Sunday, 28 June 2015

There be dragons...

 Gorgeous bit of raised bog and pines with tree pipits

Four species about: common and large red damsels, broad-bodied chasers and the very special white-faced darters! (Excuse the duff pics, my camera & I were having a fight) 

A close look at the birch leaves - someone has been busy!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Mystery Bird revealed!

Here it is....a cracking woodcock chick!
A couple more pics/info to follow.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Name that Mystery Bird 2

Ok, here is another fine Mystery Bird for you.
 No clues this month. Well, ok, I'll give you one - those are trees you can see...

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Here they are!

Here is that tricky meadow pipit nest!

The adults were bringing in beakfuls of craneflies and caterpillars, first landing on the wall to check the coast was clear, then flying down to within around 15-20m from the nest and discretely walking in.

In the very well hidden nest were several very sleepy, chicks. I think I can count 4 in this picture.

Higher up on the hill the breeding season is definitely a bit further behind with pipits feeding small chicks or still incubating eggs. This nest in a heather bank had 4 eggs on the 22nd May and 3 fine wee chicks on the 4th June.

Can you spot this nest? Try the picture on the right...

And another on a grass bank on 4 eggs.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Nest-finding challenge

Meadow pipits are a very common bird up on the moor and grassland, despite the fact that they are on the menu for all kinds of predators. So they are very good at surviving and at building a very secret cosy nest of grass. There is a nest in this picture, somewhere....!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Oystercatcher chicks

Remember the oystercatcher nest on the wall? Well, a few days ago they hatched and jumped down (I'd love to have seen that!) and are now happily padding about in a damp field amongst sheep and soft-rush where there will be lots of worms and other invertebrates for them to eat. 

One of the chicks, can you see her to the right of the adult, is peering out from among the marsh marigolds. That brown lump to the right of the big tussock could be another chick but I think it is just sheep poo, which hiding chicks do a very good impression of! 

Their little wing feathers (below left) are as yet still encased in the growing waxy pin. Soon the tips of the primaries will burst out of the quills as seen here on a nēnē gosling (below right) on a brilliant blog from Hawi'i.

Already that beak is a-growing although it will be some weeks before they look like "a black and white bird with a carrot in its mouth" as a small boy once described it! These chicks do need a pinch of luck though as any number of predators would glad have them for tea if they could so fingers crossed.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Summer things

 Carpets of cotton grass
 A gorgeous green hairstreak butterfly

 An oak eggar caterpillar ready to pupate
And the sloughed skin of an adder
And of course, the first of many bites of the season!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Constant effort Site

Things were quiet at the reedbed. Normally there would be a clamour of sedge warblers singing from every corner of the reedbed. But this year it is very quiet, and the reedbed is slow to grow, meaning less cover and less insects to feed on.

For over 20 years Alan, fully licensed by British Trust for Ornithology, has carried out a special type of bird monitoring called a Constant Effort Site. This involves arriving at the ringing site at dawn and setting up special nets in specific places to capture and record the biometrics of many species of migratory and resident birds. Each bird is given a tiny metal BTO ring on one leg with a unique reference number. We also take wing length measurements, weigh them and each bird is aged from the details of its feathers. Today, as well as ringing 17 new birds including song thrush and blackcap (see pics below), whitethroat, willow warbler, chiffchaff and chaffinch, we recaptured 11 birds, including one smart sedge warbler.

Adult male blackcap
Check out all the different feather types round his face!

Song thrushes are one of my favourite birds!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015


Oystercatchers on islands

and another on a dyke

a meadow pipit in the grass

and a great tit in old pipe!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Looking for the Kestrel

At Site 1 the farmer had said he thought kestrels and not the usual barn owls might have taken up residence. Sure enough, there was a noise from inside the box and, opening the hatch a tiny amount, I poked the lens in to what was there. This is the winning image!!

There were also 3 eggs so quickly fastening the access hatch we left. A quick inspection of Site 2 in a hollow in an old ash tree showed was no-one home. And the box we had put up in the next door tree was also empty.

Here is what I found in the ash hollow last year on the 5th June.....