Thursday, 20 September 2018

Local Meanderings

Of late most of our trips have been local, ostensibly to find those autumn migrants that hang around for a few days. Well, most of them seem to have passed straight through without a pause. On these outings in Sussex I tend to collect a few photos, not enough for a blog in its own right but rather a diary of several days birding. This eclectic mix of subjects ends up in a single blog just to record the event - as it were.

Visits to the Downs have been most productive, the Buzzards and Ravens up on Chantry and Kithurst provided several hours of entertainment. The Ravens using strong updrafts to perform some amazing aerobatics, usually in pairs but sometimes in groups of four or more. I normally think of a Raven as a lumbering bird, more a heavy bomber than a fighter, not quite true, as these birds proved. Of course, thermals and updrafts have to be shared and the local Buzzards took exception to the Raven's proximity and responded in a typical way, again with some high performance manoeuvring

Unfortunately photographing black birds against a blue sky without adequate sunshine is a recipe for disappointment, still it was great fun to record and a shame that a majority of the shots ended up in the recycle bin.

Lots of small birds about on Chantry, Corn Buntings, and Linnets in big numbers, supported by some very scruffy looking Yellowhammers which were skulking in the bushes.

A "decoration" of Corn Buntings

A couple of Wheatears on Cissbury, Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers in attendance too

 We visited the North Wall at Pagham for the Spoonbill and the Cattle Egrets, plenty of small birds about including Redstarts, Spotties and some Willow Warblers, one of which was finding easy food by raiding a spider's web.

 Butterflies were in evidence too, especially Small Coppers. I particularly wanted to record the blue spotted form Lycaena phlaeas, caerulo-punctata. Well we found a few but none with prominent blue spots, just very small full stops.

Some worn...

With small blue spots

...some new.

On late flowering Hemp Agrimony at Houghton

Apparently Small Coppers are so fast at mating you could blink and miss the event.

Nice looking female Common Blue with nice blue tones.


Brown Argus

Brown Argus

And finally some shots recorded on a walk to the Stilt Pool at Medmerry, we were hoping to see some Clouded Yellows on the abundant Fleabane, unfortunately none obliged.

Two Blues

Two Blues

Adonis Blue

Adonis Blue

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

A Pair of Ospreys

None of your trout farm specials here, wild birds behaving naturally. I have known of this Osprey site for some years, thanks to Dawn and Jim, and I try to make one visit each time we go to Scotland, normally in June. I have held off publishing these photos to minimise disturbance to the birds and I don't post pictures of nesting birds in the breeding season. That said, on this occasion there were members of the public between my camera and the nest.! This 13 year old female wasn't bothered in the least, she has been on this site for at least ten years and as far as I know has successfully raised offspring every year.  I have heard her alarm calls only once - when a guy on a bright orange paddleboard, wearing a bright orange wetsuit and carrying a bright orange camera got too close - no wonder she was perturbed. 

We visited the last week in June and it was at the height of the heatwave in Scotland, the gritters were out - the main road through the village had melted and they were applying sand to the road surface. When we arrived only the female was in attendance and the sun was beating down, you could see her panting and "parasolling" to shade the chicks. The male had visited the nest with a pike about forty five minutes previous and was expected back any time. However, two hours later there was still no sign of him, I settled down under the shade of a tree, camera pointed at the nest and waited. 


.... shading the young.

Finally a sighting, he was returning with another pike and thankfully, he circled the nest several times giving some perfect views.

However, there was a major problem, he had been followed back to the nest by a larger male and that was complicating matters. Now our resident male is a fairly new partner and I have to say that he isn't a large bird by any means. He did seem to have some experience though as, having touched down on the nest, he appeared to realise that the intruder was a threat so departed.

Unfortunately the female also left the nest and for a brief time the chicks were unguarded, luckily both parents returned but the male departed again, not letting go of his pike and escorted the larger male off the premises.

Straight over my head

The male sat in a nearby tree, reluctant to visit the nest whilst the intruder was about. Lots of cloaking the prey and looking up at the threat accompanied by loud calling

In the mayhem I managed to capture what I think was the male that was causing the problem, I didn't think it was carrying any rings and was identified by having one feather missing.

A larger bird.
After what seemed an interminable wait our bird returned once again, sat in a nearby tree and proceeded to eat the pike's head. Finally the family were fed and when we departed calm and serenity had returned to the locality.