Slippery Nuts

Hard to keep hold of when they’re frosty!!_JM15202_JM15221

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Food Caching

Jays and nuthatches are two birds which will take food and store it away for a “rainy day”. This is known as caching and is a way for the birds to set up an insurance plan for when food sources are harder to come by during the winter months.

Jays have an distensible esophagus which allows them to carry a huge amount of food away from the bird feeder to hide away in the undergrowth and trees. I’ve personally counted one take 23 peanuts in one visit.

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Researchers believe that jays can bury up to 5000 items of food a year and have a 70% retrieval record. In the case of the acorns they collect and bury the ones they fail to retrieve are responsible for the spread of oak trees! I wonder if somewhere in the woods wild peanut plants are growing?

Nuthatches tend to be single item cachers and will wedge items of food into crevices in trees or into the bark for later. Both birds are also known to rob the caches of others by watching where the food is hidden and then moving in to steal it.

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The food caches will be spread out within the birds home range so they don’t put all their eggs in one basket and to also increase the chances of not being robbed. If they think they have been watched whilst caching food they may move it and re-hide it again to protect their stash.

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So the next time your watching a jay stuff its face with peanuts it’s not just being a greedy bird it’s actually planning ahead.

Competition Winner

Whoop Whoop

I recently entered a photo competition and just found out today that my picture is one of the winners and will appear in a 2018 calendar. The photo was for South Pennines’ Through the Lens Photographic Competition and my shot called Choices will be the June photo.

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Painting the Night

After trying out our star photography we moved on to painting with light using long exposure times and the torch on a mobile phone.

A shout out to MUM

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Who am I?

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Obviously boys being boys there were some childish images drawn which raised a lot of laughs but aren’t for a family friendly blog!!!!

Night With the Stars

My youngest son has recently started a photography GCSE and asked if we could go and try and take some shots of the night sky. We decided to make a trip of it and headed for the Brecon Beacons which has dark sky status. They eldest son decided he wanted to come so a road trip was organised.

I’ve never done any night photography so a little bit of research was undertaken but it was pretty much a learning experience and we weren’t really helped with an almost full moon and scudding clouds.

The first thing you notice is how little we can actually see as there were only a couple of stars visible to the naked eye but when you let the camera look it’s quite mind blowing what we miss. _JM12376-01

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It was fun snapping the planes that came across while we were out.

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Our pictures won’t win any awards but we learn’t quite a bit and also realised it was a work in progress.

Buzzard v Crow

I’ve noticed buzzards more and more in my local area recently soaring above the valley. I’d seen one yesterday just before bumbling into the fox, so I returned to the same area hoping to see both again.

It wasn’t long before I heard then saw the first buzzard as it swooped low over the trees being harassed by some crows. It seems every bird of prey attracts a mobbing wherever they are, with the feisty crow being the main antagonist.

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There’s usually a small group who will fly up and noisily chase away the buzzard but in this case one lone aggressor chased him away.

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Interestingly there were three buzzards soaring on the thermals today and it may be that this one was this years young. They feed mainly on small mammals with voles being their prefered prey but will take carrion if available._JM10232

As these birds now seem to be residents I will hopefully be able to get better shots.

Gotta Love A Ginger

Beautiful moment this afternoon when I almost bumped into this stunning fox. I had wandered off  down a new path and had just got to the top when this fox casually wandered through the grass toward me.

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As I started taking pictures the shutter noise caught her attention and her ears pricked up ( I say “her” because she was just so beautiful) .

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She didn’t seem scared by my presence and she slowly walked off about her business before stopping to just check me out one last time. She looked healthy and well fed and she certainly made my day. The fox has always been a favourite of mine and top of my list to photograph.

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An Interesting Angle

This is a Bateleur Eagle endemic to Africa and some parts of Arabia. This one is a resident at the Birds of Prey Centre in North Yorkshire and was busy tucking into a dead chick for its breakfast. It refused to pose for its picture but did allow me to get this upside down, back to front shot.

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The Eyes Have It

The King Vulture is found in Central and South America and like all vultures feeds on the remains of dead animals. This one is a resident at the National centre for Birds of Prey in Helmsley North Yorkshire and the first thing that struck me apart from its amazing colours were it piercing eyes.

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A large and predominantly white bird, the king vulture has a grey ruff but although the head and neck are bald, the colours on its head are amazing and vary through yellow, orange, blue, purple, and red.

Here it’s third protective eyelid can be seen almost covering its striking eye.

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The centre has an amazing collection of birds of prey and has regular flying displays by the residents during the day. Here’s a link to their website Bird of Prey Centre