Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Birds and Bugs bonanza!

This post concentrates on the birds and bugs that I found on my walks around Rodden Reserve. An obliging Tortoiseshell sits on one of our signs.
I think I shall feint if I ever get close enough to get a decent photo of these resident Grey Herons before they get spooked! First one and then the second took off to settle on a quieter part of the reserve.
I think there must've been some aphids on this rose as there were three Blue Tits feeding together. I only managed to snap one of them though.

Long-tailed Tits tend to fly around in quite large parties at this time of year and I had a flock fly through quite close while I was standing in one of my favourite spots on the reserve.
In the same area, I also had about 8-10 warblers pass through too. From the calls, I think most of them were Chiffchaffs. As I was standing there, all of a sudden there were lots of alarm calls and a Sparrowhawk swooped into a nearby tree. It gave me a fierce glare for a second before dashing off again. I didn't have time to get my camera up unfortunately. As a consequence, all the small birds that had been busy around me had shut up and completely gone to ground.
I often see Common Buzzards at the reserve. I'm sure they must nest somewhere close by. I love their wild cry.
On to the bugs. This is a Long-winged Conehead with it's amazingly long antennae. It's also a female with that long ovipositor.
I was pleased to find this Southern Hawker still patrolling his chosen area of pond.
A common Garden Spider (Areneus diadematus) just wrapping up something tasty for breakfast! They are easily recognised by the white cross on their back. Another name for it is Cross Spider.
I don't know which spider this is, but it had an impressive web which showed up well due to the dew!
There was still the odd plant flowering on the reserve and this Small Copper was taking advantage of that fact. They are one of my favourite butterflies. Always looking so neat and vibrant.
Lastly, this is what I would call a 'des res' (desirable residence). I can't help but think this Ladybird is checking it out as a place to settle down for the winter months. This is the seedhead of the wild Carrot which makes a distinctive concave nest of seeds.
I'll have one more post about my walks around Rodden Reserve.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

A surfeit of seedheads!

I've had another round of walks around my local nature reserve on the outskirts of Frome. Here's a link to our website if you have time for a quick look. I was in the mood for some macros, although not all these were taken with my macro lens. I also used my 70-300ml lens. As I walked around, nature's way of preparing for the following year was most obvious. So, this particular post is saturated with seeds and seedheads! (-:
Ash Keys
I'm not sure what this flower is, but I loved the rich gold colour of the seeds.
The Purple Loosetrife has now faded from it's vivid colour of summer to this more muted and soft pink/brown.

Rosebay Willowherb, often called Fireweed as it quickly colonises ground cleared by fire.
The seedheads split to reveal the plumed seeds.
This is some sort of Thistle or Knapweed seedhead, maybe someone out there can tell me which? The early morning dew is clinging to the fluffy seeds.
This below is some sort of Sorrel. It never fails to make a russet show at this time of year.
A close up of the seeds.

More Thistle type seedheads.
A lovely graceful grass with the early morning light shining through.
The bold seeds of Yellow flag iris.

The next two shots are specially for my friend Evie as I know they're one of her favourites! (-:
Teasel makes up for being somewhat insignificant looking during it's flowering period with it's beautiful (and bountiful for birds) seedheads which stand out during autumn and winter.
The next couple of posts will show what else I saw whilst walking around the reserve.

Monday, 20 September 2010

A day at Slimbridge WWT

A couple of weekends ago I went with two of my birding friends to Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust . This reserve lies on the banks of the River Severn about 90 minutes north of Frome. For more information on the reserve you can click on the link. To be honest, it's not somewhere I go to often. It's not cheap to get in and also most of what is there are collections of wildfowl from around the world, interesting but not wild.
There are parts of the reserve that are set up for watching wild birds though and there happened to be two or three good year ticks here. This (below) is the view from the Zeiss hide. If you click to enlarge this photo, you will see more clearly the River Severn in the background and beyond that, Wales. From here we watched an energetic Red necked Phalarope, spinning and twisting after food on the water (when are they ever not energetic!) (-: This is a bird that I certainly don't get to see every year, so was a real treat. We also picked up Curlew Sandpipers, Spotted Redshanks and Little Stints, all good yearbird waders (shorebirds).
It's hard to walk around Slimbridge and not take the opportunity for photos of exotic birds! Flamingos are certainly birds that I'm not going to see anytime soon away from Slimbridge!
They're amazing looking birds. It would be great to see them in their natural habitat sometime!
On the other hand, Common Crane is a bird that I can get to see in Britain, usually in just one area of Norfolk on the eastern side of Britain. At present, Slimbridge are in the process of rearing young Common Cranes with a view to releasing them into the wild somewhere on the Somerset Levels, which is an exciting prospect as that is very local to me!
I took these photos through a wired fence into the rearing compound and unfortunately never got a good shot of the whole bird.
My mind was mostly on birds on this day, but I did notice someone else taking a photo of this clump of fungi. It looks like some sort of Fairy city to me! (-:
Here are some more of the exotic wildfowl in the collection here. This is a very pretty female Mandarin Duck. They have successfully maintained a feral population in Britain and I've actually seen them on the River Churn at the bottom of my Mum's garden in the Cotwolds.
I took this photo just a little too late. These three ducks (not sure what type they are) were all upright and alert and looked just like the duck equivalent of Meerkats! The one of the left just started to move at I took my shot which is a shame.
I should've been more attentive as to names for some of these wildfowl, so I don't know what this goose is called (white headed something or other), but I liked they way it kept straining up to reach this twig. Not sure what it was after!
They also have a compound with Otters here. These photos were taken behind glass or perspex so arn't entirely sharp. It was lovely to have the opportunity to watch these beautiful creatures up close as they twisted and writhed in the water after a giant cube of frozen fish was chucked in there for their lunch.

This Moorhen is a wild bird that has become pretty much used to close human activity so I was able to get reasonably close to take a couple of shots.
My favourite subject of the day though has to be this Moorhen chick. Look at the feet on this fluffball! It posed beautifully for me, first to the left....
.......have a preen.....

......preen the other side....
.......and face right. So sweet! Have a good life matey!
We had a good day here and it was well worth the entrance fee!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Rodden rambles - part three

For the final set of photos from Rodden reserve (for now), I thought I'd start off with the ubiquitous Purple Loosetrife photo (-: It really is a lovely sight at this time of year.
Common Blues seem to be plentiful over there at the moment. This one is feeding on water mint along with some type of Bumble Bee, not sure which as there are a couple of similar species!

I was walking along the path to check one of our mammal areas (corrugated iron sheets that small mammals love to stay under to get warmth) when I became aware of this female pheasant hunkered down on the path ahead of me. I stopped still and took a couple of shots of her before slowing retreating to leave her in peace.
A sign of summer being over, lovely bare teasel heads!
While walking round, I heard the unmistakable loud 'chip' of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. He landed on a dead tree ahead of me and I got off a few shots as he was busy having a preen.

A slightly faded looking small copper on this dead thistle head made for an autumnal shot.
And as it's now September and officially autumn in my book, I'll finish this set of posts with some lovely autumn fruits, sloes and blackberries.

Thank you all for coming along on my Rodden rambles. (-: