Saturday, 19 December 2009

Fill yer boots......

Saturday 17 December 2009

Well yes, fill yer boots, but not with snow !  Left them out at the wrong time and woke to eight inches of snow. Garden looked great and walking around first thing had that muffled effect, no traffic and all sounds very distant - great. Walking on the crisp snow sounded like walking over egg shells covered by felt.....well all very muffled anyway.

A look to the bird feeders revealed some very cold tits. Clearly in need of food they chipped away and soon the garden had over a hundred birds including, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Dunnock, Wren, House Sparrow, Goldfinch. Magpie, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon and Jay to name just the obvious ones.

here the Coal Tit breaking into a frozen feeder.

and here a Blue Tit choosing some less frozen nuts

and very protective of it's nuts in the cold

so after walking round the garden at the back and the normal area of bird activity I was surprised to see some movement on the front lawn, seemed to be bits of vegetation flying into the air. I crept round and saw some snow moving, could it be the moles returning for a Christmas fling, no surely too cold, then up popped a head, almost as surprised to see me as I was it, three seconds, a quick flick of the head, and away

this fine female Green Woodpecker ! I guess someone's got to get through the snow to feed, males have a red centre to the dark moustachial stripe and are usually found back at home waiting for the food to arrive.
So garden done and off round the lanes, with hundreds of Redwings and Fieldfares stripping the bushes of berries.

but unfortunately very jumpy, shame as the Fieldfare is a truely great bird and when you see them up close the apricot colour of the breast and the intricate flank markings make them a wonder to see. So a bit of wandering round hedgerows with plenty of Red-legged Partridges about, and finally a Hare legging it off up the track (good ol' Hatrley).

the short day length and domestic duties (including snow fights with Tom) meant very little time for any proper wildlife viewing, but that said a nice hour or so and all on the doorstep.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Play Misty for me...

Friday 11 December
A very misty start to the day, and birds using the feeders must have felt as nervous as Clint Eastwood in the film, play Misty for somethng was watching intently. Can you see it in the tree ? I saw it from the kitchen and then ensued...where's the bloody camera?... do I take a shot through the glass, yes, crap, so I crept around outside trying to get a shot, tripping over the dog, furiously wiping condensation from the lens and trying so hard not to be seen (professional it wasn't)

The gazing continued by both me and the Sparrowhawk

and the waiting game continued

this time I thought it must see me, seemed to be looking right at me!

but no, just eyeing up any potential food, and then it made a stab at a Blue Tit (too quick for me) and missed, so off to nearby tree. Then along came a Jay (not a spider) which sat behind it knocking a peanut on the branch.

this unnerved the Sparrowhawk and it stretched out and went.

Why do such things happen in such poor light, still it was a good start to the day.
But the fog stayed and it seemed to get greyer and greyer so a quick flirt to the coast and still it was grey, until just one mile from Titchwell and the sky turned blue, the sun was shining and not a cloud to be seen. A walk at the reserve yielded two Water Pipits a fleeting Bearded Tit and this Turnstone.

stepping out on a lovely day

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

December dabblings.....

Tuesday 1 December 2009

So I started off in the garden on a fine morning, once the mist had cleared. It turned into a beautiful day  sunny and with little wind. This Blue Tit was also enjoying the change from horrible weather. The usual suspects were about and some migrant Redwings and Fieldfares, but nothing much else so I decided to venture further afield

Looking up in the trees and no thrushes close enough to be photographed, but a couple of Black headed Gulls took my fancy, one an adult in winter plumage and the other a first winter bird (right). Then to my left a small brown job turned out to be a wintering Chiffchaff, too quick for me and it disappeared as fast as it appeared. A bit more creeping around to a small lake with some duck on it... so fired off a shot at this fellow...

a fine male Pochard with almost blinding sunlight glistening off it's back. I should have stopped down a couple of points really, to bring out the full colour. Scanning round and the usual small lake things about, more gulls, three Teal, stacks of Mallard and then........ some movement in the reeds and slowly, ever so slowly,  drifting out, a brown blob

which manifest itself as a Little Grebe ! admittedly in rather scruffy winter type plumage but unexpected,  and, on such a lovely day it's reflection was almost as clear as the bird itself Double click on the image ) . A good day curtailed early by cloud coming in and the wind getting up, and then a bit of drizzle and then...back to wet and windy.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Egyptian invasion

7 Nov 2009
I could hear them, but couldn't see them...... lots of honking and nothing on the pond in the back field, but then a quick look to the right and there they were, blimey ...... fifty three of them !

a field of Egyptian Geese - but not for long, a quick thirty minutes of rushing
about and off they went leaving just two.....

and here are the faithful with accompanying Moorhen and Magpie

a quick bit of display to ward off any intruders

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Woodpecker sex......

5 Nov 2009 (early morning)
Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the garden this morning as it got light, a male and a female. In trying to show Tom the difference between the two I had to take some photos as they were moving around too much for him to see properly. So here it is.

This is the male with red on the back of his head and a black band going round to it's throat which rules out Syrian Woodpecker !! (ho ho)

and this is the female, as usual duller, with all black on the back of the head, no red.

Tom is now an expert (well for 10 minutes anyway)

Sunday, 1 November 2009

a coastal wandering....

29 October 2009
a trip up to Wells for a birthday meal with Tom and Summaera, allowed the chance of a few hours birding at Titchwell. And..........just for a change the Bearded Tits were coming out into the open, not by any means their normal behaviour, though at this time of the year if it's a still day then you can be lucky and on this particular morning a superb male came out to show off .

Then it was a walk down to the beach via the new hide, which has been constructed by the RSPB in such a way as to ensure no one can use a hide clamp ! Have the designers ever been birdwatching ? The beach was fairly deserted for a school half term and this Little Egret was reasonably confiding and trying to jump on the back of Oystercatchers

I'm all fluffed up....ur...hun...hun.......

Little Egret with Oystercatchers and half a Knot in backbround

and on the final day of an amazingly unseasonal mildness this Red Admiral was in the garden and rested a while on our duck, strange to think that dragonflies and butterflies are around as we enter November...

And the beet goes on........

October 2009

Much time spent in the garden recently preparing for the autumn, even though it's so mild. Just a few insect ravaged brassicas waiting for the compost heap and these beetroots, last batch of a super 09 crop.

Birds visiting the garden have slowed down a bit, presumably plenty of wild food outside our patch to be had, but the goldfinches remain loyal.

as does the Great spotted Woodpecker which, with the Jays, can empty one peanut feeder in two days

and unfortunately so do the moles which have been causing havoc with what used to be a lawn, I have managed to identify their fortress which is a huge molehill and by the looks of it contains several thousand of the pesky little chaps... still you know what the farmers say, always best to see them at the six bells, 6am noon, 6pm and midnight.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

A lovely weekend

Saturday 5 September

Excellent weather so still some butterflies around on the fermenting pears. Most of the wind falls are pounced on by the wasps so I have decided to leave them out and see what arrives to feed. Zillions of wasps but also good numbers of butterflies.
This Red Admiral having a good feed, and then a bit of sunbathing
And here a Comma has come to a full stop ....................
And also in the garden it has been a mega year for Hornets. This time in the garden luckily, and not inside so no need to be nasty with the nest. Adults were coming to the fermenting fruit regularly. Their actual nest is high up in one of the Pine trees in the front garden.
Not forgetting the birds of course and plenty of fledged young and adults coming to the feeders , this Blue Tit stayed for the camera. 
The second brood of Swallows finally fledged, so that makes a total of twelves birds successfully hatched and flown. The adults and some young are still around though numbers are reducing every day as the ready for the trip to sub Saharan Africa.
Further down the road, hopefully not waiting for my young Swallows, this Kestrel, sat around on a telegraph pole.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Slippery goings on.......

Sunday 2 August 2009
During an afternoon BBQ this fella decided to join us, but not for long as he decided to leg it, so to speak, up the wall.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Brief encounter...

July 2009
So while I was away in Poland watching White tailed Eagles, Barred Warblers, Shrikes and much more, I was also very excited to get good views of this particular mammal ( photo below-beaver) as it went about it's daily business....

And excited I was, as before, I'd only managed brief views but this year, possibly due to the flooding, I was lucky to see them on several occasions. However not as lucky as Sam who had an amazing encounter with another mammal in our back garden. I received an excited phone call from her to say she'd seen three large animals in the drainage ditch, half wriggling and swimming along, the size of cats with dark fur and arched backs and long tails- they were Otters !!
I tentatively suggested they may be rats to be told, if they were at that size, then we were moving ! It was just sour grapes on my behalf. Otter sighting have been increasing in the County, but this clearly is the rarest sighting for our garden.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009 a duck....

Tuesday 23 June 2009 - evening
and I think I do....because while munching on those wonderful strawberries I saw a movement in the field at the back of the garden. It was a Mallard with a bunch of chicks waddling their way to the field pond. Must get this for the blog I thought, so grabbed the camera and went in pursuit ( sounds impressive but just to the edge of the garden). Watching from there I saw nothing, until suddenly across the middle of the field about thirty foot in the air, and going like a bat out of hell a Peregrine zapped past. I watched incredulously (mentally adding it to my garden list) as it disappeared and then heard the piercing call of a Kingfisher. And, it was in the tree by the side of me ! slowly turning round I could see a blue blob at the back of the Willow but just couldn't get a good view. A few seconds later, another piercing call and it was gone. My heart was thumping, but luckily there were just a few strawberries left.

And all because the lady was a duck......

One out....all out

Tuesday 23 June 2009
It was the morning for fledging as all five of the garage nesting Swallow chicks left the nest, first onto the rafters and then into the air. They are spending quite a bit of time still in the garage then occasionally exploding out and flying round as though they know what they are doing. Amazing to think by September time they will be on their way to Africa.
and while not really wildlife as they are cultivated, and I guess dead when I picked them, it is a site for ramblings......and therefore my first bowl of garden strawberries, picked this evening. Actually are they dead as the seeds are still there ? and if a seed is a living thing (is it?)then perhaps they are still alive. Hmmmm  more ramblings...and more cream and more sugar..

Mr Larva larva....

Sunday 23 June 2009
Yes... during another pond dipping session Tom found this fantastic Great Diving Beetle larvae. This is one of the most ferocious animals of our pond, they eat Tadpoles (much to Tom's disgust) and will take small fish such as Sticklebacks. (see photo of adult in older posts of this blog). Till then Tom was happily holding it in the palm of his hand while transferring it to the tank. I still remember being bitten by one of these when I was a young pond dipper. With four children dipping away many more Tadpoles were found, in addition to numerous Dragonfly and Damselfly larvae, a freshwater Leech and loads of Water Snails.
and Siskins had been calling from Rob and Emma's garden (next door) during sunday, so it was nice to see them later in my garden

Sunday, 21 June 2009

A great little hummer....

Sunday 21 June 2009
Amidst a hectic morning of pond dipping with Tom I heard a buzzing noise past my ear and a Humming Bird Hawk Moth zipped by. I tracked it down to the Valerium flowers. Great little moths these and this one probably a migrant from southern Europe. The wings beat at some ridiculous frequency so I found this really difficult to photograph, pushing the ISO to 2500 in order to stop it just being a blur....

Folklore has them down as messengers of good tidings in Italy and Malta. A small swarm was reported flying over the water in the English Channel, headed to England from France on D-Day 1944 - but let's not get excited it was just a coincidence.

A nice little spot......

Saturday 13 June 2009 fact, two nice Little Spots in the form of two Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. I had heard them calling early in the morning and couldn't believe my ears as only once before has one ever graced the garden. At first it sounded like a distant Greater Spot calling but then I realised this bird was close, that meant it wasn't a Greater but it's less strident cousin the Lesser. But where was it ? Well it was in fact in the Willow Tree and then flew over the garden towards the road. For the rest of the weekend I could hear the birds (two of them) drumming, which was a very odd time of the year for them to be doing that, but more importantly singing and with numerous very quick flights over and around the garden - brilliant! 

The Swallows in the garage were doing well with regular feeding from the adults and I would estimate they have about two weeks to go before fledging, maybe earlier. 
and finally this chap decided to lord it around the lawn, a fine and quite self assured Red legged Partridge.