Friday, 30 May 2014

Hanging On.

Over the past two days activity on the feeders has increased with a few juveniles turning up with their parents so I couldn't resist the opportunity to capture some of their methods for 'hanging on'.

The adult Starling is a past master when it comes to reaching any part of a feeder containing suet pellets.

The juvenile Starling also made it look easy using its strong toes.

A juvenile Greenfinch, in its streaky garb with just a flash of yellow, grips the clothes line very tightly while hoping its parents might offer something to eat but it was out of luck.

Another juvenile with a streaky breast but this time its a Goldfinch applying two different grips to ensure it can reach into the seed feeder.

And finally the best acrobat, the adult Blue Tit, who shows how easy it's done one handed. 

Wishing everyone wherever you are a great wildlife watching weekend.   FAB.

Linking to Saturday's Critters, Camera Critters and I'D-Rather-B-Birdin'.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Fences for Plants and Birds.

On one of our garden boundaries we added trellis to increase the height of the wooden fence many, many years ago to provide some extra privacy and to support for the odd pot, plaque and some roses and clematis.

Of course, from time to time, it provides a perch for others including the inquisitive Blackbird.

Linking to GOOD FENCES hosted by TexWisGirl.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Great Spotted Woodpecker Nest Update.

To follow up my earlier post on the Great Spotted Woodpecker I have made a couple of revisits to the nest site during this past week to check on the activity.

On both occasions the conditions; an overcast sky, windy with the constant threat of rain in the air; were not entirely favourable for getting quality images so I had to ramp up the ISO and here are a few of the images that didn't end up in the recycle bin.

As on my previous encounter the youngsters were very vocal but this time they occasionally made a brief appearance prior to one of the parents returning from their lengthy foraging flights.

Unlike their parents the juveniles have red foreheads that are replaced by black as they moult in the autumn. It is difficult to estimate how many are in the nest as different individuals force their way to the entrance to be fed. 
This species has a single brood with usually a clutch of between 4-6 eggs and fledging takes 20-24 days. The current trend of wet weather may well have reduced the number of available insects and I noted that the time between the adults visits was distinctly longer than my first observation at the nest site.

The final look says it all ... "When will they be back with more?"

I will certainly try to revisit them next week to check on progress again.  FAB.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Blue Tits Nesting Update.

Regular readers of this blog will know that Blue Tits have been regular nesters in our garden over many years. More often than not the old oak nest box behind the garden shed has been the preferred location and this year I regularly listened to the knocking sounds as the adult prepared the nest site nearly a month ago. 
Whilst on inspection the nest was completed it has not been used ... WHY? ... We have noticed an increase in numerous visits from various local Cats over recent months and as the box site is fairly open I believe the nest builder decided somewhere else would be safer.

Prior to and since our holiday in Italy we have noticed activity in and out of another nest box located in the Birch at the bottom of the garden and Anita says she has clearly heard the high pitched calls of youngsters (my upper register is getting a little fuzzy!). I spent some time watching the box over this weekend and sure enough the adults are definitely feeding young.

New branches have grown around the box entrance so capturing any quality images of activity was a challenge but I did manage this one shot showing an adult exiting the box. During a session in the garden on Saturday I was able to capture one of the adults as it gleaned tiny insects from the leaves in the Hawthorn.

 Check out the tiny seed in its bill ... I hope it's finding more substantial fodder for its young!

 Who is making that clicking sound?

Amazing to see the acrobatics involved in seeking out likely tit bits for their chicks,

Finally a shot of an adult perched just above the nest box and waiting for its turn to enter.  FAB.

Linking to Nature Notes and Wild Bird Wednesday.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Red-crested Pochard.

One of the daily encounters during our recent holiday at Lake Garda was the flypast of one or two Red-Crested Pochard(Netta rufina) which for me would be an unusual sight in the UK apart from those individuals that permanently reside around the lake in Bushy Park.

The adult females are typically plain brown and at long distance might be mistaken for a large pale Common Scoter with its distinctive two tone head pattern; off-white sides and the dark brown forehead, crown and hindneck.

The males are unmistakeable with their coral red bills and their 'coiffed' hairdo of rusty-orange that changes shades depending on the light angles.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Garden Friends.

I feel slightly ashamed to admit that so far this year I haven't spent much time attempting to photograph any birds visiting the garden. One major reason is that until very recently apart from the regular Robin and nesting Blue Tits there has been a distinct lack of activity around the feeders.
However, the recent change in the weather and with species now needing to top up their reserves during the breeding season the situation has dramatically changed.

Collared Dove on sentry duty.

So during a lull in the rain showers today I spent a little time with my garden friends. 

I failed to cut back this long established Clematis montana last year but I recently thinned out all the dead wood so now we can appreciate its delicate blooms while they last. Very close by are a number of feeders but at the moment everyone's favorite appears to be the one containing the suet pellets!


After many months with no sightings at all (my fears were that their local nest site had been removed) the House Sparrows have returned. 

During the past few weeks just a single female was seen but today there were several very noisy males and females with their youngsters gorging themselves on the available larder.

Anita told me she had seen several spotty Robins flitting about the Hawthorn but while I was outside only one of the regular adults paid me a welcome visit.

Another species now appearing on a daily basis is the greedy Starling. Up to five individuals, all in their glossy coats, dropped in during my time outside. I guess I'll be refilling this feeder now on a daily basis!

Other species seen today but not yet photographed were Goldfinches, Greenfinch, Carrion Crow, Magpie and Ring-necked Parakeet. 

The main small border is starting to brighten up with different Geraniums opening on a daily basis. Iris 'Jane Phillips' is still holding up well and the Astrantia is just showing above the verdant foliage together with the many heads of self seeded Aquilegia 'William Guinness'.

After one of the afternoon showers a very worn out Specked Wood decided to alight on one of the falls of Iris Jane Phillips.

Yesterday a Holly Blue passed through the garden.

A Blackbird walked directly beneath my chair and took the opportunity to pick up any seed that had fallen to the ground amongst the ornamental grasses.

I also spent some time sitting on the raised patio at the end of our small garden surrounded by some of the potted treasures I have nurtured over the years while watching the comings and goings at the nest box in the Birch that provides much needed dappled shade during most of the day. (Watch out for a future post on the nesting Blue Tits).

One of the adult Blue Tits taking a brief break from gleaning small insects from the Hawthorn in the centre of the garden.  FAB.

Mrs M and family.

Mrs. Mallard and her young charges chilling out on the edge of the Stew Pond. Initially I counted four little heads but then realised that number five was hiding behind its mother.

At this age they all appear to have very smiley faces but that will change as they get older.

Rest time was soon over and Mrs. M shepherded them safely across the water.   FAB.

Linking to Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters

Friday, 23 May 2014

Riverside Reflections.

A few images taken during recent leisurely strolls alongside the River Wey Navigation.

And finally the rusty iron bridge that usually indicates the end of my walk and has featured in quite a few posts over the years. It is also a good spot to sit and watch for Banded Demoiselles.

Wherever you are I hope you have a great wildlife watching weekend. The forecast here is for heavy rain tomorrow but should be better on Sunday .... I'll have to wait and see.  FAB.

Linking to Weekend Reflections.

Above Lake Garda on Day 3.

On our third day at Garda we decided to take a stroll northwards away from the town, initially following the shoreline of the lake, and then climbing quite steeply up the Via Castel towards the summit of a hill that hopefully would provide some different views.

A view of the exclusive hotel on the wooded peninsular at Punta SanVigilio.

About two thirds of the way to the summit we stopped for a welcome rest and listened to the beautiful song of a Nightingale hidden away in the verdant, dense vegetation while Hooded Crows and a Raven flew high overhead. 

We spotted what we thought were small yellow butterflies and eventually we caught up with one with its wings open only to the realise that it was a day flying moth, a Speckled Yellow (Pseudopanthera macularia) that frequents open woodland.

The next quarry for the lens was a Wall [Brown] (Lasiommata megera) sunning itself. This is a species that is no longer found in my home county. Other species seen were a White and a Speckled Wood.

Finally from the summit a view across the lake towards the distant north-western shore and then it was time to make the long descent back to civilisation and another delicious evening meal at our hotel.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Ornate and Simple Fences.

The first of my offerings for Good Fences was taken in Verona, Italy and surrounds the very fine stone caved sarcophagi of the Scala family's tombs. The ladder symbol being the Scala family's crest.

The second, less austere, offering was also taken during our recent holiday but from one of our countryside walks between Garda and Bardolino.

 A much more simple fence that is not a barrier to nature.

Linking to Good Fences.


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