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!

A Punk Pirate

It hasn’t taken long at all for the woodpecker chick(s) to start peering out at the world. The parents have been in and out constantly with 35 visits with beaks full of food in just an hour. Imagine preparing a meal every two minutes for your kids!!

The male seemed keen to lure this youngster out with what looked like a dead chick stolen from another birds nest.

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The chick wasn’t too keen and was firmly staying put however tempting the offering. The female however was still pushing into the nest to clear up the faecal sacks which suggests there’s more than one in the nest hole.

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I don’t think they’ll be around much longer so I hope the forecast rain stays away as it would be nice to see them fledge in the sunlight.

Return of the Dipper

One casualty of the Boxing Day floods was the actual river who’s Geography was changed in many ways by the sheer force of water which surged down the channel. One area of rapids was a great spot for sitting and watching the dippers but the flood scoured them away so the dippers moved on.

I’ve seen them flying up and down but not found where they like to dip however I did notice them this weekend flying from the main river and into a small brook which flows in close by. It’s quite near to some locks on the canal so I could stand on a bridge over the brook and watch where they went.

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It soon became clear they had a nest nearby as both parents were in and out with mouthfuls of treats for the young, ranging from small fish to grubs and crustaceans. Unfortunately the site wasn’t great for photography but brilliant for watching their feeding antics. Hopefully I’ll keep an eye on the area and see the young soon.

 

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Happy Birthday

The swan has been sat on her nest for some time now and the regulars to the park have been constantly asking for updates. Yesterday I was the first to see her new arrivals as three cygnets could be clearly seen in the nest and I happily passed on the news like a proud father. If I’d had cigars I would have been handing them out.

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She was constantly fidgeting though which suggests there may be more still to hatch. Last year she had eight who all survived and the year before she had six so fingers crossed there’s a few more to come.

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One of the three was clearly more confident than the others and was eager to explore its surroundings venturing out of the nest and pecking at twigs.

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It must be amazing to see the world for the first time with new sights, new smells and sunshine on their beaks. I do hope the first thing they saw wasn’t me!!

Cetti’s Warbler

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.

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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?

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Duckling Update

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.

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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.

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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.

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Back In the Wall

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.

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More Than Just Ducks

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.

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