Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye, 2009...

January is Big Garden Birdwatch time and a gang of Jackdaws turned up to demolish my bird food stocks

Bee on Chaenomeles
This bee found some early-flowering Chaenomeles in February

The mirador
At the end of March, I spent a few days in and around Tarifa in southern Spain. Here's a view across the Estrecho to Morocco

Beetle larva
Tried a bit of pond-dipping in April, and found lots of these guys - diving beetle larvae.

Broad-bodied Chaser
Also in the garden, this maturing male Broad-bodied Chaser perched on a nettle on a May day

Blue-tailed Damselfly
In June I somehow managed to take this arty photo of a Blue-tailed Damselfly, which won The Guardian's competition and got printed! Woohoo!

Large Skipper
July was the time for Large Skippers and long evenings

Swallow fledglings
While in August, we watched broods of young Swallows in the garden

Small Copper
The summer was over, but there were still Small Coppers to see in September

Autumn leaves
And October brought its own delights in the form of autumn leaves

House Sparrow
We caught some more House Sparrows during ringing in November

A blur of activity
Er, here's one I took earlier this month: hard weather in December made life hard for birds

You can browse the whole year's photos here

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Ice ice baby

Ice ice baby

photos taken with Canon Powershot A640

It's cold outside

A blur of activity

Going outside is interesting now we've experienced an Extreme Weather Event (TM). People living outside the UK may be amused to hear that we've had about five inches of snow locally (though some other areas have had almost twice that) and again, we can't really cope.

I managed to get to work (where I took the above photo) in about twice the normal time but we got sent home early in case it got any worse.

At home, I've been out in my jimjams (and a fleece) to feed the birds before doing anything else. At the moment we've got black sunflower seeds, peanuts, niger seed and a fat-filled coconut out, and I've also found some porridge oats and sultanas (I'm not sure if anything has eaten the sultanas - maybe the Jackdaws).

The snowy garden

It looks festive and fun for us humans, but I'm sure the birds don't appreciate the thick coating of white stuff everywhere. Hopefully my small efforts will help see them through the tough conditions.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A tail of two Marsh Tits

This morning, the circumstances were finally right to get some more ringing done in the garden.

Conditions were not ideal - it's a bit windy today - but the weather has conspired against, well, everybody lately, and we seized the chance (tomorrow's supposed to be even worse).

Each time, we seem to have one species which outnumbers all others. It was Greenfinches last time (51 Greenfinches, 8 other birds), Blue Tits in February and January. And so it was again today: we caught 29 new Blue Tits and three 'retraps' that we'd ringed before!

Now, my fingers hurt from a thousand tiny perforations inflicted by the 'cute' little fellows. Most people think "Awww! A Blue Tit! How lovely!" It's just not true...

Next up were Great Tits, with 15 new birds, two retraps and one which seems to be a control. That's a bird ringed by somebody else, somewhere else. It's not likely to have come very far, but it'll be interesting to get the details in the near future.

It was also good to catch two Marsh Tits. I'd seen one unringed bird in the garden, furiously cacheing sunflower seeds; we caught one unringed bird and retrapped one of the three we caught back in January. Photos below.

Almost forgot to mention that the first Marsh Tit (and about four Blue Tits) was caught while we were still putting our net up - we were holding the other end of it!

Interesting that we did not catch any finches, though as I look out of the window now, there are a few Chaffinches and Greenfinches around.

So, the totals were:
  • Blue Tit, 29 new, 3 retraps
  • Great Tit, 15 new, 2 retraps, 1 control
  • Coal Tit, 5
  • Blackbird, 2
  • Marsh Tit, 1 new, 1 retrap
  • Wren, 1
  • Dunnock, 1
which makes 61 birds, our second highest total ever.

A total of 327 birds have been ringed here in seven sessions since November 2007.
    Marsh Tit
    Scruffy tail of juvenile Marsh Tit (hatched this year)

    Marsh Tit
    Neater, broader tail of adult Marsh Tit

    photos taken with Canon EOS 30D

    Saturday, November 07, 2009

    Jackdaws rule the roost

    Jackdaws rule the roost
    The birdfeeder seems to be depleted fairly quickly these days. There are a few Chaffinches and Greenfinches around, but I think the main culprits are probably the Jackdaws (pictured) and a couple of Magpies. The Jackdaws are quite bold but the Magpies flee as soon as they spot me...

    photo taken with iPhone 3GS + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece

    Wednesday, November 04, 2009

    Monday, November 02, 2009

    A lunchtime walk

    Glowing beeches

    On the heath

    Not this way...

    This way?
    I took the less hilly route

    Behind the cloud
    Sun's gone in again...



    Fly Agaric
    Fairy satellite dish, pointing south

    Sandy Ridge

    Manx Loghtan

    Manx Loghtan

    Through the branches

    photos taken with iPhone 3GS

    Saturday, October 31, 2009

    Phone + telescope + double glazing


    Lots of Chaffinches around the garden at the moment, it seems.

    photos taken with iPhone 3GS + Leica Apo Televid 77 with 20x eyepiece


    On the steps

    Sweet Chestnut leaves

    Yellow among the green

    Speckled Wood


    photos taken with Canon EOS 30D

    Sunday, October 25, 2009

    Leaves 'n' stuff

    Autumn leaves

    Here's a brief digest of my wildlife experiences over the past couple of weeks...
    • Enjoying beautiful Japanese maple leaves still on a tree at The Lodge
    • Saw a Stoat climbing about 30 feet up a big pine tree right outside my office window. It seemed totally at home and scampered up as happily as any squirrel. I suppose this must happen more often during the bird breeding season, but it was new for me...
    • Also in Stoat News, I saw my first garden Stoat, trying very hard to catch birds
    • Acquired a dead Long-tailed Tit (which had flown into a car and broken its neck), now in residence in my freezer. I wonder how much it would cost to get it stuffed?
    • Celebrated six years of ringing at Beeston last weekend by catching the first Redwing for the site! That was after about 30,000 Redwings were counted over Sandy in one day. Sadly I missed all that
    • Watching squirrels carrying sweet chestnut cases - covered in big spines! - around. They must really like the contents to put up with the spikiness...
    • Tawny Owls quite vocal at the moment - sounds like there's a female in our big ash tree. Wonder if she roosts in the hole used by Jackdaws in spring?
    • One of the Great Tits we ringed in the garden in August has been found dead, just down the road, after crashing into a window, while one of 'our' Greenfinches has been caught three miles away, by Del who rings here!
    • Awaiting the annual invasion of Harlequin ladybirds trying to get into our house...
    photo taken with Canon EOS 30D

    Monday, October 12, 2009

    Cornwall 2009

    The Brisons from Nanquidno
    The Brisons and Cape Cornwall, as seen from Nanquidno

    Sennen Cove
    Sennen Cove, home for the week

    St Ives
    St Ives, and pumpkins in one of its greengrocers



    Curlew at the Hayle Estuary - taken with the iPhone through my scope, Not too bad,,,

    Wednesday, September 30, 2009

    Thursday, September 24, 2009

    Copper, red, yellow

    Small Copper

    Small Copper
    Small Copper

    Common Darter
    Common Darter


    Starting to get cabin fever, so it was a relief to get out with the cameras this lunchtime. What a lovely day.

    photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM or Canon Powershot A640