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Friday, 22 June 2012

Chats of the fells!!

 One day last week I made the most of the unseasonably warm weather(sic) to visit the Bowland fells.I hoped to encounter both our Chat familly on the heather laden hillsides.These birds are now feeding youngsters so would be quite easy to pick up.This gorgeous male was the first to show perched sentinel like on the heather.
 In fact he had 2 fully fledged youngsters to feed hidden in the bracken.
  They have had a rough couple of years with the harsh winters and I`m glad they seem to be making a comeback, as I know of 4 pair that have successfully raised youngsters!
 The Whinchat on the other hand migrates to Africa thus avoiding the worst of the bad weather.Needless to say numbers are flourishing on the Bowland fells with up to 14 pair noted!
 Both male and female emitt a high pitched twittering song and when alarmed they have a sharp whistle and clicking call sounding like 2 stones being banged together!
 This male Whinchat along with his mate, was catching flies to feed his brood of chicks.It was interesting to watch them visit the same sheep grazed area of hillside to pounce on the flies and beetles that were present.They would then fly a couple of hundred metres to the nest and feed their hungry youngsters. 
The thistle provided a perfect perch to ambush prey and also to look out for predators such as the Merlin which also hunts the fells.As I write this blog, we are being battered by wind and rain again with not much let up over the next few days.Lets hope these birds find enough food on the sodden fells to sustain their offspring so they can fatten up before their long journey South,I for one will be sad to see them depart!!!!!!!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Farmland birds!

 Seeing as the weather outside is wet and windy,I`ll post another blog from a recent recce to the arable lands of the west coast of Lancs.The day started early for me, as I knew the birds would be in full voice.There is no mistaking the Corn Buntings rhythmatic jingly metallic call and at least 4 males were singing from their lofty positions on the wires.
 It is not one of our prettiest birds, being somewhat drab in appearence with its heavy body and stout bill, and when seen in flight it seems to dangle its legs somewhat!
 The Yellow Wagtail on the other hand is one of our most colourful birds with a somewhat modest call, consisting of two or three scraping notes.Numbers are well down at the moment with this male being the only one I found on my travels.
 Again using an elevated position to survey the area, perhaps he had a mate tucked away in the vegitation.
 I was happy to see this Bee Orchid on my travels,its pherimones attract male bees who try and mate with its flower, which in turn looks like a female bee, thereby pollinating them.This is known as `pseudocopulation`,all very clever don`t you think!!So thanks for dropping in on my blog and I`ll post further accounts soon!!!

Common Buzzard

  I recently got close to one of our more common raptors a few weeks back whilst out with the camera.
 Its such a shame that these birds are still persecuted up and down the British Isles.
 I believe they were trying to make this legal,due to the Buzzard taking pheasant poults on some rich estate owners land.For God`s sake its a bloody bird of prey.At the moment this has been given a knockback due to a huge outcry from bird lovers everywhere.What a shame the same couldn`t be done for the Hen Harrier,with not one breeding pair in the whole of England!
 It`s always pleasing to look skywards and watch the Buzzards spiralling on the thermals.Sometimes you`ll find one perched on a fencepost by the motorway as you pass by.
In my neck of the woods, I can only think of 2 breeding pair, one of which failed miserably this season.Lets hope these large raptors grace our skies for many more years to come!!!!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Barn Owl at Lakenheath!!

 For my last instalment from Suffolk, I`ve chosen to share with you these images of a Barn Owl.2 pairs inhabit the site and early morning is the time to find them hunting the meadows and riverbank.
 This particular bird gave me stunning views in excellent light.
 At times she passed within 10 metres of me,partly because I was hidden in the rushes!
 A fantastic subject indeed,and one that never fails to disappoint!!!
She stopped to rest and scanned the vegitation around.I`ve sometimes seen them drop onto prey when perched on fenceposts like this one.Eventually she did catch a vole and returned to feed her chicks!I hope you enjoyed my account of Suffolk and already I can`t wait to return!!!!!

Friday, 8 June 2012


    Continuing on from my last blog,I`d now like to show you some images of a dashing little falcon the Hobby.It just ouzes speed and feeds on the abundant dragonflies that skim the reeds.Later when they have bred and are feeding chicks they hunt swallows and swift to supplement their diet!
 Believe it or not, there were up to 30 hawking insects, with some coming within range of the camera.They seem to meet up at Lakenheath before continuing their journey North, as food is plentiful here in early May!
 This adult flew in from behind me and perched about 50 yds away,giving me the chance to admire his plummage,the orange pants contrasting starkly with his streaked breast.
 Usually I haven`t been able to get this close,maybe he was resting up after his long journey from Africa!
 A bonus whilst watching the Hobbies hunting, was the appearence of this Roebuck that materialised from out of the reedbed!
A quick blast on the shutter button and he was away, bounding gracefully into cover!
I`ll post more images from Lakenheath shortly,so please enjoy my latest captures from this marvellous reserve!!!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Cuckoos and Orioles

 May soon comes around so I take my annual trip southeast to the Fens of Suffolk.The weather was good and a lot of the migrants are back, looking to set up territory.Of course this can`t be said of the Cuckoo, which lays a single egg in the nest of its chosen recipient,in this area usually a reed warbler.
 There seemed to be up to 3 males and a couple of females patrolling the reserve.The females emitting a gutteral bubbling call which easily distinguised them from the males.
 Star bird on the reserve is the Golden Oriole.Last year they failed to produce any youngsters and I feel we may be coming to the end of an era for this super bird!The male hadn`t been seen or heard up to the 11 May and optimism was low that he wouldn`t return,but at precisely 10.30 am that morning I heard his distinct call and immediately called the site office to give them the good news!
 In fact he showed unusually well for the species and delighted many fellow birders.
I even managed a rare flight shot when he traversed the two Poplar woods.I believe he was joined by another male in the following weeks, so lets hope a female drops by and pairs up.I`ll have more photos and news from Suffolk in my next blogs coming shortly!!!