Sunday, 10 August 2014

Box End Park WeBS: 10/08/2014

I just about squeezed in my WeBS count this morning before the heavy rain arrived, just got a little bit damp as I headed back to the car. Quite a few changes in the park where the Hay has been cut and the Spit has had a hair cut since my last visit.

I'm not sure what affect the cutting on the Spit had as their were 3 small Oystercatcher chicks last time, now there is just one well grown youngster with the 2 adults. I was pretty sure there were Common Tern chicks on there too but they may have been developed enough to fly by the time the cutting took place. There were certainly a few juveniles around this morning, perched on various bits of hardware around the lakes.

It was fairly standard stuff this morning although the Pied Wagtail numbers were good with a number of juveniles on site and the Coot numbers were impressive with 2 more new broods and 3 older broods as well as 19 adult birds. I also spotted one of the adult Coots with nest material so maybe still time for another brood! It's been an exceptional year for Coots in the park.

The resident pair of Mute Swans have moved onto the river with their 7 cygnets.

Black-headed Gull 1
Buzzard 2 Minimum count, possible family party in the area.
Common Tern 12 One dead bird floating in the lake, no rings.
Coot 19 Broods of 3 and 5 small chicks and 3,3 and 1 older chicks not included in count.
Cormorant 3
Grey Heron 1
Kingfisher 1
Lapwing 1
Mallard 31
Moorhen 2 Broods of 1 and 2 well grown chicks not included in count.
Mute Swan 2 Pair with 7 well grown cygnets. One of the adults is Orange 744.
Oystercatcher 3 2 adults and one juvenile.
Pied/White Wagtail 11 Rarer species

Total number of species: 13, Individuals: 89

Other birds of note:

Stock Dove
Reed Warbler
Sedge Warbler
Chiffchaff
Green Woodpecker
House Martin (best count of 37)
Swallow (a few feeding before the rain arrived)

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Box End Park WeBS: 13/07/2014

It was noticeable from arrival at the lake side that the Common Terns were much more aggressive this month. I was being dive bombed and any passing Corvid was chased off. The vegetation is so thick on the island I can't see any Tern chicks but I'm sure they are there. The pair of Oystercatchers are still on site with their fully grown offspring but they had a surprise for me at the end of my survey when 3 young chicks came out of the vegetation on the island!

There were a lot a Mallards on site , not unusual at this time of year when they are going through their moult. There were also three females with small ducklings, probably the last ones this year.

I finally got to see all of the Mute Swan cygnets and was surprised to see 7 of them. I had thought there were 6 max which just goes to show how thick the vegetation is on the island this year. The Black Swan was also present, hanging around with the Mute Swan family which seemed to tolerate it quite happily.

There are a lot of Coots present with five family groups, having 5,1,1,2 and 1 young, and at least one pair still nesting. I've not seen this number breeding here before and I wonder if it is due to the increased vegetation on the island.

Black Swan 1
Common Tern 14
Coot 12
Grey Heron 2
Grey Wagtail 3
Mallard 94
Moorhen 2
Mute Swan 4
Oystercatcher 3
Pied/White Wagtail 2

Total number of species: 10 Individuals: 137

It was also nice have a Little Owl calling from the west side of the park when I arrived. Another highlight of the morning was the Hornet Mimic Hoverfly seen while I was walking along the river on the east side of the park. It's the first one I have seen and was a very impressive beasty!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Farne Islands: Part 2 (04/06/2014)

So a couple of days on from the first trip out to the Farnes and it's time to go again. The forecast was terrible and the forecast rain was with us from the start. I think this put off a few people and the boat was much less crowded as we headed out. I was glad for the waterproof cover covering my lens and camera, as well as my own waterproofs, as the rain came down even harder. Again I had gone with the 100-400mm zoom lens and I ended up shooting with it all day as conditions were not favourable for a lens change!

I grabbed a shot of the Longstone Lighthouse as we went past and you can see how grim it was as the light is clearly visible mid morning! 
Longstone Lighthouse
As usual the seals were unfazed by the weather and we got better views compared to the first trip with some nice close approaches to the rocks. 
Atlantic Grey Seal
Atlantic Grey Seal
I didn't do very well with Guillemots on the first trip out but managed this nice portrait on the way out.

Guillemot
I really like this Puffin against the black rocks, it's one of my favourites of the whole trip.

Atlantic Puffin
A busy morning around the Farnes!
And just to show what the rain was really like, here's a Shag having a preen in the shower! Another favourite of mine from this trip.

Cormorant preening in the rain.
When we got to Staple island I was determined to get some decent shots of Kittiwakes and this pair provided some good opportunities. I sat with them for quite a while watching the male depart and return with nest material and the pair bonding between trips. It was quite beautiful to watch.

Kittiwakes pair bonding.

The male Kittiwake brings in some more nest material.
I was really keen to have another crack at the Shags on Staple Island as they are very close to the edge of the roped off areas and I was entirely happy with my results from the first trip. I think I did better this trip despite the rain and was quite happy with these portraits of birds on their nests.
Shag on the nest in the rain

Relaxed Shag
Shag head detail
"You looking at me"
And finally this very soggy Shag trying to get it's head down for a kip.
"I've got my eye on you"
As we started heading back to the landing point this pair of LBB Gulls started getting a bit friendly. Obviously confident they could get enough eggs and chicks to feed theirs when they arrived.

Mating Lesser Black-backed Gulls
I wasn't going to focus too much on the Puffins this time, as I had stacks of flight shots to go through from the first trip, but I was glad I found an area where Puffins were coming in. Would have been nice to have a blue sky but that was never on the cards this time. Was just glad when the rain eased up a bit.

A Puffin departs after feeding it's young in the burrow.
Atlantic Puffin in flight with a beak full of Sand Eels

Atlantic Puffin in flight with a beak full of Sand Eels
I was quite pleased with these Puffin shots and my hit rate was much better this time. Just goes to show that the more you practice makes perfect. Still ways to go until perfect though!

There wasn't a lot to add from Inner Farne this time. I didn't go too mad with the Arctic Terns this time as I had loads from the first trip and the conditions were worse this time. I felt it was better to leave them alone and let them stay on their nests as much as possible as it was cooler today. In fact we were fortunate to get on Inner Farne, if the heavy rain had continued the rangers would most likely have closed Inner Farne to landings so the Terns didn't get disturbed.

This young Grey Seal was laid up on the beach by the landing point.
Young Atlantic Grey Seal
The Shags like to decorate their nests and keep refreshing the materials to keep the nests looking smart.
Shag sleeping on decorated nest.
One species I really neglected was the Sandwich Terns which also nest on Inner Farne. I didn't find the small colony to be ideally placed for photography but did eventually get this guy in flight as we waited for the boat. 
Sandwich Tern in flight.

And finally our last look back at the lighthouse on Inner Farne as we headed back to Seahouses.

The lighthouse on Inner Farne.
I'll definitely be going back to the Farnes in the future. There are so many photo opportunities that I didn't get around to this time, might even try a different lens next time ;-)