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One pair of Mallard ducks don't let us get closer than a few metres but seem to realise we are 'harmless'. Here this female saw us at the meadow post providing a later than usual baiting, and decided to fly in for a look.
The female Mallard ducks get a bit of harassment from the 3 males, but this male was avidly 'protecting her honour' or 'defending his rights' depending on how you view it.
What? Female chasing the males? Genuine single frame.
Starlings nest in the loft by a hole we had the roofer leave open. But this Starling was on the roof ridge with this leaf and flew off toward the main field with it, so the loft is just one of many nest sites.
Somewhere behind the leaves is a female blackbird. We have found the nest in some trellis on a wall overgrown with ivy, but we won't be trying to get any close-up photos of the nest because we couldn't do it without disturbance.
After a month without seeing any owls this Tawny owl landed on the perch outside the kitchen window. Spotted in CCTV in Infra-red (IR) we were able to take a few more images (owls seem oblivious to the flash as long as they don't hear the camera). This one shows the wonderful flexible necks can't just turn through 360 degrees (needed because the huge eyes can hardy move in their sockets) but can also move sideways like a Balinese dancer.
A young (well at least small) Grey Squirrel flees from our arrival up the trunk of our tallest tree - a black poplar named 'Ivan' after a deceased friend.
We tend to freeze our fruit crops 'as-is' rather than prepare dishes en-masse, so we get things like cherry pips out-of-season (quite apart from what we freeze just for the animals) This mouse is nibbling the flesh off a pip.
At another site under a hedge the mouse carries off what may be a cherry pip, but could be some other fruit.
The Reedmace seed heads we put out to try to photograph birds
collecting it for nests has now broken up and
with a freshening wind has blown it all over the photo site and
get stuck onto just about anything that visits, like this Robin
who might also be collecting it. Just what
evolution has arranged of course - get the seeds carried away.
From 4 days before the much tidier site has a pair of Goldfinches taking away some soft seed for the nest
Our first discovery of Wood Anemones here, hiding under a bush to the right of the main pond as viewed from the house.
Far from secretive, one of the illuminators of a spring pond are Marsh marigold clumps. Here a couple of flowers.
We have 4 male Black Poplars along our track to the road.
There are very few female Black Poplars about because they apparently have
a pungent smell in Spring. Thus the species is only propagated by
cuttings - we have about 6 20 year only trees including our tallest
tree, all from cuttings from a fallen branch long before we knew
the significance. The wood is terribly brittle - every year several
branches of the old trees will break in the autumn storms.
Anyway, they produce catkins a bit later than willow, but don't leaf for several weeks & you start to wonder if they have all died - each year! The catkins are a beautiful red-pink-orange-yellow mix and look like tiny discarded garlands after a mouse party. Here one found on the ground in pristine condition.
Read mace seed heads are very popular for nesting material with the Goldfinches as well as other birds not so obliging with photographs. This is a genuine single frame of the pair of birds.
And another (maybe the same) bird photographed from the house on a stem in the middle of the reed bed. We saw this one only filling it's beak and flying off with it, rather than trying to eat the tiny seeds.
Female mallard ducks make a raucous noise compared to the polite quacks of the males. This one was having a LOT to say.
This male is 'dabbling' - taking a beakful of water and then using his tongue to squeeze it out through the serrated edge to filter out fragments to swallow.
Long-tailed tits occasionally visit the peanut feeder - this one stopped for a few seconds on the end of the perch in hazy sunshine.
Robin singing despite us standing only a couple of metres away.
This Dunnock (a regular at the feeding site a few metres away) is so used to us putting out food that it waits for us only a metre of two away. We love the framing by the Horse Chestnut buds.
A thrilling moment was the dive of this sparrowhawk into and
through a hedge 25m to our left as we stood at a corner of our
patch watching 2 buzzards and this bird circling at about 600m
(calculated from typical birds wingspans).
We missed the start of the dive, and covered it fairly hopelessly because the descent was so unusually fast it was difficult to keep the bird in frame. So here we try for an impression - the bottom 2 frame are about 1 second apart. Sizes are as they appeared at constant focal length.
This low-flying Heron didn't seem to notice us. The long neck is often folded back like this in flight and sometimes for hunting gradually preparing to shoot the head forward.
Collared doves have graced our site for many years, and breed in the trees. These beautiful delicate birds are unfortunately prey for sparrowhawks, but within a week or two of one being taken another will appear to make a pair. There is often a 'pool' of unpaired birds waiting to take up any vacancy.
This juvenile heron spent a few minutes at a pond in the late morning, It's usual prey at this pond is Smooth & Great Crested Newts, and the odd frog, but we didn't see it catch anything. We haven't spotted a single frog this year in any pond, and there are only about 10 clumps of spawn in just one (not this) pond.
Successive images at the tree stump (here at exactly the same scale) made an amusing contrast. Obviously the apple peel didn't interest the squirrel or it would have vanished.
A pair of mallard ducks spend a lot of time in the main pond. We throw mixed corn into the water and the female spends hours upending and/or diving for it, often with the male in close attendance.
Here she is just popped up from a dive with her head still covered by the coat of water.
Little Egrets are one of those birds we just never saw 20 years ago. Here one has landed across the local brook and we managed to get this image through trees branches without scaring the bird away.
A couple of days later possibly the same bird did a nice flyby.
At the end of this flyby we got a characteristic call.
This male kestrel had a few circles over a huge fire buring cut wood from 'pollarding' (more levelling) a hedge, maybe using it as a thermal - it mostly glided in circles and never hovered once.
Saturday 19th March 2011 saw the nearest Lunar Perigee (closest approach of moon to earth) at full moon for 18 years. Vaguely assuming moonrise time around sunset as we saw in 2009 (see March 2009 a few images down) we sallied out to watch, but had 50 minutes to wait. We rather enjoyed the murky sunset, though it didn't bode well for the view of the moon.
The moon finally rose unexpectedly far South this wonderful red colour - we processed these the next morning and used those images (from a lot a framing exposures) as near as we could remember the appearance.
Within only a few minutes the colour lightened. we have much better images of the moon features, but they haven't changed much for millions of years!
We don't see much of mute swans in the area (and never landing in our patch) so this chance flyby while we were standing by the roadside was a lovely surprise. Alternate frames from a 6 fps sequence accurately aligned.
We have seen 2 Little Egrets cavorting in the distance, but one did a very nice unconcerned fly-by. First a single image during approach.
Now 3 images montaged from a little later (No accuracy at all in spacing or wing positions).
Sunrise with Grey Squirrel, or Grey Squirrel with sunrise?
At the end of the same day a Rook makes a majestic landing on the same stump
Size doesn't really count when it comes to aggression
Here a Dunnock and Robin having a set-to at the edge of the frame while. presumably, the Dunnock's mate watches,
But Pheasants (male and female) and Jackdaws (and Corvids in general) seem to coexist even when competing for the same supply of food. There are many examples of 2 or 3 such birds at the high resolution photo sites, but here a male pheasant is completely surrounded by 7 Jackdaws which could easily chase him off, but they all just feed in their own ways.
The 7 spot ladybirds seem, for the moment at least, to be holding their own on our patch against the Harlequin invaders. Here are two separate groups a few metres apart making the most of dried and broken annual weed stems.
A daily event now - a grey squirrel climbs up the meadow post for a rummage. It has stripped some of the bark, not that it isn't falling off on its own anyway.
A less common visitor a few days later was this
A 2m high post in the middle of rough grass with a bit of food offered each day has been amazingly good at attracting Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Barn, Tawny & Litle owl, corvids (rooks, magpies etc) as well as many small birds.
Its Spring, and there are Robins everywhere, usually spotted in pairs rather than singletons. Out of breeding season robins are rarely seen together except when fighting!
This pairing has turned up many times over about a week and must be some of courtship behaviour. In most cases the bird landing here (we assume the male) is already standing on the log with the other (we assume a submissive female) points beak upward without hint of threat.
More than a week later still about two thirds of images of pairs of robins at this site show this same characteristic positions We think it has to be some mating display that something about the way the camera is triggered means we keep seeing it!
Grey squirrel in action:-
Elegantly collecting hazel nuts.
Not so elegantly seeing off a Jackdaw, this squirrel is caught in an wonderfully aggressive Kung-Fu posture. We would love to have seen this from the other side!
A Dunnock in a pool of sunshine.
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