Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Bloody hell !!!

25 May 2010
Further afield but just returned from some extreme bird ringing in Sweden. Watched some ringers getting to grips with Ural Owls.

Quite simple really, just put a ladder up a tree and go to the nest box to take out the chicks and ring them. This incidentally really does provide invaluable data on what is happening to these rare owls. Mummy Owl watches as a man goes to her home and starts on the kids !

Bird ringer sees the mummy owl and gets stick for self defense. This sensible man has a helmet on. His colleague who warns him if the Owl attacks doesn't.

The Ural Owl now looks a lot more aggressive.

....and launches an attack, man with helmet is flattened as his colleague warns of the attack BUT, he also gets an attack and doesn't have a helmet - they retreat, and I start to fill my pants as the Owl starts looking at the photographer - that's me - and it feels as if it's staring straight at me ! ... more of this Swedish story in due course, with link to separate blog. It'll be a few weeks.
Great trip which included Great Grey Owl, Moose and Beaver, among some 103 species of bird in just a long weekend.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Pond alert !

17 May 2010
This morning started with a bang, "what's that funny duck on the pond?" said Sam - well not that funny but a Pentney garden rarity. I found myself looking at a pair of Tufted Ducks (female hidden by reeds). They didn't stay long as the bully Geese arrived.

 I hasten to add this isn't our pond, rather the one our garden at the back of the house overlooks. It is also home to a pair of Mallards and regular visits from Common Terns. Whitethroats were in full song and our Swallows were making regular sorties in and out of the garage, repairing their nest. More pooh splattered cars this summer. Unfortunately the House Martins have shown no interest in our special House Martin nesting cups.

The trip to Lundy recently taken resulted in two good finds, Bluethroat and Nightjar, with a fly over Pipit which I was later able to identify as Tawny after listening to a CD of flight calls. More on this trip in due course.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Tis even more bootiful now

Monday 3 May
This is I think better quality than before, but I won't know till I upload it, so it's a bit of a gamble.
Yup I think it is, so here is his mate, again.
Perhaps I just thought they were better than they really were ! but I do detect a slight improvement.

Tis a bootiful bird

1 May 2010 - problem uploading these pics means they are a bit fuzzy, not just out of focus !
I'm sure that if these were rarities we would be going bonkers about them. The riot colours and the patterning on their backs and wings is really fantastic, and this is what occupied my viewing on this particualr morning.
but then the whole bird is pretty impressive
and then as it is in nature, the female is so much duller (generally)
but her role is for camoflague, not the showy fisticuffs of male Pheasants.
The scrape was reasonably quiet and my time strictly limited (Tom had acquired two new baby rabbits and needed help with the new hutch) though this Moorhen wandered past
and a Black-headed Gull flew in and out.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Sex and the Scrapy

30 April 2010
A nice morning found me back at the West Acre scrape. In contrast with the previous visit, which turned into a maelstrom of destruction, akin to something out of Fight Club, it was the opposite today. Tranquil and the Lapwings were getting very frisky.
One bird started to fly around the pool and after a few circuits landed, but did so in rather flashy fashion.
Clearly wanting to attract the attention of the other bird it strutted around for a while and then, did what all frisky Lapwings do, and shove it's cloaca up in the air!
I didn't know where to look, and neither did the other bird, as this panty posing had no effect and resulted in both birds flying off to the nearby warren where they carried out a spectacular aerial display. With considerably less finesse and looking something akin to a B52 landing, in flew Mr Greylag.
It looked like a cross between Chicken Run and Bernard Matthews.
The Green Sandpiper was still present, but over the back of the pool, and sadly very few Mallard ducklings were around, perhaps they had been predated ? A small ripple broke the surface of the water and I found myself looking at a Grass Snake.
It swam closer to where I was
stopped for a few minutes and then carried on to almost circumnavigate the entire pool.
These are really great animals, but I must warn anyone who thinks this would be a good place to go and see these creatures, that this one was at least eighty foot long and could have easily swallowed any newcomer to the area, so I repeat my warning to make sure that you stay away from this reserve.

I had a quick look in at Titchwell RSPB and saw a Reed Warbler with lots of white in it's head. Apparently this is it's second year at the reserve and it has become a bit of a celebrity. I was quite unaware of this when I took the photo, and was delighted when Dave Hawkins asked if I would send it to the Titchwell  blog. Which I did, and they put it on ! - fame at last.
A good day and I returned home just in time to flush this Red-legged Partridge from the garden.