Monday, November 29, 2010

A couple of interesting records today.
While baiting the feeding areas before a 4-hour hide session, I saw not one but two sparrowhawks, whip round the blackthorn thicket. They were separated by a couple of metres and did not appear to be chasing each other. They then both settled in an ash tree a few metres apart. After a couple of minutes, one took off into the woodland immediately followed by the other. Whether they were hunting together, I cannot say, I have certainly never seen sparrowhawks hunt together. However, they did not appear concerned by the presence of the other. In fact, hunting together could provide an advantage for the following bird who could opportune on the chaos created by the attack of the first bird. Interesting though.
Very strangely, I also heard a curlew calling overhead!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I led a hardy bunch on a Woodpeckers & Nuthatches photography workshop today; the temperature was around minus 3 degrees to start and got up to a balmy 1 degree by early afternoon. There were very good bird numbers at the feeders possibly due to the cold snap we've been having and the fact that we are now pretty much in deep winter, so there is less natural food around. I saw no evidence of the sparrowhawk today but managed to get this shot on Thursday; I spent two 3-hour sessions in the hide waiting and thankfully was well rewarded!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I have been having phenomenal views of a juvenile female sparrowhawk over the past couple of weeks. She often makes her stealth runs through the various baiting areas, scattering birds, as she goes. If her runs are unsuccessful she will often just alight and perch on one of the feeder supports or baiting logs. Yesterday, the alarm calls alerted me to her presence and I watched her jink and glide through 3 separate feeding areas until she just perched in front of me, a mere 3m away! I was not in a hide, I was standing in the open. I remained motionless and managed to watch her for 2 or 3 minutes until she just glided off again.
The image was taken last week by Brian Henham as she did exactly the same thing; he, however, was already in the hide waiting for a woodpecker to appear!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

There was a strong smell of rotting flesh around the main bird hide yesterday and it took me a while of being a little worried to remember that I'd found a stinkhorn fungus there a couple days ago. It really was pungent though!
The goldfinches are once again feeding on the teasel heads right in front of the goldfinch hide; this is a relief as they had abandoned the site for a couple of weeks due to the squirrels repeatedly chewing apart their feeders. As well as goldfinches, the other birds are coming to baiting areas in high concentrations now. The long-tailed tits do not seem bothered by my presence at all; while stocking one baiting log they would come onto the one next to me, just a metre away!
We've had some blustery SW winds, so although the leaf colour is coming to its peak, I don't think it will stay on the trees for long. The wild service tree was looking spectacular as the leaves turned their deep bronze-red, but now they are on the floor.