Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Sparrowhawk silences garden!!

My garden on a normal day is a hive of activity with House Sparrow chirping away as they visit the feeders. Collared Dove, Wood and Feral Pigeon are just as regular on the ground feeder.
There are hazards for these birds the main threat being local cats which I have cause to chase out the garden on a regular basis. There is a less frequent threat in the form of a Sparrowhawk which is normally only seen as it flies away as I go bowling into the kitchen.

About a week ago there was an almighty commotion from the bushes in the garden. I stepped out into the garden and saw a female type Sparrowhawk fly out of the bush and through the gap between the shed and the back fence. Will I ever get photos of this species in the garden I thought to myself!

Today was like any other day the feeders were topped up before I left for work. I returned home and all seemed as usual with birds making busy feeding in the garden. I was in the front room pottering about when I realized that all had become very quiet in the garden!!

I walked into the kitchen approaching the windowed doors and there was not a bird to be seen. This was odd but then I caught the movement of a head within the confines of the pond. Three thoughts rapidly went through my mind Raptor, then Sparrowhawk and why didn’t I pick up my camera!!

I made a careful withdrawal from the window and legged it into the front room set the camera regained my composure and snuck up to the doors. Bounding around like a Bull in a china shop had cost me pictures of a Waxwing a couple of winters back!

I rolled off a few shots and the bird moved up onto the edge of the birdbath. Fantastic I couldn’t believe my luck! The male then hopped into the bath and started drinking and washing up! A good few more shots later and I left the bird to finish its bath.

What a wonderful experience and I didn’t even have to leave the house!!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

(Os) for more good birds!!

The run of North Easterly winds have continued into the weekend. Cloud cover has varied but once again has left the Farm with favourable conditions for rarities. Sunday is also a good day to watch the ringers in action and get some more photos for my Beddington Gallery.

I arrived at around 7am Dodge and Mike had already taken birds out of nets. There wasn't as much cloud cover as I had expected but the wind was fairly strong which was a promising sign!
(Cetti's Warbler)
The first rarity of the day came from the nets. A Cetti’s Warbler had presented me with a rare photo opportunity whilst the bird was processed and then released.
Pinpoint and Nick arrived on site shortly after. Pinpoint stating “This is dangerous weather!” which normally means the chance of a Skua but there had not been any reported around the Thames basin in recent days.
Dark cloud was moving in from the NE and the second Osprey of the year appeared from the west side of the North Lake. This had Pinpoint briefly struggling for words before he shouted up (Pinpoint and I were the only ones in the hide!!) the last bird had also appeared on the previous Sunday. The bird departed south after some quick snapping from cameras!
This was turning into a good mornings birding with Buzzard, hirundines and Snipe moving through the Farm. The nets produced more regular species to the Farm and of course more photo opportunities during the processing stage.
(Sedge Warbler)
The weather continues into next week but low cloud and some rain wouldn't go a miss!!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Tern up and you will see good birds!!

After another mammoth sleep I awoke and checked on the weather and bird news RBA and #RBN. There had been Sandwich Tern  and Turnstone reported in the London area and after a peek out of the curtains to see low cloud I hot footed it to the Farm.

I was surprised I was the only one on site and walked to the top of the mound to “Kojak’s corner” and set up and waited. I didn’t have long to wait as I could hear Sandwich Tern calling. The cloud was low and initially I could not locate the birds. Then two birds appeared out of the clouds and began circling lower around the North Lake.

Gull numbers aren't as high on a Saturday therefore there was a chance these birds may even land on the furthest island. A few shots later and the birds landed with a handful of Black headed Gulls (BHG) on the far end of the North Lake. Fantastic!!
(Sandwich Tern)
I knew some of the regulars needed this species for their Farm lists so I pinged out a group text then put the news on twitter! Everything was looking good with the birds settling down on the island until a BHG got the hump with one of the terns and started pecking at it with its bill.
(Sandwich Tern)
The birds took flight but stayed low and were clearly looking to come down again. The handful of gulls was now becoming agitated at their presence and took to flight. The lead tern obviously thought “I’ve had enough of this!!” and off they both flew circling before leaving high SE.

Pinpoint had also secured some shots from the Observatory window. What a garden list he has!! Once again news services had provoked me into action resulting in seeing good birds. The best by far were the three Gannet a few years back.