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Can You Spare A Feather?

March 29, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Long Tailed Titl

A wild and windy week but it has not stopped the Long Tailed Tits gathering feathers to line their nest’s with. All six nests that I have found are now at this stage and when you consider that some one counted more than two thousand feathers inside a Long Tailed Tits nest they have some distance to cover in their search

Whilst in a local wood this week I noticed the face of a Fox inside a hole under an ivy covered tree. The fox left the hole which contained at least five cubs of about a week old and still with their eyes closed. Will she move them now her den has been discovered?

This week-end the garden has been superb with twenty three species being recorded. Included were Goldcrest, Sparrowhawk, Song Thrush, Willow Tit and twelve Greenfinches. A Long Tailed Field Mouse was sleeping inside one of the feeders after last nights frost!

Good To Be Nesting Again

March 22, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Long Eared Owl

High pressure all week and I have been actively checking nest sites to the north of Rochdale in perfect conditions. A pair of Long Eared Owls is always good to see and the female must soon start incubating in an old crow’s nest amongst the pines.

A search for Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers failed to produce anything other than a Brambling – my first of the Winter!

On the moors Red Grouse are very vocal with the calls of Curlew and Snipe very noticeable and impressive on the calm evenings that we have had this week.

Buzzards have been active on Hopwood and Long Tailed Tits nests are now up to six, with many others not yet found.

In the garden a female Sparrowhawk has been present most days but no kills have been seen so far – not that I would have wished the pair of Bullfinches or the Willow Tit, which are daily visitors, to have been taken!

Breeding Season Begins

March 14, 2009 at 10:11 pm

Long Tailed Tit

After the harshest Winter for years I have finally found two pairs of Long Tailed Tits building their nests in Hopwood woods – only seven days later than last year.

On the 12th a Pipistrelle Bat was active at dusk as eighty Fieldfares went to roost at Pilsworth – the biggest flock I have seen this Winter.

The garden continues to star with a fine male Siskin feeding on the eleventh and three Reed Buntings together on the fourteenth. Both male and female Sparrowhawks visited separately on the twelfth but thankfully, were unsuccessful in their hunt.

The Villain Returns

March 8, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Sparrow Hawk

This male Sparrow Hawk on the bird bath was one of twenty species in the garden on the third March. A pair of Bullfinches also fed and there was a welcome return of the Willow Tit.

On Hopwood a Woodcock was still present plus a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker. A yaffle from a Green Woodpecker was the first for some time.

I could not resist the temptation of Waxwings but missed out at Padiham. However, at Gigg Lane , Bury there were fifty four present on the fifth March feeding on a few yellow Rowan berries that were still left but not for much longer.

Roe Deer At Dawn

March 1, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Roe Deer

An incredibly mild and dull week for our last week on Islay with a maximum temperature of eleven degrees on one day and a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly on another

We saw a further two Otters but both vanished and gave no chance of filming. The four Roe Deer in the picture were present every day along the shore and gave several good photo opportunities.

I kept providing seed for the Snow Buntings and they eventually found it and sat eating it all day! Unfortunately they were very wary but I got some decent video of them from twenty foot until the wind blew and made it impossible from then on.

A flock of more than two hundred Twite was the largest I have seen for many years and reminded me of how it used to be in the Pennines before they declined.

The 2009 breeding season is underway with the locating of three Raven nests , fully built and ready for laying in.

So it was back home and still Waxwings in different localities – can I resist the temptation?

A Winter Break

February 21, 2009 at 4:46 pm

River Sorn

We have spent the past week on our favourite island of Islay.The snowdrops at Bridgend and along the banks of the river Sorn were at their best, having been delayed this year through the cold weather of last month

We watched an Otter on our first day and had good sightings of Hen Harrier, Merlin and Sparrowhawk.

I have spent some time filming a flock of twenty seven Snow Buntings and tried to attract them to seed but they failed to find it.

The presence of more than fifty thousand Geese on Islay is always an incredible sight. On one moorland we saw in excess of one hundred Ravens all attracted to food put out for pigs!

The rarest Islay bird we saw this week was a female Great Spotted Woodpecker – the only one on the island, a rarity so far North