Starling Stampede!

In my last blog posting I thought we might see some starling youngsters soon. Well, here they are, sooner than expected. These are pictures from the last couple of days. They come in a mob and the grey coloured juveniles leave the adults in no doubt where to put the food! The individual on the concrete path allowed me to approach quite close, not having learned fear of humans.

A goldfinch sunning itself on a dry stem from my latest trip to ANR. The bluetit is from the garden this morning. I have modified the feeding station post with some tree bark to make it look more natural. I hope the woodpecker gives it a try soon, and maybe bring the family.

Our baby robin is doing well with apparently no parental assistance. The second image is one from August 2015, also in the garden, showing the adult feathers developing.

The warmer weather means more insects are active in the garden. Holly blue and orange tip butterflies and my first snap of a small hoverfly.

Another picture from ANR. The riverside path crosses a wide outflow from the reserve ponds into the Trent in a shallow weir. I spent some time observing this heron fishing in the turbulent water. It was only when I uploaded the pictures to my laptop that I realised this was a rather dramatic image, with the textures and reflections in the swirling water with the green of the vegetation on the bank and white foam. One for the 2023 calendar!

Another picture of the heron superimposed on a view from our retirement celebration holiday in Sweden and Norway in the summer of 2007. This is well north of the Arctic Circle. They say the camera cannot lie – but the photographer can bend the truth (with the right software!)

A May Meander

Some images from yesterday (9th) and today taken at ANR and in the garden.

It is said that good things come in threes. Three mallard ducklings marching along the path and three greylag goslings keeping close to mum (or dad).

I often see a wren singing its heart out atop this bush alongside the main path at ANR. This time I was able to take some pictures with a backdrop of out of focus foliage rather than a bright sky which makes for a clearer image.

Shortly after arriving home from ANR a male great spotted woodpecker dropped into the garden for a peck at a suet filled coconut shell followed by a drink from the birdbath. Another one for the calendar!

We are getting good numbers of starlings in the garden. Their antics are a joy to observe. Here’s hoping for some offspring soon.

Our one baby robin has found its way to the feeder tree. I have recently upgraded to the latest version of PaintShop Pro. I’ve used the ‘Portrait’ option to make the bird stand out by selectively blurring the background in the second image. A similar option allows the replacement of the whole background which offers some interesting possibilities.

The Young Ones …..

I am prompted to post some images from the last week or so by the sight of the first baby bird in the garden, a robin, this afternoon (Sunday 8th).

Clockwise from top left: a tender moment from Highfields – a coot chick with mum, two peregrine chicks on the NTU Newton Building – from the webcam, the baby robin in the garden and some juvenile herons in Wollaton Park.

A VIDEO CLIP of mallard ducklings from Highfields yesterday. CLICK on the image to view..

We have several different colourways of Aquilegia in the garden. I was pleased to capture these images before the greenfly got to them.

Now the weather is getting a bit warmer and flowers opening I’m on the lookout for any insects. Today: a mint moth on some forget-me-nots and a tiny shield bug the like of which I have not seen before. It is about half the size of my little fingernail. Any ID suggestions?

No sign yet of ducklings from this pair of mandarins in Wollaton Park.

Some more shots of a sedge warbler from ANR last week.

Finally, another view of the bluebells in dappled shade among the trees in Wollaton Park.

A Bank Holiday Bundle from ANR

My first spot was a lone oystercatcher seen from the 1st screen on the main path to which I later added another wader, a little ringed plover, seen in the ridge & Furrow field.

Over the morning I was able to add another two warblers to my tally for the season. Clockwise from top-left: garden warbler, chiffchaff, whitethroat with nesting material and another Cetti’s warbler.

This dead stem of an elderberry bush near the bridge on the main path is a favourite wren perch. If you didn’t see it straight away you couldn’t help but hear it.

Being able to get my bike down the path alongside the Ridge & Furrow field has expanded my range somewhat. This time I had another sight of a male linnet and a rather splendid male greenfinch.

To finish, two birds from the garden today (Tues). This female sparrow is new in the garden this week and since I started putting out mealworms several starlings have been turning up regularly. When the light catches them they are so colourful.

A May Day Miscellany

I wasn’t planning to post anything on the blog today (1st May) but I had to share some shots of a great spotted woodpecker that spent over 5 minutes in the garden this morning. He first went on the feeder post for some peanut butter mix then onto a shrub where he pecked a few morsels and finished with a long drink from the birdbath.

Above is a VIDEO CLIP of Woody quenching his thirst. Click on the image to view.

We have another hedgehog in the garden. He’s the smaller one. I’ve named him Herbie. Starlings are regularly coming to the feeders and gathering nest material.

A whitethroat from ANR and some better shots of a parakeet in Wollaton Park.

Finally, a view of the woods in Wollaton Park with bluebells.

Calendar Birds for May

The birds featured on the Beeston Birdman wildlife calendar for May are both waders, the common sandpiper and the avocet. The picture of the common sandpiper (left) was taken from the Sandmartin Hide at ANR and I photographed the avocet in Norfolk, probably at Cley Marsh.

The common sandpiper is a smallish wader with grey/brown plumage and white underparts which come to a distinct point forward of the wings. The 3rd image is of a green sandpiper which lacks that feature for comparison. Common sandpipers habitually bob up and down, known as ‘teetering’ and can be seen throughout the UK in rivers and lakes etc.

The avocet is a distinctively-patterned black and white wader with a long up-curved beak which it uses to gather food from the water’s surface. The lower images of youngster already has the curved bill but yet to achieve the slender size of the adult bird. This smart bird was extinct in the UK for the first decades of the last century but it began to return in the 1940’s possibly because its preferred coastal environment was out of bounds to most people during WW2.

The avocet is the emblem of the RSPB which symbolises the bird protection movement in the UK more than any other species and represents one of the most successful conservation and wildlife protection projects.

Finally, here is Beeston Birdman’s latest article for the Beeston edition of Nottingham Local News. Enjoy your bank holiday weekend and why not try something WILD for a change.

Something New … … …

Up to a point I was a little disappointed on my walk around ANR yesterday. The rather dull weather was not the sunny intervals forecast and the warblers were keeping their heads down. However all was not lost. Taking the path alongside the Ridge and Furrow field I was rewarded with my first ever sighting of linnets.

Linnets are members of the finch family. The female (centre), as usual, is less colourful. The male, here in breeding plumage, could be mistaken for a redpoll.

Greylag goose with young from earlier in the week and a rather fine cock pheasant yesterday.

Just after getting home I saw a male chaffinch taking a bath and seeming to object to a bluetit sharing his ablutions. You can add your own dialogue.

In the garden I was pleasantly surprised to see some tadpoles in our tiny pond. We had lots of frogspawn but I didn’t expect it to survive the late March frosts. CLICK on the IMAGE to see them wriggle.

Finally, from the garden this morning, a pair of collared doves dropped in for a look round.

Lilac Time

Lilac and red campion now in flower on my visit to ANR on Monday.

My usual stop en-route into the reserve produced an unexpected visitor to the bird table. This female mallard was chased by passing dogs but still returned for another feed.

Along the Trent-side path I was delighted to bag another warbler, my first sedge warbler of the season.

From the same vantage point a couple of long tailed tits kept alighting on a leafless twig which was handy. The white flecks in the background are midges.

Finally, from the garden, a starling excavating one of the suet filled shells, a reason to top up the birdbath in this spell of dry weather so birds like this bedraggled bluetit can freshen up and our local hedgehog enjoying a bit of sunbathing.

A Wild Weekend

A selection of images from Wollaton Park, Highfields and the garden over the weekend.

Fallow deer grazing among the bluebells and part of the woodland in Wollaton Park.

This pair of Egyptian geese still had eight goslings on Saturday. There were two pairs of great crested grebe doing some pair bonding display and I saw five rose ringed parakeets at the Parkside end of Wollaton Park.

VIDEO CLIP. Click on the image to view. Mrs Mallard keeping a careful watch over her seven ducklings at Highfields on Saturday. The Benny Hill theme tune comes to mind.

We had a second visit from this great spotted woodpecker on Saturday morning. He had a good few pecks at the ‘berry’ flavoured suet mix. I had the camera on the tripod to get a steady video and selected these images from that. The feeder post is about 5m from my seat and the camera lens points through a hole in a blackout blind to avoid distraction and reflections.

Finally, we are getting regular visits from the hedgehog. We give it meaty catfood and often a magpie tries to grab a beakful. It look as if he got some in this shot.

Hmmmm ….. What’s that Buzzing?

Well, it could be the sound of a distant Flymo but for me it’s the sound of spring. Flowers, like these cowslips abundant at ANR and all kinds of blossom, are sending out their scented invitations to bees, hoverflies, butterflies etc.

A honey bee and a bumble bee on our apple blossom and two bee-flies. The dark colouration on the leading edge of the wings means these are dark edged bee-flies. The last image is from ANR, all the others are from the garden. Bee-flies have a single pair of wings that rest perpendicular to the body whereas bees have two pairs that rest along the body.

Four butterflies from my last trip to ANR yesterday. Male and female orange tip. speckled wood and a peacock looking like a dried leaf with its wings folded. The last two mages, taken in the garden today, are views of a small blue butterfly.

This was a rather special moment at ANR yesterday. Doing my usual trick of looking where another birder was pointing his lens and with his help, I took my first ever clear pictures of a Cetti’s warbler (pronounced Chetties). At this time of year their sudden loud burst of song is more often heard than the bird is seen. This is definitely one for next year’s calendar!

Another warbler seen from the Trent-side path, this time a whitethroat.

Finally, not a rare bird by any means, but I had to include this picture of a beautiful bluetit taken at ANR yesterday.