Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Glossy Ibis at Frampton Marsh RSPB

This Glossy Ibis has been present at Frampton for what seems an absolute age now, but I hadn't got around to visiting for one reason and another. The other weekend there was a report of a Lesser Yellowlegs at the site which gave me some impetus to go. The Yellowlegs gave us the run around for a bit, but was duly seen and then I decided to try and photograph the obliging Glossy Ibis. I am afraid that I went a bit mad, taking far too many photos, but digital photography is a marvellous thing enabling me to delete two-thirds of the rubbish, leaving not quite as bad rubbish!

And last, but not least, an obliging juvenile Swallow,

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Hedgehogs in the garden

Just a small selection of the hundreds of photos that I have taken over the past couple of weeks of our visiting Hedgehogs. We regularly have at least 6 individuals coming to our little back garden in Peterborough, I know that there at least 6 because I have seen this number at one time, a great achievement considering the crash in numbers that this little mammal has had over the past ten years, over 300,000 have been lost. Reasons for this are not fully understood, but our fondness for slug pellets have caused a devastating effect as the Hedgehog will eat a poisoned slug or snail and consequently be poisoned itself, leading to an agonising and slow death for the poor creature. Also, as the name suggests, they like hedges, these have been grubbed up all over the place and replaced with fences or walls, leading to impenetrable barriers and stopping the Hedgehog on its nightly forays around the neighbourhood. If you have a fence, make a gap under it for the hog to get under.

Just a small reminder, despite what our parents and grandparents did, don't put out bread and milk for a Hedgehog, they are lactose intolerant, just put out some cat food or make up your own Hedgehog mix like I do with mealworms, sultanas and chopped-up peanuts and put out a tray or shallow container of fresh water for them to drink. They will thank you for it and repay you by keeping your slugs and snails at bay.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


Stonechat with lunch

A bird that was pretty common on my recent trip to Ashdown Forest was the Stonechat. Mike and I saw a number of these birds, male (as in the above photo), female and plenty of juveniles. This is a bird that I used to see regularly in the Peterborough area, but their numbers seem to have fallen somewhat and it has been a couple of years since I have seen one locally. It was pleasing to see such good numbers, maybe this year I will be able to add one to my PBC year list, fingers crossed!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Turtle Dove at Maxey

These beautiful birds are getting as scarce as hens' teeth these days. Reasons are varied - habitat loss, systemic weed killers, agricultural intensification, to name a few, but my personal belief is one of hunting. These stunning birds are being blasted out of the skies as they make their migration across the Mediterranean to our shores in order to breed. They are killed before they are have a chance to further the species on islands such as Malta, the reason........ 'Sport'.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Short-toed Eagle at Ashdown Forest in East Sussex

This bird has been on our shores for three weeks, firstly in Dorset for a day and then it gradually made its way eastwards, firstly to Hampshire, then briefly in Cambridgeshire and then it appeared at Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, where it has been present for the past week or so. I had been toying with the idea of going to see it, after all, this is only the third individual to have been recorded in Britain, but my normal partner in crime had already seen the bird when it appeared in Dorset and I didn't really fancy going on my own. On Saturday afternoon Mike Weedon called me to see if I fancied making the trip with him. I debated with myself for about 5 seconds and replied in the affirmative.

I picked Mike up early Sunday morning and after an easy journey we arrived at where the bird had been seen hunting and roosting. There were already at least 50-60 other birders there, scopes and binoculars trained on the valley in front. A couple of enquiries and we learned that the bird had not been seen yet, so we set up our gear to wait. A couple of locals wandered by, asking if there was any news and then informing myself and Mike that they were going to walk to the top of another ridge where you get better views of the entire area. We followed them after waiting a few minutes and soon after we heard a shout from one these birders that they could see the bird perched in a tree approximately a mile and a half away. We reached them and were soon enjoying our first views of a Short-toed Eagle in Britain, okay it was a white blob on top of a tree, but definitely the bird. We started walking closer and after a bit of a trek, stopped approximately 200 metres away form where the bird was perched. The views were unbelievable, it just sat there completely non-plussed by our presence as we watched this incredibly rare bird for about an hour before it took off and started to gain height and eventually went out of view. 

Mike has very kindly allowed me to use the above photo of his in order to show what all the fuss was about. What a bird, a 5-6ft wing span with piercing yellow eyes!

Now for some more of my rubbish efforts!

Showing the bird using its tail as a rudder, similar to a Red Kite

One more of Mikes,

Showing its short toes!
The area in question

A beautiful summers day
An unbelievable experience and one that will not be repeated for a while, or will it?..............