Friday, 31 May 2013

GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, MISTLE THRUSH AND LINNET

I covered a lot of miles this week at work so had exceded my allotted driving time which meant no work today and an extra day off, five instead of four I do love continental shifts. However the last thing I wanted to do was jump in the car and head out to somewhere. I think a combination of miles covered, O.A.P's driving 40 mph down 60 mph single carriageways (grrrr!) or cyclist cutting up the left hand side down your blind spot as you attempt a left hand turn...frigin' idiot had just meant I had enough driving. The said cyclist gesticulated at me, silly boy, a trucker delight was chucked in his direction (an open UHT milk pot, those small ones you find at services left on the dashboard...very smelly) and a report to my boss via the "How's my driving" number, sadly for the said cyclist we have dash mounted,rear mounted and side mounted cameras fitted it also has a system that shows what lights were switched on the lorry including indicators (insurance demands this due to "crash for cash targetting lorries...guranteed to have insurance) so his complaint was dealt with by the boss in his polite "learn how to cycle you numpty", nice!! I do feel sorry for cyclists it ain't nice out there on Britains road but some cyclists do themselves no favour, if you're ever on a bike and a lorry is indicating left and is sat about two foot from the curb, it's not to allow you to cycle safely past BUT MY TURNING CIRCLE!
So I wanted to clear my head and de-stress ready for the weekend and what better way then a walk, a big walk a 15 mile round trip from my house to Pitsford reservoir (the yacht club end and not the nature reserve) via Moulton village hitting the public footpaths, no people and nice warm weather....just what the doctor ordered.
The first bit from Moulton Magpies Football Club to Spectacle Lane was somewhat uneventful apart from loads of Starlings, a Buzzard and some Swallows and Linnets. As I walked down Spectacle Lane I found/heard a lot of calling from inside an oak tree, Great Spotted Woodpeckers babies problem was there was six possible nesting holes, so using all the birding knowledge I could muster I plumped for the most likely....wrong hole,doh.
I got two shots off through some branches as one woodie came into feed the calling young.
Not my best effort as you can see from the green leaves on the top left. I moved into a more favourable position sadly the woodies had spotted me (guess that's why they're called Great Spotted..sorry) and were coming to a branch near the hole and despite the full mouths they weren't going into feed, my presence was stopping them so I moved on straight away. As I got near the top of the lane I had two choices turn left and go through the field toward Bunker Hill farm or straight on toward the college and take the footpath that would take me onto Pitsford. I opted for Bunkers Hill as the other footpath had been closed last time I drove past (why will be revealed later).
As I walked towards the farm there is this lovely massive set-aside, it's HUGE and covered in lovely wildflowers which had attracted the butterflies, I counted six species, can't name them apart from the Orange Tips, Cabbage White and that's it lol, I wish I had brought a smaller lens as well as the 500mm as apart from a shy Common Whitethroat, a Buzzard in the sun, a very high up Skylark and some Swifts there wasn't many birds until I got to the footpath that runs behind the farm. Here there was more Swallows, a male Kestrel, Mistle Thrush, Linnet, Yellowhammers and House Sparrows. In fact there was a lot of Yellowhammers and Linnets on this section of walk which was a nice surprise.
So I managed some images of the Mistle Thrush in a puddle.....
 The same Mistle Thrush doing it's bit for the environment by sharing it's bath with a Linnet.
 A different Linnet but on it's own.......
The Yellowhammers I struggled to get either close or the ones I did get close enough to had twigs from the hedge's around them, still a lovely bird.
And a female House Sparrow.......
An interesting farm with good numbers of common species and not so common like the Yellowhammer always nice to see, considering some farms get labelled as "not bird friendly" I also counted six separate Skylarks on site, bonus.
The rest of the walk to Pitsford bird wise was uneventful except yet another Buzzard, Crows, Rooks and fly-over Gulls. At Pitsford the most notable bird was a female Kestrel hunting near the car-park and a Kingfisher which being knackered I completely missed.
On the way back I went along the footpath that was "closed" last time I went past the reason.....
It was a massive sett too, it had forced it's way up to the surface of the footpath forming a small "hill" on the footpath, so obviously the council had been securing the footpath....no Badgers but another visit is on the cards for this and Bunkers Hill farm.
Not much in terms of images but a great walk that totally "de-stressed" one self.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A FEW FROM THE PARK

I think I might have mentioned this before, but I do like my local park (Eastfield park). I don't have to walk far to get to it, sure sometimes (like now) mostly during half term/term when the kids are out of school, you have to exercise a sensible level of precaution if you're carrying a camera. You get the odd remark "wow how far can you see with that", "what you're photographing" etc. Quite harmless, and some even show an interest or tell me what they get in the garden.
I was at the lake trying to get some reed warblers (failed) when I heard in excited tones "He'll know what it is?" and I suddenly had six kids around me, "what" from a grumpy me, "there's this bird, it's hovering and diving in the water round there", so off we went, the warblers gone by now, it's a Common Tern I explained, "why's it diving in the water", so I explained, the tern flies by and skims the surface of the water, "why's it doing that", a bit harder that one I thought, I gave them three reasons a)having a drink b)catching insects off the surface or because it just had a fish meal c)washing any oil from the fish off it's bill after about ten minutes they buggered off and I was left in relative peace until some man walked over "are you alright, I thought they were going to steal your camera", I explained it would take an army and I'm fine thanks....who do think I was more annoyed about the excited kids who ruined my chance of getting a reed warbler image (of which I have plenty of anyway) but were genuinely interested in some wildlife (for a change) or paranoid man?
GREY HERON, EYEING UP THE JUVENILE GEESE AND DUCKS
 There wasn't much around the sun had everyone on the park doing a variety of things enjoying the park. So I did I quick check on the nest boxes and from the sounds and look of things everything is moving along nicely. The odd thing about the nest boxes (and there are a few around) is no-one seems to know who's put them up, they've been sited in very good areas etc so it can't have been the council (lol) and it wasn't me, perhaps it was the Northants Wildlife Trust.
GREAT TIT, DOING A BIT OF HOUSEKEEPING 
I had a quick check on the Sparrowhawk on the way back home, doing ok, we think, can't really see what's happening in the nest, we can just about see the female as the nest keeps getting bigger and bigger (in height). I also had a quick look for the escaped parakeets but no sign of them unfortunately, did get a very high up Red Kite circling before heading in the general direction of Moulton village, I only had my small lense so did bother snapping any images, but from the viewfinder I could see it looked a bit tatty (moult) so obviously a nesting bird.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

YET MORE SPARROWHAWK

As I typed out my last blog post on Friday I had a slight tickly cough and a scratchy feeling in my throat. Didn't think much about it, but a couple of hours later I could hardly breathe through my mouth, the tickly cough had turn into a non-stop hacking and my throat was killing me (remember all in two hours) a runny nose then started. I kept thinking "what the hell" I was alright a minute ago. I started to get hot, then cold, then hot again, this wasn't "man-flu", this was flu, it has been knocking around the workplace and other workplaces for a while and until Friday I had avoided the bugger. The other half was going to ring the doctor, but I told her not to bother, a)it was out of hours ie shit service b)I had all the medication lurking around the house.  I got several layers on, wrapped myself in my duvet, not much sleep I was soon awake early Saturday morning, my legs were aching, my shoulders were aching but the cough had weaken, I still had a temperature so common sense prevailed (the other half hid my camera lol) and I stayed in, sniffling away and very bored.
Sunday I felt much better all the symptoms had gone within a 48 hour period, I did remember my buddy Ben the Plumber say "you'll get the trots mate", for my American readers that's cockney for diarrhoea......oh yeah, so Sunday was mostly spent very close to the toilet, the other oddity whilst it was sunny and warm outside on Saturday and Sunday, I was freezing, my body temperatures gone back to normal and by midday Sunday I wasn't dashing off to the toilet.
Flaming typical I spent the winter in snow covered fields, icy winds blasting on top of cliffs, frost covered nature reserves and general freezing temperatures in my lorry on nights out...did I get a flu then, did I heck, I had to wait for the first decent weather of the summer I guess that is truly sods law.
So my bank holiday was a complete waste, I think looking at my shift patterns that is/was my only bank holiday this year.
Whilst sitting in the garden trying to get warm and wrestling my beef sarnie from Jim, my hound, I got the local male sparrowhawk flying over the house. Came over very low and grabbed a few images. I had no strength and was struggling to hand hold my "mini-Bertha" (300mm/f2.8&1.4tc) I was truly a pathetic drip. Other birds noted from the garden were a Buzzard (not bad for an urban enviroment), Housemartin,2 Swifts,House Sparrow,Starlings (which came to the feeder as I sat inches away) and then I heard a call and I thought "what the f**k", I've heard it before but couldn't place it, whatever it was there was two of them calling, I had to go and track it down. So permission slip signed (I had to leave the camera behind and take Jim) off I went. I got to Keswick Close, when I found myself imitating the call, then it struck me, what an idiot, I remember this bird from last year, I thought because I hadn't seen it all winter that it had been predated,died from the cold or got re-caught....it was two lovely red Crimson Rosella Parakeets, obviously escapees, were they the same ones from last year (the ones from last year were grey though), you'll also have to take my word no medication was involved (honest-lol) in fact they had settled on one persons roof and were drawing quite a crowd (how I knew were the birds where) all with camera phones out etc, hopefully they'll be around for a bit longer and I can get some images of their id tags on their feet and see if they are the same birds from last year.
On a jovial note my sister was in Bath and took this image of some owls, she only did it because there was a sign saying "copyright protected, no photographs"...ooops!


Thursday, 23 May 2013

JAYS, BLUE TIT AND LOCAL SPARROWHAWK UPDATE.

Well firstly the female is still sitting pretty, the only odd thing being the lack of the male bird showing near the nest. Paul's daughter is showing a real talent for recording bird species recognition and is constantly (according to her dad) hogging the scope....good stuff that. She even kept for me, much to her mum's disgust some angel wings, the remains of a bird of prey kill, so called because they look like angel wings. It was a Jay, it wasn't the one that kept pestering the sprawk as mentioned in the last post, it was a juvenile bird the remains it left behind being only slightly larger then a Greenfinch. Perhaps this is why the Jay is pestering the Sprawk so much, it still is. I managed a few images of the Jay.

Today I went for an Urban Bird walk. The first port of call was a tiny pocket park nearby. It's only about an acre in size, it's horseshoe in shape but the key feature for me of this park is that on three sides it has a steep banks leading up to the back of peoples gardens, the council about ten years ago agreed with the residents to allow the nettles and brambles grow unchecked/uncut in a bid to prevent people breaking into the houses. This brings some obvious benefits loads of caterpillars/butterflies and plenty of garden birds. House Sparrows are in plentiful supply here as is other common species the list for the day was Greenfinch,Chaffinch,House Sparrows,Blue Tits,Great Tits, Long Tail Tits, Blackbirds,Collared Dove,Wood Pigeon,Goldfinch,Robin,Dunnock,Common Whitethroat overhead I had just 5 Swifts and 1 Hobby, my first urban Hobby, one I've seen for the last three years. it always heads back towards Moulton Park Industrial Estate. Now I don't know my butterfly species but I did get Cabbage White (I know that one ) and big red one (stop laughing, I don't know that one) not bad of a species list for an a park an acre in size. I did see juvenile Dunnock too. I only do this park on cloudy days when it's not worth getting the car started for "further away" ventures, yet some good images can be had from here, next cloudy day (there will be plenty more of them I'm sure) I shall go back and despite the downpour of hail and rumble of thunder, got these Doves and Goldfinch.
COLLARED DOVE.

GOLDFINCH, LOOK HARD ENOUGH AND YOU'LL SEE THE DOG AND ME, VERY TAME
This evening I took the greyhound over my local park to check on whether the Reed Warblers were showing any better, almost! There was a stranger to the park's lake in the shape of a Common Tern, there isn't many fish left in there these days, plus it's very shallow, in fact what sunlight we've had so far is already forming green algae on the surface, it's that shallow and rather sadly one those "children's sized" quad bikes has been dumped in there handlebars showing(gives you an idea how shallow), but the tern did catch a fish and headed off towards Pitsford. The reservoir is some distance away for a fishing trip and had me looking on maps for any other potential bodies of water...how far will a tern fly for food? Constant showers and clouds meant photography moments were on short supply and was more a case of seeing what was around. Juvenile Greenfinches,Chaffinches and Great Tits are already showing, by the sound of things I'm expecting juvenile Blackbirds,Wrens,Long tail Tits and Song Thrush with some very vocal noises coming from nest sites. Also got an adult Mistle Thrush this evening in the Oak Trees near Eastfield housing estate so plenty of common stuff. The real "no show" are the swifts, there has always been a local breeding colony on the estate (Broadway Avenue and Addison Road, near the pub) however in recent years numbers have declined and I only counted 10 birds so far, down by at least half on last years total, this decline can't be put down the loss of nesting spots as nothing has changed and those lucky to get them in their roofs (most don't realise to be fair!!) enjoy and look forward to their arrival, they were very late in arriving with many residents constantly when I pop into my local shop asking me "are they going to turn up" or "mine haven't showed, is it something I've done", the last question/comment always puts a smile on my face...oddly.
Despite the showers and dull light I managed "flight" shots of a Blue Tit, mostly hopping from branch to branch in short flight searching the underside of branches and leaves for bugs to feed young, so not really flight shots....it did have a wet head as did I!!



Monday, 20 May 2013

KESTREL, HOBBY AND TERNS

Well Saturday (all day) and Sunday (just the morning) I re-visited the "reedbed", remember this site is "maligned" as a site where no decent images can be obtain...well I'm no David Tippling but I seemed to be able get images from the site. Something also worth noting about this site is that it sits at the back of a farm (part of his land) and is part of the even more maligned ELS scheme, you only have to read some conservationist blogs out there to see the criticism the ELS schemes get, sure some have abused the scheme,sure some of only done half-heartily etc but when you get a farmer who does do it for the right reasons it works, it really does. Plenty of warblers around the site, there is two Cuckoo's present (male and female) sadly I could get near them...didn't really try to be honest and a lot of Sedge Warblers have finally turned up too...I did try for them but failed for a "clean" image.
So the three favourite shots from the site after the weekend are........
HOVERING COMMON TERN

A SLOW START FOR ME FOR MY ULTIMATE FALCON...THE HOBBY

KESTREL, FEMALE
The hobby was coming in for a drink but was to far away for portrait, afterwards it carried on chasing Swifts, too high up. The Kestrel I'm ashamed to say my fieldcraft let me down, I crept along a hedgerow popping my lens around a tree to get the image, I then noticed the well hidden nest box, she was on sentry duty, so with only three images I crept away a deftly as I could...I don't like photographing any bird at the nest site so was somewhat embarrassed I didn't see the nest box, felt well guilty afterwards, the male returned with worms in it's bill, so hopefully no harm.
Finally a Robin, couldn't resist it in full song, got that at Eastfield Park.

Friday, 17 May 2013

MY LOCAL SPARROWHAK AND BITS AND BOBS

Well just to keep those informed, Mr.and Mrs.Sparrowhawk seem to be doing fine. A quick chat/visit yesterday at Paul's house confirmed things are moving along at pace. The female judging from her behaviour is definitely sitting on eggs. She never moves, even when the male brings in food, when he brings nesting material in she doesn't even leave the nest to place the twig, the one time she did move was when the male was absent and a squirrel approached the nest and the female just lunged at it sending the squirrel into free fall to the ground, quite comical, not sure it survived no way of checking as it's impossible to get near the nest. The male is an odd bird, I looked at Paul's list of prey and pulled a face when I saw on the list "slice of bread", it wasn't from Paul but from many of the slices left out by the residents for the mallards and gulls. Wouldn't have believed it had I not seen the male bring back a slice of bread during my visit. I enjoyed watching the male chasing a Jay that strayed to near the nest, the male regularly sits on one tree a few feet from the nest keeping a vigil on her (see image below), though the Jay is a regular visitor so it's either brave,stupid or soon to be food.....
I've personally been busy, taking an exam to add another dangerous goods to my current ADR license, football of course and then there's work, every time I've been able to get out with a camera it's absolutely poured down or like today damp and miserable, I must have slept through summer, a quick stop of at Billing Aquadrome on the way to a friends house at nearby Cogenhoe proved interesting. There was a "hatching" of loads of insects, I think they were May fly's but it seemed like every Common Tern,Swift,Swallow,Housemartin and even three Sandmartin had found out. On the Marina lake there was approximately 80 Swifts, 20 Swallows, 12, Housemartins, 3 Sandmartins and 1 Hobby the Hobby chasing the swifts and swallows and everything else chasing the Mayflys. Sadly the weather was appalling so my excuse for poor images. All the images were done at ISO 1000 on the swallows I had to go +1 2/3 over exposing just to get the dark areas brighter (no point going for swifts in such poor light) on the terns I was able to drop the ISO and exposure but the light was still terrible (see first image) and the rain was pelting down you might just make out the rain in the second tern image





Sunday, 12 May 2013

OH, OH, MY SISTER IS GETTING CAMERA HAPPY!!!

Well I have to admit I get quite jealous of the birds in my sisters garden, I often offered to swap houses but she isn't playing fair. I can't blame her, nice "rural" area with plenty of good birding habitat, in fact there HAS TO BE a Barn Owl nearby.
She keeps saying "I have this one bird it does....what is it", my normaly polite response "How do I know? Take a photo" (told you I was jealous) so she finally did, from her Blueberry device so quality always going to be dodgy



Well apart from quality, the very dodgy looking statue (who the hell is it Linda? Jesus doing karaoke?) and I'm not sure you had to tear your nets down lol lol, but she asked me what they were...House Sparrows, the bird I keep telling you that you're lucky to have so many of....she moans about their noise, but she does have a lot with birds nesting all over the place. I  ALSO LOVE THOSE SCENIC VIEWS OF THE COUNTRY- SIDE LINDA (I'm only jealous) and they're hunting for insects in the brickwork. Who needs a TV when you can watch that?
I have lurking somewhere in my room a very old Nikon D50 and 300mm VR lens, if I can find the battery charger, I think I might have to give Linda a crash course of the basics and see what she can get....no doubt I'll post them....you'll have to have a word though Linda with the owner of that "barn" and see if he has an owl in it for me.......and find out what them "waders" are too.

Friday, 10 May 2013

MY LOCAL SPARROWHAWK, GOOD/BAD NEWS

Well since my last my post I left my camera at home and kept a vigil on the sparrowhawks nest. Bad news- it's abandoned the nest, of sorts, this will become more clear by the end of the post, Good news, it's building a new one, and having checked on it today making very quick progress, the male is showing a lot both over the estate, visiting two bird feeders (a few garden birders here, who have shown me video-grabs...cool) plus I've seen it chasing starlings four separate occasions, the female sparrowhawk is staying in the nest only getting out of it the add a twig to the nest.
It's still quite close to the original nest but with big slice of luck, very close to a good friend of mine (fellow Chelsea supporter and drinking buddy Paul O'Neill), very close, his garden backs onto the park, and in the top corner of his garden is and old tree right next to that but in the park is another tree, it's nesting in there, I won't go into too much detail but that tree is 100% inaccessible, Paul let me know this afternoon/lunch-time and I was straight round, set up the scope in his conservatory and confirmed it, brilliant. Paul also pointed out the bird feathers on his lawn and told me the bird sits on the fence and lawn, Paul is a good friend, so I know the bird is safe...God helps anyone he wanders into his garden if Paul don't get them his Rottweiler will, it even hates me!
I think the female might already be sitting on eggs as she hardly moves whilst she is on the nest and in the brief two hours I was at Paul's came out for 5 minutes of nest building duty, the male only came back once in the two hours with an unidentified bird for the female.
Paul isn't a birder but knows all of the birds from his garden and reckons he's going to keep a list of species (we'll see mate lol) so have left the scope so he and his daughter can watch. To say I'm relieved is an understatement, I checked on the old nest on the way back and some woodpigeons have taken over the nest, so I'm not sure whether it was the Wood Pigeons, Nail Man/woman or me or even perhaps a combination of the three that made the sparrowhawks abandon the nest, but I'm glad this has the potential of not ending in "tears". I am shocked at how quickly the sparrowhawk has built up it's nest, perhaps it's another birds nest that it has taken over but according to Paul the male sprawk has been around the gardens for a week..weird.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

MY LOCAL SPARROWHAWK..PART2

I'm fuming, really angry and massively suspicious now, everything started off great, I found one of the Sprawks collecting nesting material as you can see from the image below, rather shoddy image, poor light,dark wooded area and what light was flooding in was coming straight at me, but posted it just to illustrate the bird is starting to build it's nest.
So that's good news, surely? Nope!!!
The nails are back, ok these are more standard nails then the ones I removed last night, but they are in the same tree, only going to about 7 foot up the tree but in exactly the same manner as the last lot, of course I removed them (again) but seeming as I removed the last lot about 8-8:30pm last night and I discovered these on my morning walk...not much time gap! I gave the police a call, only to be met with "unless an actual crime has been committed we cannot do much"..fair enough, thanks for f**k all wouldn't want to disturb your coffee break, prevention better then the cure in my opinion, can I get anyone else interested...what do you reckon?
So I got chatting with a local fisherman whom I know, this bloke last year approached a bunch of kids who were shooting geese and coots with an air riffle and got shot, he was telling me about our eastern European friends whom have drained the lake of most of the carp, he saw them last night after I left (he doesn't miss much) walking towards were the sprawk is, to further back this up around the base of the tree are "foreign" branded cigarette butts (I loved Columbo as a kid lol), who ever it is knows a bit about nature as they've already realised (before me!!) where the sprawk is nesting. So I've done two things a) I've left a note with one of the nails attached simply saying "we're watching you" b) I've brought my trusted knuckle duster out of retirement...I WILL NOT TOLERATE A RAPTOR COMING TO HARM ON MY PATCH. I fear this is going to end in tears and not for me...really,really angry.
So I took my other hound, the Australian Shepherd with me this afternoon, he's not very "people friendly" and could come in handy, I started of by taking some images of the park, firstly some Bluebells, though I think these are the Spanish variety, we've not had Bluebells on the park before...
And the one illustrating how now the footie season has ended the council are letting the grass grow long, hopefully they'll leave it though seeing as they're doing it due to cutbacks rather then a nature friendly reason they could be round with the mowers at any time...see the tracks running through the grass from the vehicle...a police BMW X5 4x4 did that...cutbacks hey, shame it's a 2013 plate vehicle..not cheap.
And my favourite place on the park, the reedbed, with the reedwarblers starting to show a bit more, also the trees around the lake are currently home to good numbers of common species such as Great Tits,Greenfinches and Blackbirds but also some Willow Warblers and a "never-heard that on here" single male Blackcap, you can make out the reedbed if you squint hard enough, taking landscapes isn't worth trying with a 300mm and 1.4 teleconverter lol.
Now I'm going to step up "patrols" of the nesting site and have also received help from the fisherman (name withheld so he doesn't get implicated), however I have to think hard now....Did the culprits read the blog? Or had they been observing me? There are some houses very nearby but I think it could be when I was up the tree removing nails, someone saw me...not good either way, if only there was a national organisation that could help with protecting birds hey?!!


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

APRILS IMAGES AND MY LOCAL SPARROWHAWK

My local Mr&Mrs Sparrowhawk is keeping me entertained of late, I haven't even taken an image of them yet, but I'm witnessing some fantastic and curious behaviour.
Last night I had both male and female birds glide onto a very high perch and watched the pair, now I was hardly hiding in fact I had my trusted greyhound with me, the male starred at the two of us for ages, the female was just preening, their arrival hardly stealthy with all the woodpigeons fleeing their roosting site upon their arrival, every time a wood pigeon came close to what looks like the signs of their nesting site it would chase them off, but not in the manner I'm used to seeing them, it had no attention of folding it's wings back and snatching for them, it just had it's wing outstretched and glided in a circle flushing the pigeons away. Eventually it flew off just leaving the female, I just sat and watched the female preening itself, woodpigeons arrived and I thought "you're going to be a snack soon", BUT oddly they weren't, in fact several were sat in the same tree as the female, one brave/stupid individual was on the same branch within two feet of the female sparrowhawk, who just sat there motionless and uninterested....."SPARROWHAWKS ARE BLOOD THIRSTY PESTS" is one of those quotes sprouted my "know-nothing" raptor haters, they're clearly not watching the scene I'm witnessing...idiots. She may have just fed, and judging from all the pigeon feathers they could well be on their diet, however I haven't found angel-wings yet so they could just easily be from the local foxes. However the male then returns with a Starling, it's sat in the opposite tree and places the kill on the branch, it falls to the ground, I decide to leave so it has a chance of retrieving it's kill before the crows and magpies steal it, I'm just going to keep an eye on the pair for now  and once the nest starts to take form leave them be, they've bred here for the last three years now (this being the fourth), last year with the terrible weather it only fledged two youngsters (I found one dead on the main road, hit by car) and the female was constantly calling the male, really loud....so now a lot of people "know" about it and when I was looking around the site I found that on the tree where the female was perched, on a tree right next to it was a series of nails going up the trunk of the tree, it has made me slightly suspicious, the nails are VERY BIG, they have a square body to them. They had been nailed three abreast and remind me of those old telegraph poles with the metal hand/foot grips in the way they had been place right up the trunk. So this evening I took my dog and hammer, climbed approximately 12 foot up the tree (see what I mean)...all 17 stone of me!! and pulled out 72 nails..all gone. Could just be a coincidence but I don't like coincidences, safer then sorry, it could be kids setting up a rope swing or something, I shall have keep a discreet eye on the site for now.
So images that never made it into a post last month for various reasons, even though some aren't perfect I like them enough to share, seeming as I waffled on for an age about Sparrowhawks I had better start there.

Taken from that site I call the Reedbed, the second leg/return to site later this week. Then a Oystercatcher and a Great Crested Grebe. The grebe being my best/first attempt at trying to skim grebes...got bored of trying pebbles, this one was a "threesies", three skims and a big splosh.....

Not sure if the next image is a greywagtail or whitewagtail help, any help much appreciated and then a Lapwing.

Then sadly my only chance of togging Pintails on the 14th at Summerleys was in bad light and the bird never gave me a clean front shot (water levels on the scrape exposing the vegetation) the only clean shots was of a female and back shots of the male....:(



Near,far,obscured,front,back or dull light still a cracking bird (so resisted quacking).


Saturday, 4 May 2013

A COUPLE FROM THE PARK

Yesterday evening whilst I took Jim, my greyhound, out for a walk on Eastfield Park I got to witness an amazing site, as usual I didn't have my camera with me. Truth be known I'm not too bothered as the light had gone (I was hoping to see some bats), as I sat waiting all the roosting Wood Pigeons scattered from their roost spot and a Wren let out a blast of it's warning call, gliding in silently onto a very high perch a female Sparrowhawk landed, almost immediately a male glided in behind, landed straight on her and mated, all over in seconds, but was interesting was how afterwards the male and female stayed together on the branch for a few minutes, the male then chased off a Wood Pigeon, brilliant sight.
Today I took my camera with me and the dog down to the park, first call was the reedbed on the edge of the lake, plenty of Reed warblers have moved onto the reedbed, I would say judging from the various locations of the calls there was eight in there. Sadly they aren't showing at the top's of the reedbed at the moment, obviously laying claim to territory, as the summer goes on hopefully they'll show at bit more. The dawn chorus on the park is amazing, with plenty of birds calling, mostly common species like Tits and Finches (just in very good numbers), the Song Thrush is one of my favourite, yet sadly very timid so I'm struggling to get a decent image. There was Willow Warblers and Chiff-Chaff's representing warblers (no Common Whitethroats at the moment though), when I heard a call, I knew what it was, I've heard it a lot, I just couldn't think what species it was, this always happens to me in Spring, I always either forget what a particular species looks like or sounds like, so I followed the call until I found it....wished I hadn't bothered! Now I normally castigate people for saying particular species are "dull" or "common", but I'm a hypocrite I have a few species were I will just shrug and photograph something else, not sure why, just the way it is....and sadly if I got the identification right this species is one of them.....the Garden Warbler, in my defence even the scientific name sums it up SYLVIA BORIN(G).

Furthermore read the description in field guide book "unremarkable","plain" and "indistinct" appears, so perhaps I shouldn't feel too bad, the warbler got it's own back by never really giving me a clean/clear shot.
I then got drenched in a really freak shower, look at the sky behind the bird, behind me was one big black sky and the rain fell, REALLY HEAVY, I'm not joking within about 10 seconds my fleece/jumper and shirt were soaking, the rain bouncing off my head were stinging about 10 seconds later it stopped just as suddenly as it stared...like someone turning a tap off, my dog looked like a drowned rat and soon steam was coming off him as the sun came out and dried us, I took a few images of a Goldfinch feeding and decided to come home and dry the dog and change my clothing.

Friday, 3 May 2013

A FEW IMAGES FROM MY LITTLE SISTER

Well I apologise for the quality of the images below, they're from my sister and judging from some of her out-of-focus previous attempts these aren't too bad, especially given the subject and the fact they're from her mobile phone.....no excuses Linda huh-huh-huh.
She was pulling into Jersey on the boat and the boat was early, so they drifted along the coast-line slowly awaiting a special welcome from the RNLI and Navy (boat show week), due to the ferry operator donating prizes for the RNLI raffle, too say I'm gutted is an understatment...Linda you must try some bird pictures whilst you there!!!
 Some dodgy looking rust-bucket (no not my mums van) I think it's the boat that takes tourist to one of the forts when the tide is in, a diving Lynx helicopter below (not an easy picture Linda so well done on that).



 The two images above shows the floatilla and low flying helicopter, sadly all the images were EXTREMELY noisy and went through Neat Image otherwise the second image would've looked really interesting (a grainy looking effect on the images Linda, try adjusting phone setting for daylight/automatic or may be labelled ISO, in broad daylight you need a low ISO). And below the best I think, a boat looking for a water fight with the ferry or is it a fire-boat? lol
Not to bad Linda but now you must get some birds (preferably in focus lol) and adjust the phone camera setting if it does just general settings try "portrait" or "landscape" I think you have them on "night" or maybe "sport" judging from the way you managed to capture the diving helicopter, that would've been tricky for me to keep in the frame......hope it rains lol.