For the past two weeks we have been following the fortunes of a pair of Tawny Owls nesting in a wood close to where we live. Two chicks left the nest and were seen on the ground but after a couple of days got airborne - just as well as a fox would welcome a meal.
Finding the adults is hard work but they are usually close to the trunks of the Beech trees or, as here, in a Scots Pine. Not surprisingly they prefer to roost in the pines when it is windy as there's more shelter. They have an amusing way of closing their eyes as though they don't see you but they they certainly do as they as always facing you!
It would be easy to talk about the weather again; suffice to say that it is a very late Spring - plant life is typically around three weeks late hence it affects plant eaters such as caterpillars and therefore birds that feed on them. Birds that feed on voles e.g. Owls and also those dependent upon worm such as Thrushes and Woodcock should be OK. We went looking for Woodcock the day before yesterday Four sightings but only one on the ground and it calmly walked away .
Here are a couple of Red-legged Partridges waiting for the weather to improve. Males and females are identical so we can only infer they might be a pair.
Just back from a productive couple of weeks in Texas - seemed like a good place to celebrate a significant birthday and a chance for some warm weather.
We started down at McAllen and drove one way up the coast to finish at High Island near Houston. The weather started hot, then got quite windy, but stayed dry.
The coastal areas had wonderful American shorebirds, then inland we saw these wonderful Green Jays along with Cardinals and Orioles in glorious bright colours.
A couple of days were spent at Galveston Featherfest with fellow photographers.
Finally at High Island we got some Warbler migration with Painted and Indigo Buntings alongside Prothonotary and Tennessee Warblers as well as Tanagers.
.Perhaps its just a British thing but it always seems that there's something to say about our weather. For some younger people this is the latest Spring ever. Temperatures are still hovering around 3 degrees centigrade for the daily maximum and there's no respite on the horizon.
It is a difficult time for birds, not just woodland birds but also those that winter inshore. This Red-throated Diver was sheltering in a harbour. During a spell of about an hour it caught at least three fish so perhaps it will come through OK. In the picture it is just about to dive.
Nowadays vagrant birds have a much greater chance of being spotted due to the greater number of birdwatchers and their greater skill, through better Field Guides and wider travel.
Because we were in the right general area we went for and got Britain’s only known Desert Wheatear which swapped a real desert for Scotland’s eastern coast. The shingle beach might be similar in appearance but surely much damper. What will become of the little star?
This bird has been a long stayer – over two months now. You cannot help wonder at the irony. This bird has given me and many others such pleasure yet it is in a parlous position.
It was time to do a winter mountain last week. There was good snow cover and the forecast was dry and bright, so we set off for high ground. The car park was already busy with skiers when we arrived, so we donned our crampons and started heading up. The snow was very patchy, deep in some bits, but generally OK for walking on if steep in places. We avoided the skiers, but saw very little wildlife on the way up, just a pair of Red Grouse fly by. Up at the cairn it was very windy, but a wee flock of Snow Buntings flew through as we sheltered for lunch. Exploring on the ridge we eventually found a Ptarmigan, a lovely white male, then found the Mountain Hares. There were about 20 in all, feeding on the exposed heather shoots. They were a wonderful sight.
Fairly quiet here with typical winter - perhaps rather more wind than usual. Hoping to get up a hill if wind and weather ameliorates before month ends.
Hides doing OK once we got the Duck Tape into place.
Three Dippers on the stream today - two with no rings and one with two. This one was fairly confiding even when the farm machinery went close by. Definitely a good sign as it needs to be pretty tolerant of disturbance with the aquatic dogs that it will have to face in the coming months. This feeding strategy fascinated me - the water formed a cone around the probing bill.
It's definitely been wintry here over the last few days with cold and snow, but cloudy and damp too, so terrible photography weather!
Spent last week in Bulgaria photographing winter birds. It was very cold there, but brighter than UK with some nice snowy scenes. Too much snow, however, for the main target of our visit. The Golden Eagle hides were inaccessible due to heavy snow the week before.
We had plenty feeder birds to photograph though - lovely Sombre Tits, Tree Sparrows, Greenfinches and you can never have too many Hawfinches (opposite).
We also spent a few days in a Goshawk hide way up a mountain, getting close encounters with a lovely female.
A New Year but the weather has been very quiet and hardly wintry at all. Nevertheless there have been a good variety of birds around. Today we had a creditable thirteen waders from a total of 66 birds for the Bird Club Outing.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that without frost or snow you cannot take picture that shout winter! Maybe soon I will be regretting saying that - I guess the weather is good for wintering bird survival (except ones needing carrion I suppose).
This drake Smew was unusually co-operative as they usually stay a football pitch away from any observers. He is a handsome little bird with simple, but very effective, black and white livery.
Just back from Costa Rica in time to get ready for Christmas. It all went well and we pretty much succeeded in out targets of Toucans, Hummers and Poison-dart Frogs.
Much better than our first trip in 1995; so many places pull the birds out of the forest with bananas. We still did quite a few trails in the heat with heavy loads but with something in the bag already for the day it didn't seem so bad. U.S. Customs not fun considering we didn't even want to enter the country but that's air travel these days.