Blue Monday?

YES! But not moody blue, sky blue!. “Hey there Mr. Blue, we’re so pleased to be with you Sun is shinin’ in the sky, there ain’t a cloud in sight….” (ELO). Mr Blue Sky beckoned me to Attenborough Nature Reserve once again.

Lapwings don’t seem to mind roosting with their feet wet, but the reflection effect is pleasing. Groups of magpies were very much in evidence. This view shows up the green colouration in the tail feathers.

VIDEO CLIP Later on this lapwing was taking a bath in the Ridge & Furrow pond.

As usual a selection of smaller birds were attracted to the seed placed on the fence/gate posts at the entrance of the path to the Tower Hide. The robins are always a bit bolshie but persistence pays if you want your turn. The light was good so these chaffinch shots were taken at 1/1000 sec exposure, freezing the wing movement quite well. I am struck by the amount of green colouration on this male chaffinch.

Even a plucky little bluetit was not put of by the robin bully.

A couple of pictures I couldn’t resist taking. A zebra striped swan and a menacing cormorant drying its wings in the sunshine.

Finally, a shot from the garden this morning. A nicely illuminated coal-tit on the feeder from inside (in the warm!). Please remember to provide food and water for the wildlife these frosty mornings. Stay safe and warm.

A Misty, Moisty Morning at ANR

I can’t go for many days without a wildlfe fix so I was determined to get to my favourite place despite the fog on Saturday morning.

En-route to thr reserve from the bus stop the hedgerows were festooned with spiders’ webs, the overnight hoarfrost melting into droplets as the temperature crept above freezing. I am surprised that spiders are active in these conditions.

Pausing where I had previously seen several snipe, I caught sight of a pair of goldeneye. I managed to get a reasonable shot of the male. The other images were from further into the reserve. In the middle image a great white egret is visible on the left. The mist only began to clear around midday.

The great white egret obliged by coming a bit closer in front af the reed bed. This from the Kingfisher Hide.

No apologies for some more robins. I only persuaded one to land on my hand. They are very territorial, shooing away intruders rather than tucking in!

No such problems for the great tits. They queued up for their turn at the food. It was noticeable that the great tit is a heavier bird as they landed on my hand.

Finally, a couple of shots of a male reed bunting. It went for seed on a fence post rather than my hand.

A Sunny January Morning at Attenborough

Accompanied by Beeston Birdman Jr. I took a walk to my favourite wild place. Taking a short cut across the golf course I spotted something reddish atop a tree.

I managed just one shot with its head facing in my direction. It is a male common kestrel. The male characteristics are chiefly the dark marking on the wings and a grey head. This is the bird you might see hovering over the verge alongside a motorway. A nice spot to open my 2022 birding year.

Approaching the bird table where we hoped to see nuthatches a dog walker overtook us and slowly disappeared into the mist. Atmospheric eh?

No nuthatches this time but on checking the images at home there was a great tit in mid-air, either landing or taking off. This pensive robin was quick to hop onto my hand for some seed but was unwilling to do the same for BBJr.

Among the usual ducks we had clear views of both male and female goosanders and a group of wigeon.

I have observed cormorants on a couple of dead trees several times but Itook advantage of the good light to take thse images.

Finally a juvenile mute swan is heading towards a full set of white adult plumage made a nice, reflective image to end our walk around just part of ANR.

Wollaton Park Revisited – January 4th

I was surprised to see that several heron pairs have already staked their claim on a nest site in the island weeping willow heronry and another in the trees to the right.

A few handfuls of sunnflower hearts soon brought the crows from the trees and the ensuing kerfuffle attracted a pair of Egyptian geese from the water. Among the coots, moorhen, pochard & mallard I was pleased to spot three gooanders. The redhead is the female.

I did have a brief sight of two rose ringed parakeets but they popped into their nest hole too quickly for me so here is one I prepared earlier. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Some interesting fungi growing on decaying wood.

Finally a couple of spots from my walk to and from the bus stop. This starling looks a bit fierce. The gull on a telegraph pole on our avenue is a great black gull which is unusual in an urban area.

At last, a bit of fine weather!

On the last day of 2021 I took the opportunity to ride the tram to Highfields. Somewhat hampered still by my injury I managed some photographs using a monopod and remote shutter release.

By the relatively new shallow pond connected to the Tottle Brook I watched a grey heron stalking its prey. It did catch and swallow something – maybe a frog.

The resident Egyptian goose pair made a colourful sight by the lake.

I have not seen grey squirrel gathering leaves for its nest (drey) before but this one was, perhaps preparing for some chilly nights to come.

The first image is a goose I think I have seen before at Highfields. It was associating with the Canada geese but that orange bill is typical of a greylag goose. It must be a cross. The duck is a female common pochard.

My monthly column in The Beeston Local News for January 2022.

Welcome 2022! Calendar Bird for January

2021 was a very good year for observing Great Crested Grebe particularly the pair that raised two broods on the boating lake in Nottingham University Park (Highfields). Spoilt for choice from nearly 100 images I compromised and made two editions of my British Wild Birds calendar for 2022. The bird for January in both editions is the great crested grebe, featuring the young birds.

These calendar pictures were both taken at Highfields. To see four grebelings (?) on the adult’s back and so close to the shore was a very special moment. A few weeks later I was pleased to record one of the chicks exchanging a significant glance with its older sibling. I observed the older two from the first brood taking on some of the parenting roles subsequently.

Just a small selection of great crested grebe shots from various sites. The nest with three eggs was near the visitor centre at ANR. Unfortunately it was either innundated or predated so it was not sucessful. The fourth image shows the whole Highfields family taken from one of the bridges.

Review of 2021 โ€“ Partย 5 – Finale

A final selection of images from Attenborough in November & December.

Some colourful perching birds. Nuthatch, robin, male chaffinch, bluetit and two shots of female stonechat.

Moorhen and water rail with lunch plus a couple of common snipe.

Finally a great white egret, a Caspian gull and some goosanders.

Have a safe healthy, happy and above all a WILD NEW YEAR!

Review of 2021 โ€“ Part 4

Some highlights from August and September.

August: A grey heron downing a massive fish and a rare sighting of a spoonbill, both at ANR.

August: A friend told me of this hornet’s nest on a dead tree at Highfields. At first I thought the insect I saw on a mint flower in the garden was also a hornet but I was advised it was a hornet mimic hoverfly

August: Comma and peacock butterflies on a burdock plant at ANR, a gatekeeper on a mint flower in the garden and a green veined white on ragwort.

August: Common hawker dragonflies, a female in the garden and a male on the wing at ANR.

September: A couple of waders at ANR. Black tailed godwit and a common snipe.

September: Green and great spotted woodpeckers seen at ANR.

September: Shield bug in the garden plus an interesting spider and a female common darter dragon fly, both at ANR.

September: Finally, a starling and house sparrow post bath in the garden.

Review of 2021 โ€“ Part 3

A busy Spring gave way to an even busier Summer so this posting only covers July.

The fine, sunny weather brought out the butterflies and some day-flying moths. Clockwise fom top left: small tortoishell, ringlet, mint moth and red admiral. There is a large tortoishell but it is virtually extinct in the UK due to the devastation of its main food plant by Dutch Elm disease. The mint moth is only a few mm long.

Likewise pollinating insects were active in the garden and at ANR. Top line: Several species of bumble bee and a honey bee. I learned via Twitter that the fearsome insect (left) is a red soldier beetle. I observed more species of hoverfly than you could shake a stick at. The large specimen in the last image is commonly called ‘The Footballer.’

Dunnock and reed warbler at ANR. Robin and jackdaw in the garden.

Top: Cape ruddy shelduck and eclipse red crested pochard. The lower images (from Highfields) represent many weeks observing a pair of great crested grebe producing first a pair of chicks and another brood of four a few weeks later. A very special experience.

Review of 2021 – Part 2

As Spring gives way to Summer there is lot more happening in the natural world so this posting covers just May and June.

MAY: A solitary red legged partridge appeared in the garden. Ignoring next-door’s pear tree, It toddled down the Avenue and posed on a neighbour’s fence. Starling youngsters (grey plumage) came to the feeders begging food from adults and even siblings. A rather grubby great spotted woodpecker took advantage of the sunflower hearts hanging on the apple tree.

MAY: It made a pleasant change to see some house sparrows in tne garden, especially gathering nesting material. It’s long time since we had a siskin on the feeder. Siskins are membetrs of the finch family. ‘Henry’ hedgehog was a regular visitor. We put out petfood for him which he devoured with relish.

MAY: Male and female damsel flies seen at ANR and a trio of mallard ducklings by te lake at Highfields.

JUNE: The single peregrine falcon chick hatched on the Newton Building of Nottingham Trent University thrived on a diet of pigeons. This webcam shot saw it testing its flight muscles. Two of the cutest whitethroat chicks waiting to be fed at ANR. Housemartin young looking out from the nest under the eves of a shop in Beeston.

JUNE: A green woodpecker came close to the back door on its quest for ants, ants and more ants. Also green, but in Wollaton Park, a couple off rose ringed parakeets.

JUNE: The garden was buzzing all day with bees and hoverflies of many species., some of which were new to me. I decided to leave part of the lawn unmown to encorage all pollinating insects.

Finally one of Attenborough’s friendly robins, photographed in June, wishes you and yours a very Happy Christmas and a Safe, Healthy and Wild 2022.