Thursday, 7 May 2015

SANDMARTINS, KESTREL & CRAPPY WEATHER

I wasn't convinced by the weather reports for today and out of my two favourite sites Moulton Quarry at least had shelters of sorts. Though my previous visit had hardly been great, with me guessing the Sandmartins weren't going to be breeding on the site after a collapse of their colony.
I arrived and almost leaped for joy, there was noticeably a lot more Sandmartins flying around then last year's bunch (12 adult birds in 2014), time to get counting. Not an easy task.
The easiest method would be count the number of nesting holes being used and multiply by two. Not reliable in my opinion. For example the image above the sandmartin was still excavating it's hole and not once did I see two birds enter this hole. Unlike this one
The bird in the background would remove vegetation, move to one side, another bird I presume female had a look then they mated.
One way of counting would be to count them as they flew around but again not reliable as some birds could be elsewhere hunting for food plus it's so tricky. I personally believed the best way was is wait for a predator to turn up which happened 5 times,  4 times a Kestrel and a Sprawk the 5th time.

When a predator turns up the birds flock together, a few attempt to mob the intruder and some hang back making it a bit easier. I got five chances so five counts: 16 (sparrowhawk), 19, 21,24 & 24. Obviously braver against the Kestrel. So 24 birds, double on last year numbers. Saw two Swifts too.

 I was right not to trust the weather reports. I had rain, hail, reasonable light and a freaky wind ripped through the quarry. My temporary shelter wasn't as weather proof as I'd hoped for but I stayed dry....the shed

As for the weather if I looked out from the shed this was the best light I had all day.
Hopefully the next image will give you an idea of what I had to deal with 90% of the time
It was during the a 'dark' moment the most interesting thing happened, one of the two Kestrels nipped past and chased after a small bird.


Was it a Linnet, wasn't convinced as when trying to get this image below there was 3 Linnets next to it before I tried getting closer and the Linnet flew off.
Didn't have to wait long to find out as the Kestrel popped on the wires with it's kill. Shame they're slightly out of focus and despite exposing a whole step over still had to heavily tweet the image in post production  :-(
 An unfortunate Blue Tit.
Whilst talking record shots here's this week's quota. A Pied Wagtail inspired by Monty Python.
 A fox with a kill, a rabbit.
 A Yellowhammer
And a Linnet collecting nesting material
I couldn't due to the frequency of the showers do a proper site count. Did see a Lapwing doing some courtship flights and calling but it was the only Lapwing present! But despite having to spend the majority of the visit in the shed I did see some interesting stuff, all the images except the Sandmartins were taken from the shed.

10 comments:

  1. The quarry looks to be a real wildlife haven Douglas, with a good number of species making it their home?
    Great shots of the Sand Martins doing their little bit of real estate development, it's also good to know that their numbers have increased on last years count.
    Plenty of headroom in that hide too!...[;o)

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    1. There is a fair bit of species actually on the site but it's also surrounded by farmland so a lot if extra visitors too. I must admit watching the Sandmartins excavating was great fun, just glad they returned. The shed works very well plenty of elbow room :-)

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  2. That's a grand shed and plenty going on outside it. You'll have to take a deck chair and make yourself comfortable.
    Do you have the camera set to spot meter?
    It was a great trip out today and it's good to see the Sand Martins doing well.

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    1. Funnily enough I dusted down an old fishing chair last night as I'm sick and tired of getting bitten by ants :-)
      I struggle with spot metering at times Adrian. It would've been a massive advantage yesterday, but I borrowed a book from a friend and having a good read.
      Yesterday was a good day.

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    2. I find spot metering generally works well but for some reason not so well if green is the prominent colour. I set compensation to a stop under then.

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    3. Thanks Adrian. It will definitely help in certain light conditions. I think with white birds it's going to be handy.

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  3. Great news about the Sand Martins Doug and as usual an absorbing summary of the days sightings and activity, a very well put together post.

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    1. Cheers John. There's some better news about this site but I'm seeking clarification as it came from a "third party" source.

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  4. I just love your Sand Martin images, Doug. Great to hear that you've got a good number after all! That shed looks like it's a great place to hide and watch the wildlife happening around you. With your chair, a primus stove, crate of beer, and an old matress you could move in and have a whale of a time!

    Best wishes - - - Richard

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    1. You were right about them sticking around too Richard. I reckon if I place some carpet in the shed and a lick of paint and I'll be ready to move in lol, have a good weekend/week Richard

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