Canoeing – Goosander, Kingfishers and Grey Wagtails

Finally, my school exams are over, hence the reason why I have not made a blog post in ages, due to the revision that I have been doing over the past two weeks. While I have been revising, I have still managed to find some time to go out and be amongst nature. However, I found that revising while sitting outside was not the best technique due to the fact that I kept on getting distracted by passing wildlife. Unfortunately, there are no photos this time as I did not want to risk taking a DSLR onto a canoe.

During my revision, I went up to the River Severn near Shrewsbury because it was my Uncle’s 50th birthday, and we were going to go canoeing. Before we had even started, I noticed a swirling mass of Swallows, Swifts and Martins above the river, all of them occasionally dropping down to the water’s surface to pick up some sort of insect or fly.

Almost immediately from having been on the river did I suddenly notice a Kingfisher come flying straight past my boat before curving up and going into some trees on the edge of the river banks.

Also, along the banks and shores of the river (or should I say river cliffs and slip-off slopes – geography revision clearly paid off!) for the whole length of the river were innumerable numbers of Grey Wagtails. Despite their rather dull name, they are actually a very beautiful bird with bright yellow chests, and they are also very charismatic with their unmistakeable ‘wagging’ of the tail. The sexes can be told apart by the female’s lacking of the black throat that the male has.

Later on, by the edge of the river, at first sight, there appeared to be a female Mallard Duck spreading her wings out over the ground. However, when I took a closer look, it was in fact covering up lots of tiny little ducklings, all hiding underneath her. I was not too sure of the reason behind this as it was right at the shore’s edge and there was no visible predator around, nor was the weather harsh. Perhaps, she just thought that I was a danger.

Soon after, I came across another Kingfisher, however, this time, it was sitting on a branch only a couple of metres away from me, not at all disturbed by our presence. I was very pleased to see this, but also quite annoyed that I hadn’t managed to bring my camera in some way, as this would have been a superb photo opportunity. Yet, it was an amazing experience and the only time I have ever been closer to a Kingfisher was while I was also canoeing in the Dordogne, where I encountered one in a similar experience, but even closer and tamer. To distinguish between the sexes of Kingfishers, the male has an entirely black beak, whereas the female has an orange underside to the beak.

Towards the end of the trip, I notice a female Goosander on the other side of the river: a bird that I don’t actually see that often, so it was very nice to see one so clearly. However, there was no male with its wonderful green head.

Also, back closer to home, I have ringed my first bird after being sent my trainee ringing permit and license. It was a lovely little juvenile Robin. Also that day, we also caught a Song Thrush, which I discovered is very hard to extract from the net because it has a barbed tongue which can be a bit of a pain to entangle as you can imagine.

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Author: Isaac the Ornithologist

Hi, I'm Isaac West, I'm 14 years old and I live in Oxford. I have a huge passion for wildlife, especially birds and I always enjoy being out and about in the wild. I also love wildlife photography and I greatly enjoy taking photos of nature. When I am older, I would love to be involved with nature.

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