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30 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: DF1_20110406_1822_195 Mallard duck female landing on grass facing camera 2 of 4 (crop).jpg

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.

Ref: DF1_20110406_1750_177 Mallard duck pair moving away from rival male metres to left.jpg

What? Female chasing the males? Genuine single frame.

Ref: DF1_20110407_1737_349 Mallard duck female following 2 males in flight (discontinuous 4 of 5) (crop).jpg

29 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: DF1_20110407_0725_217 Starling with dead leaf for nest 2 of 2 (crop).jpg

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.

Ref: DF1_20110408_1138_017 Blackbird female with beak full of leaves for nesting.jpg

28 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: D3B_20110328_2146_068_FB3 Tawny Owl on kitchen window perch (crop).jpg

27 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: DF1_20110328_1210_025 Grey squirrel climbing trunk on Ivans Black Poplar (crop).jpg

26 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: D35_20110328_2120_038_FB4 Fieldmouse (Wood Mouse) nibbling flesh off cooked cherry pips.jpg

At another site under a hedge the mouse carries off what may be a cherry pip, but could be some other fruit.

Ref: D45_20110328_2104_092_FB1 Fieldmouse (Wood Mouse) carrying off fruit.jpg

25 Apr 2011

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

Ref: D5C_20110327_1737_012_FB2 Robin smothered in Reedmace seed blowing about in wind (crop).jpg

24 Apr 2011

Our first discovery of Wood Anemones here, hiding under a bush to the right of the main pond as viewed from the house.

Ref: P34_20110327_1432_542 Wood Anemone in bushes right front of dragon pond (crop).jpg

Far from secretive, one of the illuminators of a spring pond are Marsh marigold clumps. Here a couple of flowers.

Ref: P34_20110328_1116_618 Marsh Marigold (crop).jpg

23 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: P34_20110329_1259_686 Black Poplar catkin fallen from tree (crop).jpg

22 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: D5C_20110323_0740_081_FB2 Goldfinch pair one with beakful of reedmace down for nest (crop 1).jpg

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.

Ref: DF1_20110325_0644_102 Goldfinch collecting Reedmace seed head for nesting (crop 1).jpg

21 Apr 2011

Female mallard ducks make a raucous noise compared to the polite quacks of the males. This one was having a LOT to say.

Ref: DC1_20110323_1034_008 Mallard duck female quacking.jpg

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.

Ref: DC1_20110323_1036_047 Mallard Duck male dabbling 1 of 9 (crop).jpg

20 Apr 2011

Long-tailed tits occasionally visit the peanut feeder - this one stopped for a few seconds on the end of the perch in hazy sunshine.

Ref: DC1_20110323_1035_038 Long-tailed Tit (crop).jpg

19 Apr 2011

2 Portraits.
Robin singing despite us standing only a couple of metres away.

Ref: DF1_20110321_0906_030 Robin singing on branch (crop).jpg

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.

Ref: DF1_20110325_0721_129 Dunnock on branch between horse chestnut buds (crop).jpg

18 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: DF1_20110324_1424_133+1425_139+146 Sparrowhawk diving est 600m to prey in hedge 25m W of NE corner 01+07+14 of 24 (montage).jpg

17 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: DF1_20110319_0903_098 Heron flying low almost overhead 25 of 27 (crop).jpg

16 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: DF1_20110319_1613_218 Collared Dove taking off from ash tree 2 of 2 (crop).jpg

15 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: D01_20110311_1113_003 Juvenile Heron at Duck Pond.jpg

14 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: D35_20110310_1719_007+1903_008_FB4 Grey Squirrel & then mouse examine apple peel 1+2 of 2 (montage).jpg

13 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: DC1_20110311_1225_024 Mallard duck male guarding upending female (crop).jpg

Here she is just popped up from a dive with her head still covered by the coat of water.

Ref: DC1_20110311_1225_023 Mallard duck male guarding diving female surfacing with weed in beak (crop 2).jpg

12 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: DF1_20110312_1056_099 Little Egret standing in meadow North of Brook (crop).jpg

A couple of days later possibly the same bird did a nice flyby.

Ref: DF1_20110314_1319_009-011 Little Egret flying by and calling 06-08 of 26 (vertical montage).jpg

At the end of this flyby we got a characteristic call.

Ref: DF1_20110314_1319_038 Little Egret flying by and calling 23 of 26 (crop).jpg

11 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: DF1_20110317_1323_049 Kestrel male in flight circling burning wood pile from hedge pollarding (crop).jpg

Ref: DF1_20110317_1323_079 Kestrel male in flight circling burning wood pile from hedge pollarding (crop).jpg

10 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: P34_20110319_1750_201 Sunset 50m before moonrise at closest Lunar Perigee for 18yrs.jpg

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.

Ref: DF1_20110319_1836_275 Moonrise at closest Lunar Perigee for 18yrs 03 of 14 (crop).jpg

Ref: DF1_20110319_1838_287 Moonrise at closest Lunar Perigee for 18yrs 06 of 14 (crop).jpg

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!

Ref: DF1_20110319_1841_311 Moonrise at closest Lunar Perigee for 18yrs 12 of 14 (crop).jpg

09 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: DF1_20110305_0950_028-38 Mute Swan in flight across house & fields to North 1+3+5+7+9+11 of 23 (3 fps accurate montage).jpg

08 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: DF1_20110308_1220_089 Little Egret in flight 02 of 24 (crop).jpg

Now 3 images montaged from a little later (No accuracy at all in spacing or wing positions).

Ref: DF1_20110308_1220_100+101+103 Little Egret in flight 13+14+16 of 24 (arbitrary montage).jpg

07 Apr 2011

Sunrise with Grey Squirrel, or Grey Squirrel with sunrise?

Ref: D35_20110307_0829_002_FB4 Squirrel at sunrise.jpg

At the end of the same day a Rook makes a majestic landing on the same stump

Ref: D35_20110307_1722_018_FB4 Rook on Tree-stump.jpg

06 Apr 2011

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,

Ref: D45_20110309_1749_167_FB1 Dunnock & Robin squabbling while another Dunnock watches (crop).jpg

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.

Ref: SG2_20110306_1617_059_SC2 Pheasant male surrounded by 7 jackdaws all feeding quietly.jpg

05 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: P34_20110308_1608_947 5 off 7-spot ladybirds at joint of broken stem (crop).jpg

Ref: P34_20110308_1609_948 7-spot ladybirds in hollow stem (crop).jpg

04 Apr 2011

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.

Ref: D01_20110226_1651_025 Grey Squirrel on meadow post top nibbling corn grain.jpg

A less common visitor a few days later was this female Kestrel.
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.

Ref: DF1_20110303_1401_025 Kestrel female on Meadow post.jpg

03 Apr 2011

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!

Ref: D5C_20110220_0753_092_FB2 Pair of Robins one flying over the other looking up (orig).jpg

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.

Ref: D5C_20110227_0626_198_FB2 Pair of Robins courting.jpg

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!

Ref: D5C_20110306_1620_064+1716_078+20110305_0624_038_FB2 Robin Pair Courting (3 unadjusted pairs montage).jpg

02 Apr 2011

Grey squirrel in action:-
Elegantly collecting hazel nuts.

Ref: D5C_20110220_1618_104_FB2 Grey Squirrel with hazel nut (crop).jpg

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!

Ref: D5C_20110227_1559_212_FB2 Grey Squirrel leaping at (q) jackdaw (crop).jpg

01 Apr 2011

A Dunnock in a pool of sunshine.

Ref: DF1_20110227_0939_061 Dunnock on twig.jpg



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