Thursday, 4 August 2011

Birds and other beasties at Rodden Nature Reserve

This is the first year that I've been able to get proof of breeding for our pair of Reed Buntings at the Reserve. This male was in the process of feeding the young bird with its back to the camera. It's a shame I didn't get a decent shot of the actual feeding, but you can't have it all!

Here's the young bird waiting for some more food to be brought!
Another bird I was pleased to get proof of breeding for is the Winter Wren. This is the only wren we get in Britain and it is widespread and common. There were 5 young birds waiting for their parents to bring food to them. I managed to get three in one photo in the end.

If you enlarge the photos, you can still see the fluffy tufts on their heads and the baby gape is still evident.

Another young bird I managed to capture was this Blue Tit. It's the same bird in both photographs but you can see the young Blue Tit plumage better in the second photo.

We have sheets of corregated iron put down in various places around the Reserve and I always take a peek underneath to see what is about. Here is a Short-tailed Vole (probably the most common mammal on our Reserve). You can see the reason for its name in this photo!

Last but not least, is this Common Toad under one of the iron sheets, which also seem to be doing well on our Reserve.

There'll be more from Rodden Reserve soon.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

July at Rodden Nature Reserve - Bugs!

I spent a few hours on several days during July walking around my local nature reserve, primarily to try and prove breeding for certain species before the BTO Bird Atlas finishes at the end of this month. While there I took photos of anything else that caught my eye. This first post will be about bugs! Below is the female Oedemera nobilis (the males have obvious swollen hinds legs).

We have some Ragwort on the reserve, the flowers of which have been strimmed off as we're adjacent to some farmland with cows grazing and Ragwort is poisonous to livestock. Ragwort is the food plant for the striking Cinnabar Moth caterpillar.
This deadly looking beastie is an Ichneuman fly (a parasitic fly). I can't give a definite ID as there are many many of these!

Below is a Meadow Grasshopper which is a widespread species throughout much of Great Britain.

I've not had a chance this year to photograph many Damselflies, so this Blue-tailed male was a welcome find.

This lovely golden Bumblebee is Bombus lucorum.

This white Crab spider isn't on the best flower for camouflage!

This Leafhopper is tiny (about 3mm long). They proved to be very camera shy, but I persevered as I wanted to try and capture those stunning colours!

Here's a lovely iridescent Mint beetle, not surprisingly on some Water mint!

I'd been told by Bryan Pinchen, the entomologist doing yearly surveys on our Reserve that he had seen Roesel's Bush Cricket on his last visit. So, as I'd never seen one before, I went down to try and get some photos. With some patience I managed to get a couple of shots.

Sometimes it's best to just sit for a while and see what comes into view. I spent an amusing 5 minutes watching and photographing this Soldier beetle (Rhagonycha fulva) as it tried to get on top of this flower, it's antennae waving madly about. It just goes to show that there are no colour clashes in nature!

There'll be more from Rodden Reserve shortly.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Hare raising encounter!

Hello blogger friends. I'm hoping to make a return to blogland and thought I'd start up again with this magical encounter I had the other day while walking one of my bird surveys for the Bristish Trust for Ornithology. I noticed this young hare about 100 yards away down the track and fully expected him to disappear into the undergrowth. I took a quick photo, but then to my amazement, it started running towards me, stopping every few steps. So, I contintued to take photos with my 70-300 ml lens until it was just too close! When I lowered my camera, it was sitting in front of me, just 3-4 feet away! Needless to say, I had a big grin on my face for the rest of the survey! (-:

I'll hope to post another blog again soon! (-:

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Cornish trip - Porthgwarra and other places! - part 1

Well, it's been a while!
The other weekend I was invited to spend a few days birding in Cornwall by one of my best birding friends Jane (she'd got a freebee holiday (3 nights) from her sister for Christmas).
This first of three posts isn't in chronological order, just how the photos went together! (-:
Jane and I both love sea-watching (it's an acquired taste) and one of the best known places for this is at Porthgwarra on the extreme south western tip of Cornwall. The wind direction for sea-watching was probably the worst possible on this day, but that didn't really matter as it was a gorgeous blue sky day, if a bit chilly! Below shows a photo of Jane finding a comfortable position (we were here for an hour or two).
Before I carry on with Porthgwarra in this post. Jane and I were lucky enough to come across some Chough during this trip. Chough used to breed in Cornwall a long time ago before dying out, but just a few years ago they recolonised naturally from the continent and are here in small numbers. I can't reveal where we saw these birds, but it's safe to say that we were chuffed to see Choughs making a comeback! These two were happily digging away for grubs in the grass and then lifted off playfully (it seemed) to perform some aerial acrobatics.
I managed to snatch a couple of photos while they were flying above us. Their bright red slightly decurved bill and red legs can just been seen in these photos.
They also have a beautiful 'chow chow' cry which fits perfectly with their rugged clifftop existence! Beautiful birds!
Back at Porthgwarra and I left Jane to her sea-watching to wander along the cliffs to see what took my eye. I was in the mood to click with my camera! I loved the colours and textures of the cool sea and hot baked lichen on the cracked rocks in this shot (though it wasn't exactly hot on this day)!
I could never be bored watching a relentless sea crashing against immovable rocks. I could have sat watching this all day I think!

However, birds did 'call' to me after a while and I practised my actions shots on these Fulmars that were checking out the cliff face for suitable nesting sites.
They are such distinctive birds in flight with their stiff wing beats and are masters of the air. They are the closest we get to the Albatross in this country as they're part of the 'tubenose' family of seabirds.

As I make my way back to where Jane is still sea-watching (she likes to count when she's birding), I pass the coast guards house. What an amazing view from your workplace!!! (-:
There were some wonderful rock formations here. I'm not sure the camera does justice to this stunning scenery!
There'll be more from Cornwall in my next post...oh, and it's nice to be back! (-:

Friday, 7 January 2011


Dear blogging friends. I just thought I'd better write a short note to apologise for the lack of posting recently. I think I've just needed a break from blogging. I hope to be back sometime soon. In the meantime, here is a photo taken back in November when Chris and I spent a couple of days down at Exmouth.
Happy New Year to you all!