Tuesday, 14 April 2015

MOULTON QUARRY WHEATEAR'S 14/4/15

So last year I'd wished for a Marsh Harrier at the Reed Bed got one this spring,  as Autumn migration started I'd wished for either a Ring Ouzel or Northern Wheatear at the disused Moulton Quarry, well today I got three (makes up for no Ring Ouzel I suppose ). So since I'm on a roll with my wishes, I wish one morning I'd wake up and find a Jaguar F-type or even an Aston Martin DB6 on my driveway....you never know.
I'd arrived at Doug's Pit, right in the background of the above image. I actually spotted the first one almost straight away on the ground before spotting two on a pile of left over sandstone. Problem was I was looking directly into the sun, so did a big loop to where I took the above image. I took a quick record shot in case they flew off.....record shot:
By the time I walked round they'd moved but a bit closer. Just as well as prolonged belly crawling on the ground was not recommended the ground is a mixture of rocks, moss, rough grass and a ceramics, I'm not kidding!
 Meet me doing a pirate impression,
Got close enough to one bird, at times to much vegetation on the ground though. But not bad efforts


It was weird as one bird was on it's own but the other two stuck very close together but if the single bird moved off so did the two birds that were always together. They eventually moved to where I'd seen them originally, chasing insects and feeding as they went. I tried for a record shot of all three on the sandstone but that solitary individual remained a bit to far from the two.
Right behind this pile a horse rider trotted past, closer then I was and they didn't move an inch, I moved a little closer, off they went! I need a horse, I mean,  I wish I
had a horse....they didn't go far they just went to the tops of the HUGE mounds of gravel, no climbing gear.
Again the two together chasing insects like you'd expect a Wheatear to do. Another record shot (promise they get better).
 The single bird was doing something I didn't know nor seen a Wheatear do. At first it tried and failed to catch a passing bee similar to how I've seen Water Pipits catch flies on a beach. By stretching up to grab it, you can see the lucky bee on the right hand side of the frame. And the bird coiled for another attempt.
 
But the bit I hadn't seen before was it to take to the air and actively chase an insect before returning to the same spot, like a Spotted Flycatcher, is this a normal technique? I got two record shots of one aerial assault but couldn't  catch the attempted snatch nor the bug in the frame....

Eventually I got one bird as I wanted, these are my favourite two of the day.
 The next is my favourite. I like images with one simple tone in the background and was gagging for one of the birds to pop onto a small mound with the gravel bank as a backdrop, I think the earthy tone makes for a nice contrast for this particular bird.
 


14 comments:

  1. I like the ceramic parrot but it is a bit small.
    I have seen Wheatears and Meadow pipits leaping into the air. I assumed it was a courtship ritual. Great shots as always.

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    1. I'm still trying to figure how the ceramic Robin got there it was not weather worn at all. Interestingly I never thought it might be some sort of mating ritual, you might be right.

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  2. I love the aerial shots Doug, and the last one.
    Well, they're all bloody good, but they are stand outs.

    I've seen a few birds doing the 'spotted fly' impressions; Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits, Stonechats. I'm sure there are a lot more insect eaters that do it too.

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    1. Thanks Keith, funnily enough Adrian and Margaret seem to have come out with what was going, especially when you have a read of the link Margaret posted.

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  3. Well it was certainly worth crawling around on your belly to get these lovely shots. You might be inerested in this link about th N Wheatear courtship flights. https://wickershamsconscience.wordpress.com/2012/06/26/showing-off-for-the-girls/

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    1. This is what I like about blogging. Adrian came with an interesting point I'd failed to think of and you gave a fascinating link. It makes total sense too considering the other two birds and their behaviour, I thank you both.

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  4. Doug, you are fast turning into a bird magnet. Good to meet you.

    Great images and behaviour catches ...... I often see Chaffinches '' fly catching ''.

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    1. I think it's 90% luck/right place at the right time, 10% my enjoyment of exploring underwatched areas that helps. I have to admit I'm not very photogenic lol. The fly catching was fascinating to watch as was the displaying technique too.

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  5. Bloody hell Doug, I know my memory is fading fast but I just didn't recognise you in the "selfie", I think I've seen you on several occasions since that day at Blueberry? I do apologise for my ignorance! Nice post and images too Doug.....

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    1. Lol, I've had such a hard life Paul :-) no need to apologise I struggle all the time to recognise people so no harm done.

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  6. Super images Douglas, apart from one...maybe?
    And you found a friend too...I hope it'll be a long and happy friendship?
    I think those Wheatears look really 'at home' in that sandy environment, it seems to suit them?...[;o)

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    1. No maybe's that particular image belongs on Crimewatch:-) sadly Roger the Robin flew away. It's funny I was surprised how much the Wheatears appeared at ease they're normally so skittish.

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  7. A brilliant encounter, Doug. Well done you for working the opportunity to full advantage. Not sure about the selfie with the ceramic Robin, but those with the radio-controlled Wheatears are particularly convincing - especially the flight shots. Just need to tune the mechanism in them so that their flight looks a bit more natural ;-}. Can your supplier produce a Long-eared Owl for me please?

    In all seriousness though, those two flight images are great and tell a good story, and the last two images are absolutely outstanding.

    Best wishes - - - - - Richard

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    1. Thank you Richard as you can appreciate my supplier is too busy making radio controlled Osprey and Marsh Harrier. I'm sure once he's done he could be persuaded to make a LEO:-)

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