    What you need to do is get to know the habitats that you would expect to see certain species in, that way it cuts a lot of species out when you are trying to identify them. In the case of your Golden Plovers, the first key thing is where they are. Purple Sandpipers feed on rocky coastlines, whereas Golden Plovers can be found feeding in grassland with a rleatively short sward. I hope this helps.



  4. Nice Yellowhammer pics Michelle. You are right in your differences between them and Siskins. Yellowhammers are buntings that live in open farm / scrub / hedgerow habitats while Siskin is essetially a bird of pine woods. Only at feeding stations will the two ever meet.

    Yellowhammers are half as big again as the Siskin with a much longer, proportionally, tail.

    Now your next task is to hunt out a fine golden male Yellowhammer, you will be impressed! Check out farm yards, areas with Gorse bushes (spring) and cattle feed areas. In April look out for the yellow males sitting right in the open, usually on top of a bush, singing their monotonous little song...