Monday, 14 April 2014

Mystery Guest - Dunnock

I caught some photographs of a second bird among the damson blossoms on Sunday.
I'm not entirely sure what it is.  Perhaps because it's a juvenile, although is April too early for that?
I'll amend this blog entry once I've finally made up my mind what it is.
Edited to say that several followers of @wildlife_id inform me that it's a Dunnock.  I'm not aware of having seen one of these before, perhaps I have mistaken it for a female house sparrow in the past. Very pleased to be adding a new label to my list in the sidebar.

Photo data: 13-Apr-2014, Digital SLR, allotments, Wiltshire

Sunny Sunday Afternoon

I was out getting to grips with manual focus on Sunday afternoon.  Conditions were bright, which was good as I was still without my tripod, holding the big zoom lens by hand and lurking beneath tree and hedge cover.
I managed to stalk this blue tit beneath a row of damson trees/bushes on nearby allotments.
This narrow avenue between the damsons and the hedge bordering the road gave some really good cover where I also managed to photograph another bird which I will blog separately as I'm not sure of it's identity.
The blue tit looked to be feeding in the blossoms which were out in abundance.
Although, this one was most definitely collecting nest materials.
Photo data: 13-Apr-2014, Digital SLR, allotments, Wiltshire

Friday, 11 April 2014

Getting Twitterpated

As Thumper said to Bambi, "Nearly everybody gets twitterpated in the springtime."  There has been some nest building going on outside the kitchen door this week and not from the usual suspects I would be expecting.

These little guys are hard at work in some ivy that climbs up the outside of a neighbours wall.
The wrens have been eluding my camera as they dart in and out from a lookout post in a nearby sycamore tree.  These little chaps are quick.  They don't sit and assess you, like the robins and blackbirds do, they just flit around as quick as they can in the hope that you just don't notice that little flash of brown.
I must confess that I use auto-focus a lot for wildlife shots, concentrating on the framing whilst the camera does the work.  In this case it caused the failure of several attempts as the camera couldn't cope with a tiny bird flitting around in bare tree branches with a green hedge and other trees several feet behind.  There was a constant struggle as I tried to convince it that the foreground needed to be in focus not the background.
In the end I won the power struggle by turning auto-focus off.  Of course this presented a new problem as I'm not used to constantly re-checking the focus each time I move even a fraction.  I'm sure I am capable of getting a sharper set of pictures than these and with the birds in residence hopefully I should get the chance.  I might have to get the tripod out for the next batch of pictures.  I've also seen them carrying nesting materials, so I will see if that's also a shot I can achieve.
The wrens are not the only ones getting twitterpated though.
Whilst looking at the site of the wrens nest this guy flew in.  I wonder if this is the dad of the family I photographed last summer? (Pictures are here.)  Do they nest in the same territories each year? I don't know where their nest was/is, but hopefully there will be fledglings in the garden again this year.

Photo data: 11-Apr-2014, Digital SLR, backyard, Wiltshire

Sunday, 3 November 2013

From a Wiltshire garden

I'm sat in the kitchen looking at the rain, but the skies in the distance are brighter, so there's some hope for the afternoon.  I thought I would write a piece about my garden as lots of my wildlife and nature photos come from there and it's a pretty amazing place, but not for the reasons you might expect, perhaps.

For a start it's around 30 feet square and 95% is laid to concrete, tarmac and patio slabs.  Yep, you read that right, it's tiny and the majority of the soil in it has been brought in by me, in bags!
It's more or less surrounded by houses.  Shops and flats on one side and a terrace of residential houses, with proper gardens, stretching down the hill on the other side.
So what is there to interest the wildlife? I hear you ask.  Well the garden is pretty much left to nature (the most fantastic excuse not to do any gardening ever invented!)  There's a buddleia in one corner, that I hack at to try and stop it from taking over what little space there is, beloved by butterflies and insects.
After my Dad died and we decided to give up his allotment, I transferred a young pear tree that he'd planted.  I hooked up some patio slabs and just plonked it in and it's flourished providing interest in all seasons.
At the back of the garden there's the abandoned garden of some flats, around 20 feet square.  There's a Sycamore tree in there which refuses to die despite being cut down twice.  Also from there I have masses of brambles that have spread up over the shed roof.  I keep then contained at that point and they provide blackberries for the birds as well as me!
The flat's garden seems to be trimmed back annually, but that leaves enough time for growth to spread over the rest of the year and the blackbirds perch formed part of that hanging over the fence.
We are also a hedgehog path used to navigate around the city gardens.  This poor chap had a run in with the Hairy Horror (my Glen of Imaal terrier) but survived to scuttle away.  The dog needed spikes removing from her nose and ticks taken out of her ears.  Sadly, my lovely dog died about a year ago and since then the number of cats in the garden has risen by 2000%.  New dog needed,  I think!
The kitchen juts out into the garden giving me a dual aspect on the activities and plenty of places to set up a camera quietly out of site.  And that's about it really, join me and who knows what we will find in this amazing, compact, space.

Photo data: various all taken in a Wiltshire garden

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Blackbrids in the garden

Catching up with some summer photos that I didn't manage a blog post for at the time.   I was lucky enough to share my urban garden with a small blackbird family (more about the garden itself later in the week.)
By the time I took these pictures there was just one chick remaining, although I thought I had seen a couple more.  The camera was positioned in the kitchen looking out through the backdoor and I was crouched down to shield myself from view using the sink unit.
The male adult was keeping a close eye on things whilst the female was foraging for food.
He had a bit of a bedraggled look about him, after a long summer of bringing up chicks perhaps.
The young bird was calling and the male hopped around him without ever getting too close.  I'd hoped to capture mum arriving back with the food, but I might have known she would trick me.  Having spent the whole summer hanging around in the garden and neighbouring area, I'd got to know this family quite well.  Nearly every morning the mother bird would wake me when she sat on the garden fence calling and singing.  It was no surprise then that she headed to her favourite morning perch on the fence and the young bird dashed out to her, completely depriving me of the shot!

Photo data: 10-Jul-2013, Digital SLR, backyard, Wiltshire

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Fungi at Moors Valley Country Park

Snapped a few pictures of fungi whilst at Moors Valley Country Park on Saturday afternoon.
 Photo data: 26-Oct-2013, digital compact, Moors Valley

Monday, 25 June 2012

River Walk

I've taken quite a few sets of photos lately and failed to keep up my blog updates.  I'm playing catch-up with them out of order starting with a stroll by the river test in Hampshire.
Photo data: 23-Jun-2012, digital SLR, Mottisfont Abbey.