Monday, 29 June 2009

Jersey - Day 1 pm.

Day 1 continued: This is the north-easterly view from above Greve De Lecq as we began our descent to the car park.
One of a few Herring Gulls waiting patiently around the car park for a hand out.
We then drove west to Grosnez, another good sea-watching site at the right time of the year. On this occassion there was a very strong westerly wind and apart from a few gulls nearly everything else was keeping under cover. We did however get brief sightings of Linnets, Meadow Pipit, Rock Doves and heard a Skylark.
This was the scene way below our feet.
A rocky outcrop covered in a variety of wild flowers, grasses etc.
From Grosnez we followed the winding road southwards to the northern end of St Ouen Bay. Despite scanning all possible areas we failed to spot any wildlife.
Parking out on the water is no problem.
The final part of day 1 was spent further south at St. Ouen Bay were we enjoyed a welcome ice cream while scanning towards St.Ouen Pond (You may just be able to make it out in the distance).
This is a Nature Reserve but access is very limited. We followed a path to a very tiny hide but again there was nothing to photograph. We did however get a brief view of a Cetti's Warbler sculking in the hedgerow plus Grey Heron, Little Egret and two Marsh Harriers but all too far away for the camera.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Jersey - Day 1

Anita and I headed north to Greve De Lecq and commenced the steep climb up onto the coastal path heading east. This is the view of the small sandy bay from the cliff top path...the view would be totally different on the weekend with everyone flocking to any available sandy spot!
Herring Gulls patrolled the cliff tops. A Chiffchaff was singing from a high tree perch and we heard the sounds of Chaffinch, Blue & Great Tits plus a Wren.
Around the potato fields we spied over 20 sickle shapes dashing low over the crops and moments later the Swifts climbed high into the sky chasing their insect prey. Then a Kestrel flew overhead hunting for a meal.
An unexpected sighting was four Red-legged Partridge who promptly flew into cover as soon as they felt our presence. Small numbers of House Martins and a single Swallow passed by.

The coastal path took us past a number of properties with gardens to die for...full of colourful blooms.

Well worn Painted Lady's were basking in the sunshine.
Erigeron (Fleabane) growing in the granite walls.
This garden was created within the ruins of an older building.
The pathway twisted and turned with brief views of the sea.
Speckled Wood butterflies were very common.
Just two of the many wild flowers that graced our walk.
During a rest stop we watched the stiff winged flight of Northern Fulmars using the updrafts around the rocky cliffs (but too far away for pictures).

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Back from Jersey.

A week has flown by and I’m now back into my usual work routine after a pleasant extended weekend on the island of Jersey.
The reason behind the trip was that my parents in law were presented with a gift of a holiday to Jersey for their Diamond Wedding Anniversary at the beginning of this year but what they never knew was that their siblings plus partners would also be joining them! So arrangements were made for them to fly out on a mid-morning flight plus transfer to the hotel. The rest of us (four couples) flew out later the same day from two separate UK locations and met up prior to driving to the hotel and booked in without “mum and dad” being aware of our presence. We then assembled in the hotel lounge and surprised the “holiday couple” when they appeared for their pre-booked evening meal. Were they surprised....not half!

Over the following four days each couple took it in turn to spend a day with “mum and dad” transporting them to various locations throughout the island. Everyone had a great time, not least the trips out every evening to eat at a different restaurant and then find our way safely back to the hotel.

When time permits I will post some images of the locations that we visited.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Off Line

These cogs may not be moving but mine have been spinning following todays (Wed) meeting!

We now enter a 'consultative period' to review, question and offer any realistic alternatives to the proposed staffing changes put before us. Whilst I was not totally surprised by the proposals, the reality is still difficult to take in. I will, no doubt, have some difficult decisions to mull over during the coming weeks but for now I'm going to attemt to enjoy some "r & r".


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Terns on a post.

I am going to be “off line” for at while. On Wednesday I expect to learn which jobs are ‘at risk’ at work and immediately thereafter I will be away from home (without internet access) but will tell you more when I “go live” again later this month.

In the meantime I thought I would share a couple of Tern images taken at Rye Harbour NR a few years ago, using my old Olympus OM01 attached to a Kowa scope with a photo adaptor, shot on old fashion film and then the prints have been scanned, hence the grainy pictures.
Common Tern

Sandwich Tern
Happy wildlife watching. FAB

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Blogger Award

Amazed, gobsmacked, et al to receive this ‘Kreativ Blogger Award’ from Mona at Montanagirl. I never expected or indeed even try to compete with the many experienced photographers, including Mona, but always hoped that my words and pictures tell something of the natural world that I see and feel around me. Thanks Mona for this nomination and for visiting AND commenting so regularly it is much appreciated.

So here are the 7 steps of this award:

1 Thank the person who nominated you for this award;
2 Copy the logo & place it on your blog;
3 Link to the person who nominated you for the award;
4 List 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting;
5 Nominate 7 ‘Kreativ Bloggers’;
6 Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate;
7 Leave a comment on each of the 7 blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

So here are my nominations: I have chosen them for different reasons but they all seek to inspire either through their words or images or both and I thank them and everyone else who visits the “Early Birder” for their very supportive comments during my fledgling months as a blogger.

Kelly @ Red and the Peanut - Your enthusiasm is infectious.
Heather @ Heather of the Hills - Creative in thought, words and pictures.
Michele @ The Rocky Mountain Retreat – Brings the natural world to us even thro’ her own adversity.
Crista @ Nature As Is - Makes me smile every day.
Keith @ holding moments. - A kindred spirit.
and Nature at her fingertips.
Val @ pause photo - Exquisite photography

So here are a few things you may not know about the “Early Birder”:
1 The hairdresser never lets me see the top of my head in the mirror after he has cut my hair – Is the thin patch getting any bigger?

2 Some say ‘If looks could kill, I definitely wouldn’t need a gun’ and others say ‘when you raise your eyebrows it always makes me laugh!

3 My ideal location – In the middle of nowhere enjoying nature at its best.

4 I hate swimming but loved canoeing during my earlier years.

5 It has been said that I’m not the easiest person to get to know but once you are really my friend, then you are a friend for life.

6 A memory like an Elephant but for some reason can’t always remember the important birthdays!

7 Never thought of as being creative, more a perfectionist – I originally trained to be an engineering draughtsman but my working life followed a very different path.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Garden blooms

Very little opportunity for wildlife watching this week apart from peering out of the window each evening and watching young Great Tits, Blue Tits and Greenfinches visiting for a quick snack.
I took a stroll round the garden tonight and here are just a few images of the current blooms.

Rosa 'Compassion' (AGM)
Clematis chilsansis 'Lemon Bells'
This flowers from May to August & exceeds 5m so one of the neighbours is going to get a good show as well!

Deutzia x hybrida 'Pink Pompom'

Philladelphus 'Innocence' (fragrant)

Spirea 'Little Princess' (only 20" high)

Echinops bannaticus 'Taplan Blue'.
The bees will love this when it comes into flower (July - Sept)
(One clump is already as tall as me & I haven't staked it so no high winds please!)
Have a great weekend everyone, wherever you are & whatever you are doing. FAB

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Blue Tits Breeding Success

Today I was able to get a few shots (through the window) of the local Blue Tit family visiting the fat feeder on the patio and confirms breeding success. There appeared to be four youngsters and one adult. One of the youngsters managed to hang on to the feeder.
The others either waited, partly hidden, in the Pittosporum or hung on for dear life above the feeder waiting ...
for the parent to feed them.

At this stage the youngsters are just happy to sit upright for their daily meals but as they grow they will soon adopt the acrobatic feats of their parents ... readily hanging upside down to glean insects etc. from the undersides of leaves.

We have also seen two young Great Tits BUT there is still no evidence that the Dunnock has actually taken up residence in the nest built in the Ivy so can only presume that the female didn't approve of the accommodation!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Needing a breath of fresh air!

On Wednesday my employer (RHS) informed all the staff that it has to cut costs and this could result in the loss of 100 permanent jobs throughout the Society. The proposed restructuring and advice of whose job is ‘at risk’ within The Plant Centre will not be communicated for another two weeks, at which time I will be travelling to Jersey (Channel Islands) for a family holiday!

In order to clear the brain of all negative thoughts I took a stroll before work on Thursday morning at Ripley. Leaving the car there was a Pied Wagtail perched on a rooftop; both Carrion Crows, Starlings and Jackdaws were calling as they flew overhead; Wren, Robin and Chaffinch singing from within the hedgerows. I headed towards Walsham Lock on the River Wey Navigation and the path took me past fields of yellow. Tranquil views around Walsham (lock) Gates. This is the last remaining 'turf sided' lock (built in 1653) on the Wey Navigation.
At the sluice walkway I spied a Grey Wagtail perched on a rope and captured his double in the water.
I heard the ‘kik’ ‘kik’ call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker as it emerged from a nearby tree and then disappeared downstream. The trees around the lock house were alive with young Blue and Great Tits actively feeding and talking to one another. A Common Whitethroat was very vocal on the other side of the water with its scratchy song but eluded my camera.
Further along the towpath was a male Blackcap heartily singing but flew further away as I approached his perch. A barge passed by and I acknowledged the occupants with a wave. Next up was mother Mallard with seven ducklings in tow. (Click to enlarge)On reaching my position she back paddled to maintain station and kept an eye on her charges and the “Early Birder” who was obviously no threat!
All along the towpath were lots of Banded Demoiselles, a single Speckled Wood butterfly
and this slightly tatty Painted Lady.
Back at Walsham Gates I had another view of a Grey Wagtail feeding and a distant view of a Mute Swan. A quiet and uninterrupted return walk to the car via the grassland area popular with dog walkers covered with masses yellow Spearwort.

My brain suitably refreshed again by the natural world I made my way into work for another 'fun' day!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Sunday 31/5 Part 2: Thursley Common

Firstly I want to publicly thank the midlands birder for proof reading my previous post and spotting that I had posted an image of a Kestrel but captioned it as a Hobby. (My mistake due to posting late at night after a long day!)
After completing the morning bird walk at RHS Gardens, Wisley, Keith of holdingmoments who was my birding guest for the day told me his desire to improve his year list (4 short of the magic 100) so I decided on an afternoon visit to Thursley Common NNR. It is one of the largest remaining fragments of Surrey heath and includes areas of lowland heath, mire and woodland. The totally different landscape would I hope provide the chance to find appropriate heathland species and the possibility of seeing some dragonflies.

On the Moat Pond there were 2 Great Crested Grebes, Mallard and a Coot. Keith's sharp hearing picked out Goldcrests calling high in the conifers as we walked out onto the heathland. We searched the pools either side of the boardwalk and watched a few different damselflies, including a pair mating plus female Broad-bodied libellulas dashing back and forth. With the very strong breeze I found it difficult to take any photos as these insects swayed about even when they perched briefly.

I did eventually get this image of a Four-spotted libellula.
There was absolutely no bird sound but within moments we had good sightings of Swifts and then Hobby, with two indivduals hawking for insects, allowing us both a chance of capturing them in flight. [Click to enlarge for slightly more detail]. While resting our feet and enjoying the peace and quiet I also noticed a few Southern Marsh Orchids. On the other side of Pine Island we picked up the gentle 'hey-diddle-diddle' song of a Redstart and eventually located a male, sporting his white forehead, black throat with orange underparts and the distinctive red tail, flitting about in one of the partly burnt out conifers. [You can view my January post for images of the vegetation rejuvenation following the fire in July 2006]. Both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers flew by as we located a Woodlark singing from its song post. This image was digi-scoped as I did not want to get too close. Our next new sighting was a brief view of a Tree Pipit doing its usual song flight and then disappearing before another Woodlark was located. As we approached the 'mound' I located a Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) but this male was exceptionally dark, with a prominent large white wing-bar, deep white neck collar which nearly met at the rear plus only a small light orange upper breast patch above very pale underparts plus a white rump. This individual continually moved away from us but Keith managed to get a shot with his bigger lens. A very pale female appeared very briefly and joined the male. [Could this dark colouration on the male suggests that this was possibly one of the 'maura' (Siberian) sub-species?]. On our return walk we heard the bubbling call of Curlew and one flew into the area close to the boardwalk at Pine Island and a second individual was also seen. (Thursley Common is the only breeding site for Curlew in Surrey).
Please pop over to Keith's post "Thursley Common" to see photos of Stonechat, Curlew etc.

So after a full days birding we both returned home. I had added two to my year list and Keith finally reached the magical 100 plus one.


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