Coot v Dragonfly

I don’t usually take much notice of coots, I notice they’re around and then usually look elsewhere. They are an unobtrusive black waterfowl with the craziest bulbous feet, they’re not flippers like a duck but their lobed toes allow them to swim.

Recently I noticed a coot that had spotted a dragonfly landing on a post close by and began to slowly edge forward.

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I’m sure the dragonfly had seen the coot  and was confident it was in no danger. I’m fairly sure the coot realised it wasn’t going to catch the insect but felt it had to go through the motions.

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By the time the bird had decided to jump the dragonfly was long gone! I guess from time to time they must catch a dragonfly but today wasn’t to be that day.

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Magnificent In Name, Magnificent in Flight

Sometimes you see something and some distant memory flickers and you know instantly what it is. This happened in Barbados when I saw my first Frigate bird, even though I’d only ever seen them in books or on TV.

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One minute the bird is a dot on the horizon and then seemingly within seconds they are overhead skimming the waves looking for a meal. I did a little research as I had no idea what type of frigate bird they were or even if there was more than one species. There are apparently 5 types and these were the aptly named Magnificent Frigate bird. They soar on thermals and small breezes effortlessly covering huge distances without ever seeming to beat their wings.

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They are huge birds with a wingspan up to 90 inches across and a wicked hooked beak which they use to pluck fish from the surface or intimidate other birds into dropping their catch.  Females are black with a white chest and head while males are black with an irridescent sheen to their feathers. They also have a red throat which can be expanded like a balloon when they are trying to attract a mate.

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Amazingly they never land on water and like the swift can spend days and nights in flight catching a sleep whilst flying. Absolutely stunning to see and their effortless flying skills were a joy to witness. True aerial freedom.

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Have You Ever Wondered What Happens to the Carrot When Your Snowman Melts?

When the thaw sets in and your snowman begins to slowly disappear spare a moment to think about what happens to all his wardrobe. The arm sticks may eventually become part of a nest, the coal eyes will get kicked around and eventually join the gardens edge and his scarf will end up down the cellar until next year.

But his carrot nose just disappears! Where does it go I hear you cry and I’m here to tell you that by a miracle of nature it’s reborn and begins a new life around our lakes and shoreline as an Oystercatcher! So this winter when it snows and you dash out to build one why not build two.

It’s true HONEST!

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Not Quite Ready to Rumble

A friend recently bought a new camera and was keen to get out and about and asked me a good place to go. I suggested we could go to Studley Royal as the Red Deer rut is about to happen and if it hadn’t started he’d definitely get some great pictures with his new camera.

Unfortunately for us the deer were very placid with very little rut activity. A couple of the younger stags occasionally tried to get friendly with a female but they weren’t having any of it, and frankly their attempts to dress up their antlers were poor to say the least. It seems we were at least a week or two early.

But the weather was great so the photo opportunities were good and we enjoyed watching some photographers with no idea of field craft or how to approach animals slowly herd the deer in our direction.

As there wasn’t any real action I was keeping my eye out for anything out of the ordinary rather than just photographing the deer.

This young fallow deer was having a great time bouncing off some youthful exuberance.

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A young stag decided that if they were good enough for squirrels then acorns were good enough for him.

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These two fallow deer passed each other without seeming to notice the other was there, one in shadow the other in the sunshine.

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As we were heading back to the car  I commented that the big stags were conspicuous by their absence and I was beginning to wonder if something had happened to them when I noticed one all alone resting under a tree. His antlers marked him out as something special and when he wandered away I decided my money would be on him when the rut kicks off properly.

He decided to pause for a drink from a puddle and like a boxer between rounds seemed to swill his mouth. When the bell sounds for the start of the rut I think he’ll be ready.

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In Among the Thistles

A beautiful Autumnal day in Yorkshire today so a chance to venture out at lunchtime. Lots of the wild flowers are now heading to seed and the thistles have exploded shaking their downy seeds out upon the breeze. These are very attractive to the smaller birds and goldfinches love them. The fields near work are covered with them and today a small charm descended for a midday feed. There were goldfinches of all ages flitting from seed head to seed head. Some older ones going through their moult while some of the new juveniles were slowly developing their distinctive plumage. Definitely a lunchtime treat.

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