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Something To Shout About!

Something To Shout About

Something To Shout About!

This resplendent pheasant at RHS Wisley Gardens definitely had something to shout about last Friday! It was delightful to watch him strutting about in the hazy sunshine. All the birds seemed to be enjoying a brief respite from the cold, wet snap we had. April showers have put quite a damper on birding! There’s still plenty of colourful blossom and magnolia to see around the gardens. Trees are coming in to leaf and Spring is well under way!

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Look For Something Brighter

Watchful Warbler

Look For Something Brighter

I love getting outside, exploring the landscape and discovering wildlife for many different reasons! Mostly it’s because it makes me happy 🙂 I think most of us could use a bit more happiness in our lives, so get outside and look for something brighter too! This is the Dartford Warbler that sang so beautifully for me at Thursley Common NNR last Thursday.

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ShareMondays2019 – Uncommon Beauty

Uncommon Beauty

ShareMondays2019 – Uncommon Beauty

I spent much of my birthday on Thursday at Thursley Common NNR, near Elstead in Surrey. I went in search of dartford warblers, curlew and lizards. The lizards managed to evade me, although other visitors did spot a couple on the boardwalk when the sun  came out! The curlew flew over me twice which was a treat to see and I found my dartford warblers at the far end of the boardwalk, near the dragonfly sculpture. Other signtings included stonechat, chiffchaff, goldfinch, redpoll, great and blue tits, greylag geese, mallard, wren and a bit of smoke on the horizon.

After the recent, devastating wildfire on Chobham Common, the sight of smoke on our heathland is a bit worrying! It was soon apparent that this was a small contained fire, most likely where the ranger was doing some land management. 325 hectare of woodland, peat bogs, heathland, ponds and ditches is a huge area to manage so the ranger, James Giles, organises volunteer workparties to maintain this precious resource. The wispy smoke created a atmospheric haze through the distant pines. Once I knew it wasn’t a concern, I was able to sit back in my wheelchair and marvel in it’s uncommon beauty.

Dartford Warber

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Branching Out At St James’s Park

Tawny Owl juvenile in St James's Park

Branching Out At St James’s Park

When tawny owlets are only about five weeks old they leave the nest. They’re not fledging yet, they’re branching! The staff at St James’s Park discovered that tawny’s had returned to the park after an absence of twelve years, when they discovered one of the branched owlets in the back of a tractor. It’s not unusual for branching owlets to fall off their perch. Most of the time they will be absolutely fine and the advice is to leave them where they are unless they are lying down, showing other signs of distress or are in immediate danger. They will sit still on the ground until nightfall when they are known to use their strong talons to climb back into the tree! Even if they don’t return quickly, the parents will carry on feeding the owlet on the ground. Gardeners at the park were actually able to return this little owlet to it’s mother in the tree!

It was quite incredible to be able to watch this owlet and one of its’ parents last Friday. They were high up in the trees and it had started raining. I was captivated though! Fortunately I had my raincoat so I was able to observe them for a while despite the weather. It did make it hard to photograph them though. I was using a Fujinon 100-400mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter to watch and photograph. You really do need a long lens or powerful binoculars to see them closely! The owlet has some good adult feathers coming through on the tail and wings but still plenty of downy fluff too. It was stretching the wings a lot and jumping between branches really well. The other wonderful behaviour I was able to watch was the circling off the head as the owlet builds up a full picture of it’s surroundings.

There are also Tawny Owls in Regents Park and these sighting are brilliant news for the species! It’s also a good sign that wildlife conservation and habitat management in The Royal Parks is working well. There must be a good amount of prey species available for these wonderful owls and this owlet certainly seems to be thriving! If you do go to St James’s or anywhere else to watch tawny owls and owlets, please keep a reasonable distance from their tree so you don’t disturb them. They are a protected species and these London owlets are very precious!

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ShareMondays2019 – Punk Pelican

Punk Pelican

ShareMondays2019 – Punk Pelican

I went to St James’s Park in London on Friday after a morning appointment at Guy’s Hospital. I went for the wildlife and I wasn’t disappointed! The pelicans were gathered ready for their afternoon feed, showing off for the public. It’s a lovely opportunity to study them up close. Absolutely stunning birds! When the breeze lifted this pelican’s crest, I couldn’t help but be reminded off the sad loss of Prodigy front-man, Keith Flint, last week. He would have rocked this hairdo too!