Wednesday 31 October 2007

What a noise ?

For the first time since the formation of the Starling roost at Venus Pools, I managed to be there as the roost started to form. The first thing noticeable was the noise from the trees in the car park, which quietened as soon as the birds left for the main pool area. This flock numbered around 500 individuals.

Arriving at the public hide it was evident that the actual numbers already in situ was very large indeed and every few minutes more small groups were arriving to join the twittering throng, the light was fading really fast as the sun dipped beneath the hills to the west.

On several occasions the whole group lifted for a lap of noise giving a fair display, mind you nothing like you would see at some the country's top roost sites.

Digital pictures at really low light are not pleasing at all as can be seen by the amount of noise present in the darker areas, but numbers can certainly be estimated from this.

Now to an exciting bit of news, I found two yes two Otters by the gap in the reeds opposite the public hide, thankfully there were others in the hide to enjoy this sighting. Now not having been there to take pictures although I had the machine with me, it was not ready to produce the relevant record shots. They had moved along the inside margin of the reed bed for some time before appearing for a little respite from the hunting, it was interesting to see part of their movement by small fish leaping out of the water to escape the sharp teeth approaching fast.

So it is worth keeping your eyes out for the unexpected.

See you there!


Flatter than a witch's chest!

Wrekin at Dawn

And that is no exageration.

So a few "I bored so take Kingfisher Pictures" moments at the pool after a fruitless search for the Whooper swans over in the Melverley area in the morning.

So a few images from the Attingham day, suggestions for the caption are eagerly awaited!!!

"How long you bin playing the mouth organ?"

C U Soon


Monday 29 October 2007

Just for a Change!

Well nothing to report really from the pools, it was all looking good in the morning sunshine with the Black headed gulls playing nursemaid to each of the groups of ducks as they fed. An injured Mute swan, not seriously, was really attacked by the resident male, with the female running back up in case there was a rush for sanctuary by the interloper.

So it was just a few shots for the record book and back home to continue the work on the web site!

Well tommorow is the whopper swan hunt.

See you all later


Sunday 28 October 2007

Shower time!

With the body clock out of kilter with the rest of the country, I made an earlier than planned visit to Venus Pools today. It was interesting to see the result of the "topping" that had taken place on the two work party days last week. The islands now clear of the vegetation enabled a good clear view around the pool, sadly there was not a lot in the newly opened areas, or in any of the other areas either.
It did not take long for the rain to start and continue for a good spell, rather a relaxing sound as it hit the roof of the hide. The Kingfisher chose this moment to make its first appearance of the morning and started to preen in the clean! water.

The majority of Shoveler left around this time, but the Swans from the Trout pool put in appearance in force and with the resident adults of goodness knows where at the time the interlopers started to hassle the resident cygnets for a good while, and any other adult swan that decided it was fair game to invade an otherwise well protected area.

A chance conversation with another birder produced a good report of Whooper swans at the Malverly area, a good place for the past few years. However as they are on private farm land stay to the footpaths if you should go.

So with the low light and the rain it was an early return home, to work on green and goldfinch shots around the feeders as they were building in numbers daily, and squabbling on a minute by minute basis, shame the light was not sufficient for action shots.

Well there it is short and sweet, really it is dire! very little activity on the birding front from around the count, some nice starling activity at the pools late on worth a look.

see you

Sunday 21 October 2007

Fishing for Comments

Its not a blog, its a comment cruiser. got a view on the format of this Kingfisher post I would love to hear them.

We live in "Dangerous" times!!!

Leaving the house at 07:00 this morning you could not see your hand in front of your face. The sun soon started to burn of the swirling mist to reveal a solitary Eurasian Curlew, oh! plus the normal geese and the BH Gulls. So having a previous engagement I had to leave before the figits set in!
Around 35 minutes saw me looking at the remnants of an old wood with an excellent bracken floor and south sloping to boot, now this must be the place to put to bed one or maybe hundreds of shots I had been waiting for all month? The mist was starting to clear from the wooded slope and there amongst the green and brown was a very handsome Fallow Buck, boy glad I got that right!! but, and there's always one of those three letter b**g*rs in there somewhere, the lighting was awful, all sort of dappled and attractive, not quite what was needed at that moment however, horses and gifts etc. so anyway here we go.

A Squealing Fallow

A magnificent Red Stag, a twelve pointer looking really tired after a hard! day at the rut?

I seem to remember saying some thing about Gay Stags?? I digress, whilst the main rut is over there are one or two bucks still argueing over the ugly ones on the perimiter! but the only one there with a cool comment was this little darling.

so come again, still working on some of the other stuff!!

See ya


Saturday 20 October 2007

The Fisher King!

Threat Display.

I do not think anyone is not taken with their first sightings of a small blue jet powered bird as it streaks across the water, but to have them sit just 10 to 15 feet from your face and perform their party tricks on an almost daily basis, is just enthralling.

The Kingfishers of Venus pools have gained in notoriety since they first appeared on a regular basis back in the April, when the river rising with the constant rain pushed them of off their normal haunts.

Visitors as far away as north Yorkshire and Sussex have visited just to take advantage of their daily performances, and the number of pictures taken must be in the thousands, with several getting accolades in the press and birding magazines. Not to mention the Internet.

Whilst the daily appearances are still taking place, the frequency has diminished and periods of waiting can be hours, but as always worth it.

mind others can perform as good but not with such colour!

see you again soon I hope.


Thursday 18 October 2007

Grey tree rats and gay stags!

The introduction of the Grey Squirrel into the UK was a major mistake as the local population of Red Squirrels was put under severe pressure. Not only from the aggressive nature of the foreigner but the dreaded pox they carry.Mind you they do taste nice and as such should be brought back to the butchers slab, along with Woodpigeon, ahhh! them pies was good stuff.

Shame Canada goose is not that nice!!! HMMM! I wonder about the others Mink etc. Yes I know that rabbits and Hare are in there as well.

Meerkats PAH!

The sight of Stags rutting and bellowing is a thing to behold, if you are lucky enough to have a local herd, the Fallow at Attingham are either not playing or moved away from the house area (for safety reasons!) today there was no rut in evidence in the park in fact not a bellow to be heard, a couple of yawns and a burp was about it. So do we have a bunch of wussies or has the rut really not started yet? I will keep going as it must kick of soon, mind! if you know of a rut in progress? I could do with some shots for an ongoing project.
So sorry nothing to add but keep watching as there is more to come.

Wednesday 17 October 2007

The Colours return - but not one good fight!

With increasing light and no rain till the afternoon, it was a good opportunity to check out the herd of Fallow deer at the Deer park in Attingham Hall.
Before getting to the herd I found a reasonable flock of Redwing enjoying the early morning sun feeding in one of the many Yew trees around the main path to the house. This included one of the largest Tit flocks encountered to date, which included not one but two Nuthatch and a couple of Goldcrests. Now trying to take pictures from bright light into dark undergrowth was a none starter, for today at least. Tomorrow looks a bit more promising so I shall see!

I continued over the suspension bridge into to woodland walk area, this was very disappointing with very few birds found mind you lots of arguing Jays and Magpies kept me searching for that elusive late warbler perhaps! My initial entry into the Deer Park was a little disappointing as the area I normally find the older stags roaring and fighting was unusually quite today, it was not until I had reached the end of the wood where it slopes back down to the House that sightings started to improve, Most of the groups were made up of young bucks and Does not yet Hareemed, Strangely there was only one good aged stag with an impressive set of antlers hunkered down in a small hollow under one of the Oak trees. I left him alone after one or two shots, to move down towards the bridge where there was a large gathering of Fallow feeding under the trees out in the open.
So onward to Venus Pools, with a nice show of shoveller in flight, providing a good bit of colour to an otherwise monochrome pool.

Wednesday 10 October 2007

Apley Wood, for a change

Cauliflower Fungus.
It was not going to be a day for Photography, with the overcast conditions keeping the available light at minimum. But not to be deterred, and with the Tit flocks starting to gather, albeit small they are worth checking.
So to my local wood, which for a change was in fact reasonably quite, unfortunately so were the birds. Only one flock was found that contained Great, Blue, Long tailed and a tree creeper.
the odd Jay showed for a while with Mistle thrush and the drama queen of the bird world the Blackbird.
What did catch my eye was the number of various Fungi around the place, with one or lots that I could not identify, so if you have the answers please drop a comment on the blog.

Shaggy Parasol

Friday 5 October 2007

Playtime for Peregrine!

Another good quality day, even after the poor start to the day with low lying mist lifting from the suface of the water, and a bit cold out of the sun.

It was not until an hour or two after the air had cleared did things liven up, the Greenshank reappeared in front of the hide and strutted it's stuff for a while, as the Kingfisher hovered above, making numerous unsuccesful attempts at catching fish.The whole flock of Lapwing and Black headed gulls lifted as one as a peregrine suddenly appeared over the hide from the direction of the car park. Initially it flew right through then on reaching the trees on the far side, banked and returned for some sport, nothing was of the menu it tilted at anything in its path, crows Black headed gulls and coot. But missed it all.

Then of course there is the thought "where do all the fish bones and scales go" as they are not digestable well look at this.

and a quick shake and its gone leaving space for what seems to be an insatiable appitite.


Thursday 4 October 2007

Voles 0 Kestrels 4

The day started unusually bright and sunny compared to the five day forecast on the BBC weather site. Which was really nice, as the cloudless sky presented a good level of light and forecast good thermals for BOP's.

It was not long before a count of seven Buzzards, 5 Kestrels and 4Sparrow hawks were recorded, and all of them within the confines of the reserve.

Waders were noticeable in their absence, with the only notable sighting of a small flock of Widgeon flying over the Fishing ponds and the reserve.

The turning and bailing of the meadows was in progress and made for an exciting spectacle of the local Kestrels pouncing on the voles as they ran from the encroaching tractor, HMMM! Baled or Nailed tough choice.

The Goldfinch flocks are increasing it seems exponentially, a rough estimate numbered one flock at around 150 birds as they left the sunflowers at the far end of the reserve.

For the first time in ages I spent a lot of my time actually birding rather than trying to photograph them, which I quite enjoyed.

So I will leave it there with some Moorhen Roots!!

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Venus Pools

The sight of an adult Peregrine swooping in over the trees intent on the selection on offer for lunch, is a fantastic sight, fortunatly lunch moved quick enough to avoid the the swooping diner.

The Sparrowhawk also failed on its attempt to secure some lunch, confused by the split in the raising flock of lapwing and Black headed gulls.

In general the pool was quite with the Knigfisher and a couple of snipe in evidence. With my stomach suggesting it was my own lunch time I left the pool around 13:30. Still tomorrows another day!

Monday 1 October 2007

Mussels and Mud!

With the promise of Higher than usual tides in the Morcame bay area the weekend of 27th and 28th, I took a little trip up to see what is was like in preparation for the winter. Whilst not expecting large flocks and not knowing the area that well it was to be an interesting expedition.

The actual location was to be Heysham right next to the Nuclear power station, so strange guyser in camo clothing and large lens certainly got me stopped for a quick check by the local bobbies. Arriving at low tide the mussel beds were well exposed and that gave me the opportunity to check out the species on offer for the day. and get a feel on how fast the tide advances up the estuary, bloody quick.

The main area of interest was to be the Helipad area just inside the seawall, and the beach itself as the mud banks stretch right up to the shore. Selecting a comfortable rock I settled in and waited for the birds to come to me. Which they did, in large numbers. The species range was not vast but interesting and coming ever closer.

The main flocks were of Knot and Oystercatcher with a few redshank, Spot shank, Turnstone etc.

A word of warning should you think of going watch the tide and the mud is real sticky.