170/365 – Take It Home

Rubbish is a huge problem to wildlife. It seems we’re starting to wake up to the danger of plastics in the environment but if you’re out in the country and you’ve taken food and drink with you take your waste home. You carried it there so carry it back with you. ( I cleared the cans from the river after taking this picture).

Grey wagtail on river pollution.

Grey wagtail on river pollution.

Peregrine Detective

When I first visited the Piece Hall to photograph and watch the peregrines I noticed that both were ringed but the male had a distinctive orange/red band on the left leg. I thought that if I could get a clear shot of the ring I could use the internet to try and find out where he was ringed and hopefully a little of his history.

On a subsequent visit the male was sitting high on the spire preening in the evening sunshine and on a couple of the pictures I took the leg ring was much more visible. At home on the computer I was able to really zoom in and I could make out the letters ZS.

I began searching on Google for pages about peregrine ringing and the colours used and it threw up a link to the Derbyshire cathedral peregrines who use this colour for peregrines hatched on the cathedral. I then searched Facebook for a Derbyshire birders page and made contact with one of the members Daniel Martin who offered to help. I sent Daniel the images above and he said he’d get back to me if he found anything out.

Daniel got back to me a few days later to say he was in touch with Ben who had ringed the falcon but he was out of the country! So my wait continued, until earlier this week when Daniel passed on a message from Ben to say he had ringed the bird back in 2014 in Hanley, Stoke on Trent!!!!

But even better than that, Ben also had some pictures of him being ringed and with his siblings.

Halifax peregrine being ringed

Halifax peregrine being ringed

Peregrine chicks

Peregrine chicks

So from this fluffy ball to the magnificent predator we can see cruising over Halifax.

Peregrine fly by

Peregrine fly by

A huge thank you to both Daniel and Ben for filling in the blanks. If you want to come to Halifax and see ZS in his new home I will be happy to buy you both some beers. Hopefully soon we will have our own peregrine chick’s to watch and who knows where they may end up.

Watching Treecreepers

Last year whilst watching the woodpeckers nesting I noticed lots of treecreepers flitting around and I decided that this year I would try and find a treecreeper nest to watch. It took me a little while but not only did I find an active one I also watched another being built.

When people ask me what I’m photographing and I tell them, almost everyone says they’ve never seen a treecreeper. But they’re not as rare as you think, they’re just incredibly hard to spot. About the size of a wren with a long tail and down curved bill they are perfectly camouflaged for life in a wood blending perfectly against the trunk of the trees.

Treecreeper nest building

Treecreeper nest building

When it comes to building a nest they don’t take the easy option and head for a knothole in a tree but they look for a flap of bark with room behind to build the nest. The nest is built with twigs and wood chip as in this picture and is then lined with moss, lichen, hair and feathers and takes around a week to complete.

Treecreeper with nest lining

Treecreeper with nest lining

As they can lay between 5 and 6 eggs the nest area will tend to have a seperate entrance and exit as the nest space will become crowded as the chicks hatch and grow.

A week later and it would seem the eggs have been laid as one bird was flying back with food and feeding it to the sitting bird who would emerge to take the food.

Treecreeper with food.

Treecreeper with food.

The nesting bird would open its mouth to be fed before then flying off and leaving the other bird to take over sitting on the nest.

Treecreepers feeding each other

Treecreepers feeding each other

The second nest I found obviously had chicks, as the parents were constantly in and out with beaks full of insects. They flew in at one end of the hanging bark and emerged from the other usually depositing faecal sacks before heading off to forage more food.

Treecreeper removing faecal sack

Treecreeper removing faecal sack

The faecal sack is a mucous covering around the chicks waste which allows the parents to easily remove it from the nest and keep the nest area clean. They were delivering a wide array of different insects to the chicks.

Treecreeper delivering food

Treecreeper delivering food.

This nest must have been very close to fledging as a couple of days later when I returned there was no sign of any activity, which after the constant delivery of food earlier suggests the young had successfully left the nest. The second nest is now the focus of my attention hopefully to see lots of food deliveries, and fingers crossed the fledging of the chicks.

Treecreepers at nest site

Treecreepers at nest site

Doe A Deer

It’s been quite wet the last few days and the woods are muddy to say the least. It was easy to spot deer tracks so I thought I’d follow them and see what I could find. I didn’t think for a minute I’d find a deer but why not just give it a go.

After ten minutes I was about to give up and head down to the river, as I thought I’d have more chance of spotting a kingfisher, when I spotted some movement off to my right . I moved behind a tree and froze as two roe deer were grazing fairly close by.

Male roe deer

Male roe deer

They’d spotted me as well and quickly bounced away. I headed off in the same direction hoping to get ahead of them but not really believing I’d see them again. I cut across the wood and then doubled back and too my surprise found them, except this time there were four of them.

Resting roe deer

Resting roe deer

I didn’t notice at the time but the female below looks to have had an injury at some point with what looks like a scar on her flank.

Female roe deer

Female roe deer

They didn’t seem at all bothered by me even though they had definitely seen me, until a dog started barking and they bounced away blending in and quickly disappearing.

 

96/365 – Mink

This isn’t an animal you want to see in the UK. They were originally farmed for their fur and animal rights activist trying to do the right thing released them into the wild. Having no real natural predators they cause devastation to local wildlife killing absolutely anything. When spotted they need to be reported so they can be trapped and removed.

One has to also understand that it’s not their fault they’re here!

Mink on the riverbank

Mink on the riverbank

Twitching…..Again!!

One of the few benefits of Facebook is that if you’re in the right groups you can find out what’s about in your area. Recently I’d heard of a Yellow Browed Warbler not too far away and as I had to visit our office close by, I thought I’d stop off on the way home and see if I could spot it.

These birds are strongly migratory and winter mainly in tropical South East Asia but also in small numbers in western Europe, so one in Yorkshire is quite a rare visitor. They arrive in the UK in late Autumn from the Urals which although a trip of around 3000 km is still a lot shorter than the 5-6000 km trip to Asia!

It wasn’t hard to find where it had been spotted as there were around 20 long lenses pointed into the shrubbery when I arrived. The bird is tiny about the size of a goldcrest and like the goldcrest never sits still. Photographing it was a challenge to say the least and I have lots of shots of branches, rear ends or blurs.

Yellow browed warbler in vegetation

Yellow browed warbler in vegetation

It’s believed several hundred arrive in the UK each autumn but given their unobtrusive behaviour it could be many more. They were originally considered to be vagrants blown off course but they are now thought to be undertaking a normal migration to take advantage of the milder conditions here.

Finally it popped into view for a few seconds.

Yellow Browed Warbler

Yellow Browed Warbler

Yellow browed warbler hunting insects

Yellow browed warbler hunting insects

Mongoose or Mongeese?

As the Beast from the East (or Hysteria from Siberia) has us wrapped in an icy chill I decided to look back at some photo’s from Barbados to warm me up.

 Almost the first wildlife I spotted in Barbados was a mongoose. They were all around the hotel grounds and even appeared by your side while chilling by the pool. They do make you jump a little as your first thought when you catch sight of one is “rat”.

Mongoose in the grass

Mongoose in the grass

They are not endemic to Barbados but were introduced as part of a plan to combat rats which were seen as a potential threat to the sugar cane crop. However as with a lot of non-native species introductions things didn’t go quite to plan. Mongoose are active during the day while the rats are more active at night so rarely did the two meet so there was little rat eradication!

Hotel mongoose

Hotel mongoose

One unfortunate consequence of their introduction though was they managed to wipe out every snake species on the island, who would also have dieted on rats. Sometimes its best to leave things alone and let Nature sort things out!

Mongoose with an itch

Mongoose with an itch

As to the conundrum of the plural of mongoose, if you’re not sure you could take advice from the A-Z of Barbados Heritage who offer this wisdom, “If in doubt to the plural of mongoose, one would not go wrong in following the lead of an apocryphal Barbadian planter of the nineteenth century. Writing to India he requested ‘one mongoose and eleven others’!

47/365 – A Barbadian Caterpillar

This stunning caterpillar caught my eye in Barbados and grew massive in the time we were there. You would think that when it turned into a butterfly it would be just as beautiful. But it doesn’t it pupates into a large but very brown moth!

Frangipani caterpillar

Frangipani moth caterpillar