Wednesday, 22 April 2015

We have a new Baby !!!

I would like to have seen my daughters faces when they read this blog post title, but yes we have a new baby, the first baby bird of the year has fledged and is now exploring the garden.

We have had a pair of Robins in the garden since christmas, I have also seen on occasion the male Robin fly to the female in the garden shrubs and feeding her with insects and morsels of fatball, a very attentive male, I believe this is all part of the pair bonding.

 This is not an unusual occurrence as the female Robin stays on the nest incubating her eggs for about two weeks, and during this time the male will bring her food.

So today, 22nd April the first Juvenile Robin has fledged from its hidden nest somewhere at the bottom of the garden, curiously only one juvenile has been seen, maybe more will follow in the next few days.

The juvenile Robin does not get its red breast for about two months after fledging, this prevents it from being attacked by the parent birds as an intruder, Robins are very territorial.
The shape of the juvenile is quite unmistakable though.

My first glimpse was this morning when I heard the juvenile begging for food on the fence, and then mostly hidden views as the parent birds took food to the fledgling hidden within the shrubs.

I kept an eye on the birds throughout the day while I tinkered around in the garden, eventually when the parent bird was collecting food on the lawn, the fledgling flew out of its sheltered position and begged for food, allowing me to get a nice photograph to record the occasion.


More new arrivals should be on the scene soon.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Foul play !!!

I am always excited when a new bird appears in the garden, and a few weeks ago while working in the garden a Grey Heron flew low over the gardens, we are not talking country houses here, this is suburbia, I remember thinking to myself that Heron has entered my 'air space' I  can claim that  for my garden bird list.

A few days later, early in the morning, as I glanced out of my bathroom window, there was the Heron sitting on the ridge of my neighbors garage, our eyes met for the briefest of moments, before he silently lifted off and disappeared from sight, again I thought to myself, I am definitely claiming that for the garden list.

A few more days past, and glancing at my pond, I thought that's strange I haven't seen my prized Goldfish swimming around lately, on closer inspection I found two of my fish cowering within the weed of the pond, three other Goldfish had disappeared, and these are not small Goldfish, and I am very attached to these fish as my family will vouch, especially after the ups and downs of Goldfish care we have shared together over the last few years.

Then it dawned on me that Heron has been back a few more times than I have realized.

Okay so maybe not this individual, but in my minds eye, this is how I imagine him, standing on the edge of my very modest pond, with the look of the "Angel of Death", my admiration for this species is fast fading.

What's really annoying me also, apart from the fact of losing my prized goldfish, is that I purchased a very nice decoy heron, not a cheap plastic heron  but a realistic ornamental heron which has stood guard over my pond for the last few years. I was under the impression that a Heron would not come down to a pond where another Heron was feeding, How wrong was I.

In a surreal conversation with the fish keeper of the local garden centre, we discussed the loss of my goldfish to the Heron,  I mentioned the fact that  I had a decoy Heron in position  on my pond, and I was surprised that another Heron had come down to the pond.

"Well does it move around then" he remarked, I thought obviously not its ornamental,  he was being sympathetic, so I kept my thoughts to myself.
According to the fish keeper herons are very clever birds, not only do they memorize where all the ponds are in a local area, they can detect whether a decoy is real or not, the trick is to keep changing the position of the Heron, or I could invest in there latest laser triggered heron scarer at a cost of £140.00, I thanked him and said I would move the decoy Heron around.

I am now locked in a crazy battle like the reality programme " Bad Neighbors" each night  I go out to the pond to change the position, I find myself waking up early in the morning because I think the Heron is about to take my last fish.

Today the Heron blatantly landed on the garage roof at 14.30 hrs in the afternoon, I was alerted  by the manic screams of my wife to this fact, "the Heron, the Heron"

Maybe I should accept the inevitable, .... but I can't , this battle will continue.............

Friday, 3 April 2015

Oak & Nuthatch !

My local patch Ashenbank Woods has been providing me with some good woodland photographic opportunities as well as enhancing my knowledge and understanding of  woodland natural history.
I thought I would write a more in depth report on the Nuthatch nest site

I made an effort to learn a few calls from the woodland birds that  I might come across, the call of the Nuthatch was one of those, nothing special about that,  its quite an easy call to recognise, but it makes locating the Nuthatch a lot easier.

I have been trying for sometime to get a decent photograph of a Nuthatch, without much success, my luck  may have changed as I have stumbled across an active nesting sight, so if all goes well for the Nuthatches, the opportunity to study their nesting activities and the chance to get some photographs will be very welcome.

So this  is the Oak tree, the Nuthatches are nesting in what looks like an Oak Burl, approximately ten metre above the ground, indicated by the white star in the photograph

This is a close up of the Oak burl and the entrance to the nesting burrow, it looks like the bark has been chipped away all around the entrance, the actual entrance hole looks quite small, Nuthatches are known to reduce the size of entrance holes by plastering around the hole with mud, the optimum being about three centimetres .

I found this line drawing of various Nuthatch nesting burrows to give an idea of what's going on inside.

I first came across this site on 1st April , two birds were coming to the nest site, very difficult to tell which bird was male or female, I believe the only way to tell is the underwing colouring, which in the male is slightly darker orange , the female is lighter and more uniform, I have found this not to be very helpful in the field. The photograph below does show a slightly darker brick red to the underwing, so could this be the male ?

Possible male Nuthatch ( darker brick red underwing )

Both birds were seen arriving at the nest site with bark flakes in their beaks, which they quickly deposited within the burrow before quickly exiting. see photographs below and the diagram above.
It seems that the depth of the burrow can be controlled by the depth of the bark flake level, ensuring the optimum level is obtained, the eggs are laid in a shallow depression within the bark flakes.

Possible female nuthatch ( paler underwing blending into breast)
So it appears that three days later April 3rd, both birds are still bringing in bark flakes for the interior of the burrow. It will be difficult to know whether eggs have been laid if it gets that far, I suppose seeing the  parent birds bringing food to the burrow will indicate successful hatching. I will be keeping a watchful eye as I pass through on my daily walk through the woodland, a further report to follow as things hopefully progress.