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Sunday 28 February 2010

Waxwings & Little Owls on 27th February, 2010

A brilliant day, although a rather disappointing one photographically. I started with a trip to Wilnecote, near Tamworth, to see the Waxwings (what wonderful birds!). Before I departed, only one of the three had been reported as present. However, when I arrived all three were up in a tree, where a pair of aggressive Mistle Thrushes had sent them. The Thrushes were trying to stop the Waxwings from feeding on 'their' ornamental Mountain Ash tree, which still had a very good crop of berries. The Waxwings waited until the Thrushes had departed, and then came down for a quick nosh, before the Thrushes came back and sent them off again - and so it went on for the couple of hours that I was there. Unfortunately, the weather remained very dull and grey for the whole time, and it even rained for a while.

Having decided that I'd had enough, I set off back home, calling in at the farm near Snarestone where I had found a Little Owl on the previous Saturday. Yes, he was there again! I decided to pay a visit to the farmer and his wife, and as I drove up the road to the farm - I spotted a pair of Little Owls from my car (only one photographable). This is definitely a new site as I had left the other owl on its tree about 800 metres away only five minutes before.

After lunch, it brightened up and so I decided to go back to the farm and set up my hide to see if I could get some better photos. As I arrived, it started drizzling, but I persevered and set up in the hope that it would brighten up again. The weather just got worse and the owls never showed, so after a couple of hours I gave up and came home again, with only some extremely distant shots of a Brown Hare, taken at ISO 1000, in the can - heavily cropped versions below.

Waxwings - Wilnecote

the marauding Mistle Thrushes - Wilnecote

Little Owl (my sixth site) - near Snarestone

Brown Hare - near Snarestone

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Cannock Chase on 23rd February, 2010

Was passing Cannock chase, and so decided to drop in on my favourite feeding station, in spite of the leaden skies and awful light! The usual tits were about (read that whichever way you want!), but there was a small flock of Long-tailed Tits around. After only a few minutes, the Yellowhammers arrived. There were about eight of them - all males, in various stages of plumage, except one female. I missed getting a shot of the briefly visiting Willow Tit. Only stayed about half an hour because of failing light and threatening snow. Must go back when the light's better and get some decent Yellowhammer shots - yep, I know I've said it before!

Long-tailed Tit

Yellowhammer (males)

Yellowhammer (female)

Monday 22 February 2010

Garden Update - 22nd February, 2010

We only have a 'postage stamp' of a garden, and have to work quite hard to attract the birds. There is a small plot of Council-owned land at the back of us, which separates us from a Council Estate. At the turn of the year, the Council embarked on a 5-month programme of refurbishment of the Council Estate - new roofs, windows and doors. They are using the land behind us as a temporary depot - storage, portaloos for the team, skips for the rubbish, etc. etc.. The skip into which they chuck the old windows is about 3 metres from our fence, and it makes a racket!!! Add to this the disturbance of people on the scaffolding in hi-viz jackets, and it's enough to scare off any birds. To make matters worse, we have got a programme of pavement replacement outside the front of the house, using heavy machinery. We don't stand a chance. No small wonder that we have not had any new birds for the year since 13th January!!!

I am pleased to say that our 'regular' birds have learned to come when it's a bit quieter, and our pied and grey 'waggy' have also stayed with us (pied waggy has even started to be less antagonistic towards grey waggy). So during they day, we don't see many birds, but get a concentration early and late in the day. Below are some of the birds that found us this evening. However, I don't hold out much hope for any new casual visitors until its all over.

View from the bedroom window

View from my study

Pied Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

Coal Tit

Blue Tit

Chaffinch (female)


Song Thrush - in the snow on 21st February

Saturday 20 February 2010

New Owl Site on 20th February, 2010

Popped out for a couple of hours before lunch this morning to see if I could find any more potential owl sites. Was thinking about heading for home when I found this Little Owl near Snareston - my sixth LO seen this year, and my fifth LO site. He kept moving about so that he could watch me whilst I tried to find a better viewpoint for photography. Unfortunately, the tree is in a field about 150 metres from the road, and there is an unpenetrable thorn hedge beside the road. The nearest access seems to be about a mile away, and involves going through the farm yard. If I am to get better photos, I need to call at the farm and ask permission!

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Little Owls Near Packington, on 16th February, 2010

Sunny day - so my Packington Little Owl site got its long-awaited photographic visit! No sign of the birds when I arrived, so I set my hide up and waited. After an hour of sitting patiently (me, not the birds!) they emerged, and kept me busy for another hour. In the end, another type of nature called and so I emerged from my hide, only slightly fazing the birds - one was sitting there watching me as I got into my car and took another couple of shots - at last my period of photographic famine had been broken. Now to find another owl site!!!