Kingfishers Courting

Well it looks like I missed the first brood fledge as the kingfishers were getting friendly again on the river this morning.

The female was sat on her usual perch when the male arrived with a freshly caught fish.1She ignored him for a short time before finally starting to show some interest.

1cHe carefully presented the fish to her which she took , smacked on the branch to ensure it was dead and then maneuvered for swallowing.

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Hopefully his attentions paid off and the second brood will be underway soon. Fabulous to witness and great to think that if everything goes well there’ll soon be more kingfishers to enjoy watching.

 

That Time You Wish You’d Got There Earlier!

I’ve met some interesting people while out with my camera and a couple of these have become friends.

One of these is Roy, who I first met at the local nature reserve and over the years we’ve developed an easy friendship. We meet up every now again for a trip out and we constantly let each other know of good spots to visit or wildlife we’ve seen. We take the mickey out of each other and generally enjoy each others company. Roy is well known for his field craft and his ability to sneak up on not only a plastic owl but also a plastic heron!

Roy also has a fascination with kingfishers and we often sit for hours waiting to snap them. A couple of weeks ago he rang me to say they were showing well on the river so I popped down to join him. When I got there he told me I should have been a bit earlier as a deer had just come down to have a drink. He showed me a couple of the pictures on his camera which looked great. It was only later when he got home and reviewed the pics that he spotted the real surprise. She was giving birth!!!

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Roy told me she didn’t seem in any distress and calmy had a drink before wandering off.  It looks like a breech delivery with the back legs coming first but as both legs are clearly out it didn’t look like she’d have any problem delivering the fawn. Hopefully everything went well and they’re both doing well. Amazing pictures which Roy has let me share here.

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Oystercatchers

As the name suggests these are generally coastal wading birds however there is a good breeding population on the Yorkshire moors and in the Dales. These were spotted close to Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire and included at least one pair with two chicks.

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They are a striking black and white bird with the most distinctive orange red beak and bright scarlet eyes. They are about the size of a magpie or jackdaw and at the coast will feed on a diet of molluscs such as cockles and mussels (I’m not sure if they actually eat oysters). However inland they will feed mainly on earthworms or insects.

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They are a monogamous bird and have been recorded using the same nesting site for up to 20 years. They lay 2-4 eggs in a shallow scrape and are very vocal in defending their young from potential predators.

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They are present in the UK all year round but in Winter may move to more Southerly coasts where they can congregate in large flocks. They are always a pleasure to see wherever you might come across them.

How Much Poo?

Great morning sat watching the local kingfishers. Both parents were to and fro to the nest with fish (please note the nest is a long way from where I sit up a tributary to the river, so no danger of disturbing them) and I don’t think it will be long till the offspring fledge. Hopefully I’ll be sat near by when the do finally emerge.

However for a small bird though they don’t half have big poos!! The female certainly let rip!

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Coots

Not the most striking of our water birds the coot is often overlooked. All black apart from the the white beak and head shield they are a very common, living on almost any stretch of water. On our local boating lake there are a few pairs, one of which had hatched two chicks earlier this year. They can have up to 9 but struggle to raise a large brood and if unable to get enough food will abandon the weaker ones. The young are not the most photogenic duckling!!

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During the breeding season the coots are very territorial and will aggressively see off other coots or ducks. They will use their large lobe covered feet to attack, chasing away the intruder. However once breeding is over they congregate together in what’s known as a cover of coots. They are mainly plant eating but will grab small crustaceans and other small water animals and are regularly seen diving below the surface.

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Not the greatest of fliers they launch themselves into the air by running over the water to take off. Up close they are quite a striking bird with a vivid red eye. Keep your eye open next time you’re out and about near water and I bet you’ll see one.

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More Drama than the BBC

An early morning start to hopefully watch the woodpeckers fledge ended up being an emotional roller coaster!

As I arrived I noticed one young woodpecker clinging to the tree near the nest hole and the other squawking from the hole at the top of his lungs. The parents flew in and fed both before I was distracted by a real commotion further down the path with numerous birds mobbing a tawny owl. As I’d never photographed one before I seized the opportunity.

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 When the owl had finally had enough of the attention it was getting and flew away I returned to the woodpeckers and noticed the one that had been out of the nest had disappeared. After scouting around the tree I realised it had fallen and was on the ground by the path. As the wood is a popular dog walking area I couldn’t leave it where it was so picked it up and let it grab back onto the trunk hoping it would make its way back up. However it fell off again and after contacting a friend for advice placed it in a tree close by, hopefully to be soon spotted by its parents.

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I decided it was probably best to leave them alone and went off to see if the nuthatches were still in residence. The parents were busy flying in to feed but it was obvious the chicks would soon be on their way as they constantly popped their heads out to look around. One decided it was time to venture out but quickly changed its mind either deterred by the chilly wind or the sight of me!

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The bluetits were busy feeding and had a lucky escape when the male woodpecker had a go at grabbing a chick, but the location of the nest down in the knot of the tree seemed to be enough to stop it.

Close by a great tit was busy collecting material for a nest probably for its second brood of the year.

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As I set off to leave I thought I’d check on the woodpecker chick to see if it was OK and my heart sank as I approached and saw it grabbed by a crow!!

A morning of drama, emotion, joy and heartbreak. Who needs Game of Thrones!

Meet the Neighbours

As you know I’ve been watching the local woodpeckers recently but within yards of their nest are three others species. All three have occupants and the parents are busy feeding all day long.

Just down the path are the nuthatches.

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Opposite the nuthatches are the Great Tits

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And just down from them are the Blue Tits nesting in the hole above the perch..

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It won’t be long till they all fledge and then the parents will probably start on a second brood.