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Archived & Upcoming Images of the Day
Ludicrously twee pose of a Grey Squirrel caught through the kitchen window.
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.
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.
Now the desperate times have passed, the fieldmice (wood mice) have some energy to spare and some frolicking has started.
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.
But we did catch it leaving! This was nearly a vertical takeoff spread horizontally.
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.)
And now with some birds flying by 9 minutes later (08:30 a.m.).
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.
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.
Here is the male. Quite a lot of supplementary feeding with corn will have helped see them through the desperate times.
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.
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.
An unusual view in the snow of an otherwise fairly typical aerial skirmish between a great tit and robin.
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.
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).
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
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!)
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!)
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.
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.
The Night Shift: A tawny owl makes a deft landing on the awkward (but at least grippy terracotta) peanut feeder.
The classic robin in snow image beloved by Christmas card designers - but for real.
Look at the birds left foot - we think it is doing a 'don't put flesh on the ice' trick.
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.
Trying to keep warm.
An almost surreal mid air squabble.
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.
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).
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.
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?
A little defending of the territory - at least until the fieldfare is full.
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?
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.
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.
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?
Who says squirrels only come out for food on warm days?
Is Spring coming soon?
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.
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.
Down in the undergrowth at night a ridiculously twee fieldmouse (wood mouse) with a corn grain in it's paws.
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.
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.
Huge activity at the feeders in cold weather gave us this chance moment of an unusually clear great tit flying over a Bluetit.
Down on the ground a Fieldfare is rooting about in the hedge bottom with an icy beak.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fieldfare Portrait on frosty twigs.
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.
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.
Love the effect of the frost on this curled-up Beech leaf.
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