Monday, 12 August 2019

I hate this! .... but it needs to be seen! North Cornwall coast 2019.




"Looks like a dead Gannet on the port side" came the cry from the Cornwall Seal group spotters aboard the Atlantic Diver along the North Cornwall coast on a day that we'd all of been secretly happy if it'd been called off due to the weather conditions!

I grabbed the boathook whilst others grabbed cameras and armed with my camera & boathook waited for the skipper to bring the boat alongside the bird.

A fairly regular thing to spot a dead seabird in the Atlantic but I don't think any of us aboard were expecting the full horror of seeing this gorgeous Gannet with its garland of bright orange "chafe" netting.

I have a passion for watching & photographing Gannets, they are one of the most beautiful of our seabirds and a joy to watch whether flying, diving, nesting or generally just lazing on the water.

Sadly the story for this bird got stranger as we looked at it on board.
The netting looked to go down it's throat and was tightly held through it's beak and around the neck.

Then we noticed a mark on the top of its head which on closer inspection looked like an embedded air gun pellet, right in the middle of the crown.

Below is a link to the Cornwall Seal Group & Research Trust report on this bird which they sent for a post mortem and it does show that sure enough it had been shot in the head.

I'd like to think this was done by a well meaning person desperate to put this poor bird out of its misery and whoever did it was either an incredible shot or did it at point blank range probably in a boat. That then throws up the question of why would someone take an air rifle out to sea?

The pellet hadn't penetrated the skull very far as the gannet has a toughened skull to take the pressure from all the diving it does from great heights.

I guess we'll never know the true story but we do know that "Ghost fishing" gear is responsible for many seabird deaths and probably will be for ever as it doesn't seem to degrade, even in the North Atlantic.

My thanks to Sue Sayer and all involved in letting me link to her incredibly detailed report.

Cornwall Seal Group link to more details and data about this bird....



The air gun pellet lodged in the skull 


This is how we prefer to see a gannet!

Friday, 26 July 2019

European Roller with frog. Hungary July 2019.



This Roller was a master at catching what I think are Marsh Frogs. They were a regular prey item alongside black beetles which also seemed to be popular.

These images are from 2 separate pairs of rollers and as you can see their plumages vary considerably.

The photos are a bit "noisy" as the first was taken at 04:17 in the morning when there was very little light and hence a high ISO & a low shutter speed.

Don't think I want to be reincarnated as a frog that's for sure!










Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Barn Owl near Wadebridge. 23rd July 2019



A few images of the male bird carrying a field vole to the nest which is in an old cattle shed in the corner of some rough meadows.

Ideal Owl habitat.







Monday, 15 July 2019

Barn Owl ringing this evening near Wadebridge. 15th July 2019.


Thinking a female on the left and 2 males.


We revisited the Barn Owl box that we checked exactly a month ago which at the time held 4 very small owlets and 2 unhatched eggs.

Fortunately there were 3 strong, healthy chicks in the box & my friend Pete Roseveare put rings on each of them.

At the last visit there were 16 uneaten voles in the box, now there are none. They are obviously growing fast and eating everything put in front of them!

Always a joy to see and a privilege to get so close to them.

As an aside we both hold Schedule 1 licences for Barn Owls at this site.


A smaller Male

the larger female.


Friday, 12 July 2019

A distant White-tailed Eagle. Tiszaalpar, Hungary. 11th July 2019.




I watched this White-tailed Eagle fly across the marshes and then circle before it crashed down on a fish in the shallows beside the reeds.

It stayed there a few moments before rising out of the water and carrying a fish off towards the far end of the lake.

Too far away for good photos but still a memorable event to watch!








Monday, 8 July 2019

Lesser Grey Shrike, Tiszaalpar, Hungary. 8th July 2019.




Lesser Grey Shrike.

One of my "target" species ticked off today on our Hungarian Photo trip to Tiszaalpar.

Cracking bird that was very active around the copse of trees we were photographing in.



Thursday, 4 July 2019

Predators of the Cornish coast. 3rd July 2019

Juvenile Peregrine


A couple of hours on the North Cornish cliffs and saw four of the main predators all in the air within minutes of each other. The Peregrine did give chase to the Kestrel, the Raven was part of a family of 4 juveniles & 2 adults and the Sparrowhawk was a complete surprise!


Kestrel

Raven

Sparrowhawk 

Sparrowhawk

Juvenile Peregrine

Juvenile Peregrine

Juvenile Peregrine

Peregrine