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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Storyville – West Africa to Preston Dock!

'I wanna tell you a story...'

primarily in pictures, there aren't any award winning photos here but bear with me and hopefully I can make sense of this (that'll make a change then!).

It goes back over a few years when I first came across the Common Tern at Preston Dock, West Africa to Preston Dock... I ask you!

The male who appears to have started this colony was ringed at Doffcocker Lodge, Bolton on 14 June 2006 hasn't been seen so far this year. I have been down three or four times, mainly when the light was awful and aperture speeds just not fast enough, it started off with about 13 birds and last count was 23+, the plus because they are often mobile and keeping track isn't always easy, so 23 is a seen count with probable others.

It appears as if the birds have been flying off west down into the River Ribble but quite how far they are going is presently unknown to the author... so to the story in pics (not all photos taken on the same day, or same time), more posts on the same subject to follow a sthe story has moved on but I can't keep up!

returning home with the catch
landing with the catch, not always on the correct pontoon
can cause havoc
involves lots of posturing
and may involve another fly past
while others may be in the air on business or looking for a mugging
returning often attracts unwanted attention
more posturing with the mrs... (anyone know what the fish is?)
the male has the fish
results in a tug of war
which can last for sometime, all part of the bonding and courtship process
all the while the live fish in the middle of all this
whereupon the male gives in and the mrs gets her catch and
hopefully she wont have a headache later
while others take an interest
but nothing a common tern cant handle
he's just taking the proverbial
come back when your agile enough!
sun is so much better, included because I have never seen the
feet in this position before
and sometimes you get lucky

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Duelling Pieds

Nearly did it again then with 'Duelling Banjo's' (which film? answers on a postcard please).

On 'walkabout' I came across two Pied Flycatchers singing (duelling) at either end of a small wood and as they were my first it seemed rude not to stop and study. The photos are really only record images as I don't have ANY and pushing the limits for publishing on a blog. I was 'well made up'.

While I was busy watching the Pied Flycatchers, three Pied Wagtails decided to have a barney (duelling) and I was left with this one, erect on the wall wondering where the opponents had gone, I had to smile as they'd dropped off the wall, still scrapping. What, where, who what?

I've included the image of the Wheatear, far from being a great photo of the bird, I rather liked the concrete and natural vegetation and the colours of the bird itself.

As the Pennines reach skyward from the west Lancashire river plain I spotted the odd bird flitting about and finding a suitable place to stop, I was disappointed it was a male Chaffinch, then a couple of Linnets and surprised to see a Willow Warbler. Excellent.

Pied Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher

what, where, who, what? Pied Wgtail left wondering what the fight was all about

matching colours, Wheatear

male Chaffinch


Willow Warbler
Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler


On 'walkabout' – in passing, in, out and away and I even got a wink...

A few bits and pieces

Over a month ago I spent a quiet hour with a Dipper up in Bowland, unfortunately I chose the wrong time of day and the sun was against me, while I took a number of photographs all are in shadow, gloomy and frankly not very good. Nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed watching these engaging birds. Wonderful. While I was there a male mallard came along not twenty feet away and started feeding underwater. Mad!

I'm hopeless at most things (including birds), become dyslexic and type all sorts of nonsense, so if you do see any errors or mistakes, please do advise.

On the way out of Bowland, the sun had set and the grouse were just settling down for the evening and there was quite a lot of activity (where's my twelve bore?), I managed to catch one male and then surprised myself by capturing two males together. I do need to practice my Grouse call!

What I think is a Green-Veined White pigged off a male Orange Tip by not disappearing when 'attacked'; an early start at Newton Marsh was quiet apart from the regulars, except 32 Whimbrel that didn't hang around too long unfortunately.

As for the Oystercatchers, again I don't know what it is about these birds – were they a Friday afternoon job, something go wrong in the planning or somebody having a 'larf? When you look at them, they do look 'odd' but great.

Dipper in shadow
Male Mallard feeding

male Red Grouse

two male Red Grouse

Green Veined White

"Play it, Sam. Play .... "

"You played it for her, you can play it for me," and "If she can stand it, I can! Play it!"

You must remember this...

Humph never ever said 'play it again Sam', so I thought I might... Play it again Orange Tip (Sam).

Been too busy to blog(?), and lots of catching up to do but here are some images of the male Orange Tip, interestingly I haven't seen any for the past week or more, just as well I got in while I could. In fact been very, very quite the last week or so;

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Blame Stanley Kubrick for an Orange

"Welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, welly, well. To what do I owe the extreme pleasure of this surprising visit? "... a quote from the film a Clockwork Orange! I'll have to stop this.

Before we start I've thrown in an image of the cherry blossom at my front door, which is a magnificent sight while it is out and this year, so far, it hasn't been decimated by wind and rain. What is interesting is I found a small seedling growing in the gravel one year, probably having passed through the body of a blackbird or something. I put it in a plant pot and to my surprise it survived and grew. Two years later I planted it in the back garden and now have a prunus tree about 20 feet high, which is used by all the birds as they come in to the feeders in the garden and offers them some protection from the marauding Sparrowhawks.

I am even more surprised because this prunus tree has white blossom, the display not quite the match of the pink blossom on the tree at the front – but surprise of surprises – unlike the pink blossom, the back garden tree fruits! Last year I had quite a crop of cherries which I left a few days longer to ripen only to be cleared out in 48 hours by the birds... I didn't mind too much but I wont be so generous this year! I only ate about 30 masen! It did however bring a female blackcap into the garden to feed on the cherries.

I am fortunate at this time of year having Orange Tip butterflies on my doorstep, so needless to say I have been keeping a keen eye out on this species. The idea that butterflies drift about mindlessly on the wind is seriously put to ridicule with the male Orange Tip. He searches up and down the edges of hedgerows and woodland copses for a female with which to mate, rarely taking the time to alight and rest or feed.

As for 'fluttering about' these male Orange Tips could easily give Usain Bolt a run for his money, direct in their pursuits – I have now learned not to even try to keep up with them. I plonk myself on known areas and 'sit' in the middle and wait, in this way I can cover 360 degrees; eventually one will turn up patrolling the edge of the woodland or hedgerow.

Any 'white' butterfly may draw my attention and also seem to come in for some grief, as the male Orange Tip attempts to ensure the territory is his and his alone and actively pursues usurpers. While I have watched him doing this, three Speckled Wood rise into the air in some sort of twisted aerial combat again fighting over territory and females.

While on the subject of fighting – I have posted another image of the Typhoon that come in down the flight path locally, primarily because this one is fully 'suited and booted' with all the armaments pods loaded – I hope he doesn't lose one on approach or Preston might be getting a new ring road!

The Common Sandpiper was taken early one morning at Newton Marsh.

Male Orange Tip
Cherry blossom
Speckled Wood – worth a second look, now look again
Suited and Booted Typhoon
Common Sandpiper

Now like the male Orange Tip, I have been looking out for a female Orange Tip – she's the one without any orange and is easily confused with other white butterflies – my searches led to a Green Veined White, but telling the difference without seeing the underside is problematic (for me anyway). However, if I could find a female Orange Tip and follow her, I was hoping a male Orange Tip would do the same. They have been far fewer than the males and appear later, a few weks after the males.

After many days and hours I did indeed find a female. Following her at a discrete distance, they don't like you getting too close, I ducked and weeved ('arry) until hope beyond hope, she ran into a male Orange Tip. Settling on a Blackberry bramble the male was clearly interested. Trying to get close and trying to get in position for photos for what I knew would be a limited opportunity meant the sun was 'against' me but provided opprtunity for some interesting lighting.

The male was clearly beside himself and excited to see her and I was anticipating mating to take place – however I am fairly certain the photos show the female was not interested and had a headache, indeed her posture is one of refusal. I didn't see any mating occur. Perhaps one of you better informed than masen can let me know in the Comments – I'd be pleased to hear from anyone.

So there we are, 'not mating', and I do quite like the images I have posted – so if you are wondering what the circles are in the background they are a 'watermark' in a small way to protect the images from being used or reproduced without my permission (images of Orange Tip are fairly common but 'not mating' less so)  –  I hope they don't interfere with your ability to view the photos.

A couple of images are included because I like the image and as this female was settling on daisies I have attempted to include one about life-size to demonstrate the others are close-up details, note the yellow pollen on the hairs of the butterfly... and as the male Orange Tip fly back and forth, like an automated mechanical wind-up toy.... just like clockwork!

Enjoy. As always, double-clicking an image provides larger image and slideshow.

Female Orange Tip
Can be difficult to distinguish from other white butterflies
Female Orange Tip – underside of the wing

Male Orange Tip finds a mate
Female 'not interested' pose
'I have a headache'
just 'sod off'
about actual size