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Archived & Upcoming Images of the Day
This year the Tree Sparrows have spread from the Kitchen window feeder to the open areas of the site as well. Here are three of them in a young apple tree.
This male Brimstone Butterfly has his proboscis deep in the Primrose flower.
Butterflies seem to be doing very well here this Spring. Many are in much better condition than normal after their winter vigil - the winter was unusually benign. A few years after we planted our hedges we saw hundreds of Tortoiseshell Butterflies on the various hedge blossoms. Last year we hardly saw any, but already we have seen a decent number. This Tortoiseshell butterfly was sunning itself on a piece of weed infested shingle that has probably got nice and warm.
An almost perfect Comma butterfly that has also over-wintered and is in lovely condition. We normally don't notice them until they arrive to feast on the rotting windfall apples in Autumn. This one is perched on a stinging nettle leaf, with a blackberry stem running over the leaf.
We had noticed a Tortoiseshell butterfly chasing a peacock butterfly with amorous intent. Here on a Cherry tree the Tortoiseshell continued to make amorous advances on this totally unsuitable object of affection.
We don't often see more than mild skirmishes between Corvids, but these 2 rooks had several second mid-air fight where they dropped perhaps 100 metres with claws locked together before breaking off at about tree-top height. Here are the first 16 images against a bland sky that prevents us giving accurate position frame by frame. But we remember them as being in a strong Westerly wind (camera is facing north) sweeping sideways as they fell. The frame rate is about 5 fps.
4 images of the Rooks fighting in more detail.
As they neared the ground the images started including background we could use to produce accurate alignment. Starting at the last image from the first 16 here are the final moments and breaking contact.
We found this Owl Pellet at the bottom of the meadow post.
You can see it speckled with the tiny claws and other fragments
of the Rodents the Owl as eaten. We didn't know whether this is
Barn owl or Tawny owl Pellet - it is too big for a Little Owl and was
most likely one of the owls we 'see' on the post.
Owl Pellets are ejected from the mouth & are really quite clean. We stored the pellet while we found out how to identify, dissect it, and then put together some suitable kit to photograph the result.
Here is the most interesting view of the intact pellet under a moderate macro lens.
The small ruler divisions are 1mm in the real world - on our PC monitor we see
the image as 5 times life size. You can clearly see what turned out to be the skull
and top front teeth near the top.
The images of a range of Owl pellets convinced us that this came from a
Tawny owl - Barn owl pellets are much smoother.
Link to: Barn owl Survey Pellet Identification
28-105mm macro lens set to 70mm, 20mm Extension tube. 1/250 Sec F 25 100 ISO, Flash ETTL Auto-exposure.
No animals were harmed by this dissection - only by the Owl weeks ago!
As recommended in the linked RSPB document we soaked the pellet in water. It took about 15 minutes to soak through. We then picked it apart and separated all the non-fur bits (fur at least 90% of the volume) to produce these pieces. The job is fiddly, difficult to remove all the fur as you can see, but is perfectly pleasant - there is no noticeable odour or nasty surprises! We at first thought the flat disc near the upper right quadrant might be a beetle wing case, but the ID diagram (see link) suggests it is an Rodent 'Ear Capsule'.
Link to: RSPB Owl Pellet guide
Identifying the mammal the bones belong to requires careful
examination of the teeth. We have stood up the skull and jaw here
in Blue-tack (the light blue stuff under the bones) so the teeth
According to the key in the RSPB document it is a Bank Vole identified by their interesting curved forms most clearly visible on the top right of the skull (on the right). The left and right lower jaws are to the left. We don't know which way round the jaws are here - we had no idea that rodent lower jaws came in two separate halves - it is not broken. The skull is about 8mm long.
Taken with Canon MP-E 65mm lens sets at about 3x life size. That's the size on the camera sensor, much enlarged here. This close to the subject the flash auto-exposure was rubbish, and we have here a full flash image still underexposed and lightened during processing.
We get partial sightings of badgers at various sites, but here this one managed the whole animal in one frame. The Badger will be investigating the wonderful smells undoubtedly emanating from the feeding site.
We are becoming very fond of this pair of Mallard ducks, even if they do fly away in terror if we get within 15 metres or so. He actively protects her and fights off other males that try to mate with her, and they immediately swim together when the crisis is over. We are sure animal behaviourists would tell us that he is only guarding his mating 'rights', and he is, but they stick together more than most pairs of ducks.
This Drone-fly was hovering over one of our meadow paths. We
photographed one at a fast enough shutter speed (1/8000 sec) to
almost freeze the wing motion . These are NOT consecutive frames
- just 3 reasonable efforts arranged for effect.
Drone flies are Honey Bee mimics (making predators wary of being stung) but Swallows can somehow tell the difference, and gobble them up!
A few warm days has woken the over-wintering butterflies. This male Brimstone Butterfly (on the left) stops off for a snack on some Primrose flowers. This insect is really hard to spot on these flowers if you don't see it land.
A few warm days has woken the over-wintering butterflies. An almost perfect over-wintered peacock Butterfly is sunning itself on last autumns fallen leaves. This insect is about 6 months old so it must have 'hibernated' very soon after emergence, and found a really protected spot.
A Skylark on the way down intermittently singing. This wings spread and feet hanging down seems typical of the species and seems remarkably controlled and stable. This montage over a little more than one second is vertically compressed - we don't have any background reference in the bland sky to space them accurately.
Wattle and Daub, Blackbird style.
This female Blackbird & her mate are making a nest in Ivy just outside the living room window. Most of the material is collect from the edge of the pond 10 metres or so away - a mix of dry vegetation and mud to cement the nest together.
This first load seems to be pure mud from the pond margin.
The female Blackbird's next load is about as much dry grass as she can cram into her beak.
The female Blackbird seems to have collected a mix of dry grass & sodden weeds from the edge of the pond.
We don't remember a year for Song Thrushes singing like this one has been. We have at least two pairs nesting somewhere and they encourage each other to sing to defend their territories.
The Robins continue their Love-in.
We think this must be the male (left) courtship feeding the female.
2 opportunistic Male Mallard ducks attempted to mate with the female (near front) of our resident pair. She got submerged by the 3 males trying to 'have' or defend her. Here she has just surfaced after one round of the attacks. On large lakes half a dozen or more males may all try to pile on top of the female, and they have been known to drown. But here she can cope with a couple of interloping males by just diving deeper to disengage.
After a minute or two the two males gave up (or 'satisfied themselves') and we were pleased to see the female immediately swim straight to her mate and they greeted each other with a few bobs and calls. Not all males 'tarred by the same brush' then.
At the end of the day the 'pair' of Mallard ducks doing a little togetherness feeding. Once she is on eggs he will leave her with her camouflage feathers so his bright colours don't highlight the nest. Sometimes they meet up and he guards her as she feeds and preens frantically to get back on the eggs.
Not many Hare sightings at the moment, and not obviously linked
to the adjoining farm road being busy or not - this was a normal
busy Tuesday morning.
We have often thought the colour of our Hares appears strange, but a recent BBC one-off documentary 'Springwatch' (actually in the Spring for once!) showed exactly the same glowing golden brown in an extract by Simon King.
A few second after the one above, this hare was running towards us. It is not as sharp as we would like, but we adore the great long rear legs stretching out in front of the forelegs as it powers towards us mostly hidden by out boundary hedge.
The Silver Ghost touches down.
This Collared Dove gently floats through the morning air on her quest for breakfast.
The crop at the left is the frame edge - not an artistic choice.
Love overtures between this pair of Robins. We see similar behaviour (between different pairs of Robins) at all of the ground level photo sites. But at this site the always seem to be so close we wonder how loud the receiving bird must perceive the song.
A single Fieldmouse (Wood Mouse) nibbling some sort of seed from the pointed end. Presumably this is the easiest end to start before crunching your way along.
Much less elegantly, this Fieldmouse (Wood Mouse) is carrying off this whopping piece of fruit which it has lifted up from the ground behind the log.
The male Pheasant with unusually light body feathers visits all of the ground levels photo traps. Here he is at the 'Woodland' site.
At the open meadow site we can clearly see the wattles of the male Pheasant - the red flaps hanging down. Although the back is unusually light coloured the head is typical
A Buzzard flying by - a picture of serene gliding.
20 minutes later one of the Buzzards moved in the direction of the Rookery, and this Rook was making life uncomfortable for the Buzzard - a standard technique when such birds are anywhere near the nest site.
A fox most definitely on the hunt for elevenses, pre-midnight that is.
The Song Thrush enjoys our currently unkempt salad bed where badgers, squirrels, moles and the birds turn over the soil for invertebrates.
The Song Thrush enjoys our currently unkempt salad bed, here exploring a grass tussock
The only owl visit of the week - a 4 minute stop over by the Barn
Owl with no leg ring. Once a week is about normal for this
We suspect that this un-ringed bird is the male, with the ringed bird the female, together starting their breeding cycle where the female starts letting the male hunt for her.
At the woodland site this unusually smart badger trundles about his business.
An unusually well groomed Badger visiting the woodland site.
A detail of the bottom of the Badger front left foot - our site is covered in sharp sided pits about 10cm deep, and least one latrine. This foot is perfectly adapted to the badger's specialisation - digging.
A rook making a sort of parachute landing on the perch ...
... and leaving with a very intense stare.
A Dunnock on an Elderberry branch. This plant get into hedges but grows so much faster than most other hedging plants that it springs up above the hedge line.
A strong wind from the North (left in this image) was apparently all that was required to create this swirling pattern in the Duckweed. The pattern is incredibly intricate considering what makes it.
"I LOVE YOU!"
Having your partner shouting their message of love at you from 5cm away is better than not hearing it.
This woodland site is set up to allow the photographing of whole large animals. Here the female Muntjac Deer has positioned herself perfectly. Not that a Muntjac Deer is even the size of a big dog!
A Muntjac Deer with really good face detail and view of
the scent gland by the eye.
We think this may be a male with growing antlers still 'in velvet', but the characteristic tiny tusk is not showing and we are really not sure.
One of our at least 2 moorhens making a nice portrait while picking over the ground at the log.
What was originally 4 Buzzards high in the sky broke into 2 individual birds plus this pair which dived down and passed a few hundred metres away in a set of mild skirmishes, but then flew off together. We rather suspect a pair showing off to each other, rather than any intent to injure.
A minute after the buzzard skirmish we noticed this dramatic cloud edge with streamers and 'boiling' edges. When we came to work up the image we found with black speck - one of the 2 buzzards who went their own way.
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