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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

An Owl-Free Post!! - November/December, 2014

Well, almost owl-free - there will be an owl in the header image whilst this post is current!

Owling Incidentals

There have been a few 'incidentals' whilst out owling and here are some images of these occasions.

On 21st November I was out in the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Wood, trying to find the Short-eared Owl that had been seen here over a few days. Somehow I managed to go there on the days it didn't appear, and then it was gone. I didn't manage any usable images of the Stonechats that were there, but a Meadow Pipit obligingly, but briefly, sat on a fence wire quite close to me, a Reed Bunting sat on a distant sapling, and a large flock of Linnet (well over 200) flew over and a few of them landed where I could take some record shots.

Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) - QE Jubilee Wood
Reed Bunting (female) (Emberiza schoeniclus) - QE Jubilee Wood

Linnet (Carduelis cannabina) - QE Jubilee Wood
The following day (22nd November) I went out to buy garden bird food. Near the village of Edingale a Buzzard was out on exactly the same pole as last time I'd passed this way, when it decided to evacuate its bowels before departing. It did exactly the same this time! Approach this bird with caution!

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) - near Edingale
Two days later I went to Calke Park (this was the day I found my Little Owl Site No.49 there). Nothing desperately exciting was seen, but it was good to find Marsh Tit here again. They're none too common these days.

Blue Tit (Parus caeruleus) - Calke Park

Marsh Tit (Parus palustris) - Calke Park
My next offering is from 4th December, when I had an afternoon out with Titus. Half way between two of my Little Owl sites, Red Kites were spotted. The only half-decent shot I managed was a distant one of one in a tree.

Red Kite (Milvus milvus) - near Queniborough
 One week later, I fared little better. Although the light was brighter, I didn't manage to get a bead on the bird without clutter in the background. One day I'll get a proper image of one of these!

Red Kite (Milvus milvus) - near Queniborough
On our way home, later that same afternoon, I spotted a Buzzard on a barn roof. By the time I'd stopped and raised my camera, it had flown to the ground around 120 metres from our position. It then started behaving strangely, bouncing up and down on the ground by wing flapping. Having looked at my images, I think I know what was happening. At the foot of the barn were several mole hills and the Buzzard seems to have landed on one of these. I believe that the Buzzard had seen, from the barn roof, the soil moving where a mole was busy underground, and was trying to reach it. 

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) - near Queniborough
 Eventually it gave up, and flew to a nearby hedge.

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) - near Queniborough
It was still over 100 metres away at this point, but it then decided to move down the hedge towards us, and stopped only about 60 metres away.

Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) - near Queniborough
We hoped that it would continue towards us but, sadly, it only stopped there very briefly before flying off to the far hedge around 150 metres away, and then continuing to get further away along the hedge line.

A couple of days later I was out delivering Christmas presents and cards, and doing a little owl prospecting too (nothing found), but I couldn't resist snapping a shot of this squirrel having a snack.

Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - near Shenton
The Garden

Last year our garden bird list (birds that put a foot down in our garden - fly-overs don't count) reached a record 37 species (previous record = 32). Last week we equalled this, and then topped last year's record by one! Sadly, no images of the species concerned (Carrion Crow, and then Fieldfare) were obtained. In fact, I've indulged in very little garden photography lately as the weather has been so foul, and when the light has been good enough I've tended to go out. Here, however, are a few recent images from the garden.

Bullfinch, for a while, became a frequent visitor, but now we are not seeing them very often.

Bullfinch (male) (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) - our garden
Goldfinches are visiting in record numbers this winter - on one occasion we had more than 40 in the garden at once!

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - our garden
The Grey Wagtail had been visiting our garden several times a day for the past month or so, but we've not seen it for a couple of days so, although these are poor images taken on 5th December, they may be the last I take of this species in our garden.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - our Garden
Song Thrush, whilst not a rare bird (although it does seem to be seriously in decline), is only usually seen in our garden once or twice a year, so I was pleased to get a record shot when it visited a week ago.

Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) - our garden
That's all for now folks. My next post will probably be published on 22nd December and, hopefully, will be a celebration!

Thank you for dropping by.


  1. Great to see so many differtent kind of birds. Linving here on the second floor I have on the terras visits of blue tits, great tit and house sparrows. Although lately the house sparrows seem to have found better places to get their food. It used to be a group of 20. Now I see one or two a day. The fotographs you took are as ever great work.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Roos.

      Our House sparrow numbers have dropped dramatically too this year, but I think that is because our neighbour cut down a whole line of very large Leylandii trees in his garden that the birds used to roost and nest in.

      My best wishes to you for Christmas and the New Year - - - - Richard

  2. Some lovely images Richard. I usually see a Marsh tit in my garden during the winter months but so far not this winter. Over the past three or four years I had not been seeing the Blue tits or the Great tits in my garden but this winter they are BACK!!! And why? The Sparrowhawk has not been around lately. I have seen the female Sparrowhawk fly through my garden a couple of times but she does not appear to be sticking around. The Blue tits and the Great tits come together and they dash in and out of my birdfeeders for about 30 minutes then they disappear for a while, they are doing the rounds because I have several neighbours who have birdfeeders out, so I think the birds are making sure they don't get caught by moving around, going from house to house feeding.

    1. I'm sorry to hear that you're missing the Marsh Tits so far this year. We used to get the occasional Willow Tit in the garden every year, but I've now not seen one in the garden since 2012.

      So far, the Sparrowhawk doesn't seem to have put off any of our birds. They disappear for about 10 minutes after the Sprawk makes an attempt, and then they're back again! Having said that, our male Sprawk doesn't seem to be a very adept hunter!

      Have a great Christmas, and my best wishes for 2015 - - - Richard

  3. Wow,looks like you've been very busy Richard,these are splendid images,my favorite is the Marsh Tit,outstanding captures,not an easy bird to capture,but you did,well done.
    Love the sharp detail of all your images,my second favourite is your Meadow Pipit,what a stunner,followed by your Bullfinch and Goldfinch.
    The bonus bird I'd say is the Red Kite,fab shots,I all so noticed that you give the Distance of your shots,that's great and helps a lot.
    Keep well my friend.

    1. Thank you, John. I just wish that the Marsh Tit had stopped on something something a bit more natural than a galvanised wire! I must confess that I only tend to give distances if I feel I need to make excuses for poor shots taken at a great distance, or if I think that I need to reassure people that I'm not intruding into a bird's space and disturbing it.

      Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to you and Sue - - - Richard

  4. I think something went wrong with my first comment, if it didn't please delete one Richard.
    Of course the meadow pipit caught my eye, look at the feet, oohh. I do think the first Buzzard has it in for you though the second one at least put in effort of showing some interesting behaviour and posed for some images. I also liked the kite against the backdrop of the farm buildings. I'm torn between the Bullfinch and Marsh Tit as my favourite images. But to be fair they're all brilliant

    1. Don't worry, Doug. This was the only one that came through.

      Believe it or not, that Buzzard was in exactly the same place again today, but it was raining and I didn't stop to give it a chance to do it again!

      Thank you for your kind words.

      My very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year - - - - Richard

  5. An excellent and good number of 'incidental' images, with interesting captions not least of which is the one of the Buzzard 'evacuating' wastage.

    I hope you have a very HAPPY CHRISTMAS Richard.

    1. Thank you, Pete. That Buzzard should be signposted as a hazzard - it was in exactly the same spot today!

      Have a great Christmas yourself, Pete, and my best wishes for 2015. I look forward to keeping up wiith the news from you in the New Year - - - Richard

  6. What no owls? Is this a Pegler post, or has some impostor highjacked the site? That male Bullfinch is an incredibly handsome bird.Be sure to tell him to put in an appearance next July! It has been wonderful following your blog all year, Richard. A new post is always a highlight. All the very best for Christmas and the New Year. See you soon!!

    1. I'll do my best with the Bullfinch, David, but I'm a little worried that your request might have the same results as when you asked for the Hedgehogs for Miriam! Having checked my records, I can see that Bullfinch was recorded in our garden on pretty much a daily basis this year during the period that you'll be visiting nest year. Nothing is promised, however!

      Thank you for your kind words. My very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year to you and Miriam too. I'm really looking forward to your visit !!!


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