The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

May 22, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Pied Billed Grebe

Pied Billed Grebe

It is now peak season for filming breeding birds and what happens? – we have two days of low clouds and rain!

On Monday I sat in the car for four hours waiting in vain for the rain to stop and the cloud to lift, all to no avail. As I sat there a Mallard walked down the road, which was by now like a river, accompanied by ten recently hatched ducklings. I was parked by a cattle grid and when she reached this grid she walked across and the ducklings all fell in between the bars and disappeared. She stood on the other side calling loudly and one by one heads appeared and after many attempts to get out nine were re-united with her. The last one by now hadn’t the strength to climb out and she made a final decision to walk off and abandoned it to its fate. My good deed of the day was to reach down and scoop it out of the grid and re-unite it with the rest of the family.

On Tuesday, with a lull in the rain, I walked through an Oak wood to check the Green Woodpecker hole that I had been filming in early April. The woodpecker should have by now been incubating eggs but a close inspection of the hole indicated that the interior of the Oak was not dead enough to excavate so this hole had been abandoned. It was bad news but within ten minutes elation was to follow. On the walk back through the wood a Woodcock was flushed. Any Woodcock that is encountered in May is likely to be a breeding male with its partner on a nest nearby. Within thirty minutes I had found the female Woodcock brooding four young in the nest. To me a Woodcock at the nest is the Holy Grail of Pennine breeding birds and filming commenced. In the next hour I obtained some amazing video of her with her young, the only complaint being she was wet through!

On Wednesday the elation of the previous day’s Woodcock was dashed when I went to film a pair of Kingfishers that should have had young ready to fledge. Instead the flood waters from the previous day had covered the hole and I feared the worst. I hid and waited for an hour before a Kingfisher appeared with a fish for its young. It entered the tunnel and flew back out still carrying the fish, a clear indication that the young were drowned in the nest. It was a sad moment but hopefully they will have a second brood.