Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Fan-tailed sparrowhawk

The sparrowhawk spends a lot of time keeping his feathers in perfect condition.  As well as preening it involves lots of stretching and shaking.  He seems to go through the same routine each time.

Monday, 15 January 2018

DeerCam outside the front gate

Every winter the deer turn up outside the front gate to browse on the ivy growing on the fence.  They don't eat it all in one go, which gives me time to see what is happening and put out a trail camera.  This is the best set of night-time photos of roe deer I have managed so far.  The doe triggered 5 photos in 5 minutes as she moved nearer to the camera so I presume she wasn't bothered by the flash.  The second deer, probably a youngster, was in only the first photo but may have moved around the corner.

Roe deer are small.  To give you an idea, the fence is 4 ft (1.2m) high.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

It's a boy!

Facebook has a lot of disadvantages compared with this blog but it is another way of sharing my photos.  I usually put a link to each blog post on my own page and one or two photos from the post in a closed group of Northumberland Wildlife photos.  These usually attract some interest and comment.  I have recently shared a few of the juvenile sparrowhawk photos and there were several strongly held assertions that he is female, when obviously he is male.  To prove the point I made this size comparison between last winter's adult male and the recent bird and put the explanation in another post.  I have reproduced them here as many readers of this blog are probably too sensible to bother with Facebook.  The link to the article on ageing and sexing sparrowhawks can be found here.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

A curlew's breakfast

I saw this handsome curlew wandering along the water's edge looking for its breakfast.  After a couple of minutes it caught a crab.  It spent a few moments flicking the crab around. 

I was amazed to see that it could increase the curvature of its bill to get a better grip.

It then swallowed the crab whole and presumably still alive.

After the crab had disappeared the curlew had a lump in its throat.

A little farther on it caught and swallowed another one.

Then it turned and came back towards me and found an enormous worm which it pulled out of the sand and swallowed.

Not quite what I would fancy for breakfast but that is obviously what curlews like to eat.  I wonder if they can feel the crabs and worms wriggling around inside?

Friday, 12 January 2018

Sulphur tuft

I don't know the names of many fungi but I enjoy photographing them.  I am grateful to my pal Brian Rutter for identifying this one as sulphur tuft (Hypholoma fasciculare).

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Another night with BadgerCam

Badgers don't hibernate so they stay out foraging at night all winter, except when the weather is really bad.  I set the camera up again by an old tree root in the woods to see who was out and about in the recent cold weather.

A badger will always find time for a scratch.

Later on a fox stopped by but there may not have been much left to eat.

Later still another fox, not quite in frame.  This one is probably bigger and has a white belly and different dark marks on its legs.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Sparrowhawk profile

Most of the time when the sparrowhawk is on his perch he sits facing me or facing away.  When he is also fluffed up against the cold he almost looks cuddly.

But occasionally he sits sideways like this and then he looks like a different bird.  On high alert and ready to strike.