Friday, 1 April 2011

Chasing Tails.

I managed to fit in a patch walk stroll around Epsom Common Pond yesterday mid morning. The sky was somewhat overcast plus a fairly strong breeze but that didn't stop the birds singing. In two hours I logged minimum counts of Chiffchaff (7), Blackcap (3), Wren (5), Blackbird, Dunnock (3), Blue Tit (12) [one pair were courtship displaying] Great Tit (5), Robin, Chaffinch (2), Jay, Jackdaw (8), Magpie (3), Carrion Crow [nest building], Kestrel [hunting], Sparrowhawk [fly over], Stock Dove [fly over], Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Canada Geese (3), Mallard (4), Coot (2), Moorhen (2) plus two further year ticks for this site were a male Bullfinch and a female Reed Bunting.

Getting any photographs was a different story .... nearly every time I raised the lens most species turned tail and relocated either out of range or deep into cover. I spotted 6 Mandarin Ducks (5 males and 1 female) on the Stew Pond. I slowly crept ever closer using whatever limited cover was available but the pair swimming together decided to fly off to the Great Pond and the remaining males seemed to sense any presence within 50 yards and constantly swam away in the opposite direction.
So playing the waiting game I found a spot with a little more cover and the breeze in my favour and after a while a couple of the Mandarin males eventually came within range.

A young Grey Heron hunting its prey of frogs around the Great Pond also wasn't making life any easier as it carefully stalked through the dried grassy margins only showing its head from time to time. Knowing how alert this species is to human intervention I again used the limited cover of the recently pollared willows to get within range and hid behind one trunk no thicker than a lamp post to break up my profile!

Before leaving the pond I snapped the feather pattern on the rear of a very common goose species and during a detour across the Low Meadow I stopped to admire the various shapes and forms of fungi plus the blossom on the Blackthorn.

Long-tailed Tits seemed to be flitting about everywhere, diving into clumps of bramble to locate insects. Once again when they perched up on the gorse all they continued to offer was a tail end view but not to be beaten by such a diminutive species I persevered and eventually one individual provided a much better view.

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)

I have got seriously behind with my blog reading so apologies to those I haven't visited recently but I promise I will drop by over the next few days or so. We have an early start tomorrow morning to pick up my parents and then drive to the coast to meet the rest of my family in order to finally say farewell to PJB by scattering his ashes at a location he loved to visit. I'm hoping it won't be too sombre an event and I may even get to do some birding if it doesn't rain!

Wherever you are I wish you a glorious wildlife watching weekend ..... FAB.


  1. Those mandarin ducks are such beauties to behold - such a treat to see them! Nice selection today!

  2. Thanks Shelley. Another lucky day as these guys often hide out of sight when antone is around.

  3. (loved the title of this post! :))

    I just started following you, so I'm sorry for your family's loss.

    You did a great job of catching what you could. Your Grey Heron looks very much like our Great Blue Heron. And I adore the little tits you get there (we don't have them here). They have the tiniest beak and roundest face! Loved all of these photos - tails and all!

  4. Great images as always. Have a great time with your parents. We'll see you here when you get back. :)

  5. Lovely series today! They're all nice, but that last one is superb!

  6. Hi texwisgirl. Thanks. I've sent you a link to some far better images of our Grey Heron. The Long-tails are also known as 'Bottle Tits'!

    Thanks Lois. I think I had better turn in now.

    Thanks Mona. I was pretty happy with the final shot.

  7. Beautiful pictures Frank! I love that little Tit. What a cutie.

  8. Hi Frank,
    It sounds like you had an extremely productive walk around your patch!
    We had a male Mandarin appear at Ferry Meadows the other day, quite a rarity for us, although I missed it due to being at work!
    Love the last shot of the Long-tailed tit, but, as usual they are all great!
    Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

  9. Great Post Frank, you certainly notched up a good species count on this walk.
    Love the Mandarins, they would be a lifer for me.

  10. The last LTT is a fantastic shot Frank.

  11. I love the images of the tits. They are beautiful and remind me of the black capped chickadees here. I wish for you a smile as you spread your brother's ashes. Remember all the good times and smile a smile for him. If it were me that is what I would want from my loved ones. Remembrances, Carol

  12. Had a Mandarin Duck myself today Frank :-)

    Well done on finding 3 more for the patch year list, when's the 100 due!

  13. Hi Ginny. Yes, a cracking little bird.

    Hi John. I hope another one turns up for you when work doesn't get in the way.

    Cheers Monty. Just hoping that the Mandarins breed successfully this year.

    Thanks Roy. I( appreciate the compliment.

    Thanks Carol. Plenty of smiles today ... PJB is now in a good place .... where he wanted to be.

    Thank you very much Sarah.

    Hi Warren. Congrats on the Mandarin. Continuing to tease me ... it could take some time so not taking any bets!!

  14. Lovely capture of the LTT in the end. Most birds do seem to have very effective camera spotting radar, even when they can't see the camera.

  15. Midmarsh John. Eyes in the back of their heads or in my case their tails!

  16. A very special series of wonderful images and yet, oh my... whenever I view these glorious little Long Tailed Tits, they so make me smile...they are such lovely birds and your images show their personality off quite splendidly as well~

  17. Thanks Mary. THe LTT's always make me smile as they twitter inccesently
    to one another.


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