March Wasp......Postscript : After writing my blog, thought I'd add this link to Shirl's blog http://blog.shirlsgardenwatch.co.uk/2008/03/spot-birdie.html as those of you interested in birds, can view a presumed leucistic Siskin. I have checked with a colleague and he's confident this is what it is.
Monday, 31 March 2008
Thursday, 27 March 2008
Then this Carrion Crow perched itself on a post. So thought I'd post these as a selection of preening photo's, plus the one botom right shows how birds like Crows position themselves, into the wind, crouch down slightly to take off. Notice how it's almost ready to "spring into action" compared to the preening position.
And I was also thinking how does one show the "panorama" out of a hide. If one takes a photograph from the hide opening, doesn't give the impression of the panorama, so why not frame the view from inside. All a bit arty, but I'm happy. (1 Catcott hide north, 2 Catcott hide east, Glastonbury Tor in distance, 3 North hide Shapwick/Meare NNR)
After Catcott, popped over to Shapwick/Meare Heath NNR. It was about 5pm, but still time to have a mooch about. Reports of a Great Egret here, not seen but did get my first Swallow (123) of the year and Marsh Harrier (124). There were a good number of Cetti's Warblers singing, poss 7, and another first for me, I had the briefest of glimpses of a Cetti's as it sang, flew then sang again out of view. The whole area was covered in Hirundine's too, must have been 3-4oo. 2 Little Egrets and 3 Chiffchaffs singing....no Otter, but.....
THE BEST TILL LAST - STARLINGS :
I was watching Jackdaws coming into roost, when a flock of about 2000 Starlings flew into the reeds. This area is well known for the massive Starling displays in the winter, but the end of March is usually way past anything worth seeing. Quite nice to see "winter" and "Spring" colliding, Starlings and Martins. 2 or three flocks of similar size came in as I walked back (photos 4 & 5 below). But one flock was trapped by a Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine (125).
I'd seen the female Sparrowhawk earlier flying over the reed beds, but this one seemed to be circling a small copse. Then above me a spied a female (I think, it was getting dark) Peregrine. the effect of these 2 hunters was that a flock of about 5-600 Starlings were trapped in trees by the reeds. The Sparrowhawk then flew at speed into the tree causing pandemonium (photo 6 and video below). As the mass of starlings left the tree, the Peregrine dived into the mellee from above. It was unsuccesful and I lost sight of the Sparrowhawk, until it returned again about 2 minutes later as did the Peregrine, to once again have a go at Peregrine - Sparrowhawk hunting co-operation. Was it co-incidence or opportunistic behaviour or have these two species learnt to co-operate in an area where huge numbers of Starlings overwinter? I'd welcome any suggestions as I don't know. But it was a fabulous end to the day.
Second mass exodus from the trees. Sorry about the quality, it all happened so fast, and this was on my compact camera.... hope no one's watching from the NHU!!
And finally, just before 7pm, stopped briefly at a place where Barn Owls are quite numerous. Nothing tonight, but this colourful picture, reminded me why I absolutely love the Somerset Levels. Nowhere else like it in the UK.
Monday, 24 March 2008
Does anyone know what the "Arum" is bottom right?
Sunday, 23 March 2008
After shopping in Yeovil in the morning, always a treat for a countryphile such as myself, plus a spot of lunch at Castle Gardens in Sherborne (amazingly re-opened 2 days after a fire destroyed 50% of the building), in the afternoon I left Thelma to snooze in the warm conservatory, and himself ventured out onto Bulbarow Hill in the teeth of a gale (with a grey wagtail at a ford on the way). And at 900 feet up it was surely a gale. Struggling to get out of the car my first view was an incoming hail shower... which was nice!!
Huge numbers of Corvids up there, particularly Rooks and Carrion Crows. Spent a bit of time watching Rooks pestering a Buzzard which was flying a bit too close. Amazing how agile Buzzards can be when being mobbed. That was the second Buzzard being mobbed, one at Clifton Maybank near Yeovil earlier. Very few passerines about, but hunkered in the lee of a hedge Red-Legged Partridge and pheasants, numerous rabbits. Sadly though no Brown Hares - unlike me they had the sense to lie low and keep out of the wind.
However even for me, after an hour I had had enough of being buffeted, so drove to Hammoon. 600 feet lower, the weather could not have been any different. Was it the same day? Still a wind, but I could stand up. Scanning the Stour River, 2 Little Egrets were faffing about by the river.
In the opposite direction to the Little Egrets, Hambleton Hill. I keep meaning to go up there, not today though.
Finally as it was heading towards sunset, popped to Fiddleford Manor. Absolutely stunning spot with the Mill, a weir and unspoilt scenery. I was watching a "charm" of Goldfinch and some Long Tailed Tit in a tree when a "seep seep" attracted my attention. And indeed, 2 Kingfishers. I watched them flying to and from a branch as I stood on the sluice gates here. Not far from this spot I also found their nest hole. In the evening light, the male particularly turned almost Azure-Purple, glorious. By the way incase you're wondering, females have an oranger lower bill, though not easy to see at times.
Saturday, 22 March 2008
What do you think of this? The local free paper "Blackmore Vale Magazine" had this article this week. Now this would be something to add to the Dorset County List. What a wonderful bird, I wonder where it came from? Surely not global warming, ha ha!!
Finally, I wonder how many of you have seen Robin courtship? I forgot to mention earlier in the week, while walking into work on Thursday I stumbled across this wonderful behaviour. Robins like many birds "food pass" between the male and the female to strengthen the bond as part of the courtship ritual. It also helps the female build up energy/fat reserves without having to forage herself. Producing eggs is an energy sapping business, so the man of the house is doing his bit for his lady, before the actual mating takes place, known affectionately as "treading".
The female basically takes up the posture of a juvenile, this one was on a branch. Fluffing herself up, flitting her wings, calling (can't describe it well but a "scheep scheep" is sort of there) and keeping her gape open, the male searches for tasty morsels to feed her. Robins being quite bold in towns, I was lucky enough to be only a few feet away and so able to watch this for about 2 minutes. In that time the male returned 3 times. Keep a look out as it was a wonderful experience to behold.
I mentioned this to Thelma and she said sounds good, bring me a cup of tea in bed......