Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Monday, 28 June 2010
This behavior is almost exclusive to Lapwings of North West England and Greater Manchester in particular.
Large flocks of Northern Lapwings gather (sometimes many hundreds) from the summer months till the following March for daytime roosts on industrial buildings in the urban suburbs of Manchester.
They seem to favour big factory roofs and in particular those made of corrugated asbestos, but also have a liking for large supermarkets.
A study about the Northern Rooftop Lapwing by Greater Manchester Bird Recorder, Judith Smith was published in British Birds in January 2000 and highlighted some likely reasons to why these birds act in this manner.
Some of the key points of these findings...
- The roofs offer greater protection from ground predators such as foxes which are a constant threat at their traditional roosts on farmland and fields.
- The roofs provide warmth due to rising heat.
- There are greater ambient temperatures in urban environments.
- There is good shelter on the sills and ventilation outlets.
- Loss of fields and open ground due to urban developments are a possible factor.
- Large roofs with good all round vision are usually chosen.
- Asbestos corrugated roofing is commonly used, likely because it offers greater insulation and the gritty nature of this material offers greater grip for the birds than corrugated metal.
- The need to conserve energy in a safe environment especially in the winter months could also be an important factor.
This rooftop roosting behavior isn't exclusive to the Lapwings of Greater Manchester...Their close relations the Golden Plover have also taken to this practice in recent years!
Lapwings roosting on a factory roof in Audenshaw, Manchester in July 2008...
Pennington Flash was the venue for Sunday mornings birding and the Flash is always a good place to spot these wonderful birds.
I've told you in the past about the sad decline of UK Lapwings especially in their once familiar farmland habitat, but that was only half the story...
Lapwings are equally at home in farmers fields, high moorland, coastal estuary's and large inland bodies of water.
Pennington Flash is the latter and offers a rich variety of habitat which is perfectly suited to these birds.
It's always a lovely sight to see Lapwings gathering over the Flash, more often than not mobbing other birds or bullying them away from prime feeding spots.
The Lapwing is also know as the Peewit in reference to it's distinct call and feeds mainly on worms and insects.
The soft vegetation around the edges of the Flash are perfect hunting grounds for these fine looking birds.
The young are fairly easy to identify due to their paler colour and much less pronounced crest...
Lapwings are also one of the easiest birds to distinguish in flight, due to their rounded wing pattern which has a very distinctive black and white colouration...
Sunday, 27 June 2010
In the next few weeks the landscape in some areas will be transformed into a sea of Purple Heather, but there is at the moment a taster of this colouration with the first Thistles coming into bloom...
Last night wasn't a good night for spotting Red Grouse, but there were plenty of other Moorland birds around.
Evenings like early mornings are a great time for watching wildlife and the birds were very active and in very good voice.
One of the most numerous birds on display was the Meadow Pipit, although as usual you had to look carefully into long grass for them...
Highlight for me last night and always a pleasure to see was the Golden Plover...
It was a very warm summers evening and probably as hot as I've ever been in this normally very bleak location.
Unusually there were not many Grouse about and I only got a fleeting glimpse of a distant female bird flying off into the sunset.
Well actually, that's not entirely true...I did find another female bird, but sadly she must have been found by a predator first.
All that was left was a carcass, her bones picked dry by a unknown bird of prey...
Although Red Grouse are (as I've pointed out before) superbly camouflaged in this moorland landscape, they are also unfortunately slow, clumsy flyers and very easy pickings for any potential predator that spots them.
This part of the Peak District is home to Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk and even the odd Red Kite...Sadly the Red Grouse is no match for any of these formidable foes.
Thursday, 24 June 2010
Two of these fine looking birds of prey are still a little nervous and they are keeping their flying restricted to the relative safety of the area close to the railway viaduct where their nestbox is located.
The other two birds and especially one in particular are far more adventurous and are leaving the box for long sorties and seem to be covering some serious territory.
I'm still very mindful of getting too close to these birds, but I have been edging a little closer with my camera and I reckon I just about know the limits of how close I can get without causing the youngsters and their parents any distress...
Wednesday, 23 June 2010
I will however keep you updated of any news and I will post more photos over the coming months as he develops.
I'm now feeling confident that this little Mute Swan has what it takes to survive and hopefully his parents can protect him from any predators.
I'm planning on putting a gallery on my main website in the coming days dedicated to documenting the life of this Cygnet, so please keep an eye out at www.ajdixonphotography.co.uk
Sunday, 20 June 2010
Well yesterday the first of the birds took the plunge and today I arrived to see all four youngsters out of the nestbox, although it would appear that some of the birds had taken to this new flight lark better than others...
Bird 1 had made the heady journey of about 8 feet to a girder in front of the entrance to the nestbox...
Certainly a better effort than that of Bird 2 who must of thought 'if I can't stay inside the box, I'll stay on top of it'...
Bird 4 was by far the most accomplished flyer. He had managed to fly out of the box through the arches and right up to the dizzying heights of the top of the viaduct...
Although now fledged, these Kestrels have no hunting skills and will still be very dependant on their parents for at least a couple of weeks yet...Hopefully giving me chance to see how they progress as flyer's as their confidence grows.
Tragic events unfolded in the next few days and if you haven't been following the story, we were left with just one Cygnet on my last visit on Tuesday and I wasn't very hopeful of seeing him again.
This is nature though and nature as a habit of providing some wonderful surprises and I'm delighted to tell you that when I arrived on this gloriously sunny morning, I was greeted by 2 dotting parents and 1 very healthy looking youngster...
Saturday, 19 June 2010
There was a very unseasonable cold breeze early on, but despite this, the light was lovely and I managed to get a few shots of some of the wildlife that lives along the river...
This stretch of the Goyt is home to a variety of different species of bird including Kingfisher and Dipper.
Wherever you see Kingfishers and Dippers, there is also a good chance that you will see Grey Wagtails and out of these three fine looking birds it was the Wagtail that showed itself this morning...
Not far from the waters edge there is a meadow and behind that a dense area of woodland, making a just about perfect location for Rabbits...
Also showing well and allowing me to get some pretty close views was this lovely Song Thrush.
He did seem a bit preoccupied pulling a very large Snail out of it's shell and not even I was going to stop him in his quest...
Friday, 18 June 2010
I actually spent many hours in April and early May at a couple of local sites trying to capture the elusive 'weed dance' but didn't have any luck.
I did however have some success capturing this courtship dance minus the weed and it is none the less a very beautiful sight.
The Great Crested Grebe is a stunning bird and normally very wary of humans, but now and again they let their guard down and if you sit still and quiet, you may be lucky enough to view them at close quarters...
Unlike most fairly common water birds there is not much chance of enticing these birds with bread all any other food goodies, they are most certainly fish lovers and are very good at diving for them...
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
For the last 4 years I've been following a pair of Kestrels that have nested in a nest box high up on a railway viaduct at one of my local sites.
The pair start preparing the box mid February each year, ready for the breeding to start in the early spring.
The young usually arrive at the beginning of May and the parents then spend almost all of the daylight hours for the next few weeks on the lookout for prey to satisfy the chicks.
This year has been another good year and for the second season running the pair have raised a clutch of four very healthy looking youngsters.
These four little beauties should be ready to fledge anytime now...
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
The clutch of four seemingly healthy Cygnets is now down to just one.
I'm yet to discover what has occurred since my last visit on Sunday, but I suspect that they may have been taken by Mink or even a Grey Heron that has been lurking fairly close to the nest.
My gut feeling is Mink though, because I think the chances of a Heron successfully getting away with three youngsters is pretty remote.
I had a look around the area of the nest site and a few yards away there were what appeared to be signs of a struggle with adult Swan feathers close to some more downy feathers which I believe must have been that of one of the Cygnets.
I just hope that the two adults can keep the one remaining youngster safe from harm.
I'll leave you with some shots from this evening of the birds and lets hope that these won't be the last ones...
Monday, 14 June 2010
Now less face it, if there was ever a contest to decide the least cutest bird on the planet, then the Coot chick would be pretty close to the top of most peoples list...Although I must admit I kind of like them!
Actually, I love them!
They really are funny little alien-like creatures when newborn, with their bald heads and blood red markings...Not at all too dissimilar to their close relations in the Rail family the Moorhen.
Ugly? Well yes, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the Coots unsightly beginnings do give way to one of the most interesting transformations in the bird kingdom...
In a few short weeks to this...
And finally to this fine looking bird...
Coots are boring!
So there you have it, the Coot...Nature's original juvenile delinquent!