The Reward

April 8, 2017 at 7:09 pm

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This weeks photo is of a male Kingfisher presenting the female with a Stoneloach. If you look closely at her bill it is covered in earth. She has just spent ten minutes digging out their nest-chamber and as a reward the male has caught the fish for her. It is her reward for all the digging and his reward is copulation – see next week. Click here
The local woods are now resounding to the song of Chiff-chaffs and the first Willow Warblers. In contrast I had sight of my latest ever Jack Snipe on the 4th April.

Searching For Feathers

April 1, 2017 at 8:05 pm

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For forty seven of the last forty eight years I have´started the breeding season by filming Long Tailed Tits. This year was no exception and it is always a delight to be able to watch Long Tailed Tits at close quarters as they search out feathers for their nest. Great distances are covered as they gather up to two thousand in only a ten day period. They particularly like white feathers which mainly come from Wood Pigeons. So far during March I have only found half a dozen nests but looking back to 1986 I note that I had a record twenty six nests by the 31st – surely a record that is on the shelf forever! Click here
The warm weather, with southerly winds, of the last five days has brought an influx of Chiff-chaffs, with six singing in Hopwood woods on one morning. A quick visit to my Adder site on the 29th produced four male and two female Adders, enjoying the warm sunshine.

Wagtails and Slurry

March 26, 2017 at 6:24 pm

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Filming wildlife can take you into some spectacular situations. In the last couple of weeks for instance I have been surrounded by the beauty of Islay and Speyside. All that changed last week when I found myself filming from my car, that was positioned next to a pile of slurry left by the farmer. While the local inhabitants were up in arms at the appearance of this substance it was a great attraction to both Pied and Grey Wagtails and provided me with the photos I was after, even if the surroundings were not something to be desired. Click here
The big news locally in the last couple of weeks was the appearance of a Little Egret on the local stream through Hopwood woods. It was present on three occasions and has now moved on. The warm sunshine on the 25th brought three Small Tortoiseshell butterflies on the wing, a species that had a very poor year last year so lets hope for plenty more sunshine this year.

The Punk Rocker

March 19, 2017 at 11:01 am

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There is no doubt that the Punk Rocker of the bird world is the Crested Tit. Unfortunately for us if we want to see them we have to travel to the Spey valley in Scotland. The old Caledonian pine is their home and in March, if the weather is mild, they start to excavate their nest-holes making finding the birds very difficult. During three very low-key birding days (due to the trip being Pauline’s 70th birthday treat) the forest last week did produce some Crested tits together with Siskins that are also more active at this time of the year. The presence of Red Squirrels made a change from a winter full of Waxwings! click here.

Waxwings Are Still Around

March 11, 2017 at 6:02 pm

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It is now nearly four months since Waxwings arrived in our area and I never expected, upon returning from Islay, that there would be some still with us. During the last week I have filmed seventeen in Hollinwood as they fed on the berries of a single Cotoneaster. It was an industrial site and disturbance was considerable but they kept feeding as there was no alternative food source. Among the birds was a colour ringed one and I have now obtained details of its journey through Britain. It was ringed in a village near Aberdeen on the 4th December 2016. On the 28th December it was in Accrington but eleven days later it had moved south to Pitsea, Essex and was still there two days later. By the 3rd March it was back north at Hollinwood in Manchester and still there on the 9th March. Where will it go to next?
Activity in the garden has increased recently with twenty different species seen on the 8th March including pairs of Bullfinch, Siskin,Redpoll and Reed Bunting. This weeks gallery includes a final look at Islay from our February visit click here

Hunter and Hunted

March 4, 2017 at 6:24 pm

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As promised last week this weeks photo is of an adult Sea Eagle hunting Shelduck on Loch Indaal, Islay. The Shelduck, on this occasion, did escape the Eagle but on many other occasions the roosting Barnacle Geese were not so lucky. The Sea Eagle success benefits the local Buzzards and larger Gulls such as Greater Black Backed as shown in the gallery. Click here
A winter break on Islay is a treat no raptor enthusiast should miss. Hen Harriers were seen on every one of our first eight days with good numbers of Merlin, Sparrowhawk and Golden Eagle. The most illusive raptor on Islay is the Kestrel – too much competition from other raptors perhaps?

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