Sunday 26 March 2017

Richmond Park, 26-Mar-2017

Since it was Mother's Day, we decided that going for a walk would be perfect, especially with the bright sunshine and warm temperatures. It was much busier than we expected, and we arrived at 12.30pm, after battling for a space for a short while.
Eventually we set off, after my mum had elected that we should have a walk in the Isabella Plantations. A Wren was loud to start off, and a Great-Spotted Woodpecker was noted (along with the many Jackdaw.) 

After 20 minutes walking, an overhead Water Pipit made me alert, as it whistled over towards Pen Ponds, which we were sadly missing out on today. 2 Meadow Pipits flew nearby, as did 3 Skylark. Then a Kestrel appeared out of nowhere from where we had come from, hunting visibly. It flew to a tree, right near the path which we had been following. After starting to trek back and put the camera to my eyes, I realised that there was a pair mating on top of the bare tree, with the female screeching away, almost uncomfortably. This was the best I could manage from 150m away. 
Kestrels mating
The male bird seemed very peculiar, lacking any spots giving hints of a Lesser Kestrel. Although I have started to understand that thinking impossible things is really not a good idea, it really puzzled me. A third bird appeared, also a male, which then promptly chased the other off and sat in the exact same place as the other had been. The bird which had been chased off flew towards Pen Ponds, then diverted course heading off North, while the final two birds sat on the tree. This is the distant picture of the other male, and the two final birds.  

Kestrel pair
Both birds began to hunt nearby, allowing a chance to actually try to get some decent pictures.
Common Kestrel

 Common Kestrel
We then proceeded to the Plantation, which was looking splendid in the sunshine. It was buzzing with butterflies, bees and many other insects, including Comma, Brimstone, Peacock, Red Admiral and Small Tortoiseshell.
Red Admiral



Mandarin (f)
On the way back, a Skylark rushed off, and I still didn't manage a picture of any quality. However, a Kestrel appeared and hunted around 15m, providing brilliant views. This was the best I could manage before it dived down and then flew off.
Skylark - can't you tell


Not a bad walk for 3 hours on a crowded Mother's Day!

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Blood on the Wall! 14-March-17

After dragging myself out of bed at 7:15 this morning, I freshened myself up in preparation for another long day at school. 
With my eyes drooping, I drew my curtains and a large bird flew down from the wall about 20m from the window onto a water tray at the back of the garden.
Not yet awake I thought,  "That's a big pigeon." 
I turned back immediately and watched as this huge bird flew back up onto the wall.
It stood and peered over the wall towards the road.
It was a female juvenile Sparrowhawk, a bird absent to my garden tick list.
Scrambling for the camera, which I realised was downstairs, I watched the bird before it swooped down suddenly on the other side of the wall and then landed on my dad's new car. Then gone.
After a minute, as I hurriedly retrieved the camera, hoping it's batteries were charged, my sister woke up, the Sparrowhawk returned to the garden clutching a Collared Dove.
I had, obliviously, seen it catch a Collared Dove. The pigeon was still alive, but after a few seconds it definitely wasn't. The Sparrowhawk disassembled the Collared dove, leaving feathers everywhere. 


For a good 10 minutes, it sat on the Collared Dove (which it was probably the same size as) at the back of the garden. Once I had hurriedly got changed, I crept downstairs and through the garden door. Knowing very well not much would disturb it from its meal, I approached cautiously from around 12m away and got some decent shots. 
      The bird itself appears to be a juvenile female, with a brownish back and visible, chevron-like chest markings. It looks like a 1st/2nd year, but not great at identifying age. I would be grateful for any ideas on its exact age.
      Eventually, after gathering enough satisfying shots at least, the remaining parts of the dove were gathered and she flew over the wall and out of sight in the neighbouring gardens. The smaller birds returned, and I thought she was gone. But when I got back at about 16.30, all the Starlings suddenly alarmed and she flew into an evergreen out of sight. 
      Although not a mightily rare bird, it was quite incredible watching it hunt in our relatively small garden! Who knows what might happen tomorrow morning...


Tuesday 7 March 2017

Sutton Peregrines, March 2017

 As some may be aware there is a pair of Peregrines at Quadrant House in Sutton. Last year they bred successfully with 4 chicks fledging. Both birds were present this month, hunting above oblivious shoppers. These pictures were taken from the Morrison's car park, so aren't great quality.
(The fact that there was a random teenager standing in the middle of the car park made many gawp at me!) A live camera of them can be found here.
Peregrine Falcon


A few recent garden pics - I say 'garden,' but our garden generally doesn't attract as much as our neigbouring few so I count them into the term 'garden' too! (Then again, there have been some 'overhead' highlights like an Osprey in 2014!)

fem Blackcap - been around all winter but left yesterday

Redwing - last remaining Redwings around (at its peak at Christmas up to 200 were in the local gardens.)
Hopefully some spring migrants will come through too in the next month.

Sunday 5 March 2017

Beddington and not much, 5th March 2017

A quick half hour walk around Beddington was quite uneventful, but after a long, indoor weekend the fresh air was good. The usual local birds were around, with just a hint of spring with blossom and bees.


Grey Heron