Tag Archives: magpie

A Few Photos

Here are some photos from earlier in the week. The year is shaping up nicely, though I’m a little worried that the papers are predicting another Beast from the East with temperatures below freezing. My only comfort is that they’ve been reporting on it all winter and it hasn’t happened yet.

The primulas are doing well. As is the blossom. If only the photography was up to scratch.

Here we have some landscaping features – a newly donated chimney pot, the newly painted table and the newly painted log. There’s a lot of new stuff happening in the garden just at the moment, as you may have guessed from the unimaginative titles.

Finally, I’ve thrown in a magpie. I like magpies, and they sit still long enough for me to get a shot.

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Magpie – so black it’s actually blue in places

A Walk Round the Lake

Life can’t be all nature reserves and rarities, so yesterday saw us back at Rufford Abbey. There was, as usual, nothing rare, but there’s always something worth seeing.

The Robins were in good voice.

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Singing Robin – Rufford Abbey

We spent a while watching two Magpies building a nest in the tree tops (without being able to get a clear shot) and a pair of Nuthatches popped out of the woods to have a look at us. They are always a challenging subject as they tend to flit about without regard to the needs of photography. This was the best photo, despite only showing one of the pair.

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Nuthatch in an Elder tree

We saw two Wrens and managed to get a couple of shots (they are worse than Nuthatches for flitting about), checked out the Great Crested Greebes (now in full breeding plumage) and watched a Grey Heron drop in to fish. Great Tits and Dunnocks also cooperated by posing.

Despite the fact we walk here most weeks, there’s always something new to see and always something new to learn. I never knew, for instance, that magpies build nests using branches that are nearly as long as they are.

Free seed and nature watch

Julia had a quick word with the man we refer to as The Gamekeeper today.

Before you run away with the idea that we’re bankrolled by a rich farmer (as several local projects have stated),I’d better point out that we aren’t, and that we are very far from a sporting estate. Go somewhere like the Elveden Estate, as we did a while ago on our trip to Thetford, and you will see a big difference. Elveden is brilliant and clearly well-un and well-financed. You also have an immediate feeling for the generations of forelock tugging that have gone into making it what it is. No criticism, not (much) jealousy – it’s just like being in a different world compared to the chaos and cheese-paring that is my daily life.

Our shoot is run by a man who pays  to run a shoot on the land and, with a group of shoot volunteers, controls vermin, plants hedges and wildlife cover and does a variety of odd jobs around the place at weekends and in the evenings.

He’s more a nature warden than an old-fashioned type of gamekeeper, though he does make a hole in the magpie, fox and rabbits populations.

Considering that a fox killed 40 chickens in one night a few years ago, have trimmed the free range guinea fowl flock and ate Nelson the one-eyed cockerel not so long back, I don’t have a lot of sympathy with them. I wouldn’t like to exterminate them, I wouldn’t chase them to exhaustion and rip them to pieces with a pack of hounds but I don’t see that it’s my job to maintain the population by feeding them my poultry.

 

Same with the rabbits – they are nice enough, but I’m not here to provide them with a banquet of salad every night.

Magpies – the jury is out. Some people think they are responsible for the decline in songbird species, some don’t.  They have certainly spread over the years, being common now in places I never saw them as a youthful birdwatcher. Like buzzards and curlews they were birds I only saw on holiday or visiting grandparents in the north-west.

Anyway, it was a fruitful conversation (to get back to the main subject) and he has offered us free bird seed for the winter, which is good.

He also told her that he saw a large group of young blue tits on the feeders a few nights ago, so at least someone has seen them since the nest box went quiet. We thought it was a bout time they went but weren’t quite sure. He also said he sees little owls at night – they roost on the rails of the fence that runs behind the feeder – something else to look out for!

Hatching egg report – we now have 5 so we are on stream to start hatching next Wednesday.

 

Good week for the birds

It’s been a good week for birds this week. Apart from the normal visitors we had a Great Spotted Woodpecker on Monday and a Jay on Thursday. The Jay was chasing a magpie, which makes me think the magpie was trying to raid the Jay’s nest. I’ve seen a buzzard and barn owl facing off before, which was quite eerie in the fading light, but never seen a Jay chase a magpie. With them being closely related it seems a bit strange, though with the Magpie being a renowned robber of nests I suppose it isn’t that unusual. What I do know is that I missed a dimension by being in the car, because it wouldn’t have been a quiet pursuit. We regularly have magpies quarrelling in our street and they are quite vocal, with jays also being well known for their calling.

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OK, I confess it’s a poor photo…

We’ve had two good sightings of buzzards this week too, both standing on fence posts next to the A46 – one virtually white on the breast and the other almost all brown. I don’t know why they select the posts they do as they are usually a bit below the level of the road. I’m used to seeing them on lamp posts and telegraph poles so the fence post seems a bit unambitious. It’s strange to think that when I was growing up we had to travel to Devon or Wales to see buzzards.

Finally we saw the yellowest yellowhammer I’ve ever seen. It’s the sunlight – everything looks better in the sun.

As a last sighting for the week – driving to Hobbycraft after picking  Julia up from work we saw a Common Tern flying along the canal, and actually diving to feed. It’s not rare, because they breed in the gravel pits along the Trent, but it was nice to see.