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28 Feb 2011

Ludicrously twee pose of a Grey Squirrel caught through the kitchen window.

Ref: FJ1_20101227_1300_037 Grey squirrel posed by side of peanut feeder.jpg

A few days later at ground level (admittedly at a different site) a fieldmouse (wood mouse) also poses for a twee picture of the year.

Ref: D45_20110105_2007_259_FB1 Fieldmouse (Wood Mouse) in elegant pose.jpg

27 Feb 2011

Two tawny owl visits in one night, one about half an hour before midnight, and the second at about 5 a.m. The birds look very similar to our eyes, and we expect that they are the same individual.

Ref: D3B_20110102_2323_056_FB3 Tawny Owl about to land on peanut feeder (crop).jpg


Ref: D3B_20110103_0456_058_FB3 Tawny Owl landing on perch (crop).jpg

26 Feb 2011

Now the desperate times have passed, the fieldmice (wood mice) have some energy to spare and some frolicking has started.

Ref: D45_20110101_1852_246_FB1 2 Fieldmice (Wood Mice) frolicking (crop).jpg

25 Feb 2011

The large ponds were STILL iced 3 weeks after the freeze-up, and the heron is still hunting in the soggy meadow. We didn't see it catch anything this time.

Ref: D01_20110104_1416_010 Heron Hunting in meadow (crop).jpg

But we did catch it leaving! This was nearly a vertical takeoff spread horizontally.

Ref: D01_20110104_1425_046-049 Heron Taking off from meadow 3-6 of 6 (montage).jpg

24 Feb 2011

At sunrise on Tuesday 4 Jan 2011 there was a partial eclipse of the Sun in progress at sunrise. We got really lucky with band of haze at the horizon colouring and dimming the sun a bit with the rest of the sky overcast. Here are 2 of the 39 frames we kept, never expecting to have another opportunity.
First when the sun just cleared the horizon (08:21 a.m.)

Ref: P34_20110104_0821_061 Partial eclipse of sun at sunrise 04Jan2011 03 of 39 (crop).jpg

And now with some birds flying by 9 minutes later (08:30 a.m.).

Ref: P34_20110104_0830_097 Partial eclipse of sun at sunrise 04Jan2011 30 of 39 (crop).jpg

This camera traps also happened to catch a redwing taking off against the eclipsed sun (08:23 a.m.). The view of the sun through 2 hedge bottoms completely hides the unusual appearance of the sun.

Ref: D45_20110104_0823_107_FB1 Redwing taking off from ground with partial eclipsed sun (not obvious) through hedging (crop).jpg

23 Feb 2011

During an extended frozen period birds will frequent places they would not normally visit. Here are a couple of montages of a female and then a male pheasant arriving on the kitchen window perch to pick up dropped peanut fragments. The female even had a go at extracting her own from the metal feeder but her beak has the wrong shape to succeed.

Ref: D3B_20101222_0827_043+0829_045_FB3 Pheasant female landing & walking on perch by peanut feeder (montage).jpg

Here is the male. Quite a lot of supplementary feeding with corn will have helped see them through the desperate times.

Ref: D3B_20101222_1501_056+1516_059_FB3 Pheasant male landing & walking on perch by peanut feeder (adjusted montage).jpg

22 Feb 2011

The tree sparrows have become 'sort of' regular visitors here in the extended frozen period, and seem to be mostly tolerated by the more resident Dunnocks. We have a surprising number of images of this grouping of birds (we assume the same individuals) over several days.

Ref: D45_20101221_0807_080_FB1 2 Tree sparrows and dunnock feeding on snow.jpg

From an uncannily similar original layout to the above, something seems to have startled the 3 birds who all took of in different directions. The Sparrows were a blurry mess, but the Dunnock showed well.

Ref: D45_20101223_1606_156_FB1 Dunnock taking off from snowy site (crop).jpg

21 Feb 2011

An unusual view in the snow of an otherwise fairly typical aerial skirmish between a great tit and robin.

Ref: D5C_20101220_1512_034_FB2 Great tit and robin squabbling in flight (crop).jpg

At around the same time, but through the house windows, we saw this Bluetit hanging from the very berry it was eating which was frozen hard after days of freezing weather. It was pecking at it from all directions - you can see some of the damage. Another not so illustrative image (not included) shows a red piece flying off.

Ref: DF1_20101220_1436_081 Bluetit hanging off frozen Hawthorn berry as it eats it (crop).jpg

20 Feb 2011

For once this Tawny Owl landing caught our eye on the CCTV, and we triggered the camera a few times while it looked about. We never see the slightest reaction to the flash watching live on IR CCTV (the camera is effectively silent through a double glazed window).

Ref: D3B_20101226_2000_077_FB3 Tawny owl standing on short peanut feeder (crop).jpg

Another welcome visit from the Little Owl (species name). We think he may be looking at a lit upstairs window which will have had chinks of light through the curtains. He must have been on the CCTV screen visible to us but we didn't notice the visit at the time

Ref: D3B_20101222_2030_066_FB3 Little Owl gazing up and right (crop).jpg

19 Feb 2011


Ref: D45_20101225_1905_115_FB1 Fieldmouse (Wood Mouse) mid-leap.jpg

We hadn't seen any voles or shrews since the snowfall, so this sedate Bank vole was a welcome one-off frame return. (After the thaw the mice and voles returned in what seemed even larger numbers than before!)

Ref: D45_20101225_2311_132_FB1 Bank Vole in snow.jpg

18 Feb 2011

The moorhen family seem to have survived the freeze up, possibly helped by visits to peck over the 'baited' areas. Here one of the adults visiting, and 20 minutes later the single juvenile that is still sharing the territory with them (but probably not for much longer!)

Ref: D5C_20101227_0826_017+0848_020_FB2 Moorhen Adult and Juvenile visiting 20m apart (montage).jpg

Scuffing up the snow with his feet to see if there is anything underneath to eat, the Blackbird looks like he is calling as well.

Ref: D5C_20101225_1617_063_FB2 Blackbird male kicking up snow with beak open.jpg

17 Feb 2011

Two unusual landings at the Bird feeder:
The Day Shift: Pheasant often startle us taking off as we walk about. This startled us in a more pleasant way as she popped up on the screen.

Ref: D3B_20101224_0925_009_FB3 Pheasant female flying head-on to perch.jpg

The Night Shift: A tawny owl makes a deft landing on the awkward (but at least grippy terracotta) peanut feeder.

Ref: D3B_20101226_1959_076_FB3 Tawny owl landing on perch (crop).jpg

16 Feb 2011

The classic robin in snow image beloved by Christmas card designers - but for real.

Ref: D35_20101219_1144_081_FB4 Robin on Snowy tree stump.jpg

Look at the birds left foot - we think it is doing a 'don't put flesh on the ice' trick.

Ref: D35_20101219_1321_091_FB4 Dunnock on Snowy tree stump standing on claw tips.jpg

15 Feb 2011

Snow and continuous below freezing temperatures create unusual behavior & photographs. Here a Robin homing in on the feeder despite, or perhaps because of, the awful conditions.

Ref: D3B_20101218_1558_066_FB3 Robin flying in to feeder in falling snow (crop).jpg

Trying to keep warm.

Ref: D3B_20101219_0940_086_FB3 Dunnock squatting on perch plumped up with feet in feathers.jpg

An almost surreal mid air squabble.

Ref: D3B_20101219_1026_103_FB3 Great Tit and Dunnock in flight squabble against snowy background (crop).jpg

14 Feb 2011

The local Little Owl can't be finding much food under the snow covered fields (no animals are grazing so it is unbroken cover) and it is spending some time in our more fruitful patch. Here it is landing (back to us) on the perch outside the kitchen.

Ref: D3B_20101220_0701_001_FB3 Little owl landing on perch with back to camera (crop).jpg

We got several pics of this lovely little creature & could not resist having a little fun with this montage (all genuine poses but arbitrarily spaced along a rather extended perch).

Ref: D3B_20101220_0703_002+0710_007+0706_004_FB3 Little owl on frosty perch (montage).jpg

13 Feb 2011

An hour apart we got 2 almost identical images of this fox, so it was not put off by the first 'click and flash'. On the web search researching commercial camera traps (IR and white light) we discovered an interesting article on the damage they can do when placed on transit 'bottlenecks' by causing individuals or groups to scatter or go elsewhere. However there are plenty of routes through the boundaries and within our patch that animals can take (and find food) without ever going near a camera and there are several individuals that we only ever see on nominally covert cameras. But if this animal was upset several images showing feet, tail etc. as well is this position an hour apart shows he can't be very bothered.

Ref: D45_20101216_2010_095_FB1 Fox (crop 2).jpg

12 Feb 2011

Fieldfares are flavour of the season and still visit the orchard for windfalls. This is the first year we haven't collected leaves from the orchard to compost, using the ride-on mower as a collector which also pulps the apples. So we will in future avoid damaging the windfalls. Isn't it awful how minor changes in management transforms what you see and possibly what survives?

Ref: D45_20101218_1425_235_FB1 Fieldfare in snow (crop).jpg

A little defending of the territory - at least until the fieldfare is full.

Ref: D45_20101219_1617_335_FB1 Fieldfare chasing off Dunnock on snow.jpg

11 Feb 2011

The fieldmice (wood mice) seem to be managing to feed on the swept photo sites, displaying their twee side and making us shiver. But far fewer actual appearances - nip out, grab some food, go back somewhere warm to nibble it?

Ref: D45_20101220_0150_341_FB1 Fieldmouse (Wood Mouse) in snow.jpg

Note the tail pressed into the fur. This is the second time we have spotted this in a couple of weeks. We now suspect that this is the mouse tail equivalent of our putting hands in our pockets to warm up.

Ref: D45_20101220_0201_345_FB1 Fieldmouse (Wood Mouse) in snow (crop @576).jpg

10 Feb 2011

We chuck corn grain on the ice of the ponds mainly for the moorhen which are locked out from their usual food source, but everything else enjoys the handout. This is 4 female pheasants.

Ref: FJ1_20101218_0923_009 4 female pheasants on dragon pond ice.jpg

On icy snow, covered in snow, in falling snow.
Does having a Harem of 4 girls make up for having to put up with this?

Ref: D5C_20101218_1434_111_FB2 Pheasant male caked in snow on snow in heavy falling snow.jpg

09 Feb 2011

Who says squirrels only come out for food on warm days?

Ref: D35_20101219_1126_080_FB4 Grey squirrel on snowy tree stump.jpg

Is Spring coming soon?

Ref: D5C_20101219_1134_135_FB2 Squirrel in snow (crop).jpg

08 Feb 2011

There is no way the apple could balance on the log, so the squirrel must have dragged it up there or over it to try to bite.

Ref: D5C_20101212_1543_102_FB2 Grey Squirrel dragging apple onto log top.jpg

07 Feb 2011

A single sundog to the right of the sun (not paired with one on the left) in an unusual cloud fragment. The clouds were drifting down and left in the photo, but the position of a sundog is locked by geometry between the sun and observer, so it moved to a new cloud. Taken within the same minute but different exposures the photographer unfortunately moved between shots spoiling some of the symmetry of the foreground twigs.

Ref: P34_20101209_1016_832 Sundog to right of sun in unusual cloud fragments 1&2 of 2 (rescaled montage).jpg

Down in the undergrowth at night a ridiculously twee fieldmouse (wood mouse) with a corn grain in it's paws.

Ref: D45_20101216_0049_314_FB1 Fieldmouse (Wood Mouse) eating Corn grain in paws (crop @576).jpg

06 Feb 2011

Many birds have a difficult time feeding when ponds and ground freeze for extended periods. So we didn't expect to see a heron here with the ponds frozen, but this one turned up nearing sunset to explore some ground that had started to thaw in a sunshine heat trap. Note the fully raised left leg as it crept forward obviously needing to avoid brushing the grass and making a noise.

Ref: D01_20101215_1514_042 Heron hunting in thawed meadow (ponds iced) (crop).jpg

10 minutes later with the light fading the bird grabbed and quickly swallowed something we never saw. Turning round the bird did a wonderful shake out of it's feathers just as a moorhen wandered down a grass path behind the heron.

Ref: D01_20101215_1526_146 Heron shaking out feathers after hunt in thawed meadow (ponds iced) (crop).jpg

05 Feb 2011

Huge activity at the feeders in cold weather gave us this chance moment of an unusually clear great tit flying over a Bluetit.

Ref: D3B_20101215_0846_029_FB3 Great tit flying over Bluetit on perch.jpg

Down on the ground a Fieldfare is rooting about in the hedge bottom with an icy beak.

Ref: D45_20101213_0731_005_FB1 Fieldfare (right edge of frame) with ice on beak.jpg

04 Feb 2011

This treecreeper is only the second time we have photographed one here, the first time was a juvenile in June 2008 (not published). We occasionally see them on vertical trunks of old fruit trees and many years ago one nested in an old tit box but too awkwardly placed to photograph without disturbance. Anyway it looks like the bird shuffled it's way up the side as they do, reached the top and by chance broke the IR trigger beam.

Ref: D35_20101204_1046_066_FB4 Treecreeper (crop).jpg

On the same tree-stump 2 days later an unusual sighting of a fieldmouse (wood mouse) licking the fruit rather than just trying to bite out a lump or carry it off.

Ref: D35_20101206_2139_021_FB4 Fieldmouse (Wood Mouse) licking fruit.jpg

03 Feb 2011

This year about 200 Fieldfares have swept around for an hour each day. They have eaten the reachable Hawthorn berries and they have moved on to Sloes (Blackthorn fruit) but are mostly targeting the fallen apples.
From a single sequence the first frame shows a Fieldfare plucking a Sloe but it slipping out of the beak.

Ref: D01_20101207_1352_182 Fieldfare needing 2 goes to pluck Sloe from frosty Blackthorn & flying off with it 01 of 26 (crop).jpg

Then it has a second successful try and flies off with it in this accurately montaged pair of images about 2 seconds apart.
Don't think of the white as blossom - this is December and it is a severe air frost lasting into the afternoon.

Ref: D01_20101207_1352_195+207 Fieldfare needing 2 goes to pluck Sloe from frosty Blackthorn & flying off with it 14+26 of 26 (accurate montage).jpg

02 Feb 2011

Fieldfare Portrait on frosty twigs.

Ref: D01_20101207_1502_300 Fieldfare in frosty hawthorn (crop).jpg

Next day about half the local flock of Fieldfares (plus a few interlopers) perched in one of our 20yr old black poplars just long enough to get this picture - they are very skittish birds and don't allow humans to get anywhere near.

Ref: DF1_20101208_1216_002 100 Fieldfares (of about 200 flock) in Black Poplar (crop).jpg

01 Feb 2011

Some more air-frost images from our patch. First a teasel head. No doubt the seeds still in the head will be fine to germinate or get eaten by Goldfinches when it thaws.

Ref: P34_20101207_0901_730 teasel head in -8C frost (crop).jpg

Love the effect of the frost on this curled-up Beech leaf.

Ref: P34_20101207_0906_751 Curled dead Beech leaf on tree in -8C frost (crop).jpg



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