I spent a delightful bit of time watching this very vocal wren balancing on the tops of bracken at Bushy Park last week. The best way to find a wren is to listen for them chatting a territorial call in scrub, grasses and bracken. Watch for movement of the leaves and stems that can indicate where the wren is. They’ll come to perch at one of the higher points of the scrub to chat and sing. Watching them bobbing about and singing is such fun! They’re so tiny but have big characters and an even bigger voice.
My favourite wildlife sighting from last week was this dear little owl (ickle wol) in Richmond Park last Thursday! This is the first time I’ve managed to see them in the wild since I was a kid. Thank you to various members of the Surrey Bird Club for posting about the general location near Pen Ponds. A blessed if brief sighting!
It’s been really hard to pick an entry for the Fotospeed challenge this week! I keep being drawn back to this distant shot of the barn owl at Papercourt Meadows from late on Friday. Having got stuck in traffic I only arrived at the meadows at sunset. There was just enough light to still watch the barn owl hunting in the grasses. Too dark for flight images but he popped up onto the fence post close to the River Wey that runs through the meadow. There’s lots of context in this image though. Sometimes you can tell the story of your subject better by showing the environment in which it lives.
This land is managed by the Surrey Wildlife Trust and is a local haven for barn, short-eared and tawny owls. It was great fun staying to watch beyond the sunset. Although the light was too low for any more photography, the wildlife really came alive! I stood with another lady watching the deer suddenly start bounding and bouncing around the next field with all the joys of Spring in them! We were laughing in delight at their antics. They reminded me of my two cats having a funny five minutes at 3am! So lovely listening to the tawnys calling to one another and seeing the silhouettes of birds in low flight. Pheasants can glide quite some distance!
Spot the wren! Not too hard to find with the Fujinon 100-400mm with a 1.4x tele-converter, but it is quite a challenge finding and following these birds in the grasses and reeds of Papercourt Meadows, alongside the Wey Navigation, with the naked eye. It’s a haven for wrens and I would estimate that there was an individual wren every few metres along the short stretch between Papercourt and Newark Lock. My tips for finding them are to find a good habitat spot, go early morning or evening, listen for the chatter or song, keep very still and look for movement (perhaps with binoculars or spotting scope) in the area where you can hear them singing. In this case I tracked the wren’s position by watching the grasses moving and kept the camera focussed on those areas, waiting for little Jenny to pop up into view. Be patient, let the wildlife come to you! Information on habitat can be found on the RSPB and BTO websites.
Last week brought so many fantastic photography opportunities, but the ones that I most want to share in this weeks Monday photo-challenges are among the last few images that I captured yesterday in the late afternoon. I was with my parents at The Weir in Walton, on the banks of the Thames, near Sunbury Lock. There was an abundance of wildlife in the brambles and trees along the river path. I almost missed this juvenile blackcap picking blackberries. It’s often the song that first alerts me to the presence of a bird but this little one was being very quiet. It’s efforts to pick the blackberries where rather clumsy though and the sight of a shaking bramble bush gave the game away! I took a closer look and a shaft of sunlight caught upon this cheeky little face. I was pretty sure the youngster was a blackcap having seen an adult male in the vicinity earlier on. It’s perfect habitat for them as they feed on both berries and insects! I’m sharing this first image for Wex Mondays. More to follow!