On Monday Parliament meets to discuss the Petition to ban Driven Grouse shooting. All wildlife interested people support a total ban and I only hope that as the debate is late in the day on Halloween that MPs give it the support it deserves. Don’t hold your breath!!
During the last week I witnessed another event that I have never experienced before. I was watching a large Hawthorne bush awaiting Redwings to come and feed on the masses of berries. Nearby was a lake and suddenly five Black Headed Gulls flew in and, hovering above the Hawthorne, plucked off individual berries and ate them while still hovering. They did this for a good ten minutes before returning to the lake. My camera, of course, was locked away in the car some distance away! Gulls eating berries is something I never thought I would ever see.
Another pleasing event last week was to encounter four Partridge on the edge of Hopwood woods. They are the first I have seen locally for some years and it is good to welcome them back.Click here
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