Sunday, 14 September 2014

A BIT OF A ROUND UP.

THURSDAY 11th.
Was mostly cloudy so opted to head for the woods. I wanted a long'ish cycle so it was cool enough for a long enough ride up to Salcey Forest. Given the light  levels I wasn't hoping for much and even less as I went up to what is called the tree top walk. A wooden walkway when or should that be IF it's quiet can be quite good ,  except on Wednesday it wasn't too bad. Bird wise it was a bit of a disappointment. From the top of the walk you get good views across the tree top canopy and distant views of Northampton and with little cloud cover you can see Wellingborough. The best bird was a couple of Buzzards and the odd Pipit probably Meadow.
One thing I do like about the walk is ambushing Goldcrest and Coal Tits they're just not expecting a human so high up.



FRIDAY 12th
Things get a bit repetitive here now as I went up to the quarry..of course. The male Sparrowhawk was floating about, didn't see the Kingfisher. Saw some more Yellow Wagtails which I have the suspicion are the same I saw on my previous visit and are lingering. The Sparrowhawk was always around the log pile or the quarry floor making things a bit quiet I saw the Kestrel hovering up one of the footpaths that has been created so went up there. They're quite nice footpaths tree lined, even though some of the saplings look like they're dead/dying, mostly the young oak. Here's a photo from the phone of the footpath.


The bushes here were full of mostly Chiff-Chaff's. A tit flock was disputing with the Chiffs which helped but also hindered me as they were always moving about, squabbling, here's an innocent Long Tailed Tit.
Now I am 90% certain all were Chiff-Chaff their is one or two that stood out from the flock (circa 20 birds) this one was notable by it's slightly smaller size and the very noticeable rusty brown on it's head and down it's rear, so wanted a back shot to demonstrate this but failed, just look at the head and the rear was the same...more likely just a Chiff.


The next bunch all the same, Chiff-Chaff's.... I think.




Told you a bit repetive lol.
Same bird next, I think is a Willow Warbler, any help or corrections on this or the above images would be gratefully received, thanks.

RECORD SHOTS
this I can confidently say are Goldfinch, small part of the flock that lingers around the paddocks on the way home, yes there is a Little Owl here but always too distant.


And a couple more..of the same, sorry!


Thursday, 11 September 2014

KESTREL VERSUS SPARROWHAWK

According to the Met Office we are now in the evening loosing three minutes of sunlight each day as we move into Autumn, so my after work visits to the quarry will get harder and harder to do.
Added a new bird to the site last night with a Snipe and Yellow Wagtails too.
The main star was two Sparrowhawks quite clearly working together to flush and hunt, one doing low level flushing whilst the other pouncing from above. The Kestrel was almost predated on one such attack. I have never seen this behaviour before and was quite relieved the Kestrel got away.
When I first got to the site I went to the log pile.


 Not over the moon with the green blob in the foreground of the Robin but loved the evening light so it has some merit,  but was slightly more happy with the Chiff-Chaff.

The Kingfisher was seen but was elusive, the two images below show how thick the vegetation is the first image being the "gap" I have to work with I'm a realist and it's dawning on me that a shot of it flying across the quarry floor is going to be the only option, clever me!


 Honestly there is water under the foliage still unsure what the bird us hunting here.

 I moved round to where the Kestrel and the Sparrowhawk would show up. The Kestrel was hunting working it's way towards me, sadly with it's back to me, I managed a few shots as it turned to move to another spot to hover, this was the best.
 The next shot is far from perfect and is what alerted me to the two Sparrowhawks as it dived and called for cover, I saw a male skimming the ground chasing the Kestrel I then saw something coming in from the left in the corner of my eye.
It was another Sparrowhawk coming in from high and at speed, the Kestrel was in trouble I thought.



 The one above and below are marginally different, the feet and tail! Marginal lol.
In some of the images you can see the nectating membrane on the eye. The pursuit was over quickly with the Kestrel beating a hasty retreat, it did show on the way home where I could see it had a silver id tag on it's foot/talon. Glad it got away. I "tweeted" how this particular Kestrel was sat with some Yellow Wagtails on the telephone cables.
The walk/ride home I got a ropey flight shot of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, it's a banker of what was recently a massive bogey bird for me and also got a distant Hare too.
I have done this post from my phone, so I hope all the images are viewable any issues please let me know.


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

MOULTON QUARRY 1st SEPTEMBER 2014

The last two evenings after work I have been up to Moulton Quarry. It's only a three and half mile cycle from my home and it beats what counts as entertainment on TV of late.
I am having to rename Moulton Quarry to Pitsford Quarry. There is a sign at the entrance saying so.
It has been an interesting exercise to see what I think of the pit now some of the summer visitors are leaving, but also what is/might drop in and new birds I hadn't noted during the summer.
GOLDCREST

GOLDCREST
I found four Goldcrest on Sunday evening which was added to the site list. On Sunday I clocked a Kingfisher darting through the quarry floor, but since it didn't land on the site I wasn't to quick to add it to the site list. I did this evening add it to the list though. As I sat trying to photograph the Willow Warbler I heard it arrive. It was well hidden amongst all the willow in one of the pits as I looked down from above. I got on my belly and waited with the only clear perch in view.
Now all the pits have water in them but I cannot see any exits for them into a main watercourse so didn't think any fish would be in them.
WILLOW WARBLER
But I could hear (not see) it splashing into the water, followed by wing flapping and brief moment later a bashing sound, which I am confident enough to say that was it knocking it's prey before swallowing. I was getting a bit frustrated thanks to the willow when after about ten minutes it perched right near me on a small elderberry bush, to my right about 2 foot away, staring right at me, BUGGER, way to close for the 500mm, I did try, even on the close focusing setting it would not focus, too close, so not wishing to be rude... I stared back. This was the closest I have ever been to one, it's bright orange chest was dazzling  I dared not breathe, it was on the bush for ages just staring and tilting it's head, sod it I reached for my phone and was going to film it, I grabbed the phone, changed the settings, zoomed in, I was going to get one helluva video, pressed the play button, BEEP, from pressing the play button, the Kingfisher beeped too and flew off to the other pit, idiot.
I managed a photograph tick this evening though of a Lesser Whitethroat which was bird I have seen many times but due it's elusive nature was a bit of a bogey bird photo wise. This was on the big wood pile which is a bit of a favourite spot of mine there is always something to photograph here.  This image is a bit better then a record shot (don't worry I have a record shot coming) I call this a BANKER ie Got one but room for improvement, one in the can!
LESSER WHITETHROAT
I stayed at the wood pile. There was also 2 Common Whitethroat adults and this younger bird, it still has a slight gape. All 3 flew off together.
COMMON WHITETHROAT

COMMON WHITETHROAT
DUNNOCK

DUNNOCK

LONG TAILED TIT

DUNNOCK
The site seems to be an evening roost for smaller birds with all sorts roosting in the thick willows of one of the pits. The most numerous is the Goldfinch, followed by Linnets as this flock came into roost I grabbed a proper record shot of the whole flock wasn't easy but I got them all in one frame so I could count them when I got home... 35. The Yellowhammers that were prevalent on the site during the summer have all but vanished, not a surprise as during the winter I am lucky to see one around here. A mini migration further south?
MY WAY OF COUNTING BIRDS, 35 LINNET
Just as the light was fading I could here a Common Sandpiper, it got louder and louder, it was heading this way so got down and tried my best at hiding, it dropped down into the pit I was sat near, closely followed by a second one, calling away (might be able to see it's bill open in the image below) the bird in the pit called back and I now had two and another bird on the site list. I checked my settings and with only 1/20th shutter speed and a very high view I didn't bother pressing the shutter, no point just to flush them. Confirmed they were definately Common and not Green Sandpipers I left them to it.
I am hoping for a few more passage birds from this site, hopefully this autumn :-) come on birdy God's a Wheatear or Wryneck would be nice...oh and you got two record shots too lol
ONE OF TWO COMMON SANDPIPER