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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

That Was August, 2014

I've been rather quiet over the last couple of weeks, mainly due to me being without internet access for much of the time, other than through 3G on my phone - for which my contract gives me a very limited allowance. However, I've not been idle during that time. Now, hopefully, I'm back in full swing, and slowly catching up with what's been going on in Bloggerland!

I'm hoping that this will be a quick post, with fewer words than is normal from me, but plenty of images.

Here goes:-

Thursday 7th August

This was an Osprey Watch afternoon evening for Titus and I, but I managed to fit in a visit to my local patch first. I managed to get to the drinking pond without being threatened by cattle!

Common Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) (male) - my Local Patch
Several Little Owls were seen en-route to Rutland Water, but it was the dragons and damsels which entertained us on this visit. In the second image, below, the newly emerged damselfly has a very misshaped tail-end to the abdomen. I'm not sure if this would be permanent.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (immature female) - Rutland Lyndon Reserve
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (emergent male) - Rutland Lyndon Reserve
Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) (male) - Rutland Lyndon Reserve

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) (male) - Rutland Lyndon Reserve
More Little Owls were seen on the way home as it got dark. Although the following image is not very good, this was at my LO Site No.43, where owls have not been seen for some time. This was almost certainly a dispersing juvenile from Site No.34 or 36.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile) - my Site No.43
Saturday 9th August

I had to go and buy garden bird food, and called in at Croxall Lakes on my way home. Surprisingly little was seen but I did manage some photos (just!). The hoverfly was large and was a good mimic of a hornet!

Peacock (Inachis io) - Croxall Lakes
Hoverfly (Volucella inanis) - Croxall Lakes
Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) (old female?) - Croxall Lakes
Wednesday 13th August

Here are a couple of images of less frequent visitors to my garden (although the Nuthatches have now become daily visitors).

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (male) - our garden
Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) - our garden
Thursday 14th August

On my way to meet up with Titus for an afternoon/evening out owling, I called to check on my Little Owl Site No.02. The (last remaining?) owl was more active than I've seen all year here!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.02
We had excellent owling, with images already published on this blog of the session at my latest LO site (Site No.48). Here's a couple more from that day, with a previously unpublished image from the session at No.48.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.44
Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile) - my Site No.48
Friday 15th August

I was on duty at Birdfair on the Leicestershire and Rutland Ornithological Society stand in the morning but, on my way home in the evening, called in at a number of Little Owl sites. No.48 yielded some already-published images, but here's a couple more from other sites on my way home.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile) - my Site No.36
Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.34
Sunday 17th August

I'm now feeding the Hedgehogs in our garden on a nightly basis. This gives me the occasional sightings. Here's an image from this night

Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) - our garden
Tuesday 19th August

Friends Lynn and Roger were up from Devon and staying at Barnsdale, and my wife and I went over to join up with them for the day. Roger is an extremely knowledgeable birder, so he and I went out together whilst the girls pampered themselves somewhere else. In the morning we went off to have a look at some of my Little Owl sites. In the event, we only found five owls, but it was a bit cold and windy, so not too bad. Here's one from that morning - this scene only lasted about ten seconds! 

Little Owls (Athene noctua) (juveniles) - my Site No.42
Having met up with the girls for lunch at Wing Hall, Roger and I spent the afternoon round Rutland Water. Here I mainly concentrated on the dragons.

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) ( female) - by Rutland North Arm
Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) (male) - by Rutland North Arm
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) - Rutland Lagoon 4

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (female (thank you, Noushka)) - Rutland Egleton Reserve
Thursday 21st August

I had another afternoon/evening on Osprey Watch duties with Titus. On the way there, we only saw an owl at one site.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.44
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) - near my LO Site No.34
Nothing exciting was photographed at Rutland Water whilst on duty, but we did see more owls on the way home.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.42

Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile) - my Site No.48
I'm not sure which of the above two images I prefer - the first with 'natural light' or the second taken with low-level flash

Friday 22nd August

Very occasionally, we get a visit in our garden from a Brown Rat - presumably attracted by all the bird seed around. This is, by far, the least appreciated of our visitors!

Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus) - our garden
As I write this, it looks as if the Sparrowhawk has just taken our Nuthatch, which I think was feeding young.  - - Bu**er!!!!

Wednesday 27th August was fully featured in my previous post.

Thursday 28th August

Another afternoon/evening out owling with Titus resulted in seven sightings (somewhat fewer than had been usual over the past couple of months).

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.44
Little Owl (Athene noctua) (juvenile + adult)- my Site No.48
Friday 29th August

When I put the food out for the Hedgehogs, two of them were waiting for me!

Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) - our garden
Sunday 31st August

A brief evening out had me visiting some of my Little Owl sites not yet visited in the month. The first site visited yielded one owl (possibly two - but probably the same bird twice). The strange mottled effect in the image of the owl in the barn is caused by the chicken wire that the carpenter has used to segregate the owls from his timber store! The second yielded two birds (delighted because only one seen for a while), and the third (No.06) convinced me that deterioration of the nest site meant that the birds had gone elsewhere.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.17
Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.03
So that ends my round-up for August. My next post will be full of variety and of a different mix to usual (but there will be a Little Owl). The header that is current with this post is just a taster!

Thank you for dropping by.


  1. A great post with plenty of excellent accompanying images. I was totally ignorant of the fact that there are so many different species of dragon & damsels? Great image of the LO at site 42 (our jointly observed site) spying out of the pipe and that Sparrowhawk image is just fantastic buddy.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Paul. I've always had a realtively shallow interest in dragons and damsels, but find that this interest has grown this year.

      The owls at our 'joint site' (Paul and I happened upon this site independently, for anyone else reading this) have been quite elusive over the past year, until a couple of months ago, but they're still not 'reliable'. I'm convinced that the building is not the nest site but, for obvious reasons, won't divulge here where I believe it to be.

  2. Good morning Richard: This is a month that most of us would envy. What an incredible array of wildlife. I think that your Little Owls reign supreme but everything else is quite wonderful too. And Miriam is salivating at the Hedgehog pictures! She says that if you can have two waiting for you then you should be able to have two waiting for her!!

    1. Hi David. It was, all told, quite a rewarding month in its variety.

      I'll do my level best with the Hedgehogs, but it might mean that Miriam has to camp out at night, armed with a torch. They're, pretty strictly nocturnal and very timid creatures and tend to freeze if they sense danger, but are quick to run away when they get the chance. Their eyesight is poor, but their hearing and sense of smell is excellent. Last night we had a very large one that I've not seen before - unusual colouration patches on its spines!

    2. Hi Richard: She says that she is quite willing to camp out with a flashlight - as long as she has a glass of wine! And she says she's not sharing it with the Hedgehog!

    3. We'll put her in my chair hide with a bottle for company, so she should be comfortable enough - I can't guarantee the hedghogs, however, and it could be a long wait, so perhaps a reserve bottle is indicated too!!

  3. Amazing shots, Richard! We are impressed... You are very good photographer of nature. You really have talent.

    1. Those are very kind words indeed, Michał and Piotr. Such encouragement from professionals such as yourself are very much appreciated. Thank you!!

  4. You have been busy. The Sparrowhawk is gorgeous, a real poser. And the hedgehogs are delightful and makes me wish we had some in the garden.
    You LO site no2 reminds me of my current barn but what an odd hole the owl uses at site. Great images all round, hope the nuthatch survived too

    1. Thank you, Doug. I was recently given a pamphlet which is trying to encourage people to have ground-level holes in their garden fence 5inx5in, to allow Hedgehogs entry into their gardens. Aparently they can roam several km in a single night!. There's more info at www.

      That hole in the building that the owl was sitting in is, I believe, a ventilation hole. There are three of them on each end of the building. It's my guess that the building was erected to house some sort of livestock as there are 'stable doors' on the front. The owls seem to use the holes as access points when the doors are closed.

      I've seen a Nuthatch in our garden twice since the Sprawk took what looked like a Nuthatch yesterday. It's either another one, or it got such a fright that it's decided to only visit occasionally!

  5. What an amazing bag of delights,to start with your Header is a show stopper,followed with a glimpse into the Macro world,and then on to an assortment of wonderful bird images,this post has it all.

    1. Thank you for your very kind words, John. I was extremely lucky with the Wryneck - everything in the right place, with just a bit of contortionism required (by me - not the Wryneck) to get the shots.

  6. Splendid set of pictures. For all that I like the close ups of the LOs, its the long shots with them in situ that I like the most.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    1. Thank you, Stewart. For me it's always a toss-up between the portrait shots and the long shots, and I try for a balance between the two. The portrait shots of the LOs are necessary to show their delightful character, but do nothing to convey the environment - for that you need the long shots.

  7. Good grief Richard!
    You put so many photos up that there is no way I can comment on each one although I'd wish it!
    The Sparrowhawk would still be feeding young????
    Sorry for the Nuthatch but it should have been more careful!
    I ENVY the wryneck on your banner!!
    I have tried to see it so many time going to Spain especially but to no avail... :(
    Your LO are all superb.... what pleasure they bring you!!
    I wish I had hedgehogs in the garden, I love them!
    I'll have to be quick, it's my son's last evening before he flies off tomorrow back to Sydney...
    By for now, keep well :)

    1. Thank you so much, Noushka, for taking the time for such a detailed comment when you were enjoying your last evening with your son before his departure. I really hope that you get together with him sooner than another five years!

      I'm not sure if the Sparrowhawk would be feeding young. I got the impression that this was quite a young bird itself.

      I was very lucky with the Wryneck - it was a 'life' bird for me, and I got very good views during the 10 minutes I stayed in the area, with two extremely brief photo sessions. I didn't stay long as I was very worried about disturbing the bird as it was probably only about 10 metres away, but they do tend to be quite confiding. They are quite rare in UK but we do tend to get quite a few during autumn migration. This year, it seems, has been an exceptionally good year with (I'm told) over 100 reports in UK over a 10 day period.


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