I like people to see my pictures, there’s part of the reason why I blog, maintain a website and spend hours outdoors in all sorts of weather. I’ve been involved in one art project exhibition and I’ve had one of my own in the local pub. I get a buzz when people comment on them and ask me what they are or where they were taken. I particularly enjoy it when I tell them that photo was taken about a mile away or that one was taken just down the road. The look on their face when they realise what’s under their noses is fabulous.
My local Doctors surgery has had the same 8 pictures on display since God was a boy so I thought “why not ask if they’d like me to put up some wildlife pictures, no charge”. They nearly bit my hand off. So the walls are now full of hawks and otters, waxwings and kingfishers, voles and weasels, which hopefully will make the waiting patients feel a little better. So if you know of some empty walls that could use a photo or two why not ask if you could hang some pictures, what’s the worst they could say?
I recently went South for a few days and its interesting to see the difference a couple of hundred miles make to the seasons. Nearly every bird I saw was carrying a twig or nesting material or was singing loudly to attract a mate, back up North and we’re still a couple of weeks away from this.
I visited the London Wetland center which served up a pair of courting kingfishers checking out a potential nesting site and this male shoveller duck who was making sure he looked his best. For about 20 minutes he barrel rolled in the water and then groomed every single feather. Lets hope some lucky female found all his efforts worthwhile!
When I first started visiting my local nature reserve a lot of the regulars mentioned Redpolls and how they were a regular visitor in the colder months. Well I never saw any for the first two years as they seemed to forget about visiting us. When I did finally see my first one I thought for a moment it was a sparrow with a very sore head!
They are a greyish brown sparrow sized finch with a very distinctive red cap and the males often have a breast speckled though with pink and red. They are partial migrants moving South in small flocks as the colder weather takes hold, then back North as Spring arrives. I guess the one on the reserve this weekend was heading back North.
They are generally forest dwellers eating seeds and nesting low down in trees and bushes where they lay between 3 and 7 eggs.
After the arrival of a first batch of young rats it looks like she’s been at it again! So after a bit of research into how fast they can breed I’ve taken a decision to stop feeding the birds until the rats have moved on. I’m sure once the free food dries up they’ll have to find a new source. If they continue to breed it’s more likely that the landowner will bring in another more final solution than my not feeding the birds!
It didn’t help when a colleague in the office was putting out blueberries, chunks of bread and even cheesy Wotsits for them. We’ve had words and she finally agreed that it was the right decision. So for a while the birds will have to look after themselves I’m afraid. I’ve enjoyed watching their antics but I don’t want to be the reason someone decides to kill them.
Admittedly its a captive otter at the London Wetland Centre, but I never knew they climbed trees!
I’ve been after a decent picture of a Goldcrest for quite awhile. As you may know they are Britain’s smallest bird and don’t sit still for a second so are a tricky little devil to get a photo of. There’s a couple on my local nature reserve and I’ve even spotted one near the feeders at work but to date nothing to write home about.
At the weekend I was down in London so decided to spend the day at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes. It was a mucky grey day so I wasn’t expecting much. I watched two kingfishers getting in the Spring mood but they were a long way away and the parakeets just stayed high in the trees. Half way round I spotted two chaps staring into a conifer and I just knew they’d spotted a Goldcrest. As usual it was flitting around bouncing from branch to branch always out of shot. One of the men then got his phone out and started playing the goldcrests song from an app into the tree. Almost immediately the bird returned and started singing back in response. I snapped away getting easily my best pictures by far but I began to wonder if this was right. Is it any different to putting out feeders to attract in the birds? I’m not sure and I felt slightly guilty, did the bird return thinking there was a potential mate around or was it defending a territory? It’s a tricky one.
Like the Reed Bunting I blogged about recently the Siskin is another bird you’re going to find tricky to spot for most of the year. They are one of our smaller finches with a long, narrow bill perfect for extracting seeds from plants and trees and spend most of the year in woodlands and conifer plantations. Their distinctive yellow, green and black plumage means they are very hard to spot once the leaves are back on the trees. However in winter they are a regular visitor to garden feeders especially enjoying niger seed and peanuts. For the first time this year I’ve had a couple visit the feeders set up at work and at the weekend this striking male kindly posed for me.
Spotting and photographing a Jay was very high on my to do list when I started wildlife photography. My local nature reserve soon became a favourite haunt as it was very much a hot spot for them and the feeder set up meant they could easily be snapped stuffing their beaks with peanuts.
They were regular visitors during the winter months until this year when they hadn’t been seen in the feeding area at all and people were beginning to ask where they were? We’ve had a very mild winter this year so it looks like they’ve been finding enough to eat or their stashes of peanuts and acorns hidden away for leaner times were seeing them through.
This weekend though they were very obvious by their noise and at one point on Saturday four flew over my head together but resolutely refused to drop in to the feeders. Sunday was a a different story though as two decided that this was the day to fill up on some redskins. A pleasure to see them and reassuring to know they hadn’t disappeared but had just decided to make us wait. Absence makes the heart grow fonder so they say!!
I’ve written about these little devils before and I’m sure I’ll be writing about them again as i still can’t get a decent picture of them.
Britain’s smallest bird must also be the quickest! At the weekend I took just over 170 pictures of a pair who were bombing about in the undergrowth at the local Nature Reserve. 170 pictures later and I still haven’t got one that I’m that happy with, however my recycling bin is full to bursting. Hopefully they’ll hang around so I can finally get a shot!!