Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Broad-bodied Chaser.

During a wander around the common today I stopped at a small stagnant pool where there was at least six male Broad-bodied Chasers (Libellula depressa) darting hither and thither as they all attempted to seek out what appeared to be a single female while also vigorously defending their individual territories.

It took me a little time to work out where certain individuals where likely to perch and then it was just a matter of waiting patiently and hoping they would sit still long enough.

Unfortunately the female was constantly on the wing and my attempts to catch her while ovipositing where unsuccessful .... maybe next time.  FAB.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Looking a little frazzled!

Despite our initial concerns that a local cat might have dissuaded our resident Blue Tits from nesting this season, during the past two weeks we have witnessed definite signs that they have not abandoned the nest box. In between the showers we have regularly seen the parents flying in and out with food BUT this constant effort is definitely taking its toll on their appearance  ........

This species typically only produces one brood with average laying dates usually from early April to mid May depending on latitude and altitude. In any given season the clutch can vary greatly from 2 to 18 depending on location, food source and availability PLUS the weather conditions. As everyone is aware our Spring has been wet and cold so many species have no doubt delayed or even aborted their initial nesting programmes. 
On average incubation takes 14.2 days and fledging in the southern part of the UK is normally between 16 and 22 days. Depending on the brood size and whilst I suspect that it may not be particularly large this year that requires a lot of  effort to keep those hungry mouths feed.

 In the past I have set up the tripod and operated the camera by remote but for this series I just sat in a chair on the small patch of lawn (they rarely get upset at my presence if I keep still!) and then focused on the nest plate waiting patiently for either parent to appear and prayed that I could get some reasonable shots hand-held.
I have not noticed too many instances where the food source has included a large juicy caterpillar so the youngsters are having to make do with more frequent supplies of much smaller insects although in the last few days the parents have been complimenting their diet with visits to a nearby fat ball feeder which suggests that fledging may not be too far away. 

Bearing in mind this species only weighs between 9.5 and 12.5 grams it's no wonder they are looking a little bit 'frazzled'.     FAB.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Sunshine and Flutters.

The sun shone at long last today so I took another trip over to Bookham Common and whilst the birds weren't very cooperative (even the Whitethroats hid amongst the branches while collecting nesting material or looking for a morsel) I did enjoy a couple of hours listening to their varied songs. 

I managed to locate three Nightingales still singing and at one territory a Song Thrush was uttering some very similar sounds in competition with its neighbourhood Nightingale!  Of course it is not unknown for different species to copy some of the sounds they pick up from other birds to add to their repertoire. 

Other prominent songsters were Blackbird, Wren, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and my first sighting of a male Cuckoo. His call was quite distinctive as the first part of his call sounds as if he has a sore throat!  Also had reasonable views of soaring Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, plus Kestrel and 3 House Martins. The sunshine also brought out a few more butterflies ... plenty of Orange Tips, plus a few Speckled Wood, Peacock and Brimstones.



The forecast indicates more rain for Tuesday morning but I hope to visit my local patch to see if anything new might have turned up.  FAB.


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