Apple Blossom Time

I’m very much enjoying new life unfolding day by day as spring moves into summer. Our apple tree now has pink buds bursting into blossom and fresh green leaves. A great tit chose to perch among them to nibble seeds taken from the feeder.

On a smaller scale insects are becoming active. These are examples from the garden. A small white butterfly on an honesty flower, a honey bee on forget-me-nots, a dark bumble bee on a primula and a curiously coloured ladybird on our red robin shrub. I have seen orange tip, blue and speckled wood butterflies but they were a bit camera shy.

I’ve had a bit more sucess at ANR with butterflies, a peacock and a small tortoishell.

A pair of greylag geese posing in the lake at Wollaton Park and I’m pleased to report that the brood of Egyptian goslings still numbers eight.

Finally, a VIDEO clip of a pair of rose ringed parakeets in Wollaton Park performing what looks like a courtship display. CLICK on the IMAGE to view.

An Easter Seleggtion of Wildlife Spots

I trust the weather where you are this Easter time is warm and sunny and you have the opportunity to get out and enjoy all the spring wildlife. Here are some of my sightings from all the usual haunts.

Yesterday evening this blackbird was seranading the sunset at the bottom of the garden.

Top image: A pair of great crested grebe on the Highfields lake. If they are as sucessful as they were last year then we are in for a lot of grebelings. The lower images are of another pair at ANR doing a bit of pair bonding, taken from a video clip.

I was a good day for little birds at ANR yesterday (16th). I managed to photograph two separate wrens, one singing to proclaim its territory on the top of a bush. Alongside the river I saw my first warblers of the season, a whitethroat and a blackcap.

I was pleased to see a nuthatch on one of the bird tables at ANR. This time it seemed wary of what might be overhead. I heard an aircraft which it might have a similar profile as a bird of prey which is an obvious threat. The lower image is of a buzzard being harassed by a single crow in another part of the reserve.

Finally, from Wollaton Park a gaggle of Egyptian goslings and, sometime later, the same having their morning nap cosily under mum’s outspread wings.

Still Busy Birding by Bike

On my way into Wollaton Park on Sunday afternoon I met Barry, sitting on the shoulder of his keeper. I don’t normally feature pets but as he was happy to perch on my handlebars and accepted my card I’m including him in this posting. His distant cousins, the rose ringed parakeets, were around their usual haunts but a bit camera shy.

Returning home via the University Park, Highfields, I had sight of a nicely illuminated drake teal and a trio of red crested pochard cruising the boating lake.

Also at Highfields, one of a pair of coots gathers more material for the nest. The sitting bird accepts the bundle of leaves, adding them to the nest. I waited to see if she would stand up so I could see the eggs but she sat tight.

Finally, from the garden this morning I was pleased to catch this bluetit gathering sheep fleece for a cosy nest and a smart goldfinch grabbing a snack.

It’s a Wild World this April

We are now getting regular visits from a hedgehog so I have topped up the stock of meaty catfood. It turned up late in the afternoon of Wednesday 6th so I served up some supper. A cheeky magpie tried to snatch a bite as you can see from this 7 second VIDEO CLIP. Just click on the picture to see who won.

The NTU peregrines now have four eggs. They were laid at the end of March so hopefully we will see chicks by the end of April. With one exception, the remainder of images for this posting are from Attenborough Nature Reserve.

The good light allowed me to get some action shots with minimal motion blur. A lesser black backed gull looking for crayfish, a caspian gull, a cormorant and a little gull. This is the exception. A rare Little Gull has been sighted at ANR for several days this week. This is my only sighting of one on holiday in Norfolk.

Male and female teal. As in many ground nesting species the female is less colourful to camouflage her on the nest.

A bluetit finds the invisible perch, another realises it has a double, a pensive robin and a rather superior looking greylag goose.

Finally, a mute swan finishes off its morning preen with a bit of a flap. Enjoy the sun. 😎

Sunny Sunday Sightings

As an antidote to a murky Monday I’m posting some images from the garden and Attenborough Nature Reserve, mostly taken yesterday, Sunday 3rd April. Hope they give you a bit of a lift at the start of the working week. 😎

At ANR, a drake tufted duck with the evening sun bringing out the purple sheen of his head plumage and some distant shots of shoveller and tufted ducks just before splashdown, taken from the Kingfisher Hide.

In the garden; a rare opportunity to get some clear shots of a singing wren perched on the feeder ‘tree’, a nicely illuminated view of a bluetit among the apple tree buds and, my excuse for not weeding, a starling gathering some nesting material.

Finally, from ANR, I tempted this nuthatch onto the usual bird table with some sunflower hearts and a sweet little long tailed tit perched on a sunlit dead branch long enough for some nice, sharp images.

P.S. As I was composing this posting our local hedgehog turned up under the apple tree. I hurried out with some cat food (meat not fish) and watched it home in on the dish, probably by smell, and proceed to polish off the lot.

A Chilly Start to April …..

I don’t remember whether March came in like a lamb but it certainly went out like a lion and April held on to the chill but thankfully with a good measure of blue sky. I’ve paid two visits to Highfields and one to Wollaton Park over the last two days.

On Saturday 2nd I was pleased to see two pied wagtails flitting about the lichen mottled stonework by the Highfields boating lake. I did not envy the brave souls paddle boarding.

The wind chill on Friday 1st meant my trip to Highfields was brief but it was colourful. The mandarin ducks came quite close, expecting to be fed but I had to disapoint them. I was pleased to get some shots of the pair close together. The last image is a single male seen off by the other one when he got too close to his mate.

A male tufted duck resting – but keeping a beady eye open in case of trouble.

The heronry in Wollaton Park seem to be thriving with parent birds constantly coming and going but I was surprised to see a couple of little egrets in the adjacent trees. They may be a pair but I saw no evidence of nest building. They always seem to have a pink tinge to their plumage. Note the bird pictured is standing on one leg, the other being tucked under its feathers next to its body to reduce heat loss.

The far, western end of the Wollaton Park lake is generally the best place to spot the rose ringed parakeets but today a great spotted woodpecker put in appearance which was a bonus. The red patch on the back of the head means it is a male.

Finally on the evening of Friday 1st checking on the NTU peregrine just before 9:00pm to find her shuffling the eggs. I had reports of there being four but this is conclusive. If they all hatch the both parents are going to be very busy ……… Meanwhile remenber to thaw out the birdbath in the morning and stay wild!

Calendar Bird for April – the Kestrel

Called the common kestrel this small falcon is not as numerous as it was. Most people’s experience of this bird will be seeing one hovering over the grass verge of a motorway or major road. It is remarkable that while hovering the head or more particularly its eyes remain stationary however its wings and body move in response to changes in wind direction and velocity.

Most of my sightings have been at Attenborough Nature Reserve, often by the River Trent perched high on bare branches as in these images from the two editions of the calendar.

I have been fortunate to get some close-up shots of this lovely bird which clearly illustrate the different plumage of the female (top) and the male (lower). Each pair of images is of the same bird. I clearly remember doing my usual trick of looking where another birder is pointing their lens, this time on a tree by the main path at ANR. The first image is what I saw looking back at me. She then took flight and obligingly perched on some overhead wires.

The kestrel nesting box at ANR is perched high on a post in the field behind the tower hide from which I took these shots. The shadow on the roof cast by the female in flight will be similar to the last thing experienced by the rat held in the talons in the second image. The last picture shows a couple of juveniles hatched in 2017. I hope for a repeat performance this year if the Egyptian geese can be persuaded to vacate the nest box.

If you see a bird of prey in your garden chances are it will not be a kestrel but a sparrowhawk. The 1st image is a female taken by my brother in his East Yorkshire garden and the 2nd a male in our garden in 2020.

A final factoid on our calendar bird on this 1st day of April. Kestrels living alongside the M1 only hunt alongside the North bound or South bound carriageway, depending on which side they were hatched. They orientate depending on the direction of traffic flow. If roadworks or accidents force a contraflow then the birds from the closed carriageway are reduced to foraging in the meagre ground of the centre reservation.

While the Sun Still Shone ……

I have taken advantage of the recent spell of fine weather, as you might expect, taking pictures of the wildlife both in the garden and at Attenborough Nature Reserve.

Mrs Blackbird has been busy in the garden gathering nesting material from our mini pond and a starling perched on the fence with some more. I use this behaviour as an excuse for not being too tidy in the garden. I justify not weeding likewise. 🙂

We are regularly getting two or three goldfinches in the garden. For some reason they do like nibblig pieces off a silver/white fern-like plant Senecio cineraria commonly know as silver ragwort.. They don’t seem to eat it. This too might be nesting material.

Our birdbath gets quite a lot of use – but would you drink someone else’s bath water? Don’t forget to provide water for our feathered friends when we have spells of dry weather.

On Tuesday I had ride around ANR. It was pretty quiet but I saw some heron action from the Kingfisher Hide. One was chasing another which landed in front of the hide, caught a couple of newts and flew off a few minutes later.

A male chaffinch looking very smart in the sunshine by the riverside path while enjoying some sunflower hearts.

Sheep with lambs in the farm field just over the Erewash from ANR. I will be looking out for cattle egrets in this area – just inside Derbyshire.

Finally, from our kitchen window, the red robin shrub looks like giving us a good show this year. The next posting will be about the calendar bird for April, the common kestrel. TTFN.

A Mothering Sunday Selection

Images from my wanderings over the past week, mostly from ANR and Wollaton Park.

Now I am more mobile it is easier for me to check on the farm field just over the Erewash from ANR. I have seen cattle egrets and stonechats in this area but not this time. Instead here is one of the llamas trying to browse on one of the trees.

On my visit to Wollaton Park I was pleased to see young herons at various stages of development in the heronry. While trying to get a good view of the parakeets a buzzard came low over the park enabling a reasonable shot. Finally two of four mandarins in and around the lake. It seems to be a good year for them. I will look out for any ducklings.

At ANR yesterday (26th) a pairof Egyptian geese with 9 goslings passed by as I was crossing the bridge on the main path. I saw them later in the car park making short work of some sunflower hearts I scattered for them.

From ANR: A great white egret on the Works Pond. The ground looks pretty sterile after the clearance of all the sand and gravel processing plant but I see signs of re-wilding e.g. the establishment of a reedbed. A Caspian gull landing with its crayfish lunch. Greylag goose seeing of a rival. Reed bunting, thoughtful bluetit and a very lucky shot of a robin pair bonding with a gift of a (sunflower) heart.

First picture of a butterfly this year, though I have seen several brimstones in addition to this comma. I love the detail of emerging new life in this sticky bud “Summer is icumin in ….”

Finally, Mrs P has laid another egg over the weekend – very eggciting!

Breaking News

Nottingham trent University Peregrine has just laid her first egg!!!!!

I think the first image is the moment she actually laid. The male came to the nest just beforehand. Perhaps she called him. I didn’t have the sound on. )-: