Dinner is Served

July 24, 2010 at 7:00 pm

It is always good to film Barn Owls but this week’s photo has come from a special pair. Thirty eight years ago I sat in the same barn and filmed my first ever nocturnal birds – Barn Owls. So here I was again, much older and wiser than last time but still with an exciting challenge ahead. The sad fact is that in the intervening years the Barn Owls have only bred once, such is the decline of the local Barn Owl population. THree young are about to fledge and with the motorways and busy roads nearby their life expectancy may only be a couple of years- if they are lucky. I wish them well.

A visit to the Roaches on the North Staffordshire moors only produced Kestrels and Buzzards, the Hobby proving yet again to be elusive. There was ,however, a magnificent spread of Bog Asphodel, one of the special plants of the high Pennines.

In the garden there have been eleven Collared Doves and family parties of Jays, Goldfinches and BUllfinches.

Osprey Excursion

July 18, 2010 at 1:40 am



Red Backed Shrike

A quick trip to Finland during the week and two days spent filming the eyrie of a pair of Ospreys. On the first day I spent eleven hours in a hide on scaffolding just above the height of the eyrie and twenty meters away. It was a magical experience during which there were nine visits to the eyrie by the male with fish. The female would then feed the three young on the captured prey for up to ten minutes. She was extremely vocal and would call to the male to bring more prey every time he came within her sight. The added bonus to the day was filming a pair of Red Backed Shrikes that had young in a nest in a pine tree only fifteen feet from the Osprey tree. During my filming of the Ospreys Honey Buzzard, Crane, Whimbrel, Greenshank and Golden Plover were all seen from the Osprey tower. On my second day in the hide I spent ten hours watching the eyrie and there were only two feeds compared to the nine the day before. It just shows that in the bird world there are no repeat performances – no two days are the same.

When I arrived in Helsinki airport on the way home I had six hours to wait for the Manchester flight. The temperature outside was 34°C, the highest ever recorded in Finland in the last fifty years! I went for a very hot walk around the airport gardens. Fieldfares had young in a pine tree and a Wheatear was feeding in a gravel area but most surprisingly was the finding of a dead Willow Warbler and a dead Whitethroat only three feet apart in the shade of an airport car park. As Helsinki has had a week of temperatures of over 30°C ,had they died of heat exhaustion?

Little Owls Fledge

July 9, 2010 at 1:51 am

Young Little Owl

Here is a photo of a Little Owl that is now able to fly but is still using the nest hole in the wall as a safe diurnal rest place. Hole in the walls are not only useful to humans but nobody knows how many pairs of Little Owls use them as nest sites in Britain. There has never been a national survey on this and probably never will be in view of the number of walls in such places as the Yorkshire Dales. What is also not generally realised is that far from being nocturnal most of these wall nesting Pennine Little Owls feed their young actively during the day. In the last week alone I have filmed a pair bringing caterpillars to their young all day and seen another male bringing a field mouse to its young at 9.30am.

Whilst walking the forest I have again made contact with fully fledged young Long Eared Owls that only had their ear tufts to grow before becoming adults. Sparrow Hawks have been more elusive and to date I have not located any active nests, so time is running out.

On the local golf course Buzzards are present and sadly once again are not accompanied by any young. The sandy bank of the stream, that I dug vertical in March, is now occupied by a thriving colony of Sand Martins so it just shows that you can do something to help wildlife

Kingfisher Success

July 5, 2010 at 2:04 am

Kingfisher Young
Kingfisher Adult

It all comes to he who waits. Well in this case eight mornings sat in a stream for four hours at a time finally came good when four young Kingfishers decided it was time to fly the tunnel. For the second time in my filming career I witnessed the young flying straight out of the tunnel and landing on the nearest over hanging branch. In the photos above the young is the one with the black legs. Plumage wise they are immaculate in their brand new feathers, which is surprising when young consider they have just spent twenty four days in a smelly nest chamber covered in fish bones! It is four years since I filmed Kingfishers at the nest but I have not forgotten what a delight it was to be in their presence for more than thirty hours in the most perfect conditions you could imagine, with peace and quiet along a Pennine stream and no human disturbance

During the week more time has been spent on the Little Owls with good film obtained of the young fledging – photo next week. A new Little Owls’s nest has been found and there is still another male who to date, has given nothing away as to where his female is.

On the fourth a quick walk at Ogden produced good sightings of Goldcrest and Blackcap but better still two Crossbills were in the pines feeding. Is there going to be an eruption this Summer? Time will tell.