Saturday, 21 June 2014

Some garden stuff.

As mentioned in the dualling raptors and crow blog, we had three more new birds including our first Long-tailed Tits. These birds are always a welcome sight and jointly, along with Northern Lapwing, hold the accolade of my favourite bird. There was a small family party which included this youngster.

Young Long-tailed Tit.

The female Greater Spotted Woodpecker is still visiting regularly...

Female Great Spotted Woodpecker.

and the male is coming more often too...

Male Great Spotted Woodpecker.

today he brought along with him a young bird which sat on the fence while he fed it.

Males feeding juvenile with the red cap.

A Blue Tit was doing the same on the feeders.

Blue Tit feeding young.

Other young birds in evidence included this Greenfinch.

Juvenile Greenfinch

Other regulars to be good enough to pose for photos recently are the Dunnock, Blackbird and fine pair of Goldfinches.

Dunnock, love that red eye.

Male Blackbird as beautiful as he is mellifluous.

A stunning pair of Goldfinches gracing our feeders
I do love living in our little rose covered cottage.

Roses by the front door of our little piece of heaven.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Crows on the attack.

We sometimes get raptors flying over the cottage, a real treat for me as there were precious few about when I was a nipper. Today we had a new raptor species for the garden in the form of a Hobby although Elis was unable to get pictures of its short but sweet appearance, maybe next time? We have been half expecting this species as they are not that unusual in this part of England. This takes our garden total on to 58 with another new bird yesterday, a Pochard on the lake, and yet another, Long-tailed Tit, the day before that.

Anyway, the point of this blog was to show you the excitement that Elis captured the other day when a Common Buzzard flew over and a crow took exception to it...

Common Buzzard minding its own business.

Crow spots the buzzard and starts to rise up towards it almost surreptitiously.
The buzzard overtakes the crow which comes up from behind to make its presence felt.
The buzzard spots it coming...

turns first this way...

and then the other to try and lose its assailant.
The crow resumes its attack...

they almost touch...

the buzzard tries to out manoeuvre the crow...

and begins to look a little irritated.
Having lost some height the buzzard needs to gain some altitude again and catches a thermal...

but the crow is relentless in its pursuit...

it just won't give up...

it lunges again at the buzzard...

which flips and stalls, a trick that any Spitfire pilot would be proud of, and the crow now finds itself in front...

having now got the upper hand the buzzard drives the crow back into the trees, and it is over. The buzzard goes on its way and the crow lurks in the trees scolding its nemesis.

Then, later the same day when a Red Kite came over the over confident crow was off again.

A beautiful Red Kite glides into view...

the picture of serenity it glides on...

and glances up to see?
Yes! You guessed it... an in-coming crow!
Which wastes no time in clobbering the kite...
Unfortunately Elis then loses them as they tumble out of the sky but when she picks them up again the kite is now behind the crow which has lost a couple of tail feathers in the affray.
For the second time that day the crow now regrets its foolhardy lunge and tries to make off with the kite in hot pursuit.
The crow just manages to out flap the kite and make good its escape back once more to the trees...
and the kite lopes off, presumably feeling a little smug while the crow once more swears insults at the leaving victor whilst nursing its sore tail.

It doesn't do to mess with the raptors around here I can tell you.

Friday, 6 June 2014

A twitching we will go.

Irresistible; Spectacled Warbler in Norfolk and a lifer for Elis, plus a decent weather forecast. It was too much to bear, so we set off early and arrived around 08.00.

If you haven't been and plan to, here are some directions if you haven't already got them. Park at; 52°57'38.8"N 0°45'27.1"E and walk down the track to meet the sea wall or alternatively at; 52°57'38.8"N 0°45'27.1"E and walk north-east along the sea wall. The bird has been around this area; 52°58'36.4"N 0°45'50.0"E

The mile or so walk out to where the bird had been seen was pleasant enough and we enjoyed some waders with young, Redshank and Lapwing to be exact, and there were plenty of other birds singing along the hedgerows to keep us smiling and amused including a calling Quail.

Adult Redshank keeping watch.

Redshank chick

Redshanks take a dim view of a Kestrel flying over their chicks!

Adult Lapwing, the chick sat low in the grass and froze as we approached rendering it invisible.

When we got to the site there were only 9 people assembled and we soon saw the bird as it collected nesting material.

Spectacled Warbler with nesting material.

It seems this bird is making a second nest having finished the first one yesterday, but alas all in vain I fear.

The white mark above the bill is a cobweb he collected for a nest and then got stuck with!

The only other one of these I have seen in the UK was back in 1992 when there was one at Filey. I have also seen them in the Canary Islands, Spain and Cyprus, but not with Elis. The bird popped up to sing every now and then but you had to be quick as it soon dropped back into cover.

The cobweb did not seem to hinder his singing ability though.

We also had four Spoonbills fly over, I must admit my heart gave a leap when one of the crowd shouted "4 spoonies flying over!" my mind going back to Thailand. There was also a, what has now become commonplace, Little Egret on the marsh. I still can't get used to seeing these birds everywhere in the UK, even from my living room window, having had to twitch one in my early listing days in the 1980s to get one on my UK list.

Fly-by Spoonbill, not, sadly, a Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

Once we had had our fill of the bird we left the now swelling group of 40 or so people and had our fill at a cafe (full English with a mug of tea)...

... and then headed for Titchwell which was disappointing except for three drake Red-crested Pochards.

So we headed home taking the back road through Docking, along that road we had Lesser Whitethroat and Corn Bunting not birds we see every day in our neck of the woods.

What promised to be shot of the day until the bird turned its head before dropping from the twig out of sight.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Wren family first outing.

There has been a lot of racket around our house today. The sound of scolding wrens being chief among the causes. The reason for this noise? Chicks! It seems that the wren family is having its first outing. Mum and Dad are understandably anxious and the kids hungry.

Agitated adult with a beaf full of spider calls from the top of the garden wall.

Meanwhile the youngsters sit quietly and wait.

We are not sure where the nest had been, but they were first seen in a flowering current bush outside our window where we had placed an upturned pot in the hope of attracting a pair of wrens to nest. Not sure if they used this or came from elsewhere, but it was good to see them especially as one of the Blue Tit nests has failed.

One of the chicks has broken out of the garden and is safely in the brambles outside our back window. having been lured there by an adult.

This adult wren sings from the brambles to attract the baby birds out of the garden and into the thicker cover.

We have been keeping our eyes on the Jackdaws that come to the garden to feed. Two sets of adults have been seen to collect beaks full of food and head off in opposite directions so presumably have nests, two head off one way and two the other. We have been keeping vigil to check they don't go off with a baby wren in their beak instead. The two couples seem to be quite happy to feed alongside one another with little or no aggravation.

Three of our four adult Jackdaws.

We stopped seeing the adult Blue Tits coming and going and there was no sound from inside the box, so we took a peek and were dismayed to find seven dead chicks, all quite small, and an unhatched egg. We emptied the box and prepared it in the hope that next year we'll have more luck.

Adult Blue Tit in happier times. Just after this picture was taken it emerged with a faecal sac. We haven't seen this scruffy individual since that day, nor its partner, so we are guessing they have become food for something else.

The sparrows continue to come sporadically and the Great Tits have started bringing their young to the feeders.

Female House Sparrow.
Juvenile Great Tit at the fast food while Mum tries to persuade it to eat more healthily!
The Song Thrush that we have been hearing for so long without seeing has a new song post that can be seen from the kitchen reducing the number of 'H's for heard-only in the daily log.

Long lens through the kitchen window; our songster gives forth to delight our senses late in the day.