Thursday, 10 June 2021

Rosy Starling in North Cornwall garden. 10th June 2021.


 

I received a message from a friend yesterday afternoon to say that his mother had a Rosy Starling (Rose-coloured Starling) regularly visiting their feeders in her garden and was I interested in photographing it.

Goes without saying I was very keen but... we had our 2 young granddaughters for the day and I couldn't (or didn't want to) get away so I agreed to go later that evening.

However it came in really wet and dull with the classic Cornish sea mist descending on the area. We then decided to leave it till this morning to try.

I was concerned as with all things wildlife that the bird may have moved on and I'd have got the "you should have been here 5 minutes ago" scenario!

I arrived at the prescribed time and asked "is it still around?". "Oh yes it's in the garden now" was the reply.... I'm not used to that!

I went into their house and lo and behold it was on a dead tree stump at the bottom of their garden just stood there posing.

What lovely people too, they let me photograph resting my lens on an an upturned vase  on the draining board and through the kitchen window. Realistically there was nowhere else to get a good angle from so it worked out really well.

I've seen and photographed a few of these birds over the years but none as brightly coloured or as showy as this fine adult bird.

This species regularly ventures into Western Europe from its breeding range in the Asian Steppes and there had been recent reports that this year could see a lot of them in Britain. Indeed as I write there are about 5 we know of in Cornwall.

It was feeding on fat balls in 2 feeders hanging from a dead tree stump and was quite aggressive to the house sparrows and common starlings that were "regulars" at this feeding station. It did hold back when a larger jackdaw was feeding but attacked everything smaller.

I watched it bathe in a pool of water on someones flat roof and then sit around with it's 'punk' hairstyle whilst it dried.

I stayed about an hour and in that time it was in the garden for about 90% of the time and I took 355 photos of which here is a small selection.
















Saturday, 5 June 2021

Bodmin Moor annual trek. 4th June 2021.

 

Our Cornish "mountains", Roughtor left and Brown Willy right.


We usually go up to the moors this time of the year to check if there are any Whinchats. Every year they seem to get scarcer and we only spotted one female although she did appear to be feeding young so that was promising.

Team Whinchat consisted of myself, Dave Conway, Derek Spooner & Dave Thomas.... a motley crew!


L to R: Dave Conway, myself, Derek Spooner & Dave Thomas.

The weather was superb although it did cloud over a bit in the late afternoon but it was very hard going especially in the Moor grass tussock areas. Aching all over this morning!

I had great views of a songthrush singing its heart out at the very top of a conifer when we first left the cars but surprisingly we didn't see or hear any mistle thrushes.

 

Songthrush 

 Dave Thomas & I had ventured up here last year after a break in the pandemic lockdown and we'd seen lots of freshly emerged Green hairstreak butterflies....this time only 2 individuals. 

Many of the insects were missing with one distant dragonfly, a handful of large red damselflies and a few small heath butterflies. No fritilaries!


Green Hairstreak butterfly

We had great views of a Roe deer as it broke cover in the vally bottoms and bounded along through the wetland.


Roe deer

Just before lunch we spotted a single female Whinchat but that was our only one.

Not long after we spotted a Hobby circling over us as we ate. Always high in the sky it was nonetheless fantastic to watch.

 

Hobby

Hobby 

 

Lunch was taken at a little tumbled down cottage in a beautiful part of the moor.






After another hours hiking we turned back to start the long stroll home.

Cuckoos had been calling all day but none came close enough to photograph & a kestrel made laps around us as we walked. 

The best pic I managed on the way back was this newly fledged Meadow Pipit which was still being fed by its parents on the wing.


Newly fledged Meadow Pipit  




Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Wheatears on Bodmin Moor. 2nd June 2021.

 

Female waits for the male to leave the nest


An early morning trip up onto the high moor to the East of Bodmin moor was fruitful today with 2 pairs of Wheatears nesting in the stone walls and a pair of Redstarts.

Fortunately I had my pop-up hide in the car so set that up at a distance from the wall and started taking pics with the 500mm lens.

The birds accepted the hide straight away and I was able to move a bit closer after an hour. It was only then that I noticed a large Highland cow with massive horns ambling my way! Fears of it having a scratch at my expense on the side of the hide were fortunately unfounded!

A few downpours of rain made me glad I brought the hide as the birds continued to feed all through the rain and I watched from the dry.

Fears of many birds struggling to find insects in the cold weather we'd had were forgotten as they brought back a continuous stream of flies, caterpillars & even a damselfly.

Here are a few images from the morning, I'm hoping to have a go at the Redstarts one evening as they were in full shade in the morning.

Female Wheatear

Male Wheatear

Male Wheatear

Male Wheatear

Male Wheatear

Male Wheatear

Female Wheatear with a damselfy

Monday, 31 May 2021

Looe island seal survey and bird monitoring. 27th May 2021.

Nesting Oystercatcher

It was a great privilege to be back on Looe island again this month for our regular Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust survey in conjunction with the Looe Marine Conservation Group and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

After a bit of a "jigging around" of days we alighted on the new jetty at about 8:45 to be met by Jon & Claire the wardens and several members of the CWT Marine group who had spent the night on the island.

It was also a pleasure to meet up with the 4 CWT volunteers who are going to be resident there for 2 months of the summer. What a fantastic opportunity for them and I'm sure they'll be worth their weight in gold helping to get lots of the jobs completed.

We had a maximum of 6 seals, with 4 hauled out and 2 in the water during our low tide count, there was quite a bit of disturbance from boats and kayakers with one group causing me to get vocal as they came in under the main cormorant colony and caused a lot of stress to the birds.

I won't post the images of those causing the disturbance as there were young people involved and it was the fault of their leaders and instructors so they will be contacted separately.

Apologies for the poor quality of some of the images as I suffered from a rare phenomenon in Cornwall "heat haze"! This causes degradation of the images on pictures taken from a distance and it really was a problem with the long distance seal photos.

 

Grey seal hauled out.

Grey seal in the water

Here are a few more bird images from the day.


Cormorant colony

Cormorant colony

Cormorant portrait

Cormorants displaying

Cormorants displaying

Cormorants displaying
 

Oystercatcher

Oystercatcher nest with 3 eggs

Another Oystercatcher nest with 3 eggs

Oystercatcher pair.
 
Fulmar

Great black backed Gull

Shags

Bar-tailed Godwit

Goldfinch