Brambling Bonus

December 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm

For the second time in a week I have succeeded in filming five species of Thrush feeding on  one rowan tree. click here This time there was a bonus for as I was about to go home at 3pm a male Brambling appeared and fed on the ground below the tree for a good ten minutes paying no attention to all the heavy lorries passing by only feet away. It almost made up for missing the Crossbills the other week but not quite!!

The extremely mild weather continues with four different  Robins around the garden in song at dusk  last week accompanied by Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and Blackbirds. Even so there were twenty three Goldfinches feeding in the garden together and a record three Song Thrushes on the 25th. A female  Sparrowhawk caught one of the Blackbirds on the 27th but as I rushed out of  the house it could not carry it away so the Blackbird escaped to live another day. The saying “Not in my back garden”  comes to mind.

On Hopwood on the 28th a Woodcock was seen to leave the birches and fly to the field to feed fifteen minutes after sunset.

Thrush Bonanza

December 23, 2013 at 2:14 pm



In forty three years of filming birds I have never filmed all five of our Winter Thrushes in one day, until last week. The last berries on a hawthorne and rowan tree provided food for Blackbirds, Redwings, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and a solitary Fieldfare and in less than ten  minutes I had accomplished that unlikely feat. The Fieldfare in particular is usually a wary bird to photograph but this bird was a star performer. A Sparrowhawk appeared regularly but, thankfully, the Thrushes failed to appear in her diet. Click here

On Hopwood during the week there has been a Woodcock, Grey Wagtail and two Roe Deer. In the garden on the 20th were a near record thirty Goldfinches. Flying over the garden has been a Buzzard and a Kestrel with four Redwings going to roost in our single pine tree on the 22nd. Our annual visit to the garden by a Willow Tit has yet to materialise after six consecutive Winters.


December 16, 2013 at 9:42 am

An unusual photo this week of my hide along a forest path and just in front of it is a puddle of water. During the week I spent a boring three hours in the hide staring through the camera at the puddle which remained absolutely bird less . Not one bird came to drink during my long stay whereas four days before eight red male Crossbills dropped down to drink for one minute only. My friend obtained some magical photos of the event and it just goes to show that in the wildlife world there are no repeat performances!!

On the eleventh thirty Redwings alighted in a tree forty yards from the garden but none were tempted by the apples I had put out – too many berries still around. The gorse planted on Hopwood not only attracted breeding Linnets this Summer it is now being used for a roost site for Redwings. All we need now is the return of the Partridges that sadly disappeared some ten years ago.

Rowans on a nearby industrial estate have attracted Bullfinches to their ripening berries. Up to six have fed and in a short period of decent light I managed some photos. Click here.

Speckle And Hide

December 7, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Hidden Long Eared Owl
Spot the Long Eared Owl, for close up click here.  Each Autumn I spend endless hours searching the hawthorne hedges on my local patch for wintering  Long Eared Owls. Scandinavian Long Eared Owls have been using the hedgerows each Winter for at least fifty years that I  know of but they take some finding. The elation when you find one is hard to describe and the skill is obtaining a photo without flushing the owl. If it does fly then there is every likelihood that it will move over night and you will have lost any future opportunity to film. So the message is find your Long Eared Owl but never approach close enough for it to fly and if you do this your Long Eared Owl will become accustomed to you and may stay in the same hedge all Winter giving more photographic opportunities. Always make sure you wear the same clothing  so the owl will recognise you as no threat and you may be able to eventually  approach quite close. Never visit more than once a week.

On the local scene Woodcock are now widespread and most beech woods have good flocks of Bramblings enjoying the beech mast. In the garden the Goldfinches have increased to a maximum of eighteen with a wren visiting daily.

Swan Lake

December 1, 2013 at 1:49 pm

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Last weekend was the annual BIrd Fair at Martin Mere and as I had not been for a few years I decided to attend together with my camera. I was parked up by 8am and enjoyed the spectacle of more than a thousand Whooper Swans together with Lapwings and Ruff.Click here. Three peregrines on fence posts out on the marsh added to this spectacle. To think that some of those Swans were the ones I had seen on Islay month ago added to the magic of migration.
On Hopwood on the 30th were thirteen Long Tailed Tits and thirty five Fieldfares, the most I have seen locally for more than two years. The 27th was the first day this Winter that there were twenty species of birds feeding in our garden and this included two Redpolls. Early morning on the canal on the 26th had six Goosanders feeding of which three were males. On the 1st December four Goosanders had returned to feed.