Thursday, 28 May 2015

MOULTON QUARRY AND QUARRY WALK

This post has been over two sites Moulton Quarry 23/05/15 and 25/05/15 and Quarry Walk/Pastures Farm 26/05/15 and 27/05/15.
I was hoping to post shed loads of images but it didn't quite work out as planned. 
MOULTON QUARRY 23/05/15: I arrived at the quarry and something wasn't quite right it was silent and not much flying around, in fact nothing flying around. Anything coming near the site was flying around rather then over the site. Even the Crows were coming over then quickly diving/twisting to avoid the quarry floor. I had been worried about the site for a while mostly the increase in motorcross bikes but also the amount of litter including drug paraphernalia (joint butts and plastic bottle bongs). The mystery was soon solved as I heard the all too familiar damp squib sound of an air riffle. Sure enough two 18/21 year olds taking pot shots at passing birds. BIG MISTAKE! I'm well known for my calm and measured approach to idiots (sarcasm applied), took a quick evidential photo and snuck up on the pair. Let's just say a foul mouthed 'me' had a few words the lad placed the newly purchased riffle in its carry case at this point I snatched it and things got a bit heated, what I will say is I walked away with no injuries and the riffle in hand which I handed into the police. Can't/won't comment about the other two's health. Unsurprisingly birds were very thin on the site, the Sandmartins were OK but grey skies meant no images I did get this Muntjac though
25/05/15: I deliberately gave the quarry a wide berth for one day just in case the two lads returned with 'mates' I also had to hand the riffle in and a statement to the police, though this wouldn't be my only encounter with the police today...I got to the site quite late and the sky was awful. I did a quick survey, watched a Little Owl, the Sandmartins and a Red Kite. Plenty of Blackcap's but sadly no images they're truly a massive bogey bird for me. I opted for a walk along the footpath that leads from Boughton to the quarry. It's a little gem of a footpath, think dark tree lined country lane
 It was a good choice as I could hear at least four motocross bikes, now there are two farm hands who ride around from site to site and are harmless and very respectful but also there's been an increase in 'forty somethings' going 'greenlaning' following bridle ways etc all legal of course but they could slow down a bit though and practice a ounce of self control. However once they get to the quarry they turn into absolute hooligans. I could hear four bikes tearing around and decided to make my way to the quarry for 'round two' however I had two surprise encounters on the way the first a fox
The second two fast moving motocross bikes both were police on their way to deal with it, I will be honest it was a relief. So I hung around the new spot. Found this Chiff-Chaff 

I could hear the bikes 'scatter' and chuckled to myself. I could hear two bike coming my way and instantly knew it was the police, the engines were revving in low'ish gears and we're taking their time getting to me. They stopped to chat and phone numbers were exchanged, before you shout nark, well fuck off I don't care. A lot of the unofficial/permissive footpaths have been blocked off by landowners to prevent the bikers. So if the bikers themselves respected the official right of ways and realise other people including horse riders use the footpaths and stopped using the byways as a race track then I wouldn't have to be a 'nark'. Once the coppers disappeared I got this Long Tailed Tit foraging for food 




QUARRY WALK 26/05/15: I opted to go to the Reed Bed. Skies were intermittently blue so Hobbies were the order of the day. Sadly I didn't manage many as they were distant and as always when they came close it was with either clouds or that horrible milky like sky. 

 I've opted to post this record shot of a Cuckoo and Hobby sat in tree together as yesterday (27/05/15) I told two other birders what I saw and wasn't believed and even though the Hobby is hidden and the Cuckoo out of focus but it's all there, just... 
The best treat though for the day came in the form of the very common Garden Warbler. Quite a plain looking bird but a very skulky bird and quite rare and hard not to get branches etc obscuring it. This one was very showy

I thought it was going to leap for the passing insects in the next image but it was just flapping it's wings
 Got to love this pose.
These with 700mm on tap were near enough full frame with only a miniscule of difference and cropped a little but what the heck I'm not sure I'll get too many unobsecured images...probably. 


I walked back along the river Nene beside the quarry. Found a Kingfisher, a Red Kite carrying a rabbit, couple of Hobbies, a House Martin nesting in a pipe at the lock probably the worst nesting site in the world if the water levels rise it's an overflow pipe to prevent damage to the lock during flooding etc. A stubborn horse blocked my path across the lock. I clapped, gestured, shouted, shoved, smacked, yelled some more and even used my phone  and a loud siren phone tone to move the beast, I couldn't get round it apart from eventually and nervously squeezing behind it, luckily it didn't kick out. 
 You can see the width of the path the horse was blocking, below is where I stopped to watch Black Headed Gulls and Terns hoovering up the thousands of insects, I also had a Hobby dive through and my first pair of Sedge Warbler, really struggling to locate any Sedge Warbler along this section of the Nene Valley. Yet despite BTO figures showing a decline in nesting birds last year we're not hearing much about their decline, is this because they're not as glamorous as the Cuckoo?
 A female Orange Tip, I think. Taken with my mobile phone so was quite pleased with the result. 

QUARRY WALK 27/05/15: not much was achieved image wise as I put all my eggs into one (two actually) basket and concentrated on Hobbies and Reed Warblers. Failed miserably on the Reed Warbler front and not much better on the Hobby front. My best efforts of the day or should that be worse? 
The below image is kind of what I am aiming for, vegetation etc as a backdrop but with light (it got very cloudy) and perhaps a better backdrop, it's a marker with hopefully better to come.
Got this female Reed Bunting too
The Cuckoo is still present but was boosted yesterday by the presence of a female (finally) I watched it chase the female around the site she didn't seem to keen, I did see it mate once, I was feeling sorry for this lone male so to have a female turn up was the highlight of my birding week. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

A MIXED BAG

WEDNESDAY:  despite the dubious weather I headed over to Moulton Quarry. Confirmation that the Jackdaws had evicted the Kestrel from it's tree cavity and one of the Little Owl's had also been evicted. I haven't been able to locate the exact new nesting site of the Kestrel as it's on private land. But both birds keep going to the same small spinney, interestingly right near one of the three Buzzard nests.
Now some self appointed 'experts' keep eluding that Buzzards are to blame for the decline in Kestrel numbers. I had two fledged juvenile Kestrels from this site, I also have three breeding pairs of Buzzards (6 in total) and a pair of Sparrowhawks, you may remember my post from last year at this site of the adult Sparrowhawk teaching a youngster to hunt by using the Kestrel as a target....the Kestrel got away. So going from what I've seen if we're to apportion blame to a birds decline we should look at corvids first, but I don't like doing that EVERYTHING plays it's part in the nature's grand scheme sadly nature didn't take into account the "(in)human effect". It wasn't a great visit thanks to the weather but the Sandmartins are doing OK with a lot of nesting activity.

Anyone who enjoys nature will often cynically laugh at some farmers attempts at set asides, but I walk past this one a lot, it's HUGE. My camera phone doesn't do it justice to be fair, not only does it look spectacular but it's also teaming with buglife and birds.
THURSDAY : the weather was better so headed off to Quarry Walk. The dawn chorus was still deafening especially down at the screen hide. Common stuff like Tits, Finches, Thrushes and then the Warblers too. It is starting to be less in it's intensity but still worth the early start. The Cuckoo was present all day, I still haven't seen nor heard a female though and the Cuckoo's call is beginning to sound more like a horn's player Last Revele...I caught this Reed Bunting acting very strangely.
 It would puff itself up and sit there, not calling, then deflate and few minutes later puff up again, weird but funny. And no it wasn't the wind lol.
 A more traditional look.
Of course Hobbies featured these two are ones I missed out on posting from my previous visit.

The next two from yesterday. The first makes it into the post because of its odd markings on it's tail
 This one...I'm 50/50 on it's a bit soft, light was fading and as I was stood near the power station you can see not only the power cables but the little orange balls that prevents birds flying into them....
And a Common Tern
The last couple of nights the Blue Tit that's nested under a loose (but weather proofed) roof tile above my bedroom have been very noisy. So much so my girlfriend has taken to nesting (I'm in trouble) in the spare room. ALL NIGHT I've heard the scratchy calls of the juveniles. This morning I awoke to silence. I looked into the garden have counted 6 juvenile Blue Tits, 1 juvenile Blackbird, 3 juvenile Robins but one got predated by the Sparrowhawk. I also watched the Great Tit nest box as the adult bird tempted out the youngsters just 4 juveniles, but given my garden is only 20ft by 40ft I'm quite happy with that total. I shall in about a week check the nesting spot of the Blue Tits to see if anything had been left behind..a juvenile Great Tit


Friday, 15 May 2015

SOME HOBBIES, QUARRY WALK 15/05/15

I headed off to Quarry Walk today, the sky and light for the most part was OK'ish. The Hobbies was busy hawking dragonflies sadly for the most part of the visit on the private section of Grendon Lakes. I was really gutted as at one point during the day as I watched the Hobbies performing their acrobatic displays over one section of the lakes I could see 6 Hobbies, 2 Buzzards, 1 sparrowhawk and a Red Kite. I got great views of what looked like individual Hobbies attempting establishing nesting sites.
I eventually got some good close up flyby's

I'm spending a lot of time removing dust bunnies in post processing, this old 1d mark2 seems to suck dust into it's sensor quicker then a Dyson and it's starting to play havoc with the AF system.



Whilst waiting for the Hobbies to come back over I grabbed a Whitethroat image.

 I sadly didn't hear nor see the Cuckoo. That's probably due to no female bird on site. Still at least the Hobbies performed brilliantly if at times distantly.