A Monday Medley

J was grateful towards the end of last week to have some cooler weather and a drop of rain for our parched garden. This is a cool view across the River Trent at Attenborough looking towards Barton. I remember from my younger days a rowing boat ferried us across the river to Barton for just a penny. I think a little further upstream from this spot.

These mallards were having a thorough preen on the edge of one of the outflows from the Clifton Pit into the river. CLICK on the image to view the VIDEO.

The jay is a regular in the garden, periodically harassed by magpies, in fact it is intimidated by any large birds, even pigeons! Love the colours in the magpie!

We passed a neighbour’s garden where there is a lot of lavender and spotted this common blue butterfly. I rushed home and got my camera! The lavender flowers appear to be suffering due to the drought.

Our mint plants are flowering, attracting bees, hoverflies and butterflies. This fierce looking insect is a hornet mimic hoverfly. One ID point is that they have only one pair of wings whereas bees have two.

Finally, a male great spotted woodpecker paid us another visit on Sunday.

Elegant Egrets & Colourful Corvids

Effectively house-bound by the heatwave I took an early bike ride to Wollaton Park and Highfields on Sunday morning.

The formal gardens at Wollaton Park where I took a short breather. There wasn’t much wildlife about for me to record.

As on my last visit, a little egret was patrolling the shallows by the stepping stones at Highfields. I find the reflections of the lake-side shrubbery intriguing and rather pleasing.

The egret managed some success, illustrated by these images. They are not sequential but you can just see a small fish between the egret’s upper and lower mandibles.

The Highfields swan family are clearly thriving. This shot shows just how little is a little egret.

My garden bird watching is all Playschool style in this hot spell, i.e. Through the Square Window. Our regular jay was joined on Sunday by another Corvid, a young magpie.

Finally. from the garden, a blue tit on the feeder tree with sunlit smoke bush leaves out of focus in the background and a small white butterfly on a lavender flower, all through the Square Window. 😎

Phew! What a Scorcher!

A robin and a blackbird in the garden on Thursday 14th taking advantage of the sun. I believe this helps them get rid of parasites. The grass looks very parched and is likely ton remain so for quite a while with the expected heatwave.

I was please to photograph a couple of butterflies in the garden yesterday (Friday). A gatekeeper on our silver ragwort and a ringlet on a shrub. The hoverfly, commonly called the footballer after its black and yellow stripes has the scientific name Helophilus pendulus meaning dangling marsh-lover which accounts for it hanging around our mini pond. Our buddleia has flowered well but the flowers aren’t lasting, I expect because of the drought.

I’ll be staying in for the next few days for obviously reasons but my visit to ANR on Thursday yielded some great views of an acrobatic tern over the Church Pond, a rather smart cormorant on a dead tree in the Beeston Pit and two of three little egrets by the Wet Marsh Path.

Please remember the wildlife over these next few days in particular. Leave out plenty of water and top it up regularly because it will evaporate very quickly in the heatwave.

July Jays …

We now have two jays in the garden after the peanuts and other bird food. The first picture is on the apple tree and the others on my ‘natural‘ perches. There is a bit of agro between them as you can see.

Last week this male great spotted woodpecker finally found my ‘natural‘ feeder post and had a good peck at it. Here’s hoping for more visits, especially if he is part of a breeding pair.

Some ducklings from a sadly depleted brood I have observed previously at Highfields. They are all dark brown with a light ‘chest’ patch identical to Mum. I love the tiny stubby wings on the left hand image.

This family of mute swans seems to be doing well on the boating lake at Highfields. They were having a great time bathing, even turning upside down and waggling their webbed feet in the air. Click on the image to view the action.

It was a pleasure to get some close up views of a little egret by the stepping stones at Highfields. I waited a good while for it to catch something large but alas, it only caught small fry! Don’t you just love those yellow feet.

Stay Wild & Stay Cool! 😎 A special Welcome to new followers of the blog!

A Wild July Week

A selection of wildlife images from the last few days.

We are still getting regular visits from a jay, in fact we had two this morning resulting in a bit of a spat. The upper image shows one on a branch I have retrieved from our ,local park which I intend to add to my ‘natural‘ perches in the garden.

From my trip around Attenborough Nature Reserve yesterday (7th) a grey heron in the Works Pond and a little egret looking for a snack in the pond by the Wet Marsh path. it was a lucky shot to catch it in the act of taking off. I you look carefully its yellow feet are visible.

Again at ANR shots of greylag geese and a distant view of a green sandpiper taken from the Kingfisher Hide.

Finally from ANR a distant shot of a bored looking buzzard on a telegraph pole near where the Erewash flows into the Trent.

Wild Fourth of July!

Roe deer in Wollaton Park and two of three little egrets by the lake. I have not seen more than the odd little egret in the Park before.

The remaining ducklings of an original brood of 9, a coot with a protective leg around its single chick and a red crested pochard in so called eclipse. In common with many duck species they lose their smart breeding plumage until next spring. At this time it is hard to distinguish male and female ducks. These were all in the boating lake at Highfields – Nottingham University Park.

Mr Jay is now becoming a regular visitor to the bird house now he knows peanuts are on offer.

Finally, my first ever sighting of a Raven. Part of a family group these birds are BIG but rather shy so I am pleased they let me get close enough to get some good shots. Because they are a rather rare species and sensitive to disturbance I am not at liberty to reveal the location.

Mallard – The Calendar Bird for July

Both images used for Beeston Birdman’s wildlife calendar are female mallards. The brownish plumage, also found in the ducklings, camouflages them as a defence against predation.

Drake mallards are much more colourful as in the top left image of a group standing on ice at Highfields Park. The odd one out in the top right image is an avocet (taken in Norfolk). The lower image is a recent picture, again at Highfields, of an unusually dark female with 9 identical ducklings, including the light patch on the front.

FUN FACTS – The designer of the record breaking Mallard locomotive, Sir Nigel Gresley, is memorialised in a bronze statue at Kings Cross station. The sculptor’s original plan was to have a mallard duck at Sir Nigel’s feet but there was such an adverse public reaction that the idea was dropped. However, you may be surprised to learn that the to speed of a mallard in flight, around 65mph, is half way to equalling Mallard’s unbroken record for steam traction at 126mph, set in 1938.

Finally, we are getting regular visits from a jay in the garden. It is after the peanuts in the bird house. The lower image is a VIDEO CLIP. Click on the image to view.

Not all Crows are Black!

Beeston Birdman’s latest article for the Nottingham Local News, Beeston edition, and some supplementary images.

Examples of the other UK corvids listed in the closing paragraph of the article. A rook I saw in motorway service station waiting for any leftovers, a hooded crow on the quayside in Bergen, Norway and three ravens photographed locally by a fellow wildlife fan.

Friday Focus

This time at Wollaton Park the first wild thing I saw was a group of fallow deer. They were mostly obscured by the long grass but these two showed quite well. I suspect they were checking me out.

Several rose ringed parakeets were feeding in this tree. The bird in the first image is holding a catkin with its left claw while clinging onto a branch with the other.

A late brood of eight Egyptian goslings with attentive parents keeping watch and seven cygnets. Let’s hope they all make it to maturity.

I was pleased to see this male great spotted woodpecker in the garden in the morning. Hope brings the family sometime.

Finally, from Wollaton Park, the water lilies are beginning to bloom on the lake.

Phew! What a Scorcher!

Frankly I’m not keen on very hot weather but if I can keep in the shade the light is very good for photography. Here are some results from the last week or so.

Mute swans are doing well this year, large numbers (~250) being reported at Attenborough. I have concentrated mainly on those with cygnets from all three of my favourite haunts.

Baby birds are much in evidence in the garden too. Bluetits are able to cling on to my my simulated tree trunk, a baby robin often enjoys the coconut shell contents and a few days ago we had a welcome visit from a small group of long tailed tits, including some juveniles.

And I am presuming that one of these house sparrows perched on the fence is a juvenile.

Insects are not as abundant as I would expect. I have only seen the odd dragonfly but damselflies, in various colours, are a little more evident.

The same applies to butterflies. I have seen brimstone, meadow brown. speckled wood and comma but only small totoishell have settled long enough for some pictures. The patterning on the underwing is not something I have noticed before.