Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another bird that wasn't a Robin

Last April a Black Redstart turned up in our garden - a very nice surprise. I was digging the veg patch and it was pure luck that I saw a little bird perching in the ash tree.

This morning I was innocently looking out of the bathroom window (no frosted glass, you see) for no particular reason. I saw a small brown bird perching near the honeysuckle. From a distance it looked pretty much like a Robin, but its tail shivered.

Then it disappeared into the foliage. I knew what it ought to be, but I told myself I'd probably got it wrong (no binoculars in the bathroom, even in our house).

I got my bins from the study and watched for a couple of minutes, hoping it'd pop up out of cover. It didn't, so I got on with washing my hair.

I couldn't help looking for the mystery bird again before going to work. Something perching on our neighbours' fence caught my eye. I trained the scope on it (ready for precisely this kind of emergency) and I knew immediately that my earlier gut reaction had been correct!

A female Redstart sat on the fence, half-hidden by the leaves of a nearby tree. It was sod's law that some leaves completely obscured its head, but the warm buff colour of its belly was the important thing. The tail shivered again.

Leaving the scope in position, I had to charge downstairs to get Darren (I suppose I could have phoned him, but that would have been silly). We saw it again for a few seconds before it flew out of sight again, never to be seen again.

Like the Black Redstart, the amount of luck involved in seeing this bird is almost scary. If I hadn't looked out of the window at that moment, if it had been on the opposite side of the fence, if I'd ignored it, if I hadn't had my glasses on...

I can't help but wonder where it hatched, where it's going to breed - a Scottish or Welsh oakwood, perhaps? - and where it spent the winter. I'm quite certain there's nothing special about our garden, so how many other Redstarts are making their way through Cambridgeshire at the moment?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fancy a dip?

Kestrel

Don't often see a Kestrel in the garden, but it was such a beautiful warm morning that the pond must have tempted this one in. I think it wanted a bath, but was nervous of the Rook sitting in the corner of the garden. In the end it made do with a brief paddle.

It was ringed, so it seems reasonably likely to be the bird that we caught on 11 February last year.

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blue skies above Castor

I've never seen a sky like this before. Perhaps I never will again. Living on a crowded island, there are always planes flying over at some height, no matter where you are. So thanks, Eyjafjallajoekull, for giving us beautiful blue, quiet skies for a while.

Blue skies

Whitethroat

It was a gorgeous spring day, warm and sunny. These are the eyes of a male Whitethroat, the first one I've seen this year.  We didn't catch a whole lot at Castor... the hoped-for surge of birds near dusk never quite happened. Despite that, it was a beautiful day to be outside, admiring blossom, listening to Blackcaps singing (not Nightingales, unfortunately), eating cake...

Blackthorn blossom

Castor Hanglands

photos taken with Canon Powershot A640

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cute bunny wabbit

Bunny in the garden

This cutie has taken up residence in our garden. He hops around the lawn, selecting the finest dandelion leaves and tenderest grass stems to nibble.

Sigh

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Spring green

Spring is here. Let's celebrate.

Ladybirds
Seven-spot Ladybirds

Primroses
Primroses

Posturing Robins
Robins threatening to punch each others' lights out (it ended peacefully when one walked away)

Brimstone
Brimstone slurping on hyacinths

Tulips
Tulip

Celandine
Celandine

photos taken with Canon EOS 30D

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Everything's all white

Leucistic Woodpigeon

Well, OK, not all white, but this is the whitest Woodpigeon I've ever seen.

There have been loads of Woodpigeons around this winter, munching their way through local oilseed rape fields. Today was the first time I've seen this beast, with its white back end and wishy-washy head and breast.

It stuck out like a sore thumb from its grey colleagues - this looks like a case of leucism to me. Here's what a normal Woodpigeon looks like.

There can't be many Woodpigeons around that look like this. So have you seen it? It'd be really interesting to find out how far it travels!

photo taken with Canon Powershot A640 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

Friday, April 02, 2010

Seed-munchers

Been playing around with digiscoping garden birds through the double glazing...

Sometimes the results are pretty good, considering

Chaffinch

Chaffinch
Chaffinches

Rook
Rook

Good light seems to be the biggest factor (it's really dull today)

Greenfinch
Greenfinch

Other times they are not very good, but it's nice to have a record of what's been visiting the garden

Yellowhammers
Yellowhammers

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting

photos taken with Canon Powershot A640 + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece