Monday, 4 August 2014

Turtle Dove

It has been a couple of months since my last birding tick, in fact it was twitching the Short-toed Snake Eagle in the Ashdown Forest, which seems ages ago. With the butterfly populations on the wane and my photographs up to date, I decided that it was time to re-join the birding scene. Several times on butterflying outings I have heard the distinctive purr of Turtle Doves but never had visual contact. So a visit to Woods Mill where a pair have been residing, and unlike other birds, have not been shy. In fact one bird has a preference for a perch in a dead tree that stands over the lake.

As I took the camera gear from the car I could hear a bird purring away in a high tree at the end of the lake. I located it immediately and sat down to wait for it to occupy its favourite perch. Actually it took some time before the action started and I wasn't really prepared for what happened next. The Turtle Dove was happily calling away when an interloper in the shape of a Great-spotted Woodpecker arrived on the scene. The woodpecker took an instant dislike to the TD and sent it away in a most violent attack, something that I never expected to happen. I sat and waited for the return of the TD as it was some distance away but still calling, Two kind birders then informed me that it was in a dead Ash tree just the other side of the leat path. I found the bird and snapped away to my hearts content, the bird not being spooked by passing families and noisy children - so much for the description "shy".



As always, photographing a bird in silhouette never produces the best quality and despite constant tinkering with the exposure, I never got that shot that says - nailed it. Still they are a lot better than anything else I have had so far and there is always tomorrow.

I then decided to check up on the progress of the "grebelings", well I can report that at least two have survived and grown well. Each occupies its own raft of water lilies and both are constantly diving for food. Every now and again each makes a call to the parent bird which now studiously ignores them.

Next venue was Anchor Bottom, specifically to find and count any Silver-spotted Skippers that might be present. The upshot was that I found only six, just to the east of the large rabbit warren. It is encouraging that the rabbit population hasn't been persecuted so much recently and their activity is creating a better environment for the butterflies. The upside is that the specimen that I managed to record on camera was a female and that she laid at least two eggs, one of which I recorded.


Finally a quick visit to Houghton where I found nothing exciting, just the usual suspects. The Painted Lady appeared fresh and was happy to be snapped nectaring on the Hemp Agrimony.

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