Searching For Grubs

May 13, 2018 at 7:01 pm

RN2A9641 Once the eggs of Long Tailed Tits have hatched the adults have to find enough food to feed up to ten young. It is an enormous task and to help them they sometimes enlist other Long Tailed Tits that have perhaps been predated earlier on. This is what has happened with the birds in this weeks blog and gallery, the same pair that I showed weeks earlier collecting feathers. As many as four adult birds were bringing a great variety of grubs and insects to the young and always trying too avoid the unwelcome attention of Magpies. With a week to go to fledging lets hope they are successful. Click here

Singing Wood Warbler

May 6, 2018 at 5:59 pm

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One of the most charismatic bird-songs of late spring is that of the Wood Warbler. They love mature Beech woods and were once to be found all over Greater Manchester. Sadly, not any more, with the male in this weeks blog and gallery being the only one in the County. He has been singing now for more than a week, within three miles of the Town Hall, but to date has not found a mate. The problem is repeated throughout the whole country and no one has the answer so the Wood Warbler continues to decline. click here
The hot weather of the last couple of days produced five different butterflies in a 400 yard stretch of our local canal. Hedgehogs have now returned to our garden with two feeding most nights.

Herons Fledge Young

April 29, 2018 at 3:32 pm

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Its hard to believe that a pair of Herons in my local Heronry have just fledged three y oung despite the Spring that we have just had. Laying their eggs in January, in a nest fifty feet off the ground, has left them open to all the elements especially the regular snow showers that this year has brought. Somehow they have overcome this with the female covered in snow on several occasions as she incubated. This weeks photo is from the same Heronry in 2005. It was the first digital photo that I ever took and I have never bettered it!! Others are in the gallery.Click here

Spring -At Last

April 23, 2018 at 8:48 pm

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What a difference a few warm, sunny days have made to the vegetation and the numbers of migrants arriving. In Bowland, where this weeks blog photo was taken, there were Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers singing in the woodlands along the River Hodder with quite a few Common Sandpipers on the river. Swallows were back in the farm-yards with Wheatears in the fields. Click here
The best of the week was reserved for the Pennine hills with Merlin back in their breeding valley and a Short-Eared Owl wing-clapping over the open moor.
On the 20th I was treated to a twenty minute encounter with a Cuckoo and watched it as it continually dropped to the ground and flew up with a caterpillar in its bill. It was my first local sighting of a Cuckoo in more than ten years.

Woodcock’s Lament

April 15, 2018 at 12:48 pm

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This weeks photo of a female Woodcock settling on her eggs in a bluebell wood is just a past memory. It was taken as a colour print in 2005 when I spent five hours a day in my hide for three weeks waiting for the eggs to hatch. In those days Woodcock bred in most woodlands but today those very same woodlands have none. Instead there are now Buzzards in each of the woods. The birding hierarchy don’t seem to be able to link the 50% decline in Woodcock numbers, over the last ten years, to the more than 50% increase in Buzzard numbers over the same period.
One day before the eggs of this Woodcock hatched I had direct evidence of this threat. Our Woodcock had been relaxed on the eggs for several hours when all of a sudden she crouched flat out in the nest and froze  Seconds later she exploded off the eggs with a Buzzard two foot behind her in full chase. Remarkably twenty minutes later she walked back onto the eggs and continued to incubate as if nothing had happened. The following day the eggs hatched – but Woodcock have not nested in that wood since the close escape.
If you are thinking about holidays then how about three weeks camping in one of the most spectacular places in the high Arctic – the North-east Greenland National Park, a place where the sun never sets in summer. click here

Gathering Feathers

April 7, 2018 at 5:29 pm

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There is little doubt that the most exciting time to photograph Long Tailed Tits is when they are lining their nests with feathers. The only problem of course is that you have to find a nest at the time when it is being lined which takes less than ten days. This year , because of the extended winter weather, nest-building is about a fortnight later than normal and last week I managed to locate a nest, in a gorse bush, that was being lined. Visits were made by both birds at approximately ten minute intervals and they particularly liked white feathers. click here
On a fabulous day of sunshine this week I found my first butterflies of the year with both Small Tortoiseshell and Comma enjoying the warmth. Chiff-chaffs are now singing in many localities so lets hope that Spring has finally arrived.

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