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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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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 – Close Up With A Creeper

Tree Creeper

ShareMondays2019 – Close Up With A Creeper

Almost at the end of a lovely afternoon in the sunshine at Bushy Park and a couple of treecreepers appeared, on birch trees in the Woodland Gardens, near the Pheasantry Cafe. I had to let my tea go cold while I went to try to get some images! They eluded me on many of the trees, circling around and climbing very quickly, until one decided to pause at the base of the tree I was standing right next too. I hardly wanted to breathe, let alone move! It paused long enough to let me get a few close shots from behind. Those markings allow this tiny bird to almost disappear against the tree bark from a further distance!

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Sunset Stonechat

Male Stonechat at Papercourt Meadows

Sunset Stonechat

The birds have been putting on some great displays down at Surrey Wildlife Trust’s Papercourt Meadows! I’ve now had two wonderful sightings of the Short-eared Owl this year, along with the beautiful barn owls. It’s been great chatting to some of the other local birders and photographers down there too! Light was quite poor when it came out to hunt so I shall keep trying to get a good, clear photograph! Before we lost the sun on Saturday evening, the stonechats all darted across the grasses to come to roost in a thicket of brambles. They were joined by meadow pipit and wrens as a couple of kestrels flew overhead and tawny owls called from the woodland. This male stonechat was looking absolutely resplendent in his bold breeding plumage! This is my entry for the Fotospeed challenge today. Have a wonderful week everyone!

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ShareMondays2019 – Pre-flight Check

Pre-flight Check

ShareMondays2019 – Pre-flight Check

I was driving down to RHS Wisley Gardens on Thursday afternoon when I spotted this kestrel circling the field opposite Wisley Church. There’s a small lay-by that I pulled into as the kestrel approached. I was absolutely thrilled when it took a perch on the cables nearby! I didn’t want to spook it, so grabbed the long lens, wound down the passenger window and managed to get a few images as it surveyed the surroundings, before taking back off to resume the hunt. A magical moment! Often when I spot wildlife from the car there’s nowhere to pull over and be able to watch or photograph what I’ve seen. This has to be my ShareMondays moment and I will add it to the Wex Mondays challenge too. Have a great week everyone!

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ShareMondays2019 – OH!

OH!

ShareMondays2019 – OH!

Definitely the largest fish I’ve ever seen one of the Bushy Park herons catch! Pretty sure it’s a common carp. After successfully evading the Heron Pond anglers and keeping itself warm in the dense reed-beds on a frosty night, I think the last thing this fish expected was to be gobbled up for breakfast. It actually gave it’s captor a few firm tail-slaps around the face, for good measure, on the way down! OH! Well, my mum coined it and I couldn’t really call it anything else. So with a busy Monday ahead, this is my entry for all three of the Monday photo challenges including Wex Mondays and Fotospeed. Have a great week everyone!

Hunting Heron