Mink

Having mentioned Mink in my last posting I searched here for my previous encounters and found that the best story was only on Flickr but this website is where it should be; so here goes.

Mink were first in the UK in the late 1920s, in Mink farms, where they were bred for their fur. Unfortunately some escaped, some were released, and they were being reported in the wild in the late 1950s. They had an established population even prior to the releases by animal rights activists and the the decline in the fur trade when, again, many were released. They are excellent predators and are one of the contributors to the decline of the Water Vole.

There is nothing gory in this story but if you like your wildlife all fluffy and friendly then you might not want to read on.

Back in 2011 on this very same date, 29 May, I was down by the river at Denso Marston Nature Reserve. Just near the down river entrance was a Moorhen and a couple of chicks.Pandemonium

I was just about to take a photo of them when all hell broke loose.

Mink and Moorhen chick No 1

A Mink had caught one of the chicks. It took it to the river bank and climbed up into the bushes.

Mink fish hunting

It then surprised me by coming back out again and started hunting out the other chick.

Mink sniffing out some prey

Sniffing around, poking its nose between the rocks.

Moorhen parent rather defensless

It soon caught the other one and the Moorhen adult watched defenceless as it was taken up onto the river bank.

Mink and Moorhen chick

It then carried it along the rocks at the side, heading up river.

Mink and Moorhen chick

Up over rocks

Mink and Moorhen chick

Leaping over the water between rocks

Mink and Moorhen chick

Running along the muddy river bank

Mink and Moorhen chick

Pausing occasionally to check that I wasn’t a threat on the other side of the river

Mink and Moorhen chick

before carrying on…

Mink and Moorhen chick

and on ….

Mink and Moorhen chick

until it got to this point where it climbed up a couple of rocks and disappeared into a tangled mass of tree roots.

Back to get the 1st kill

Almost immediately it came back out again and set off down river.

Mink and Moorhen chick

and very soon it was back with the first chick that it had hidden.

Mink and Moorhen chick

That behaviour shows quite a bit of cunning. If it had brought the 1st one up river, to what I assume were its young, then by the time it got back down the adult and chick would have moved on to safety.

I have a few more photos of Mink and this link will show the thumbnails of them.

Mink, River Aire, Baildon

A Walk Along the River

After a walk around Hallcliffe Community Garden I went down to Denso Marston Nature Reserve. I had heard that a Mink had been seen there earlier so that helped me decide where to go with my camera. I didn’t see the Mink but did enjoy my walk along the river.

I was looking out for several things some of which I managed to find.

PM7_0592

This fish did take me by surprise though. It is not a clear photo but it is a big gold carp. The little streaks you can see around it are fish. From that you can perhaps get an idea of how BIG it is.

Banded Demoiselle (Male)

One of the early things I noticed were a few male Banded Demoiselle. They are quite dark and relatively easy to spot but not easy to photograph. They soon fly off.

Banded Demoiselle (Female)

Sometime later in my walk I also spotted a female Banded Demoiselle that obligingly let me get close enough.

Azure Damselfly

Lots of Azure Damselfly were around too. I am hoping I have identified this correctly. It has a small horizontal black bar which means it is not the Blue Damselfly. But I am no expert.

Harlequin

There were also quite a few Harlequin around. Most moved round under leaves as I approached with my camera but this one was too busy eating a Greenfly on stinging nettles to be bothered to wander off.

Quite a few butterfly were around but they didn’t stay still long enough to photograph. I spent a while trying to get a Brimstone but no luck.

Speckled Wood

I did manage to get this Speckled Wood spreading its wings in the sunshine.

Mayfly

And then tucked in amongst the grass was this Mayfly. The place is teeming with life and can be quite noisy.

Toads

Tucked under a little shelter were these Toads. I think I prefer Frogs.

Bee

Plenty of bees were around as were Hoverfly, Wasps and many other insects.

Wren

I didn’t get to photograph many birds. This Wren was one of them I did catch but Robin, Blue tit, Great tit, Coal tit, Blackbird, Chiff chaff, Woodpigeon, Jay, Magpie, Bullfinch and others were around. But something that made it well worth the visit was….

Woodpecker Chick

a Greater Spotted Woodpecker chick. I could hear several Woodpecker around so I kept my ears open for the “Chip, Chip” of the young and managed to find a little hole with a head peeking out.

Woodpecker Chick

I did hang around for a while because I could hear the adults but they didn’t approach the nest. I could see and hear them around the tree but after a while it became apparent that they were not going to come in to feed the chick so I had to leave them.

Roe Deer

And then spotted this Roe Deer.

Roe Deer

Roe Deer

It didn’t seem too concerned that I had spotted it. It wandered along the other side of the river happily licking its nose.

Goosander

And then one of the last things I spotted was a female Goosander looking rather cross that I had disturbed it. Quite often all you see of Goosander is the back end of them as they fly away.

If I have got the ID of any of these things wrong please let me know,

As usual you can click on any of the images to see them on Flickr.

Hallcliffe Community Garden

Hallcliffe Community Garden used to be the playground for Baildon C of E First School and was left empty for several years when the school moved all classes up to the Jenny Lane site. The Jenny Lane site is now Newbury Close and the school is on the site of Ladderbanks second school but is now a primary school. After several years of campaigning and a lot of hard work volunteers managed to convert it to the garden and it is now a lovely place to walk around.

Chive flowers

The colours in the garden are gorgeous. These are flowers on Chives.

Shieldbug

Many of the flowers are covered in bees but this one had a Shieldbug on its leaf.

Alium

The flowers on the Alium look good in the sunlight.

Californian Lilac. Ceanothus

This Califonian Lilac (Ceanothus) is on the fencing of the garden next to the road and is looking splendid.

I’m still a fan of nature

On Thursday morning on my walk through Robert’s Park I learnt something about Crows.

Crow and black tongue

I knew that they were black but I didn’t know that they also had black tongues. I have also learnt a bit more about Herons, but more on that later, at the moment we are still on Thursday.

On Thursday evening I went down to Tong Park Dam.

Mating Tortoise Shell Butterfly

and one of the first things I saw was this pair of Tortoise Shell butterfly and I had only just got past the war memorial. I then spent a while watching a Heron and a pair of Swans but I am not linking to any photos here. Fortunately I had my full camera backpack with me that contains one of the essentials – an insect repellent, so I could sit quietly and watch.

Heron face on

The photo above is one I took ages ago but I am using it to show how thin a Heron’s neck is. Look at the width of its head. So thin it almost disappears when it looks at you.

I have watched them catching fish and they seem to be able to do it quite quickly.

Tiddlers

This is a view of the canal in the warm weather we have had this week. The fish have been much more visible. It’s not easy to see them in this particular photo, but I think it shows that there are plenty of them. No wonder Heron can often be seen along the canal.

Ones worth catching

Even decent sized fish have been showing themselves.

But I am sure you are asking, how can a Heron with such a thin head and “face” cope with anything but the smallest of fish?

Heron

This one is quite small and easy to cope with.

Heron

But look how far back its beak hinges open when it is tossing it back. It’s way past its eyes. Where is its brain? It makes me think of Mr. Weasley’s warning “Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.” Its neck seems to have expanded even before it has swallowed the fish.

Heron

And then look at that gape. Where did that come from? We saw in the earlier photo that its head is only 2 cm wide so how did it get a gape that wide? Having seen this I’m not sure I like Herons as much as I used to. They are weird. And have you seen them when they spread their wings? They are like a grey tennis ball with two long skinny legs dangling at the bottom, a skinny long neck sticking out the top and 2 massive wings sprouting from the sides.

Heron

but they still look rather cute when they are curled up.

A few from Robert’s Park

If you have read some of my previous posts you will know that I quite like the walk through Robert’s Park morning and evening, and very often lunchtime too.

The height of the water going over the weir varies tremendously, as does the noise it makes.

Heron checking the skies

On Monday lunchtime it was bubbling over the weir. And as is often the case a Heron was there. I am not sure whether it is looking skyward with its left eye or towards the water, and food, with its right eye. Given that it has its neck stretched upwards I guess it is looking skyward.

Heron searching

This evening, Wednesday, the Heron was definitely looking to the water for food. As you can see the water level was lower than on Monday.

Heron catching small

Many times the Herons look as though they are just in the water to keep their feet cool but this one was definitely after food. And finding it. Sometimes little fish like this one

Heron catching slightly bigger

and sometimes slightly larger ones.

Heron shuddering

After having caught a few it gave a shudder. I wondered what it was doing but then it gave a big shudder/flutter and shock its head and something flew out of its beak. Perhaps getting rid of something that was stuck in its long neck? All perhaps all the shuddering/fluttering was because it was working something up from its stomach? Research needed.

Oystercatcher searching

On Wednesday morning, when going through the park, I spotted this Oystercatcher on the cricket pitch. Look at that nicely tended grass. I’m sure that makes it easier to find food in amongst the blades of grass

Oystercatcher finding

It was finding food, and eating it. Does that mean that the ones I suspect are nesting at the Tax Office have not hatched yet?

Oystercatcher digging

Somehow it was managing to stick that beak into the ground…

Oystercatcher catching

and pull out “tasty” (??) morsels.

As usual you can click on the image to view various sizes of it on Flickr.