Saturday, 30 May 2009

A right 'ol dust up......

30 May 2009
Driving into work and had to stop abruptly for these two Red legged Partridges - nothing untoward here, just a couple of Frenchmen out for a stroll......
a bit of a chat to one another, which clearly wasn't going well ...

talking over and it's down to fisty cuffs.............

a word in your ear matey.......................

tae-o-toshi if I'm not mistaken

At this point, I had to leave as it was getting far to violent for me. As I left they'd sort of made up and opted for a different tack ! with a lot of bubbling and squeeking noises going on.. No comment.

The eyes have it.....

29 May 2009
Just outside the village and in crop field, a pair of Oystercatchers stood still for a while watching me watching them, before flying off. Having photographed them and subsequentley played around on the computer enlarging the image, came the breaking news that Oystercatchers also have irregular shaped Iris' - the second species after Woodpigeon (see previous discussion of this on older posts on this blog ref Cuddesdon blog).

another irregular shaped iris !
The Swifts very active over the house with a group of ten wheeling around still. Trying to get a picture of one became a bit of a challenge this evening. This being the best effort so far.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Nice pair of Tits.....

27 May 2009
There seem to have been loads of young birds fledging in the last week and Long- tailed Tits are no exception. Here the young bird is trying to impersonate Zorro with it's dark brown mask.... 
But before long it will look like an adult Long- tailed Tit as shown above. Other fledglings have included Great Spotted Woodpecker bringing its single young into the garden, but currently camera shy, also Goldfinches, Blackbirds, and Dunnocks. The Swifts are wheeling around in the evening and attempting nesting two doors up in the old post office roof while House Martins have had a look at our eaves but don't appear very impressed. The Swallows are still nesting in our garage and coating the top of the cars with whatever they have recently eaten. Can't hear any chicks yet.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Bank holiday blues......

25 - 26 May
The sky that is....... a gloriously sunny bank holiday ! first for ages. And my first chance to photograph Little Owl. I've seen a few around the village but they have always been flighty and too far away, with the only occasions that they hang around being when I don't have the camera. This little beauty was sat on the overhead cable in Abbey road and X Trail's open sunroof came into it's own, only a few seconds, but enough to fire the shutter on a cracking Little Owl (try double clicking on the image and feel the stare) . No sign of the one out the back of the garden and not heard again. I suspect there are a few in Pentney but finding them is really difficult.

Reality bites for my son Tom. Sunday morning started with the cry from Tom that there were birds all over the garage floor. There were, some half a dozen tiny Wren chicks. The adults had built a nest in an old Swallow's nest but the chicks had exploded out of the nest a bit early. Tom, at six years of age thought this was great, and a good opportunity to try out his camera skills on some birds. He took this picture completely unaided - David Bailey watch out! Sadly later in the day when we returned from a walk they had  perished. All too young I guess, though we did only find three so just maybe a couple made it. Tom wasn't happy, but we explained  as best we could though he wasn't having us bury them, that was horrible, cardboard box a better idea.

A glorious day and I thought why not have a look at where the Nightingales breed every year down Abbey road. Usually three pairs and while I didn't expect to hear them at midday there was always the possibility of a brief sighting - well not now. This is now not exactly prime Nightingale habitat. Still perhaps that's why we've heard them at the back of our house, it's an ill chainsaw that brings a Nightingale........  Also a walk down Bilney woods and no singing Woodlarks but on this occasion I think that's just down to time of day. However did see a Cuckoo, several Willow Warblers and loads of Whitethroats, must be a good year for them.

Friday, 15 May 2009

One good Tern.......

14 May 2009
Well two actually, in the field pond at rear of our garden two Common Terns which had been flying over for the last few days finally plucked up the courage to start fishing.

The two birds stayed for a few minutes making several successful attempts for fry (not Stephen who lives three fields away!).

Work in the field has seen the Geese absent for a few days but the Nightingale is still singing so hopefully hold a territory. Seeing it of course will be impossibe, too far away even for the scope and no access to the scrub hedge where the noise is coming from. This hedge line also has a mature Oak in it, perhaps where the Little Owl is.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Sun and wind

11 May 2009
Another lovely sunny but breezy evening and a dog walk at the Ford at West Acre. Not much about except for a Latticed Heath moth struggling with the wind. Last night the Nightingale was still singing behind the garden and a Little Owl was calling somewhere nearby. Possibly in the newly ploughed fields at the back.

and me struggling with my depth of field!

Last night the Nightingale was still singing behind the garden though a little more distant now and a Little Owl was calling somewhere nearby. Possibly in the newly ploughed fields at the back.

A damsel, but not in distress.....

10 May 2009
A glorious day, spent with BBQ and pond watching. Some huge Diving Beetle adults, Water Boatmen and these Damselflies. They are the Large Red Damselfly, though Tom thought they looked pretty small - fair comment. Told by size (unless you are six years old) and the yellowy stripes on the fat bit of it's body (antehumeral stripes don't yer know).

These two are at it ! (and remained so for 15 minutes - as a percentage of their life as an adult that's the equivalent of humans doing it for 17 days non stop ! )
You can see the yellow stripes here and it's red body with black tail markings (obviously having a rest). 
The pond was also an attraction for bathing and sun basking birds. Below a Blackbird having a bath and a Dunnock catching some rays and airing out it's feathers. This helps them with feather maintenance and parasite control.

A Fluffed up Dunnock
A bathing Blackbird

Walk like an Egyptian.....

9 May 2009
The recently opened up pond at the back of our garden has attracted a few birds recently. As the Reed Mace emerges I am hoping to see the Sedge Warblers that have previously nested there which before I could only hear. For the moment however I'm having to content myself with some larger birds. These Egyptian Geese were around at the weekend .

Wierd looking things really and hard to believe that thirty years ago birdwatchers travelled to Norfolk specifically to see them ! It's an African species that was introduced to Britain in the 18th Centuary and subsequently escaped, and now has a huge feral population. Pentney lakes is heaving with them.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

William it was really nothing....

2 May 2009
An excited phone call from home by Tom , my six year old son. Hardly able to contain himself and string a sentence together, he started talking about finding a necklace in the garden, but it wasn't a real necklace because it was moving! then the words poisonious and snake. It turned out to be a Slowworm which had been basking in one of the flower borders. Tom called him William and took the picture below. Nightingale still singing from bushes in field behind the house at midnight.

(title is a reference to a Smiths song of course)

Escape to Lundy

28 April - 2 May 2009

A brief trip away to Lundy Island and a chance to see some migrants. My first Swifts and House Martins of the year, plus loads of Grasshopper Warblers, Pied Flycatcher hundreds of Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs moving through the island.
Perhaps most exciting of all for me was while listening to a squealing Water Rail, I also heard some high pitched squeaking which turned out to be a couple of Water Rail chicks, little black fluffy balls, with a bald crown and ivory bill.
Adult Water Rail seen above eating a worm and below one little black fluffy chick. These pictures were taken in a small gulley at the bottom of Millcombe Valley, which is very aptly called smelly gulley ! I managed to slither down this grassy bank and get these shots without the birds getting spooked. I was delighted to get pics of the young birds and after an hour or so went to the island Tavern to celebrate with a beer. I told a few people and while initially they were interested, gradually they all went and sat somewhere esle. I assumed I was boring them with Water Rail talk so sat with my beer and reveiwed my pictures. After a while someone I didn't know walked past me and announced to the pub there was a nasty smell - Hmm it was me , and the result of spending an hour in smelly gulley, the island domestic sewage outlet ! Still I was over the moon with having seen and photographed my first ever Water Rail chick.

On the seabird cliffs some fifteen hundred Guillemots had returned to breed and at least fourteen Puffins. Fulmars also cruising at eye level height.

A couple of Whimbrel were around for a few days. Unfortunately however no major rarity.