Wednesday, 21 June 2017

It's A Knockout

Considering the number of birds in the garden I get few bird strikes on the windows and very few that are fatal.  I found this poor song thrush on the lawn by a window while I was mowing and was able to keep an eye on it to protect it from magpies while it recovered.  It flew off after 20 minutes or so, apparently none the worse for wear.



If you are not from the UK the title of this post was the name of a not very good TV programme many years ago.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Allowed out on his own

There comes a time in life when you are allowed out on your own for the first time.  I met this youngster out and about early in the morning with no sign of its mother.  It was busy exploring and looking for something to eat.  Not a close photo and not very sharp but probably worth a look.

Monday, 19 June 2017

An audience with the emperor


I went back to Banks' Pond on Saturday, hoping to see an emperor dragonfly (Anax imperator) for the first time this year.  There were several flying but they were resting for only a second or two and too far away, making it very difficult to get a photo.  These were about the best I could manage.



While there I had the pleasure of meeting John Atkinson, the Sedgedunum Warbler.  As it was hot and the dragonflies weren't settling we gave up and I planned to return the next day.

Although I got there early yesterday, it was already hot and the emperors were on the wing when I arrived.  However, even they get tired and at last a few settled (briefly) within range of the camera.



Emperors eat other dragonflies and damselflies so this male azure damselfly was really chancing his luck.

I saw only one female ovipositing out in the middle of the pond, rather out of range of my lens.

As I left I came across this slightly battered individual.  He has obviously been in the wars, with damage to both front wings.  Life for a male emperor dragonfly is short and intense, mostly fighting off rivals and chasing females.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Curlew chicks


I was driving along, minding my own business, when I spotted two curlew chicks not far from the road.  Their parents were close by but the photography was difficult as it was directly into the sun.

They didn't seem to notice as I stopped the car but carried on searching of food, gradually getting farther away.



Like most wader chicks, curlews are precocial, meaning they hatch with feathers and can walk and feed themselves almost straightaway.  These were a bit bigger than newly hatched but will still need to be able to run and hide until they can fly.



Saturday, 17 June 2017

Beautiful Golden Y

I don't know much about moths but I know what I like.  We came across this moth on Stephen Falk's bee workshop in Teesdale and I couldn't resist a photo.  It is a Beautiful Golden Y (Autographa pulchrina).


Friday, 16 June 2017

Nestbox update

I have been posting regular updates on the tree sparrows' progress on the "Nestbox camera 2017 page", accessible via the tab above.  The female laid six eggs starting around 20/21 May and all six hatched around 05 June.  It has been very difficult to get a good view into the box because of nest material in front of the camera, despite my moving the camera several times before laying started.  Things have improved in the past couple of days as the chicks are bigger and are coming up to the entrance hole to be fed.

Today for the first time I have taken photos of the outside of the box.  The parents are very wary, which is interesting as another pair in a box in the kitchen garden don't seem at all bothered when I am working in there.  I took these photos by hiding in the car with camo net over the window.  This one shows how the chicks look now.  The bolt just above the entrance plate holds the camera and the other holes show where I was adjusting the camera position to try to improve the view.

The chicks' diet is varied but is mostly insects.  The tasting menu starts with ladybird larvae.

Then sunflower seeds from the feeder.

The next course is a damselfly.

Followed by more ladybirds.

It is interesting how early the sparrows started to feed at the entrance - probably helped by the tunnel of nest material that helps the chicks climb up to the hole.  In previous years the blue tits have only done this in the last day or so before fledging.  This is the view inside today.

And finally a video clip from yesterday to show the mayhem.



Regular updates will continue on the "Nestbox camera 2017 page" and I'll post an update here on the main blog when the chicks fledge if I mange to get any photos.  I think there are seven other boxes in the garden with tree sparrow nests, as well as other nests in dead trees in the wood.  Some of the other boxes are already on the second brood.  I'm hoping we'll get a second brood in this box as well.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Beautiful, just beautiful

The most beautiful of all the damselflies is the appropriately named beautiful demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo).  Sadly we don't see it this far north but I was lucky enough to see these earlier in the week in Northamptonshire.  These are males (the second picture with flash).


Immature males are bluer with brown wings.

Females are iridescent green with gold wings.


Many damselfly and dragonfly species are spreading north with global warming so maybe one day will will see this beauty up here.