Breeding Season Continues

July 29, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Long Tailed Titl

The photo this week is of a Roe Deer with her fawns filmed on Islay during our recent visit.

During a busy week back home I have now checked all ten of my Little Owl pairs with only two managing to rear young this year. It is probably no coincidence that both these pairs breed in ruin buildings where they would have had more protection from the heavy rains. As I searched the hills I have come across only one fledged Long Eared Owl, (see next week’s photo) Clearly for them it has been a disastrous season.

The good news of the week is that my regular pair of Kingfishers have now commenced to incubate another clutch of eggs. This year they had their first breeding attempt in March and those young were predated by Mink. Two more attempts failed in the floods so I hope that they can finally produce young. Unfortunately all attempts have been in the same tunnel so they need some stable water levels during the next six weeks and no Mink to be successful.

On Hopwood it was pleasing to watch a juvenile Green Woodpecker, from the nest I filmed in June, searching for ants. Only eight hundred metres away the fledged Sparrowhawks were also doing well on prey that the male is still catching in our garden. I certainly do not approve of his food source!

An Islay Break

July 23, 2012 at 9:37 am

As mentioned in the previous post here is the photo of a rather wet male Little Owl.

We have just returned from six days on Islay and as usual it always provides amazing wildlife events even though it is not always possible to capture them on film. One of the highlights has to be watching a male Razorbill feed and escort his single young from its nesting gully and out to the open sea in the direction of Ireland. They will both spend the next six weeks on the open ocean until the young is independent.

Another unique site was turning a corner on a quiet road and coming face to face with two recently fledged Peregrines that were drinking from a roadside pool. They stayed long enough for us to admire them through the binoculars, whilst sat in the car, less than twenty feet away. It was truly a once in a lifetime encounter. As if that was not enough several hours later we sat in the car along Gruinart and watched an Osprey make several attempts at catching fish less than fifty yards away.

One reason for going to Islay in late July was to see the fledged birds and the late flowering flowers. Two young Cuckoos were encountered plus several recently fledged Hen Harriers with their dark brown plumage. In the sand dunes there were carpets of flowers including Pyramidal and Frog Orchids plus at least thirty Marsh Helleborines which are one of Islay’s rarest flowers.

Early Sparrowhawk

July 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm

Long Tailed Titl

The three young Sparrowhawks on this week’s photo are about to fledge from five that somehow have survived the days of heavy rain. I have spent two days during the last week filming the female feeding her young on prey provided by the male . At one point prey was captured at the rate of one bird per hour. Sparrowhawks time their breeding so that there is a maximum number of juvenile birds around when their own young need them but this pair must have laid their first egg on the 28th April, which is the earliest I have ever known.

The garden still provides many birds with food especially on the rainy days. Redpoll and Reed Bunting fly in from Hopwood to feed and join the multitude of young Great Tits on the feeders. Two Carrion Crows are also daily visitors but have no young this year.

A one hundred and sixty mile motorway journey recently produced sightings of nine Kestrels and eight Buzzards. It was pleasing to see the Kestrel back on top.

Wettest Ever June

July 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Long Tailed Titl

So far Summer has comprised of six glorious days in May. The rest of Summer has produced record amounts of rain, like the six inches that has fallen in June. Upon checking one of my Kingfisher sites I found that last weeks deluge not only flooded the tunnel but covered the bank three feet above the tunnel! The local farmer informed me that two pairs of his Swallows had dead young in their nests due to the adults not being able to find food during the heavy rain.

All week I have been filming the local Green Woodpeckers and their young that are due to fledge today. It was a real privilege and bonus to be able to leave the house and within ten minutes be filming such spectacular birds as Green Woodpeckers. The benefits of a camoufladge cloth are immense and despite the fact that I was only fifteen feet away from a well used path neither man nor beast discovered my presence. In fact on one occasion two country park rangers sat on a bench below the woodpecker tree talking . Suddenly one of them saw the Green Woodpecker in the Oak tree above. The other commented that it must be nesting somewhere nearby. Little did they know that the nest and young were only ten feet above there heads!!

In the garden the male Sparrowhawk has made an unwelcome return. Early one morning he caught a juvenile Goldfinch and took it away to his young in a nest nearby. It is definitely survival of the fittest.