Friday, 27 July 2012


A couple of photos of a Kestrel taken whilst out Owling the other day...its a pity the Owls didn't pose as nicely!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Martin Mere

Today a visit to see the sister in Manchester was combined with a visit to Martin Mere WWT - we pay 42 sniffs for two memberships each year so we try to get our moneys worth which isn't actually that hard, an adult admission costs over a tenner now...

It ended up being a reasonably pleasant walk as the sun was out, and I got a bit trigger happy with the camera whilst we wandered around the collection and ended up with something like 500 images, here's a selection;

The ever-present species in every enclosure - the Moorhen


This is what a Pink-foot looks like when its about to do a shit

Bewicks Swan

Ruddy Shelduck

Common Crane - I wish I'd got as good views when I life-ticked them in the wild a couple of months ago, but despite this, somehow watching two from about three miles away across the Nene Washes was much more satisfying.

Although being able to do this was admittedly quite satisfying!

Smew - always a favourite

Cape Barren Goose complete with day-glo beak

Black-crowned Crane

Ducklings of some description - you can play "guess the species" in the comment box if you like, but be warned - I dont know the answer.

Hooded Merganser

Mandarin, too bad all the fella's were in eclipse plumage

Chiloe Wigeon

And again


Ringed Teal - love these chaps

Crested Screamer

Nene (or Hawaiian) Goose


Bet this would make a nice pillow...

And this wasn't strictly part of the collection (nor was the Moorhen at the start if im being picky), but it was being a bit of a tart so it's photo got taken
After the stroll around the collection we went and had a look at some proper birds on the reserve, taking the walk down to the Ron Barker Hide rather than the more lengthy trip to look at some Hide Porn.
Rewards for the stroll included a few Avocet and a healthy amount of Black-tailed Godwits which were largely still in summerish plumage, along with a few Tree Sparrow. I would treat you to a shocking phonescoped image of said Godwits but I can't find the cable thingy that attaches phone to computer. You're not missing much.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Birthday! And some lizards....

This blog is exactly one year old today and I'll be the first to say that I never thought it would keep going this long - as with many passing phases I thought I'd get bored with it and sack it off after a while but I've persevered and am glad I did.
In other news Hooded Birder has now got a job, but it doesnt start until September so there's no point blathering on about it until I actually start. One thing though - it's at Rutland and should be rather enjoyable!

Anyway, today found me and the midweek LRWT team back at Cribbs Meadow for another session on the Ragwort and Meadowsweet which allowed for another chance to photograph the Common Lizard on site. Today was a much better day for photography as it was much sunnier and this also had the dual benefit of being better weather conditions for reptile activity compared to the last visit (considering the last visit was a fortnight ago on the day of insane weather, this isn't surprising). As a result, I saw more lizards than last time and the images, I'm sure you'll agree, are also an improvement on previous efforts;

And finally, remember this fellow from a previous blog post (see a fortnight ago!) that had lost half of his tail?

Well, I managed to re-find him again today in the same spot and he looks happy as can be...

Plus, his tail is growing back!

Monday, 9 July 2012

Meh...and a ramble about finches

Had planned to visit Blueberry Farm at Maidwell this evening after dropping Amy off in Northampton but in the end the forboding skies and crappy light levels made me change my plan... a quick look at Naseby and Welford reservoirs in the hope of cashing in on the influx of Common Scoter to inland waters over the past few days was extremely unproductive so I drove back to Leicester through the lanes and dropped in on a few Little Owl sites. Single birds at three sites today but only one image of any reasonable quality, and thats pushing the definition of reasonable quite far...

In other news a journey from Yeovil back to Leicester on Sunday as a passenger allowed me to gorm into the surrounding countryside more than usual and resulted in a mammoth count of 21 Buzzard - over a journey of 188(ish) miles that averages as one every 8.95 miles! All singles too, no pairs/ family parties noted.

And finally, sometime last week, I forget which day (for arguments sake lets say Wednesday), a female Siskin visited the garden everso briefly before my loud rummaging for camera equipment scared it away! It was such a surprising sight that it had me wondering for a while whether I was mistaking it for a juvenile Greenfinch or something but no, definitely a smaller bird (this is what drew my attention to it in the first place as I walked through the lounge and glanced at the feeders), and the diagnostic wing bars were a giveaway too. The main reason I think for my mild confusion was that we've never had a summer record of one before and even the past 3 or 4 winters haven't produced a record which is strange, they used to be a regular visitor to the feeders mixed in with the Greenfinch flock. Maybe the seeming decline in Greenfinch has had something to do with it - ten years ago a 40 strong flock of Greenfinch used to be a daily occurence here, now its getting to the stage that you're more likely to see a Bullfinch or Goldfinch on one of our feeders than a Greenie, but that isn't surprisng, Bullfinch are reaching plague proportions round here - we've recorded at least 10 individuals for the past 2 weeks - 4 males, 3 females and 3 juveniles and I'm really not over-exaggerating when I say that if you look into our garden at any point during the day at the moment there will be at least one Bullfinch present, normally two or three.

Just to illustrate this point I have literally just wandered into the lounge and looked into the garden, half past eight in the evening and only one bird present in the whole garden - one male Bully! On the nut feeder of all things, the crazy b*stard.
Well, that's it for my musings on finch population dynamics in a South Leicestershire garden, maybe if I'm lacking something to blog about in the near future I'll bore entertain you with a summary of the dissertation I wrote earlier this year, it focused on the over-wintering Short-eared Owls at Maidwell in Northants so is reasonably relevant to this blog and it also received a B grade so must have at least a speck of scientific validity!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Another week...

Has passed by rather quickly, and as it turns out, all that was needed to fix the lack of local birds was the change in month from June to July. As soon as the calender switched over it was like a magic button had been pressed - goodies such Spoonbill, Wood Sandpiper and a trickle of Green Sandpipers turn up at Rutland. Of course I haven't been to see any of them, but its nice to know that I could if I wished.

What I have been doing is another week (well, three days if I'm being particular) volunteering with the Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust

Tuesday was at Great Merrible where the task was path and ride clearance. Birdlife noted included a couple of Red Kite over and the usual woodland suspects including a noisy juvenile Great spotted Woodpecker.

Wednesday was spent at the rain-lashed Charnwood Lodge where besides getting wet, several small patches of Bracken were cleared by hand. A more wholesale technique involving slashing is usually employed on Bracken but as a few bird-nests (mainly Linnet) had been found by a work party a few days previously this gentler method was employed and the thicker patches stayed-away from to minimize nest disturbance

Can't remember whether this particular set of clouds rained on us....probably

Which brings me to today - note that the weather was good today which prompted the camera to be brought out and thus a few more images! The destination was Merry's Meadow for a Thistle removal binge, again bloody miles away but well worth the drive.

Standard shot of the interpretive board

The killing fields
Six-spot Burnet Moth

Yellowhammer - this chap sang from the same perch for most of the day, a lovely sound to work to.

And as we were packing away apparantly the only Vulcan Bomber left in existance was cocking about over nearby RAF Cottesmore

And this evening after me and Amy had been for a "The Hooded Birder has just received a Upper Second Class Degree" Steak at the Holly Bush in Ashby Parva a couple of dodgy Little Owl shots were obtained on the drive home.

And I did claim I would produce a better image of a juvenile Bullfinch so here we are, taken yesterday!