An Early Record For Tawny Owls

March 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Pied Billed Grebe

On the 17th March two young Tawny Owls fledged from a nest box in Castleton making them the earliest I have ever recorded in the last fifty years. The first egg would have been laid on or about the 15th January and it begs the question did the owls know when they laid their eggs there would be very little snow after that date? I have often thought that birds can predict the weather ahead and this early laying re-enforces this theory.

During the week I have filmed a pair of Long Tailed Tits building a nest in a fork in a tree. This type of Long Tailed Tit’s nest is not that common and I have only ever seen one like it before,

In the hills a female Long Eared Owl was incubating eggs on the 19th, which is five days later than last year. Another pair were together and ready to commence breeding and a Woodcock was still present in an area of bracken and hopefully may stay to breed.

A search for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers failed to locate any at an old breeding site in Yorkshire and this species is now in serious decline. This wood did in fact produce Bluebells in flower and Sycamores in leaf!

Cairngorm Winter

March 19, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Pied Billed Grebe

Pied Billed Grebe

We have just returned from spending five days in the Cairngorms where we hoped to film some good snow scenes for a future DVD. What we had was fifteen inches of snow as we arrived and five days of breath taking Winter scenery.

At the ski center car park, high up Cairngorm, Snow Buntings were feeding and provided us with some good film. The snow was waist deep and made it impossible to venture up the high slopes in search of Ptarmigan.

Some time was spent searching in the old Caledonian forests and finally we found Crested Tits at three localities, with film being taken, despite their incredible speed. It was also good to see the forests full of Red Squirrels and not a Grey Squirrel in sight!

On the lochs that were not frozen we watched Goosanders and displaying Goldeneyes. At Loch Garten the cameras were being put into position on the Osprey’s nest in readiness for the male’s arrival in the next week. We stayed at the Grants Arms in Grantown on Spey and would thoroughly recommend it to any visiting bird watchers.

New Bird For The Garden

March 12, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Pied Billed Grebe

It has taken forty three years but finally a male Blackcap has appeared in the garden to feed. So the apples I put out to attract the Waxwings have proved useful after all! Three days this week we have had more than twenty species feeding including a record four Reed Buntings on the eleventh.

The breeding season is now well underway and during this week I have found the nests of Long Tailed Tit, Tawny Owl, Wood Pigeon and three Dippers, two of which were already incubating eggs. When will the first Summer visitor arrive?

On Hopwood a Woodcock was present plus one solitary Redwing. Both might soon be on their way to their Scandinavian breeding grounds.

Garden Record

March 6, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Pied Billed Grebe

We have had more than twenty species of birds in the garden, on any one day, on two occasions this week. On the 3rd March they peaked at twenty four different species, a garden record. Amongst these were a record five Siskins along with three Reed Buntings, a Willow Tit, Nuthatch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk and all the commoner species.

Frogs are now spawning in many places with over a hundred together on Hopwood where this weeks photograph was taken. Also on HOpwood on the third March was a Green Woodpecker searching for ants on the ground and a Woodcock was also seen.

A visit to the moorland plantations showed Long Eared Owls in their breeding sites but there was very little evidence of voles this year. The upland reservoirs have still got good numbers of Goosanders and Goldeneye. More than fifty Fieldfares were present in one forest and Siskins are everywhere. A constant stream of Skylarks are now returning to the hills and it promises to be an early Spring.