Wednesday, 25 June 2014


Some time ago you may remember me blogging about some exams etc I was taken. Well I finally got my results and now qualified to go into transport management at some point if I so wish (oohhh!) and much to my disgust, as I hate it's concept I have also got my CPC renewed at MY cost, stealth tax for professional drivers!
Also for the last eight months until the Kennel Club confirmed it was ok to say so and make public I am to say my Mum has been appointed as "breed" judge for Crufts in 2017, she has been a Championship show judge for some time and will judge "her" breed the Japanese Chin, may seem trivial to some but speaking purely for myself, I am over the moon for her she turns 73 tomorrow (I sneaked a look at her passport) so it's been a good week for her.
ANYWAY, being a birding blog I'll get round to some birding because despite having to refit my kitchen and other diy chores I got some birding done.
Firstly in my garden it's starting to resemble a day nursery with EVERY bird being a juvenile hanging around my feeders, so busy I converted my shed into a hide, there's nothing in there so what the hell....mind you my garden is to shady for any quality images. I have not seen my garden so busy at this time of the year in ages it doesn't normally get this busy even during the winter, it has been a bumper year for Tits around my way and Starlings too. In every garden you walk past there is small flocks of twenty Starlings on up to seven lawns worming away it makes the morning walk to the local shops quite interesting on one property there is a soffet/eaves that has been tapped away at by adult starlings with a noisy brood showing! In my garden I have 8 juvenile Blue Tits, sadly just one juvenile Blackbird (second brood), 5 Great Tits with one solitary Coal Tit (see previous post) though watching the Coal Tit, the Great Tits hate it constantly chasing the bird, also 12 Long Tailed Tits all juvenile no adults apart from Goldfinches to be seen. Given the number of cats around here I'm surprised anything breeds and it comes as no surprise the Blackbird (2 juveniles in the first brood, 1 in second brood), no juvenile Dunnocks but have a nesting pair of adults and no Robins numbers are so low for ground nesting birds around here, my greyhound Jim went for one Tabby that strolled past us on a walk with a Starling in it's gob, I hate CATS as does Jim to be fair.
Best bird but not a garden tick is the two juvenile Goldcrest in my Yew tree/bush

 Well happy to see them but an absolute nightmare to keep in the frame always flitting around and with low shutter speed really hard to get, luckily as birds go they are quite confiding and with good use of garden craft (field craft seemed like the wrong word) happy to stay around IF the cats get these I shall let Jim loose......

 Notice on these two images you can see there is no Gold crest on it's head and no small brown patch below the eye. You might also be able to make out the gape, on the second juvenile bird the black bit that stradles the "gold" crest is more developed but getting it in the frame is proving hard but fun from the garden shed...I mean hide. They are not touching the feeders and seem to be cathcing green flies and daddy long legs. I also placed a feeder on this branch today for the juvenile Coal Tit so I might try for some better pictures of that too.

Yesterday started off promising weather wise but near to my new Little Owl site (an eight mile cycle from my house) I went for some Swallows and Housemartins. Sadly by the time I managed to get up there the weather turned, the skies went dark and it went really windy, an approaching rain cloud and possible thunder was on the cards, luckily the wind blew the most threatening looking clouds straight through but for a while I was worried.
Saying that I'm glad I stuck it out as I got to watch my very own aerobatic display team, performed by the Martins display team, the Red Arrows have nothing on these guys, getting an image was out of the question as the display taking place in front of me was happening in either really grey skies or about 5 to 6 feet above the ground with a frankly shit 1/300th shutter speed.
Basically I had circa 50 adult birds chasing around, one lead bird (which became obvious was a female) was being chased around by up to 4 birds, jinking left, twisting low and fast, rising steeply then coming a bit to close to me with aduible flaps of wings whisking past my head until it was just two birds, then the lead bird would slow down and the chasing bird would catch up and mount it both then "parachuted" locked to the ground, they were only a few feet of the ground at this point but the descent was being controlled by the male bird, I really wanted images of this bit but sadly way to out of focus but from them I could see they hadn't copulated the male bird standing on the back of the female using it's wings to safely land whilst gripping the females wings, so she couldn't escape or maybe to prevent other males from getting in on the action maybe? Not sure I have never seen this.
Clcik on the below image and you can see how the male is gripping the females wing whilst mating.
As you can see from the image it wasn't just the one female and not all landings (look at the pair at the back) were so elegant as the pair in the centre I was cursing the skies I didn't get this one's descent locked together. It was a frenzy of activity as birds were dropping down everywhere..again I have never seen this before to a human eye it was quite comical whilst the actual pursuit was impressive flight display by both the female and male. glad I got to see it.

 I know these Housemartins already have fledged juveniles so obvioulsy a second brood was being atempted, I left them to it and watched the swallows feeding with high ISO being used I managed a few shots but light wasn't good and this one is best of a bad bunch.
 The one below I got in better light today, the Housemartins have calmed down today just busy feeding what a difference a day makes! I was sneakily hoping for more of the same behaviour witnessed the day before.
Sadly they stayed a bit distant, but feel this image has some merit, you can see the bug to the left of the birds mouth, but I also love the sprayed out tail....sadly I am working for the next four days but what good start to the working week and given Glastonbury Festival is starting this week I am not surprised to hear the weather is turning lousy :o( Have a good week and now Blogger seems to have sorted the dashboard issues I look forward to seeing what you have been up to, can I recommend if you haven't check out "Rugby Birder" blog on my list on the left, there is a rather gorgeous melanistic Barn Owl on there, captive bird but still a right good looking bird.

A quick re-edit I am having an image published in Birdwatch magazine (July issue) too.


  1. Brilliant news all round. Congratulations are in order.
    You did well to get the Goldcrest to pose. quick little blighters they are.
    I've never seen Swallows mating. It looks a hazardous business.

    1. Swallows are quite tame compared to this mob it looks quite dangerous etc but was really skillful so many birds flying in tight formation... Just amazing it was

  2. That House Martin action is something I've never seen before Doug. Excellent captures.
    The rest are bloody good too.

    And congrats to your mum.

    1. Keith I trawled the net etc to find out more there isn't a lot of info out there. It isn't even known which part of Africa Housemartins migrate to which I find odd.
      I am well pleased for my mum.
      I did forget to mention I am getting an image published in July's issue of birdwatch magazine too.

    2. Congrats on the image in the mag.
      I'm having one done at RSPB Conwy, in one of their bird hides, of their ponies lol

    3. It all counts especially with the RSPB when you consider how many toggers they have on their books. I am trying to choose who to give the fee too I figure my local wildlife Trust... More on that later

  3. Sounds like congratulations are in order Douglas?...well done on passing your exams (does this mean that the likes of Stobart etc. have to watch out now?) and well done to your mum too, she must be looking forward to her big day at Crufts? And now you're getting 'published'?... well done again. I think you may have to get out those DIY tools again...the door frames might be in need of a little!

    Super images of the knew that shed would come in useful one day?
    Interesting 'action' shots of the House Martins, I've never seen that behaviour before either....[;o)

    1. Starting my own transport company would be financial suicide the only thing Stobart has to be worried about is me applying for a job:-)
      You know it's only my sixth image I have had published so the doors are safe from my hand fisted attempts at DIY for now lol.. Got to make the hide a bit more comfortable though.

  4. Amazing post,brilliant captures.
    well impressed.

    1. Thanks the House Martins activity made my day.

  5. Almost a post of two halves, Doug, with both halves being equally impressive! I love the images of the juvenile Goldcrests and Long-tailed Tits. I've never seen a juvenile Goldcrest before and, in reality, I don't often see an adult one either as I don't tend to frequent the right sort of places. The House Martin and Swallow sets are just brilliant! I love the way you've captured the action with the martins, and your superb captures of the swallows, showing those fabulous tail markings, are the icing on the cake.

  6. Goldcrest turn up in strange places my garden seems to be getting some unusual juveniles turn up.
    Swallows markings are brilliant I think it's why I like photographing them so much. As for the Martins it was one of those events not only was I glad to see but also one I won't forget in a hurry fascinating behaviour.

  7. top class images as usual doug. especially love the goldcrest pics. well done :)

  8. Thanks Al was happy to see a pair of juveniles in my garden odd looking little bird.