Sunday, 22 May 2011

Four-legged encounters! 19th & 20th May 2011.

The warm sunshine beckoned this afternoon (19th) so I packed my gear and set off for the Fisheries. Common Whitethroat songs were regularly heard along with a Chiffchaff! Swallows and a few Martins and Swifts flew overhead enjoying the abundance of insects that were out today! Speckled Wood and Peacock were the only butterflies seen this afternoon, the Speckled Wood looked rather raggety. I watched at a distance as Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Blackcap (f), Blue and Great Tits searched for food for their young, the Great Tit brood I would imagine will soon fledge as it seems an age ago since I watched the pair gathering nesting material. Goldfinch, Greenfinch and a Kestrel were also seen briefly, the Kestrel flew overhead towards the adjacent Golf Course carrying it's small prey in it's talons! Small insects were plentiful and a challenge to photograph, I enjoy the challenge but do not get too close just in case their is a sting in the! A rabbit was encountered on the walk back to my car and a Horse trotted over to the paddock fence to say hello!

A short visit was paid to the Moors, Upton Warren this evening (20th). Bucket loads of Swifts flew low over the pools, a lovely sight to see! A Cuckoo called almost continually but not seen. Great-Crested Grebes, Tufted Duck, Common Terns etc etc were on and off the water. Spiders in the vegetation caught my eye this evening, seemingly hundreds of them. The spider in the photo added is a species of the Tetragnathidae family and the spiderlings are Garden Orb-web, Araneus diadematus! The Soldier Beetle is Cantharis sp, possibly C. rustica and the Caterpillars if not eaten will be Small Tortoiseshell Butterflies. They have been kindly ID'd for me along with the Moth as I can assure anyone reading this blog that these insects are out of my!! On the way back to the carpark a Song Thrush was singing beautifully atop a tree as the sun was setting, then it flew into the hedgerow. Whilst watching the Song Thrush my Daughter suddenly stated a few words ****** which made me turn around and lo and behold a Badger emerged from the reeds, spotted us and legged it across the path just 3-4 feet away from us and into the hedgerow!! What a sight and a startle! That is the closest I have ever been to a 'live' Badger, a wonderful few seconds! Over at the Sailing Centre a Fox was spotted but no Bats to be seen this evening.

Four-legged creatures stole the show on both of my walks! I am struggling on two legs at present as I have aggravated a tendon in my knee and have a head cold! Talking of leagues it is 'Survival Sunday' for the bottom teams of the Premiership today and what a nail-biting finish to the season it turned into! 'Survival Weekend' for me...I will recover and be out and about hopefully sometime in the week ahead if this persistent gusty wind ever dies down.

View from Fisheries.
Micropterix calthella and the stripey one is Cocksfoot Moth Glyphipterix simpliciella.

Red Clover
Epiblema sp Tortix Moth

Soldier beetle

Mining Bee
A singing Common Whitethroat
A puzzled looking Pheasant
Hungry Rabbit!
My new four-legged friend!
Moors, Upton Warren.

Small Tortoiseshell Caterpillars
Tetragnatha sp.
Spiderlings of Garden Orb-web, Araneus diadematus
Soldier beetle, Cantharis sp, possibly C. rustica.
A singing at sunset Song Thrush.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Friday the 13th of May and a bit of luck!

I set off early afternoon for a walk in the sunshine albeit cool sunshine and with rain clouds threatening at times! Swallows, Martins and Swifts were the first birds seen as they flew low over the ploughed fields and barns, a joy to see! A Willow Warbler was heard but not seen, the leaves are really starting to hide the birds from view now. As I neared a small wood I noticed a Great Tit perched on a field gate, it had a juicy caterpillar in it's beak! I stood motionless so as not to disturb it and was surprised where it flew to!! It flew into a hole in the metal post that was supporting the gate! What a treat to see, it flew out from the hole on the opposite side of the post! I stood at a distance and watched both parents as they returned frequently with small green caterpillars for their brood! The path I was on is used regularly by Joggers, Dog walkers, Walkers, Cyclists, Horse Riders etc, I wondered how many people may have spotted the Great Tits nesting in the pole, I would bet not many. I moved on towards the wood and checked out a paddock adjacent to the wood were Starlings, Blackbirds and a pair of Mistle Thrush were feeding. Suddenly a few spots of rain came down then the heavens opened.... I sheltered just inside the wood hoping that we were not to have thunder and lightning, there were a lot of trees around me! Thankfully it was just a heavy shower. As I sheltered a Mistle Thrush flew in front of me and perched in a tree facing me! "Oh, great I thought" and out came my camera! The Thrush was quite still for a couple of minutes, I thought to myself how unusual that it hadn't taken flight before now, then the penny dropped that it must have a nest somewhere in the wood! I backed away slowly and as I did so I saw what I thought was a bundle of twine/stringy pieces in a fork of a tree! When I checked with my bins three yellow gapes came into was the Mistle Thrushes nest! I slowly moved further and further away and stood alongside a tree out of view of the parent Mistle Thrush. She/he fed the chicks in the nest and was off again for more food. I was so pleased to have seen this event! The nest I have to say was rather tatty with long pieces of twine/string hanging down also what looked like sheeps wool blowing about in the wind along with the twine, no doubt the chicks were comfy inside the nest but the outer part of the nest looked worn and tattered. I suppose strong winds could have loosened the outer edge and the parents to and fro-ing would no doubt also weaken the edge. The chicks were feathered and were lying up to the brim of the nest so maybe they will soon fledge. There were actually four chicks in the nest. I am now in two minds whether to call them Mistle or Messy! After a few minutes I spotted a Nuthatch busily searching along branches of a tree a few feet in front of me, it then flew to the tree I was standing by! Great I thought, how do I get a good view of it or pic with it being directly above me! I moved away from the tree and looked up, the Nuthatch was making it's way down the tree and then entered a crevice in the trunk of the tree, the crevice was barely eight foot of the ground! The nest hole was at the top end of the crevice, how neat it was too! I moved well away from the tree and watched as the Nuthatch emerged and flew off in search of more food for her/his brood! It was still raining hard and very windy but I was hardly getting wet and to be honest couldn't have cared anyway after seeing these two events! As I stood and looked around the wood I spotted a bird fly out low from a split trunk of a tree! I kept my eye on the tree and then the bird returned and flew off again quickly...I caught sight of it properly now, it was a Blue Tit! The nest hole was no more than a foot of the ground, brave little birds! So, three species nesting in a space of no more than 20'x20'! Three nests in a relatively short space makes me wonder how many more nests would have been in the wood all told. I was thrilled to bits with the sights I had seen. Hopefully all the chick species will thrive and fledge safely.

The rain eventually stopped and the sun shone again so I began my return walk. I saw and heard the male Yellowhammer that seem's to hold territory in a particular tree and the hedgerow alongside, I hope it finds a mate soon, then again maybe it has. A Chiffchaff with nesting material flew into brambles close to the Yellowhammers tree, it's all happening today I thought!Further along the track a Chaffinch was in full voice and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew on to a tree trunk ahead of me and almost as quickly flew off again. A Robin flew just ahead of me and at one point stopped on the track and devoured a green caterpillar before going on his merry way. A pale phase Buzzard flew overhead and looking splendid with the now blue sky above it!
I thoroughly enjoyed my walk this afternoon, four wonderful nest sightings along with great bird species singing and most being seen! Not a large species list and no rarities nevertheless all a pleasure to see and hear!

Friday the 13th had been a lucky day indeed and the rain had for once played a big part in events!


I enjoyed a short local walk this morning around a local Fisheries after negotiating the lanes safely as it was the first day of the 'Car Boot sale' season, the car boot sale always generates a lot more traffic and more often than not racing to get to the site!
Highlights today were Swifts, Swallows, House Martins, Chiffchaff, Wren, Great and Blue Tits, Blackcap (f), Common Whitethroat and a Pheasant! I spotted a bird that I believe was a Garden Warbler, I have not yet knowingly seen one. I hung around to see if it would return to the tree that I spotted it in but no luck. A Frog suddenly hopped out on to the path making me jump, I almost trod on lucky! The rain clouds were looming so I called it a day, well morning!

Garden update.

The Robin pair have deserted the nestbox in my drive, they haven't been in or by it for almost three weeks now. All is well with the Blue Tit pair however, they are nesting in a House Sparrow terrace nestbox and are extremely busy feeding their chicks! They are getting through an enormous amount of suet pellets and seed!


Friday, 13 May 2011

Upton Warren....10/05/2011

An early evening visit to the Moors Pools was pleasant. The usual Gulls and Waterbirds were seen! The highlight was the comical sight of 3 Goslings as they nestled under their Mums wing and periodically peeping out one by one! Such cute birds at that age...and when they are mature of! Numerous Swifts, Martins and 4 Common Terns were a joy to view as they flew low over the pool! Chiffhchaff and a Wren were in full voice on the way back to the carpark. A short visit to the Education Centre was then taken and by this time the sun was setting, the sunset looked a treat after the dullness of the early evening!


A breezy walk!.... 08/05/2011

A breezy walk indeed! I did wonder if I would see many birds as I set off on my 'Sunday solitude' walk. With a local derby footie match taking place and my Daughter on holiday I had a few hours unusually on a Sunday to myself, also Sunday as opposed to my normal 'Saturday solitude' as the weather on Saturday was shall we say rather a washout!
Rooks aplenty fed in the fields as I started my walk down Brake Lane and Skylarks were high in the sky, their warbling clearly heard despite the strong wind blowing! Swallows, Blackbirds, a Pheasant, Robin, L T Tit, Blue & Great Tit, Mistle Thrush, 20+ Goldfinch feeding in a field along with a similiar number of Starlings, I was surprised to see this many of each flock at this time of year, Buzzard, Grey Heron, with Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler heard only. The stars of the show today were the Cygnets and Donkey that came over to me for a fuss, that is the Donkey not the Cygnets! The Donkey pics are a tad over exposed as the Donkey kept following me when I was trying to get the sun behind me for a pic, well that's my feeble excuse for my poor photographic! There were four Cygnets in the nest, I was told that there were six originally with one being predated and another looking sickly so probably also predated. I hope the remaining four survive safely, time will tell.
Several swathes of Bluebells were seen on the walk with some just starting to go over though the perfume from them was still refreshing! Good to see how green this area has now become though spotting the birds in the trees is a pain now...literally as my neck began to ache!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011


I parked on my local Wilkinsons carpark yesterday morning one I rarely use and as I parked up Waxwings came to mind! It was the 24th December 2010 when I had my first views that Winter gone of Waxwings, 21 of them perched in the bare Rowan trees and on the roof of a snow covered garage opposite the carpark! How time has flown since that sighting of those charismatic birds, is it really over four months ago! The trees are now in full leaf and the fertilised flowers are now well on their way to mature into berries for the next crop of Winter food. It doesn't seem that long since the Winter migrants were being seen regularly and now we have the Summer migrants to enjoy. How soon we forget the cold, cold Winter of 2010...well almost forget ...and now we have what seem to be April showers (though thundery at times) in May!

My garden birds are busy feeding up and hopefully nesting well. Blue Tits have taken up residence in a House Sparrow terrace nestbox, I reckon they are feeding chicks now, fingers crossed that they are successful! Robin's had nested in a Robin nestbox that is situated on an Ivy clad wall in my drive. I have not seen any sign of them coming to or from the nest for over two weeks now so checked it out cautiously at lunchtime today. The nest has been deserted, four eggs were stone cold. I wonder what happened, predation of one or both of the parents or inexperienced parents? This has happened before in this box, it is inaccessible from cats and positioned correctly in a N/E direction. Such a pity. I am still seeing a Robin daily in my garden at the feeders, whether it is the one of the parents, who knows?
Hopefully I will soon be seeing fledglings of Blackbirds, Dunnocks and Starlings in my garden and any other species which cares to visit with young! Swifts are now wheeling high daily over my house!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

One happy Starling!

A Starling enjoyed a 'wash and brush up' in my garden.


Birds in the bird bath,
What a splash they make,
Tail feathers, wing feathers
Shake, shake, shake.

Birds at the feeder,
Steady on their feet,
Red birds, yellow birds
Eat, eat, eat.

Birds in the tree tops,
Birds in rivers, in the sky.
Birds swim, birds wade, birds
Fly, fly, fly.

Birds that dive from mountains,
Birds that scratch and dig.
Eagles, ostriches.
Big, big, big.

Birds that chirp and warble,
Birds that tweet and sing,
Birds that talk by flapping
A wing, wing, wing.

Fishes like to swim in schools.
Bison run in herds,
But anywhere we look, we see
Birds, birds, birds.

Dominic Martia