A visit to Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve at the weekend threw up a first for me almost the second I got out of my car. Virtually the first bird I saw announced its presence extremely loudly but disappeared as soon as I raised my camera. I was fairly sure what it was but asked the warden who confirmed it was a Cetti’s warbler. Now if you read the Collins Guide to British Birds these should only be spotted in a couple of locations in the South of England. However over the years they have been moving steadily North and there at least two pairs on this reserve.
The female was difficult to spot skulking in the reeds and scrub but the male was happy to sit out in the open flitting from tree to tree and blasting out its song. Its great to see a species increasing its range but is it because of an increase in numbers or are the milder winters of recent years helping it’s move North?
Or has this goose got a tattoo of Jar Jar Binks on its back?
I’ve only ever seen skylarks about a mile in the air singing their hearts out, so I was very lucky to spot this one among the heather, dry grass and bilberries at the weekend.
A previously mentioned a local mallard has had 10 ducklings and so a perfect opportunity to get some aaah photo’s. However when I went back the next day I was a bit surprised to see she had 14 little followers. It was only after a little head scratching that I realised there were now 2 mums with a total of 23 beautiful babies.
I think such large broods are a combination of the mild winter allowing the female to keep well fed and healthy and knowing that not all will survive the many predators on the river so more young means a greater chance that some will survive.
22 out of the 23 are almost identical but one sticks out as he/she is quite different. Almost totally black with just a yellow breast and a fleck on the wing I’ve got my fingers crossed this is one of those that makes it.
One of the ten new arrivals on the local canal today….more to follow I’m sure!!!!
They’re having another exhibition of my photographs and I need to drop a few more off. Just one sale so far but exhibiting just gives me a buzz and chatting to people about what the pictures are of and where they were taken is a real pleasure. It’s even better when they realise that so many of the pictures are taken on their doorstep. If the pictures make just a few people notice their surroundings, walk a little slower and appreciate what’s sometimes right under their noses then it makes me smile.
Here’s the one that’s sold and guess what it’s of?
The rats seem to have finally gone. It took about ten days of not feeding the birds for them to disappear and since I restarted putting some food out they’ve still not been seen.
I think they scared the voles away as I rarely saw them when they were around and they did race through the area where the voles liked to eat nuts. But they’ve come back and are enjoying the treats I put out for them again.
After the devastating floods of Boxing Day 2015 the river banks also took a battering and were reshaped with trees and undergrowth uprooted and washed away. One tree near where I watch the kingfishers was knocked down but has survived lying on the riverbank and its turning into a perfect natural hide. I can get inside the branches with my portable chair and the new spring growth is beginning to throw up a nice leafy cover.
I’d just settled in when the first kingfisher shot past up stream and its mate surprised me by landing ten feet away in a tree above my head. I had not time to amend any settings on my camera before it flew into the next tree and then away after the female.
They entertained me most of the morning at some distance, mating, diving for fish and generally enjoying the beautiful day until scared off by some dog walkers.
I wasn’t expecting much when I looked at my photo’s later but what leaps out is the difference in colour a small distance makes. The first is when the male was closest, the second a shorter distance further from me and that extra distance and difference in light makes an amazing difference to the colours of the bird.
Guess where I’ll be spending a lot of my time?
Mallards are everywhere, on every lake, pond, canal and river so I guess the fact they’re so common is why they’re generally overlooked. When you view Facebook birding pages or wildlife portfolio’s it’s very rare they’ll feature a mallard.
But these people don’t know what they’re missing. These are stunning birds if you get them in the right light and the fact they’ll come up really close also makes them an easy subject to photograph. Forget about the goldeneye on the otherside of the lake or the tufted duck just out of range and concentrate on what’s right under your nose. You may be surprised.
I seem to have a habit of spotting a bird or animal and then fixating on it till I get a decent shot. Is it just me or do all wildlife photographers behave like this. It’s like having a different nemesis every week.
The treecreeper has been one of these elusive species for awhile now but spending more time in woodland rather than the banks of rivers does increase the chances of seeing them. They have amazing camouflage and blend in brilliantly with the trunks of trees on which they search for food. They have a slender down turned beak with which they probe the bark for small insects and spiders and on a couple of my pictures they seem to have a long tongue which will help wheedle out their prey.. They fly to the bottom of a tree and ascend on a circular route before flying down to the base of the next tree. They have long curved claws to help them climb and rise the tree in small hops.
From watching them recently they seem to have a number of trees they visit in turn so if you spot one hang around and see what their route is.