A Buzzard visited our garden, sitting on the fence between the paddock and the garden. As I approached, the bird flew off and sat on the fence further into the paddock. It then flew into the next door field. In the process the Buzzard was mobbed by the Red Kites. A bit of a change, the Red Kites themselves are normally mobbed by the Jackdaws and Rooks.
Summer is over, though the last few weeks have been sunny and hot. Why do I declare summer over? The bird feeders have been erected, 50 kilos of sunflower hearts, 25 kilos of peanuts and 25 kilos of Niger seed have to be eaten this winter. Start eating, birds, I need the space back.
A few pictures taken around our birdfeeders, not birds who feed on our food, but rather birds who feed on the birds feeding on the feeders. So there is a Kestrel, and a regular visitor, a Sparrowhawk. Last year we were sitting in the garden when the Sparrowhawk struck and removed one feeding bird. There was silence for a few minutes when all others disappeared. They soon forgot and were back out. This Sparrowhawk regularly comes and sits on the bird feeders, but had been rather camera shy.
The Redwing and Fieldfare were photographed in out field. There can be flocks of 40 – 50 at a time.
Rosemary and I, along with a few others, had a tour of the BBOWT wetlands nature reserve at Gallows Bridge. This is one wetland reserve of many they own on the Upper River Ray. Gallows Bridge has the Tetchwick Brook flowing through it which is a tributary of the Ray, joining the Ray at Three Way Meadows. Tetchwick Brook should be well known to readers of this blog, as the river (stream, ditch) over which we have a tug of war over.
The morning was misty, not ideal for photography. The warden explained the type of management the reserve received, and why. Interestingly we heard how some of the land had been ploughed years ago with a technique called ridge and furrow which causes long ridges to form in the fields which remain today and are now protected. Many of the nesting wetland birds are predated by animals, mink and fox being the main culprits. An effort is made before the breeding season to trap and kill the mink, and reduce the number of foxes in the area. The trap at this time of year contained a mud pad which was used to estimate the number of river mammals living in the area. Paw prints of Mink and Otter could be seen.
BBOWT had been creating a number of ponds and scrapes to keep water on the site over the summer season, providing feeding areas for Snipe, Lapwing and Curlew . Grass has to be managed in several ways allowing for short and long grass to suit different species of bird. The reserve is also a habitat for Short Eared Owls, Barn Owls, Hobby and Kingfishers. After the tour we stayed in the hides for a while in the hope of seeing the Kingfisher. Alas we didn’t, just saw a few LBJs.
We arrived back from a lovely holiday in Bulgaria, dragonfly spotting. We travelled around the country with a small group, mainly in the South of Bulgaria staying in a new hotel each night. The tour was operated by Nature Trek, a specialist wild life tour company using experts in the chosen subject. There will be an update to the site when I have filtered through the thousands of pictures I have taken. We managed 47 or so species of dragonflies, that leaves 7,000+ in the world to go. Bird life and plant life were similarly fabulous in the country.
For a taster I have included a couple of Dragonflies, one obliging Dragon who flew around for quite a while allowing us to practice flight shots.
The final two days were spent in Sofia drinking cocktails next to the president’s offices, watching the presidential cars coming and going, the armed security guards, and the beautiful ladies in the bar.