Category Archives: Bird Watching

An Odd Dunnock

I’ve never seen a Dunnock on a feeder before, but after several minutes of unsuccessfully trying to catch a picture of this one on the floor and in a willow arch I was lucky to catch it on the feeder. It took several beakfuls of peanut, hiding behind the feeder all the time, before striking this pose and then flying off.

One chance. One shot. Sorry it isn’t more interesting but it’s all I could get.

I’m sure it’s not the only Dunnock to use a feeder, just the only one I’ve seen. Has anyone else seen them on feeders?

Last week, whilst walking to work, Eddie spotted a group of four parakeets near Wollaton Park. They seem to be growing in numbers, having been reported in ones and twos over the years. We saw a single bird on the farm on two occasions a few years back. (If the Hall in the link looks familiar you may know it better as “Wayne Manor” from the latest Batman film.)

These photos are some I took in the Mencap Gardens yesterday. The snowdrops aren’t showing and there don’t seem to be any crocuses, but the daffodils are coming on nicely. This calls for a planting binge at some point in the year.

Finally, a few skies, with some assistance from a camera that is considerably cleverer than I am.

Some Duck Pond Photographs

I finally got my act together and found the lead to connect the camera to the computer. It had been hiding in plain sight masquerading as part of a reading lamp. There are just too many bits of wire in the modern house.

The flowers are starting to show now. I’m particularly captivated by the aconites because of their multitude of alternative names – aconite, monkshood, wolf’s bane, leopard’s bane, mousebane, women’s bane, devil’s helmet, queen of poisons, or blue rocket. Obviously the ones in the picture aren’t blue rocket, and to be honest I always thought that wolf’s bane was blue too. I may have to look into it a bit more.

Peter Livesey used it as a poison in one of his books – I forget which one – where a wife killed her husband by feeding it to him in a curry.

There’s a case on the internet of a gardener dying from touching wolfsbane. This gives me pause for thought because I used to work with it regularly in one garden I looked after, and never thought to wear gloves. I thought you had to eat it to poison yourself.

There seems to be something causing a glitch in loading my photos, but I’ve got round it by posting and then editing. If you’ve read part of this post and wondered why it ends abruptly, that is the reason.

I’ll end with a film clip of the Cormorant.

Kingfisher!

OK, you’ll have to take my word for it because, as usual, we didn’t get the photograph.

We went for a look at Budby Flash, because we wanted to see birds but didn’t want to walk. As we parked, Julia pointed at one of the feeders, where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding.  The photos are a bit hazy because we took pictures through the windscreen rather than risk scaring it off.

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Great Spotted Woodpecker – Budby Flash

When we did eventually get out of the car it flew off, as expected.

The feeders were full of tits with the odd robin, chaffinch and dunnock having a go. The robins, which normally pose so well, were too busy chasing each other, resulting in a lack of photographs. I got one poor shot of a coal tit but it was mainly a day for blue and great tits, with a visit from some long-tailed tits (who did their best to hide their faces).

While I was taking photos of the feeders Julia stalked round the trees that overhang the water by the bridge. A cry of surprise interrupted my photography and I turned just in time to see the eastern end of a westbound kingfisher. It managed to find a spot just round the corner, where it was still close, but hidden. I did think I’d spotted it later, but it was just a discarded beer can when I zoomed in.

Birds, birds, birds…

Today will go down as The Day of Colourful Birds. Unfortunately I can’t use that as a title as I didn’t get any photos of them so it would be false advertising.

My first stop was Budby Flash – a small lake formed by mining subsidence in 2007. In fact it was my only stop. I didn’t have time for a long walk so that really cut out Rufford and Clumber, and I wanted somewhere with a bit more to it than the duck pond at Arnott Hill.

In addition, I thought it would be nice to go somewhere new. I’ve not actually been along the road since 2007 so I’ve never seen the flash.

I’ve looked flash up in the dictionary, but you have to search hard to find it. It took several dictionaries and when I eventually found it, it was 12th in the list of British nouns.

12. Yorkshire and Lancashire dialect

pond, esp one produced as a consequence of subsidence
I know what a flash is, as I’ve seen several, but I thought I’d better look it up to be sure about it. When you write it in a blog you really need to check. As so often a Nottingham word is claimed for Yorkshire, as the boundaries for this sort of thing can be quite vague.
That, by the way, is why there is a drowned tree – it must have been growing by the side of the River Meden when the flash formed. A good day for ducks, but not so good for trees.
The first thing I noticed was the feeding station, with fat balls and seeds in mesh bags. There was a reasonable flock of tits feeding (Great Tits, Blue Tits and a few Coal Tits) with a Robin and a Dunnock. The surprise of the morning was the Kingfisher.
I was standing on the bridge looking for ducks when a flash of blue shot out from the side of the bridge and flew away down the valley. There’s only one thing that shines that blue on a grey day, so though it wasn’t a great view it was most definitely a Kingfisher.
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Robin – Budby Flash – Nottinghamshire

That was the highlight of the day.
On the way back a Jay flew down by the roadside and picked something up, probably an acorn, before flying off. That was a good view, though, as usual, I couldn’t get a photo.
Finally, feeding on a roundabout on the way home, a small flock of Fieldfares looked bright in the sunlight, despite being shades of grey and brown.

A Walk, a Weasel, but no Wren

If I ever write a novel about Time Travel, and I’m not saying one way or the other, I’m going to need a way of making my protagonist travel in time. One way I’m considering is making him write a blog which gets behind, a bit like I often do, so that he trips over his metaphysical feet in trying to catch up.

It’s taken me three days to write about Monday, and nothing much happened on Monday. If it had been a day filled with incident I’d still be writing. As it is, I’m just about to start writing about Tuesday.

I loaded up the camera, put a handful of bird food in my pocket and set off round the lake at Rufford Abbey.

It was an interesting day and after taking nearly 300 shots I’ve already deleted over 100. The problem is that birds just don’t cooperate. They move too fast, they hide in shadows and they lurk behind twigs (which prevent the autofocus working).

At one time I did consider a post based on near misses – the blurred Goldcrest, the fence rail recently vacated by the Dunnock and the twig where the Wren had just been perching. Fortunately I had second thoughts, or this could have been one of my less popular posts.

The best bit of the day was when I was photographing at the woodland bird tables, and fighting off squirrels. Suddenly there was a flurry in the leaves and the squirrels scattered, closely pursued by a weasel. I was too slow to get anywhere near it with the camera, but it was very funny, and what they deserved after stealing most of the food I put out.

 

 

More Red-crested Pochards

Here are a couple more shots of Red-crested Pochard in Arnot Hill Park. They are interesting birds as many of them are escapees from wildfowl collections, but at this time of year others fly in from wild populations in Europe.

There was a group at Idle Valley Nature Reserve last autumn and another small flock when we visited Rutland Water earlier in the year. In fact there are 39 there now, according to the latest sighting reports.

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The three photos below show various birds at Arnot Hill earlier in the year – as you can see, the females are much drabber, and one of the drakes has a light back – a sign that it is an escaped bird from a collection (domesticated birds tend to be lighter).

The third picture shows a Red-crested Pochard and a Common Pochard.

Monster of the Deep

Forget the Blue Planet, look what I photographed in the depths of the duck pond at Arnot Hill Park on Sunday morning.

It appears to be a grey plastic supermarket trolley. If my memory serves me right these were used in Wilko’s. I’m going to have to go in next week and see if they still use them.

It was a bit chilly so I resisted the temptation to dive in and photograph it in its natural habitat.

There were also a few ducks and moorhens about.

 

Mallard/Pintail drake cross

Mallard/Pintail cross drake