Whos keeping an eye on me....

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Word`ly Sunday....no images

.... just a morning drive over to the Wirral with Jeff for some fresh air and a few waders. Its is fair to say that we both had a little hope of catching some White Fronted Geese which would have been a life tick for both of us.

A visit to the recently opened Burton Mere Wetlands indeed gave us that life tick chance. Lingering fog on the way down gave way to some fleeting morning sunshine. The new reserve with a lovely reception, hide and trails are well presented. Plenty of scrapes and freshwater pools are dotted around the site. A handful of woodland birds are easy pickings in the reception area and carpark including Great Spotted Woodpecker. The walk towards the covert hide brought us a lovely close view of a dozen strong flock of Siskins, in with them were Goldfinch and at least one Lesser Redpoll. Further down the trail we saw the unmistakable sillouette of a Marsh Harrier  cruising directly in front of the hide and then away over the trees that line the marshes, certainly a bonus early morning sighting. Plenty of waterfowl and a few wading species fed in front of the hide.... Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Gadwall and a pair of Pintail. From the hide we could see the distant geese..... Greylags and Canadas for sure, were there White Fronted mixed in?... I guess today wasnt going to be our day as they stayed very distant. A lone Perigrin Falcon perched atop of a fence post 200 mtrs from the hide and quietly disapeared the moment we took our eyes off it..... it didnt even manage to put up the geese!
Back at the visitor centre a few more wader species were on show, Lapwing, Curlew, Redshank, Snipe, Ruff, Black Tailed Godwit and Dunlin.

A quick trip to Parkgate marsh brought a stunning male Hen Harrier, while Jeff caught a glimpse of the female... a good day for raptors as Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard all showed well.

We didnt manage to see the White fronted Geese but it was more than made up with superb views of Marsh and Hen Harriers.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The LBJ.....(little brown job)

The Dunnock..... as the title suggests is also known as the little brown job. However as the images below show us its far from a little undescript brown bird.

Plenty of contrast with the boldly streaked pattern and silver grey head

A colourful character:
It has a remarkably varied and flexible mating system. Sometimes a territory supports just two birds, male and female which co-operate in rearing the young. However, a male with a good quality territory will sometimes attract and mate with two or even three females. More typically though, it is the female who tries to mate with more than one male since any male she has mated with then helps in the feeding of the young. If two males have mated with the same female they may merge their territories and co-operate in defending a 'super-territory'. If lots of 'extra-marital' copulations take place you can have territories in which each female has more than one male but the males have mated with more than one female and are therefore attending two broods simultaneously. In a system with so much 'infidelity' the males have to be careful that they don't end up feeding a brood which is entirely someone else's offspring. This explains why, before mating, the male will peck at the cloaca of the female stimulating a pumping action. If the female has recently mated with another male this pumping will push out the bag of sperms which have just been deposited.

I have a very healthy population of dunnocks in my garden, with a record count of a dozen a few summers ago. Although often a skulking species they are very charasmatic and fun to watch.... often on the receiving end of terrirorial rants from the resident Robins. Its a shame that this species can be so underrated as this bird has the most wonderful song when it is in full voice during the spring and is as melodic as any garden species we have in the UK......

and when you capture them in scenes such as this they really do shine!!

almost fit for a Christmas card

hang on in there fella.....

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Even closer

I have cropped in a little closer on the male Chaffinch. The variation in the pastel shading is quite incredible. We are so lucky in this age of fine optics and digital publication that allows us to really get up close to see all the subtle differences from feather to feather.

just click once on the image to really see it.....

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Male Chaffinch

Just had a quick walk down by the river at Wildboarclough when this fella flew in while I took a breather by the river.