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.

OH! Deer!

This was the sight that greeted me as I rode into Wollaton Park this morning. An all-male group of red deer heading for some browsing in the ha ha, which is partly flooded. As the mating game is over till the autumn they seemed to be getting on well together but there was no doubt who was the boss, The hinds will be somewhere secluded giving birth to their calves.

There were no parakeets around today but from my usual viewing point I saw this large bed of marsh marigolds.

Sadly, the brood of eight cygnets on the Highfields boating lake is now down to four. Lower images – a couple of Canada goslings and a preening coot revealed her clutch of at least seven eggs.

Finally, from the garden; a female house sparrow that visits regularly, a hoverfly I managed to snap in mid-air and the juvenile starlings never fail to amuse with their antics on the feeder tree. Don’t forget the sun cream tomorrow. 😎

Miscellany

One video clip and some wildlife images from the last few days.

I have seen very little great crested grebe activity so far this year but I thought this pair I saw at ANR looked promising with the proffered water weed but she seems to have lost interest in the last image.

Having been tipped off by a fellow birder that house martins were nesting again under the eves of a shop in Beeston I took my tripod and managed some wobble free video clips of the parent birds flying in with sustenance for their young. This is a compilation of the best bits slowed down a little. CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO VIEW.

We are getting regular visits from a female house sparrow and, occasionally, a male (top). If they are a pair we might see some babies!

Another view of the Highfields cygnets. Sadly, I have since heard some have been predated.

Finally, some images from my last visit to ANR. A juvenile herring gull, a common tern in flight, a rather fine male chaffinch and a damsel fly that I have yet to identify. Enjoy the heat-wave. 😎 😎

Peregrines’ Progress …… plus

I took a trip into Nottingham earlier in the week to have a look at the peregrines on the NTU building. I got some reasonable shots of the adults from the pavement but the two juveniles were out of sight.

The female is top right with an orange ring on the left leg. The two juveniles are pictured later taken from the webcam. They are clearly thriving, losing their downy coat and developing adult plumage.

Some shots from Highfields. The cygnets I blogged about recently are thriving but no sign of goslings for the Egyptian geese. Lower images a pied or a white wagtail, not sure which.

We are getting a few more insects in the garden, a pair of mint moths in our aromatic bed and a hoverfly on the ceanothus bush which is covered in blue flowers and lots of bees. Below, a baby robin and one of our juvenile great tits with a tasty morsel.

Finally, a sedge warbler from ANR and a rather rare plant spotted among some long grass at Highfields. It is a ragged robin named from its ragged, divided petals.

Jubilee Juveniles

Some images of young birds from the last few days – and a little bit more.

I am indebted to a fellow birder for pointing out these four adorable little whitethroat chicks in the bushes alongside the river at ANR yesterday (3rd). The parents were very busy gathering food for them.

Earlier in the week, both at Wollaton Park and Highfields, there were numerous juvenile coots at various stages of development. This pair were gathering water weed by the stepping stones at Highfields.

Great tits have bred nearby, ignoring all the nest boxes I have installed in the garden, but the youngsters have found our deluxe feeding station. I think we have at least four chicks. I have added some bark to the wooden post to make it look more ‘natural’.

Starlings are regular garden visitors and this year’s young are beginning to develop adult plumage from the tail end.

Finally, a tern diving for fish seen yesterday ay ANR. The last image is it emerging from the dive. I can’t see if it was successful. Enjoy the rest of the jubilee celebrations. 😎

Still Swanning Around …..

Making a return visit to Highfields to check on the nuthatch nest I saw a pair of mute swans with eight young, all of which managed to scramble on a parent’s back when a rowing boat got a bit close.

Having witnessed this behaviour for the first time only the day before at ANR this was extra special. The bottom image is from a couple of days later showing still eight cygnets which is good news.

Good news re the nuthatch nest. The adult was still flying in with juicy titbits for what looks like a single, but well developed, chick. There was no sign of either on June 1st so hopefully the chick has fledged.

In Wollaton Park the large brood of Egyptian goslings is still complete which is excellent news.

One of many views I have had of whitethroats at ANR in the last few days.

Finally, the NTU peregrine chicks are doing well, shedding their downy plumage as the adult feathers develop.

Calendar Birds for June – Tree Sparrow & Dunnock

Dunnocks and tree sparrows come under the general heading of LBJ’s (Little brown jobs). Not a scientific classification, of course, but a catch-all term for a dull, little bird that you can’t quite identify.

Dunnocks are grey/brown little birds with sharp pointed bills. They tend to be solitary or in pairs. I see them more frequently than house sparrows both at ANR and the garden. Their song is quite melodious. Juveniles tend to be more speckled, rather similar to baby robins.

Tree sparrows are rather rare compared to the familiar house sparrow. I have seen them locally only at ANR where nest boxes are provided (top, middle image) and in the garden behind the visitor centre on the bird feeders. Both sexes have the same marking with a chocolate brown head and nape and a white cheek patch with a black centre. In common with many species the tree sparrow population had declined by 90% in recent decades but there are signs it is beginning to recover.

I’ve included pictures of house sparrows for comparison (male on the right). They share the same finch-like beak and the back/wing colouration is similar to the tree sparrow but they exhibit sexual dimorphism (Google it! 🙂 ) and the head marking is quite different. House sparrows are more abundant but they have suffered similar population decline to their rarer cousins.

Swanning Around ANR

I spotted my first cygnets of the year at ANR this morning. Initially all four were in the water but a little later three of them snuggled onto mum or dad’s back for a ride This is the first time I have witnessed this behaviour which made my day.

The ‘fresh’ breeze meant that most small birds stayed in cover but a whitethroat perched openly for me to take a couple of good shots.

Some images from the garden this week. The first looks like a baby dunnock and the blue ceanothus flowers make a nice background for the robin and the bluetit. Incidentally when rhe sun shines this bush positively buzzes with honey and bumble bees.

Finally, my latest article for the Beeston Local News. Enjoy the weekend – whichever team you support. 😎

Six Legs Good

I expect most of us will have heard on the news this morning that approaching half the butterflies found in the UK are on the Red List of threatened species. The health of these insects is an indicator of the quality of our environment which obviously concerns us all.

On that theme this green veined butterfly was one of my spots at ANR yesterday. I have not seen one so strongly marked on the upper wings before.

Near the same spot this one was a bit of a puzzle. I’m pretty sure it is a chimney sweeper moth which is a new one for me.

The sunshine also brought out some damselflies. Above, my first sighting of the year of a banded demoiselle and, below, a female emerald damselfly. I am always intrigued at the fine detail of these colourful insects.

All of the time I was observing these insects by the Trent the sky was teeming with swifts, sometimes swooping to treetop level. There were a few sand martens in the mix but the scimitar wings of the swifts are unmistakable.

Finally, from the ‘nursery’, the tawny owl chicks in a friend’s garden box are beginning to take an interest in the outside world and the NTU peregrine chicks are clearly thriving.

A May Melange

Some pictures taken in the last few days in Wollaton Park, Highfields and the garden.

Sometimes it pays to look at the fine detail of the natural world. These tiny flowers are emerging on our smoke bush. This is a purple leaved shrub with feathery bunches of flowers that resemble puffs of smoke – hence the name. It is deciduous but the leaves persist well into autumn giving some welcome colour later in the year.

Still on the small scale I was fascinated with the coloured whorl pattern on this snail grazing the lichen on a twig. The shield bug was photographed on the window. If you are old enough to remember The Eagle comic this green creature reminds me of the Mekon in the Dan Dare stories. 🙂

It’s a long time since we have had a baby house sparrow in the garden. I’ve paired it with another robin perched on our apple tree which has fruit beginning to swell.

On our walk around Highfields on Thursday I spotted a nuthatch entering a hole in one of the trees. I’ve returned twice and managed some reasonable shots. It is clearly feeding young. I hope they make it because today I saw a crow hanging around. The entrance has been narrowed with mud which provides some protection for the nestlings.

Some fallow deer grazing in Wollaton Park this morning. They will be calving soon.

Finally, a rather lovely rose in the garden after a shower. Does it remind you of a song? It’s certainly one of my favourite things. I’ve used the portrait tool in PaintShop Pro to blur the background a little. A pleasing effect don’t you think?