Thursday, 27 February 2014

GREAT CRESTED GREBE WEED DANCE

Spring must be around the corner, I've seen three of the four "indicators of spring" so far. The first being distant hares chasing each other around, the second is unique to my garden a male Dunnocks sits on my fence performs a song and dance on the fence before flying to my living room window and just hovering I think it see's his own reflection and is more a threat posture, the third is Great Crested Grebe's displaying to each other the fourth is when my garden birds start taking loose dog hairs for their nests.
Yesterday I got a pair of Grebe's doing their weed display but it almost didn't happen, there was alot of head tossing, chest to chest contact and tapping of the bill, below is a selection of such behaviour.



But no weed dance, then of one the birds with a bit of weed swam over to the bank where a nest structure of sorts was taking shape, the other bird watched on, the bird that came over to the bank was calling as it swam back over to the other bird and both when close together dived..this should be it I thought and got ready.



 It was a bit distant and not as long as a display, it was a bit half hearted....perhaps they're waiting for their own " spring indicators".

Monday, 24 February 2014

INTRODUCING "DOUG'S MONDAY NIGHT QUIZ".

It seems to be popular to do at least one quiz on blogland so here's mine and it's easy too.
QUESTION: WHY DOES THE UK GOVERNMENT SAY IT CAN'T CONTROL THE GAS INDUSTRY AND INTRODUCE FAIR GAS PRICES YET SEEM HELL BENT ON DICTATING THE PRICE OF HOLIDAY'S DURING TERM TIME?
What's the differnce?
I'm actually in a good mood after my meeting today about the lovely fly-tip/dumping. The good lady at the council was pretty much on the ball. She took the photo's (even asked if I was after a job) she is due to go and look on Tuesday afternoon for herself, she warned me that the land in question is in private hands, though conceded perhaps the "land owner" should be made aware (technically/legally the land owner has legal obligation to clean it up), she's due to see the manager of the site also on Tuesday and try a "threat" of prosecution and see if that has an impact and gets them tidying up, overall she was pretty angry at the situation, gave me her card and asked of whilst out and about if I see more to email her more images which is quite positive, I normally get shoved out the door lol.
Of course I asked about a timescale and told her I'd give it a working week for some action before I start a campaign of name and shaming said company...after all they pride themselves in the "green(wash)" credentials....I reckon by Frirday I shall publish said images of the dump/tipping if I don't see/hear, though to be fair either I'm a mug or the lady at the council seemed more determined than myself, can't be this easy, never is!


Sunday, 23 February 2014

GREEN WOODPECKER RUINED BY HUMAN ACTIONS

....well that's my excuse for these images, sadly it's not really an excuse to be fair.

It was a bit far away to start with and I opted for the approach of hidng myself behind a silver birch tree, not good fieldcraft when you consider birch tree=slim trunk + Doug=wide trunk but it was busy anting away and each hop as it moved it closer, I had time constraints mind you, I was in a carpark at the start of my walk, anytime now a car could turn up spooking the bird, there wasn't any cars in the carpark so knew no-one was set to return. A car with some golden oldies turned in, saw me crouched down, stared at me for a few seconds, reversed and drove off....nice one!
By the time the woodie was in range the shot was ruined by human actions....
Friggin' litter louts with a taste for cheap european lager, sadly despite all my willing the bird didn't move either to the left or right but flew off as a car pulled in, a little gutted.

Friday, 21 February 2014

A HINT OF SPRING AND A SMALL MOVEMENT OF BIRDS

I visited Stu's farm today, the female kestrel was about so has definitely improved from the earlier scare at the start of the year. My original intentions was to photograph the kestrel, a few smaller birds on the farm and the Buzzards which at the moment is three birds disputing over breeding territory but it soon became apparent I was going to have to put my best birding hat on and do some counting and leave the photography (well sort of) to one side for now.
As I drove down the lane towards the farm the hedgerow was literally heaving with redwing as I drove down I started off a Mexican wave of Redwing all taking flight from either the hedge or the ditch along the side of the hedgerow. I got to the gate and parked up and had a look in the field as most had dropped down into the field, I noticed some Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush and the regular Starling flock, the Mistle thrush weren't a surprise as there is a breding pair on the farm as I approached the gate everyting scatterd, shit! The Redwing were in three flocks and settled down on the far side but were reasonably easy to count, 43 Redwing in total, the Mistle Thrush were really easy, 2 in total they stood out like a sore thumb to be fair. The Fieldfare were harder as everytime the Starlings took flight and moved to a different part of the field it would flush the Fieldfare mid count. All the birds were busy feeding away which also made it quite hard as they were constantly on the move eventually I settled with circa 50 Filedfare (scientific/expert or what!). Normally on the farmland during the winter whilst walking around it would be at best 20 Fieldfare and the Redwing have been in short supply on the farm my best count was at the begining of winter with 15 Redwing and my average walk around I'd be lucky to get even 1!
RUBBISH DISTANT RECORD SHOT OF FIELDFARE
 I parked up and had a brief chat and lent a hand to Stuart moving some stuff in his yard, I have a fork lift license so spent half hour moving stuff around for him (his son on booze cruise in Greece), the usual Chaffinches and Pied Wagtails were in the yard and Stu mentioned he had seen some Grey Wagtails in the field and as he described "small brown'ish birds too in a small flock" I had already heard some brief calls of the Skylarks which Stu had said been calling for the last five days or so. Not a surprise really as he had six birds on the farm last summer, which given Skylarks numbers I think is really good.
GREY WAGTAIL
 I made my way to the field with the small brown jobs in them, located the Grey Wags and Pied Wags easily, the grey wags I didn't bother counting as it looked like the "right"amount I see all the time here but was caught by surprise by the number of Grey Wagtails, 6 in total not too bad I thought but what was also a pleasant surprise was the brown job's were a small flock of 11 Meadow Pipits, couldn't get close enough nor the right side of the sun (looking into it). I couldn't see any stragglers so it was one count I was happy to say with some confidence was 100% accurate, I think.
PIED WAGTAIL
 I couldn't get close to the pipits more due to unsuitable footwear then skittish birds and Stu had promised me a nice lunch and ale for helping out. So didn't want to drag loads of mud into his house.
MEADOW PIPIT, IN A FIELD OF BEETROIT..OR IS IT RHUBARB

Sunday, 16 February 2014

FIA AND BERNIE SCREW THINGS UP AGAIN!

Well I have had no time at all for much proper birding, the only birding I've done has been over at my local park, where the fields are so wet that it's been a bit of Thrush heaven. In the wood section Song Thrush are in full voice Mistle thrush (6) and Blackbirds all busy worming on the sodden ground, I've heard and watched Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming away....I'm still looking after my sisters dog whilst she is in Jersey, though she had a long stop-over at Guernsey thanks to the gale force winds (for any cruise operators that's what you do when sailing in rough seas and gale force winds and not carry on regardless).
MISTLE THRUSH, BEST AS IT GETS FROM ME THIS WEEK
 On Saturday I went around to my friends Nigel's house, he came back from photographing (trying to) and filming some of the testing of F1 cars at Jerez I say try as he got a lot of hassle for trying, even though he was invited!, he'd sorted out some of the images for a particular motorsport magazine and was playing some of the video footage..."what the f**k is that sound" I asked, "sounds a bit rough". "That's the lovely new 1.6 litre turbocharged engines" replied Nigel. Oh they sound shit the new F1 cars, how can I describe the sound, imagine one those sit on lawn mower engines chewing through a bag of screws and you're almost there, but it gets worse, according to my mate Nigel they're noticeably slower,at rougly 8 seconds a lap slower with help from rubbish tyres (again!!!) though also according to my mate Nigel anything with a Renault engine is going to struggle, this along with Bernie Ecclestones "double point" scheme for the last race AND the fact the last race is being held on one of the most dire circuits on the F1 (Abu Dhzzzzz) circuit and the fact the F1 cars this season have been drawn by a two year old adds up to what could be the worse F1 season EVER! Time will tell I guess.
So I've been mostly walking my sister's dog Boo in exchange for Duty Free ciggy's....yey!
Here he is after ripping one of those plastic things that protect young saplings from deer which made wonder how effective they are!
 Either a spot of conservation work or reminding where/what I should be doing? You decide....
 And lastly after playing with a water bottle he then carried and chewed to bits this hefty log, he really doesn't like branches.
Strong old teeth.
Hopefully the weather will have improved when my next days off roll around, I really miss not being able to go out birding with my camera.

Friday, 7 February 2014

SUMMER LEYS LNR 07-02-14

I heard the rain pelting down on my window early this morning, I think the alarm clock said 2am so I wasn't holding my breath when I pulled the curtains back when I awoke.
To my surprise it was actually very bright and sunny, so I grabbed my camera and left the dogs behind and headed up to Summer Leys.
The rain I had heard earlier in the morning had an effect, the water level on the main lake was up to the Screen hide lapping against the wood, weirdly the only water ingress at the moment was on the left handside of the hide where there is a gap, somehow and for now the rest of the hide is waterproof, the lake had also topped over and the section of footpath leading to the feeding station and the area behind the feeding station.
THE WALK DOWN TO THE FEEDING STATION, IT'S DEEP TOO UP TO THE TOPS OF MY WELLIES
 The Golden Plover looked great in the sunlight, healthy numbers too though they are running out of dry areas.
The feeding station had absolutely no birds, there was no food in the feeders nor on the tables understandable when it so deep in water. So a quick walk to May's Lake where there was a male Smew and just one Long Tailed Duck.
I managed a female Goldeneye shot, I really want the male of the species in flight however a female will do for now, the back of Mary's Lake is flooding into the bigger lake make access pretty hard going and slippery.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

A LOG, SOME SEED, SOME BIRDS AND A DIRTY DOG

Well I had hoped the weather man might be right (some sun in the morning rain by lunch) but they weren't, it was cloudy then rain.
So I lived up to my promise to my sister and walked her dog I'm looking after at the moment. Sadly the poor mutt has the stupidest name I've ever had to call back..it's Boo! Seriously sister name your dogs something more sensible like BOB. He was white and is an Australian Shepherd, stupid dog likes jumping into puddles and lakes and carrying logs twice his size.
So where did I walk him? Up the local woods where it was muddy, loads of puddles and the dyke's and ditches full of water the end result.....
 Your dog sister will need a bath, HAH!
I had some bird seed with me so covered a log in the stuff in a quiet section just to see what I might get drop down, I'll be honest I wasn't expecting much. Normally I'd put stuff down and return 24 hours later it gives the bird time to discover the food and not be too suspicious but wasn't too bad off bird wise despite terrible light levels and a hooligan of a dog who kept throwing a branch around.




 That lot came down almost straight away, must have been hungry!I didn't manage images of Coal Tit (too shy), Treecreeper (never seen one feeding of an improvised table), Great Spotted Woodpecker,Bullfinch and made a hash up of a Redpoll that was on the side of the track we were walking down, few Jays and a Buzzard.
It started raining so headed home.

Monday, 3 February 2014

SUMMER LEYS 02-02-14

Two days booked off for the Super Bowl meant I had a really nice and sunny walk around Earls Barton gravel pits, though it was muddy and wet under foot still.
MALE CHAFFINCH, NOT HAPPY WITH THE WINGS BLOCKED BY BRANCHES BUT FEEL IT HAS SOME MERIT
 I got the baulk of my photo's from the feeding station. I wanted to get some small birds flight shots, however I found the Bullfinches very distracting, with 2 males and 3 females coming onto the feeding tables. When I arrived I thought I saw a Brambling vanish into the hedge some hard looking and waiting provided nil result.
BULLFINCH MALE.

BULLFINCH MALE, NOT ON FEEDER
 However it came back onto the feeding table, sadly it would fly into the hedge and fly straight back to the feeding table, almost sneakily trying it's best not to be noticed so the only images I got were on the feeding table, the little minx, I don't really like my images with birds on feeders, I reckon this might be the bird I saw back in December just a short stone's throw away from the feeding station hence the reason for posting it for now.
BRAMBLING, INSPIRATIONAL FEEDING TABLE SHOT (NOT)
Anyhow the previous nights windy weather and the still flooded ground had provided me with a unique chance at some flight shots, if you think Chaffinched are common and a boring subject either look away now or have look at some flight shots.
FEMALE CHAFFINCH

REFLECTIVE LIGHT WAS TRICKY TO JUDGE
 To carry on my obsession of feet and sequence shots, below is a male Chaffinch, sadly only 6 frames of which 3 were in focus, very tricky indeed, but fun, not that everyone around in the feeding station agreed, it sounded like the Battle of the Somme, in there.


 Not that it seemed to bother the Chaffinches, taking advantage of the seed spilt from the tables into the water, it was like watching a hybrid of a Kestrel and a Kingfisher, only difference being there was a load of them around so I filled my boots and took loads, flight shots are a percentage game. The below shot is my favourite as it clearly shows the male Chaffinch just about to grab the seed, GREAT FUN.

I gave up my seat to a youngster who came in and what I thought was a nice gesture someone lent the youngster their binoculars, well done that man.
I walked around Mary's Lake, the two Long Tailed Ducks were with a male Smew (the best looking duck in my opinion) and a Peregrine, also saw a Meadow Pipit, Redkite and a couple of Buzzards oh and Mark who gave me an idea for my next odd's and sod's post where I'll ask you to try an ID something that was "hanging around", that'll be on Tuesday, I think.
Something else that caught my eye was this....
It sits on the hill at the end of Great Doodington, next to Wellingborough prison, it's a solar farm...it's fucking massive my image was a third of the site you see in the picture, there's a handy bloke and houses for scale. Mind you it did provide a very good joke about oven cooked Swans from Mark, wonder how many homes that'll power then?