Monday, 29 June 2015

SWIFT AND JUVENILE GOLDFINCHES

I was late getting out for birding today, England ladies kept me up past 2am in a gripping game. OK the football England play isn't beautiful but they're doing better then our boys, funny that! And into the semifinals something the boys ain't done for a while and I didn't see any diving/play acting....time to man up boys.
I opted to take the bike I wanted to scout a few areas for something other then bleeding Whitethroats. A mix terrain of fields, lanes and cycle paths was the route. Nowhere special.
In one field it was positively heaving with Finches and the odd Skylark. I couldn't get near the Chaffinches, the Greenfinches nor the adult Goldfinches. The juveniles were obviously not human wary as I able to creep up on them as they helped themselves to the crop



It was a decent route that at times lead straight through the middle of a wheat crop, farmer even had a sign up indicating which way to go though it felt odd and uncomfortable going through the middle rather then the sides. I've earmarked this field when the crop gets more golden for Skylarks and Yellowhammer's. Plenty of Yellowhammers too 13 birds for the size wasn't too bad.
I stopped at rough grass/meadow type field as there was a sizeable Swift flock circling it but also at the bottom of the field was an old tatty Barn Owl box, the plan was to wait.....and wait to see if anything emerged from it.
Probably my favourite Swift image of the day, hopefully you can make out the bug.




I stayed until 10:15,no Barn Owl.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

JUNE'S ODDS AND SODS

Crikey June's almost done and dusted and I realised two things a) that went quickly b) I have not yet done Odds and Sod's this month. I'll start with most recent and work backwards.
Yesterday was spent trying and failing to get Sandmartins in flight up at Moulton Quarry , I did the usual up against the sky but as with a lot of my flight work of late I really wanted some vegetation as a backdrop
 Sky backdrops are OK and easier but I like a challenge this one I'd be happier if it was a bit sharper and the scorching sun hadn't vanished on que.
At the start of the spring there was 24 birds present, scouring every nesting hole I'd say 14 maximum birds,  at times I was only seeing 6 to 8 birds. I had a look at where the Little Owl was on my last visit, it wasn't there I knew it wouldn't be I checked to make sure it wasn't a nesting site, it wasn't I did find some pellets but I'm not convinced it's a Little Owl's what do you reckon?
It was mostly made up of what I think was the wings of beetles and a lot of plastic, see the black arrow.
Had a distant Kestrel on the way home, despite both us being in an open field with no cover it got reasonably close.
 And finally from yesterday a Common Whitethroat. The males were doing their flight and fall display obviously going for second broods. This year it seems on my patch Whitethroats are the most numerous of Warbler species. Also on a positive note I was told that extraction application for the quarry had been rejected/withdrawn after checking for myself it's true so the quarry carries on.


A Goldfinch that had been for a bath.
A few from my last visit to Summer Leys
A Little Egret
 And of course Common Terns, what else.



Saturday, 20 June 2015

BLOGGERS, WORTH THINKING ABOUT...

More and more people are viewing blogs, the net and social media via Smartphones and tablets. A lot of my viewing cones via a Smartphone especially when at work.
Something was pointed out to me by a friend, he showed me my blog more specifically the images on his phone. BLOGGER does two templates the first is "desktop" view which is the template/layout you designed etc and is the version you get when viewing on a pc/laptop and then a mobile phone view, which is a condensed version. The images on the mobile phone version are terrible and not a true reflection they are horrible they're small and pixelated . I  think you can personalise the mobile phone 'view' or you can do the following and simplest  FIRSTLY GO TO THE 'TEMPLATE' SECTION here you'll see your current templates for both views, you can see from the screen shot below how different the two views are, if you click on the 'gear cog' underneath the mobile version
 You get this pop up. Click 'no' then when anyone using their mobile phone to view your blog not only do they get the full blog layout but the images will be displayed how you want them be seen. Have a look at your blog on a phone and see how bad the images are in mobile version.

Friday, 19 June 2015

QUARRY WALK AND SUMMER LEYS 19/06/15

I was due a 'bad' day out and today was that day.
It started off quite well of sorts...nice weather. I started my walk (yes walk) from Ecton headed for the old strawberry fields/sewage farm and had a choice the first was the quickest walking alongside the A45 on the track or the longer route via Cogenhoe and along the River Nene my gut said long route, my brain was saying short route...despite it being cloudy then sunny it was muggy and warm. Half way up the track I stumbled across some flytippers who drove off at speed...
I got to Quarry Walk and the site didn't "feel" right. The boardwalk section was OK but the birds remained hidden this is the best I got.
A Chiff-Chaff. I walked down to Warbler Alley and stopped to grab these with the camera phone, unprocessed etc, now I have noticed with orchids they tend to be named after what they look like...so this is probably called Purple Marsh?

As I tried sneaking up to a Garden Warbler in the Alley (the path that separates the two lakes) an eruption of gun fire rang out sending everything either down for cover or they flew off. I've heard all sorts coming from Grendon Lakes but even they couldn't be shooting on this scale, I've never heard anything like it, in fact the gunsmoke rising into the air made me wonder,  even on large pheasant shoots you don't get gunsmoke on this level, I guessed about 30 guns!!
I was wrong as when I got to the bund I soon realised what was going on, a full scale battle re-enactment, oh joy. Even this took part
No Hobbies then, I didn't see one right when they're just started incubating eggs. I checked one nest via the scope, she was still sitting, phew. I realised it was futile hanging about (ok it took me an hour) and now the problem with rambling came to the forefront, if I had come in the car as planned I could go elsewhere. So now I had to find an alternative. I could go the Ecton sewage farm or Summer Leys. Summer Leys using footpaths Summer Leys was not only closer but probably the better bet.
The footpath is interesting to say the least walking past one property it's fields screamed out Barn Owl and worthy of further investigation as was the meadow I crossed, stunning meadow, through a field with horses that decided to walk with me though the one behind me was pissing me off...it kept nudging me in a friendly manner. I got to the perimeter of the reserve on Hardwater Road and got frustrated. The PUBLIC FOOTPATH onto the reserve and once the original path around the reserve was three foot high and the same in breadth with stinging nettles, sorry Northants Wildlife Trust this is still a designated footpath and being on your land your responsibility to keep clear and accessible, I wouldn't normally grumble but the alternative is to walk along Hardwater Road and we know the speed in which people travel along that road and with no verge to walk along it wasn't a feasible nor safe option, through the nettles it was then! Some how I didn't get stung and I will offer once the breeding season has finished offer my services to the wildlife trust to clear it up (that will test the Trust to see if they read the blog). So was there much present at the Leys.
On Rotary Island (above image) there was the usual Black Headed Gulls, the unimpressive Med Gull sorry it's me, gulls just don't do it for me, great for practising flight shots but exciting? There was the Shelduck and it's juveniles, typically at Summer Leys once the Shelduck young first emerge it normally rains hard a rise in water levels and the poor little blighters die. This brood is the most mature I've seen in a long time so perhaps are safe....probably. I buggered off to the Pioneer hide, hmmm. The scrape looks brilliant but not much on it. A Redshank, not many gulls (good) few terns and Lapwing. But dare I say it felt dead. Probably not helped by the chopping down a couple of years back of the lush Reed bed in front of the hide which meant no Reed Warbler. Now when I asked why it was done I got two answers the first from the trust who reckon it would improve the water flow into the scrape, OK that makes sense, sort of. I mean you could've just removed the reed bed in front of the entrance of the ditch rather then the whole lot. The other reason given to me by the "old boys" of the reserve or as I call them "the committee" was that it was done to improve views of the scrape, I don't believe that one. Either way it seems a shame as it was great spot to sit and catch Reed Warbler, didn't even hear one except for one near the sluice (miles away). The Little Egret got some stick though



A Cormorant
 A Lapwing
This flew high over the scrape.
And finally thank god for Terns, otherwise I'd have less to work through, glad these aren't just against the sky.

 Now I had to get home! I cheated and phoned my long suffering girlfriend "7 o'clock ok" yep. Whilst waiting on the picnic tables which can be accessed as a path has been cut through the vegetation,  go figure! The swifts put on a good display as did a solitary Hobby. CRAPPY DAY.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

LITTLE OWL.

Last year when I first started to visit this quarry I got a stoat on these rocks. At the time I was pondering if the Little Owl was visiting this little pit.....there was a few clues to be fair, you might notice them in the images lol. But all last year I had only seen it the once. It's a single bird. These were taken at about 2:30pm'ish which is a bit odd really, for me
It has a very tall oak that's bathed in sun from dawn to dusk and reckon it uses the pit for shade. Plenty of Dunnock's and Wren's etc. It was eventually relaxed enough to try a few different angles, there's no chance of getting closer unless you got some climbing ropes due to the sheer drop.
 Thought in the next image I would get a flight shot but it just looked up, I couldn't see anything! It was doing it for a while.
 I messed up and moved further round which wasn't the best light
And three quick images of where I photographed the Chiff-Chaff the other week....what was the point? LAST WEEK
THIS WEEK
MOST OF IT TRAMPLED?
These two, is this an orchid? Can they get this tall?



Friday, 12 June 2015

QUARRY WALK 11/06/15

It was a bit hot yesterday for my visit to Quarry Walk. By 8:30am there was noticeable heat haze appearing in the images. By 11:30 I was sitting in the shade taking it easy under my favourite oak just thinking about absolutely nothing....no change there then. Anything against vegetation was not worth photographing due to the heat haze. Luckily there's always the Hobbies which were lazily gliding and hawking and having to dodge the Common Terns that bizarrely were giving them grief, brave or stupid?
Image wise they're a bit 'samey'. I will get something a bit different once they co-operate.
This particular bird below is always flying around with one foot dangling. It doesn't appear to have any trouble catching prey though using both feet to catch and eat.



As I sat enjoying the shade a Kingfisher came across the arable field towards the lake. I also even though it came 'out of the sun' had a very low flying Red Kite, haven't done a record shot for ages so here's two....  A Jay
And a Drinker Moth (is that right) to add to my 'Macro with a 500mm prime lens' album :-)
The hot weather and abundance of bugs must've tempted an outpouring of fledglings. My favourite was the Common Whitethroat in what I call Warbler Alley which is the raised footpath that runs from the screen hide to the benches at the bottom of the lake. Many warblers plus common birds had youngsters out but in the heat it was the Whitethroat that were just sitting out in the open.
Adult bird first.
There was five juvenile Whitethroats sitting in the open being fed by both adult birds all looking prone to predation. Despite my presence and please remember I do have 700mm so wasn't as close as the images might suggest the adult bird had no problems fetching food and feeding the young pretty much not bothered my presence. I concentrated on the two nearest to me as it meant I didn't have to move...

Chuck out the stumpy little tails lol.
 I like the next one as it shows two things off. The big begging gape as the adult bird feeds an out of frame juvenile but in the background you can see an out of focus adult bird searching for food.
My final bird is what I'm 90% certain is a Lesser Whitethroat. But what's throwing me off a bit is the gape, it definately has everything else a Lesser Whitethroat should have like the white chest compared to rusty brown of the Common Whitethroat, dark'ish grey eye coverts and rather then fleshy coloured legs it has grey'ish legs. I kind of blew the exposure in the bright light, if you have any suggestions even if it contradicts my thoughts don't hesitate to say please...it showed well all though all too briefly