Sunday, April 30, 2006

[Still in] North Wales: Day Four

Black Guillemots, Fedw Fawr, Anglesey

Eilin's Tower, RSPB South Stack

Lighthouse, South Stack

Clifftop flowers, South Stack

Raven, South Stack

Pebbles on Cemlyn beach

Mist-shrouded Ogwen valley

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

Saturday, April 29, 2006

[Finally in] North Wales: Day Three

Male Wheatear displaying, Horseshoe Pass

Female Wheatear feeding

Slate quarry

Pied Flycatcher investigating possible nest-hole, Coed Hafod

Coed Hafod

digiscoped photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

Friday, April 28, 2006

[Nearly in] North Wales: Day Two

Orange-tip butterfly (digiscoped)

Wader flock on the Dee estuary - Black-tailed Godwits, Knot and Spotted Redshank. Click for a bigger photo.

Wood Anemones (?)

Finally in Wales... Llyn Crafnant

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

Thursday, April 27, 2006

[On the way to] North Wales: Day One

Black-tailed Godwits (islandica) at Sandbach Flashes

Sandbach Flashes, Cheshire

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

Monday, April 24, 2006

Isn't she lovely?

Female Emperor moth

Look what Darren brought back from the shops. He'd been out for some tobacco (of which I disapprove, for what it's worth) but found this marooned in the middle of the road. As he attempted a rescue, he waved a car out of the way, which just happened to be a police car.

PC: What you got there then?
Darren: It's a moth.
PC: Big f***er, innit! I'd have run over that!

After a brief period of refrigeration, we managed to identify it as a female Emperor moth. You can read all about them on the UK Moths website, which I wholeheartedly recommend.

Emperors are supposed to occur in open country and moorland, so I'm not quite sure what it was doing in urban Peterborough. The caterpillars' foodplants are things like heather and brambles, so maybe it inhabited a blackberry patch or someone's plant pots.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Ancient woodland

We've been to Bedford Purlieus again...

Peacock nectaring on Primroses (Small Tortoiseshell and Brimstone also on the wing today)

I think these are Southern Wood Ants, Formica rufa

Quite big and aggressive...

New sycamore leaves

Seven-spot Ladybird

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Friday, April 21, 2006

Lunchtime twitching success

Probably the best day of the year for birding so far, but unfortunately it fell on a weekday, not a weekend or bank holiday. But Darren, Mark and I got out at lunchtime to Broom gravel pits, where we twitched three Black Terns and a Little Gull. It would have been nice to have stayed out all afternoon, though...

digiscoped photo taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Spring flowers (again)

Cherry blossom (I think)

The first butterfly photo of 2006! - Comma

Forget-me-not things

Burnt-out Marsh Marigold (or Kingcup; a bad case of shiny yellowness)

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Bedford Purlieus NNR

Big, fierce-looking wood ants were much in evidence

Wood Anemone, Anemone nemorosa

Wild Primroses, Primula vulgaris, were everywhere

Pussy Willow, Salix discolor

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Yellow and green

For woodland flowers, these celandines (?) grow in a rather bizarre location on the Nene Washes. Not a tree to be seen, but presumably there were some at that spot originally.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sheryl Crow

Good to see the folks at The Guardian are getting excited about Carrion Crows nesting just outside their window in London.

'Wanna see some pictures of Sheryl? In bed. I'm looking at at her right now, through the window, writes Sam Wollaston. She doesn't know I'm watching her. It feels a bit wrong. But not that wrong, because Sheryl is a crow. Sheryl Crow, do you see?'

'Her husband's over there on the TV aerial, watching out for her. Russell, he's called. He's lovely - sometimes he comes over and vomits into her mouth - regurgitated worms, insects, carrion.'

Read 'Watch the birdie' on the Guardian News Blog.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Limited success

Today was a funny old day.

Mid-morning, I received a phone call from Darren to say one of his colleagues had seen a Firecrest in the gardens. At lunchtime, Mark Ward and I went to have a look for it - without much optimism, it has to be said. There's a lot of habitat for a 'crest to hide in and my previous success in refinding them has been zero.

We'd been searching in the right spot for about 15 minutes and it wasn't looking too promising.

Then, all of a sudden, the bird popped up in some shrubbery in front of us. It quickly flew up into a tall yew tree and vanished into the branches.

'S***! It's a Firecrest!'

I had a rather brief view, mainly of its backside, but got a glimpse of the eyestripe which made my heart race.

(Have a look at Steve Round's stupendous Firecrest photos)

Next, I reached into my pocket and phoned Darren's mobile.

'This person's phone is currently switched off.'

Doh! Tried again, and then his landline, but he'd gone to lunch and was uncontactable! So that was a tad annoying, to say the least.

After work, we spent an hour or so trying to relocate the Firecrest (without any joy) before heading off to Fowlmere to see the Hoopoe which was found there earlier today.

Sadly, by the time we arrived it had gone to roost in a dense hedge, and if a nice man with his scope already on it hadn't given us a look, I don't think we'd ever have been able to find it ourselves. You could see some pinky-brown bits and occasionally some black and white wing, but that was it. Just bits of Hoopoe in isolation, never the whole bird in all its glory.

It was decidedly unsatisfactory. I hope we'll manage to go for another one later this year.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Local birding

Green-winged Teal (right, front)

The above Green-winged Teal was probably the highlight of our day in the Peterborough area, today. It was first found at Woodwalton Fen NNR a couple of weeks ago but has only been visible intermittently, as the Teal flock it's hanging out with like to hide in the reeds. So that was quite lucky.

Male [Common] Teal

Chinese Water Deer

Chinese Water Deer are very odd-looking beasts. There's something rather teddy bear-ish about their faces. They seem to be quite tame - this one came wandering towards us.

The marks on its body are intriguing. Is it the result of fighting or just moulting? You can often see clumps of very coarse fur lying on the ground at Woodwalton - it almost looks like porcupine quills.

You can read more about them at the Deer-UK website.

We started the day at Aversley Wood - a few springy shots below.


Blackthorn blossom

unidentified flowers!

new Hawthorn leaves

digiscoped photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece