Thursday, 21 August 2014

IN AMONGST THE COWS....

Roughly three weeks ago my Sandmartins left the ex-quarry I had been visiting a lot of lately. I took advantage of them all perched up on the phone wires and counted them, 38 in total of mixed juvenile and adult birds, the next day they had gone, migrated.
It will not be long before the Swallows and Housemartins at one of "my" many Swallows sites will move off, in fact of the sites I visited yesterday in dubious light in my records they should be leaving any day now. Looking through the four years of records I have on this site shows the following dates and numbers of birds: 25th August 2010: circa 59, 28th August 2011 circa 45 birds, 23rd August 2012 circa 35 birds, 25th August 2013 circa 42 birds. So for birds =Swallows and circa well it is unless doing counting at the nest site near impossible to count every bird, what I do at this site is wait for them to perch up on a telegraph pole/wire and count them and then try and count every bird left flying, not easy. Last night I managed to count 49 birds on the wire a mixture of juvenile and adults and circa 10 feeding up/flying around. I reckon these will be gone after the weekend, though there are a few signs not all will go and one bird in particular worries me.
The biggest problem for me at this site are the rather curious but docile bull and cows which obviously help provide a lot of food for the swallows and has helped the swallows to have three broods and boosted numbers to when I first started watching the swallows here. But a pain in the backside when trying to photograph them as they dodge a heffer or two or when the cows like the sound of my camera and come and stand in front of me, ever tried mooving a cow...sorry.
SURE YOU CAN MAKE UP YOUR OWN CAPTION

 Now the below image is the bird causing me some concern. A slightly soft image not a favourite of mine, but posted to show my concern. It is very small and young (look at the gape) and not very fast nor agile. In fact so slow I could have easily caught it in my hand as it flew past, it is still very dependent on being fed by two adult birds often being passed food.
So could this be the latest date of departure I put in my record's. One other positive from this site is the number of Mistle Thrush, despite and eager Buzzard taking a fancy to them, there was a total of 23 birds (juvenile and adults) with what I know of 6 nest sites. I am partial to Mistle and Song Thrush so to see so many on the site was great but a pain as I can't get near them at the moment with the camera.....yet!
In fact talking to some of the local residents they are telling me of Housemartins still in the nest and of at least one swallow still having a brood on the nest.
HOUSE MARTIN

HOUSE MARTIN

6 comments:

  1. Cattle are very curious beasts but generally harmless. Last year I was lying down taking pictures of fungi when I felt a wet nose on my ankle. I nearly shit myself. it was a young beast checking me out. I had tied the dogs up outside the field as it can get chaotic mixing strange cows and strange dogs.
    These are superb flight shots. Something I will never achieve.

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  2. Thanks Adrian a lot of practice really, the miss rate is shocking. I actually like cattle I know some get nervous around them but as long as you don't startle them they're OK.

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  3. Great images Douglas, I keep practicing my flight shots but have a long way to go before I am going to be happy with them, great narrative as well.

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    1. Cheers John, I do go on a bit :-) I think with flight shots it's all down to practice and more practise and Swallows are the best

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  4. Beautifully captured, Doug. I particularly like the first image with the cow.

    I was surprised to hear that your Sand Martins had migrated. Last night at Rutland Water the air was full of them - never seen so many! Maybe they were someone else's just passing through?

    I've come to realise that, with cattle, herds of cows with calves where a bull is present are to be avoided, but herds of milk cows are relatively safe. The unknown factor is when you get herds of youngsters, which can either run away or run towards you. I don't think any cattle we're likely to encounter are malicious - just unaware of the damage they can cause to us humans!

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. So little is known about both Sandmartins and Housemartins and their migratory habits, can you believe in 2014 we still don't know exactly where Housemartins go?
      Sadly these very Swallows left overnight spent yesterday and all nests empty:-( with cows I swear they pick up on your feelings, my uncle he's always had cattle my mum's friend always had Jersey cattle so I'm kind of used to them, you're right about calves completely docile but daft as a brush

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