At long last Redwings are now eagerly devouring the wealth of hawthorne and rowan berries that are ripening for them this Autumn. It has to be one of the best Autumns ever for berries and in particular the hawthorns are hanging heavy with them but as yet no Fieldfares have arrived, despite weeks of favourable easterly winds.
During a lifetime involved with wildlife I had an experience in the last week that must be unique. I was making a routine check of a hollow in the hills that on previous days held up to fifty Redwings, all gorging themselves on the masses of Hawthorne berries. A first view of the main Hawthorne bush did not reveal any Redwings only a larger bird deep in the cover. As I approached closer this bird flew towards me and it was a large female Sparrowhawk. Remarkably it was followed closely by two male Sparrowhawks ,who all flew off in different directions!! Only then did thirty odd Redwings leave the dense ground cover, some calling as they scattered widely. As Sparrowhawks normally hunt on their own were these three adult birds hunting Redwings co-operatively? – This has never been recorded before. Click here
This weeks photo and gallery are of two Hedgehogs that visited the garden a couple of weeks ago. Every night they would appear when it was almost dark, gorge themselves below the bird feeders, then quickly disappear back into the neighbouring woods. The fact that they have not been for a week must indicate that they are now in hibernation. Click here
During the last week I have seen my first Redwings of Autumn with a daily passage of up to fifty two birds. Grey Wagtails and Skylarks have also been leaving the Pennines moving in a westerly direction. On Hopwood twenty two Redpolls were feeding in Alders with six Reed Buntings going to roost together on the 14th. Despite the long period of eastern winds recently Fieldfares have yet to arrive.
This weeks photo begs the question was there ever a better bird photographed amongst that obnoxious plant Himalayan Balsam? It was a classic find deep in the heart of the Pennines as I searched for migrant thrushes. Clearly a bird on the move and I have failed to find it again since that memorable encounter.
In the last week Autumn wildlife has shown itself in abundance. Comma butterflies have been seen regularly and late Dragonflies have been active. Adders have now gone into hibernation and Autumn Crocus has already come and gone to seed.The highlight of the week was finding a Green Sandpiper feeding along the steam in Hopwood woods. It has to be the second best bird that I have ever found locally in nearly fifty years (second only to a Hen Harrier!)
Just after sunset on Wednesday last week I looked into a darkening garden and noticed a Sparrowhawk plucking and devouring a Goldfinch. I grabbed my camera and rushed upstairs and after carefully opening the bedroom window I rested a 600mm lens on the window sill at a distance of thirty feet from the still feeding Sparrowhawk. The problem came when I switched on the camera and could only get a reading of f5.6 at 1/40th of a second on ISO3200! A couple of years ago it would have been impossible to expect any decent photo on this setting. However, all the photos in this weeks gallery were taken on this setting and without a tripod!! The miracle of digital photography. Click here
A couple of weeks ago I was watching the Kestrel which features on my blog when it suddenly took off in pursuit of prey. One photo captured the moment of take-off and like most wildlife photography there were no second chances.
This weeks gallery is of Spitsbergen’s most famous sea-bird cliff at Alkefjellit. More than one hundred thousand Brunnichs Guillemots breed on this cliff and these are hunted by Arctic Foxes and Glaucous Gulls. Walruses haul out on a beach nearby.Click here
September is a good time to visit Morecambe Bay to film wading birds and this year water levels are just right. During the week I spent three hours one morning on the Bay and was treated to great action from Snipe, Greenshank and Spotted Redshank. In addition Little Egrets were everywhere and even Cormorants had mastered the knack of catching fish in front of the hides. A Peregrine flying past was the icing on the cake but too fast for a photo! Click here