Day 4 in our garden

I have left it a bit late before getting around to looking at the photos from my time in our garden today so here are some photos of new subjects quickly put together before we get to midnight.

Today’s header image is a Squirrel silhouette. When I first went into the garden this morning at 8:30 I had my long lens on and this squirrel scampered along some branches and then settled for a little while and started eating some buds. The sun was almost directly behind it creating the silhouette.

I then decided to put my macro lens on and look for something different, instead of birds and butterflies. Hence the Celandine, Bleeding Heart, bursting Cherry tree buds and Forget Me Not flowers.

I then spent a while following a Bee Hoverfly around trying to get a decent photo of it hovering above my head. You might gather that I was not successful, I am not including any of the photos here. They were a lot easier to photograph when they settled on something, as were the bees.

Here’s Day 3 in our garden

Day 3 in the garden

Would you believe I spent some time in the garden today? I watched the Blue Tits going in and out of the nest box and only once saw something like nesting material. It could of course be many Blue Tits and not one has decided to move in yet. There are no scars, tattoos, or other distinguishing features to allow me to tell one from the other. Mmm. That could mean that it was the same one every time. So nothing different to yesterday to warrant a photo of them/it.

Unfortunately all the photos of other subjects were quickly grabbed ones. This Goldfinch came low enough in the trees for me to get it. There were a couple of them high in separate trees signing away making a heck of a racket. Either trying to attract a mate or saying “Keep away, this is my territory.”

A Greenfinch let itself be seen. Usually, in our garden, they are skulking about the Hawthorn. You know they are in there somewhere but all you see is a shadow moving.

This Long Tailed Tit was nice to catch. I have seen ones like this a few times over the last few days. They get the material from somewhere further down the row of gardens and take it further up only quickly passing through our garden. I had to be quick to get that shot.

Only 3 photos today. Apologies for not having a different one to use for the header image. Perhaps I will have my macro lens to hand soon.

Here’s Day 2 in our garden

Day 2 in the garden

What another nice day it has been. A lovely clear blue sky all day. Again it was a great day for butterflies but the only one I tried to get a photo of was the comma on the underside of a Comma. Again the Goldfinches stayed high in the trees so no photos of them. I could hear Dunnocks but they kept well hidden.

Our bird box, that was used last year, looks as though it is going to be used by Blue Tits this year.

It looks like a tight fit as it flies off presumably looking for nesting material or food for itself.

Only on one occasion did it look as though it had some duvet stuffing in its beak to build a comfy nest for eggs. Here it has returned with nothing. Perhaps it is one of them returning to check on the progress the other is making. And when it is a bit fluffed up it looks as though it is bigger than the hole.

But its layers of feathers easily squash down as it slides into the nest box. At one time a Blue Tit flew into the nest and within a couple of seconds another flew in. Almost immediately one flew out. Was it a pair working on their nest or was it two birds eyeing up the nest box and one of them being sent packing?

This photo shows the comma on a Comma butterfly much better than my photo yesterday.

Here’s Day 1 in our garden

Day 1 in the garden

I say Day 1 but I don’t expect to keep count. “Stay at Home”. Who knows what excitement the next few weeks are going to bring. I have spent a few hours in the garden today. One of the tasks was to tidy up after hacking away at the Buddleia, there is no way I could use the term pruning. With a bit of luck and a lot of sunshine the bush may survive.

While I was working I also had my camera on a tripod ready to take photos of whatever took my fancy. I was quite surprised at the number of butterflies around. One of them was a Brimstone that quickly fluttered across the garden and over the fence. I have yet to see one settle in the garden so the chances of getting a photo of one are quite remote. Perhaps I will have a better chance down at Denso Marston Nature Reserve when I get the chance to visit again.

I think the first butterfly I spotted was a Tortoiseshell though. A few times one settled either feeding or sunning itself.

There seemed to be several Comma butterflies around some looked quite small. In the second photo above you can see the Comma on the underside of its wing.

A Peacock butterfly settled on out fence for a few seconds, warming its wings in the sun, before flying off down the gardens.

Blue Tits and Great Tits were flitting about the bushes and one Blue Tit was checking one of the bird boxes. There were a few noisy Goldfinch and Dunnocks around, singing from near the tops of some of the trees. But several times a small flock of Long Tailed Tits wandered through and some of them showed themselves rather nicely.

Denso on Wednesday & Thursday

I have had another two walks through Denso Marston Nature Reserve this week, Wednesday and Thursday.

After a Wednesday talk with Steve, the nature reserve Warden, I decided to go to the reserve earlyish on Thursday, so I was down by the pond around 6:45. Does that count as earlyish? Or is it “stupid” o’clock for sensible people? I wanted to get a decent sight of the Water Rail that was reported to still be there. Morning and evening are the times they are most likely to be seen.

The photos above show some of the birds that were around during the morning. But note – NO WATER RAIL. The Mallards on the large pond seemed quite happy to drift around in the wind. On the smaller pond were a couple of female Mallard and in that pond the males were continually chasing and trying to drown each other. A Rabbit on the reserve was a first for me. Later I also saw what was either a Stoat or a Weasel, another first on the reserve for me. I didn’t see its tail but I initially thought Stoat – I have seen those before, but I am now starting to think that perhaps it was on the small side (comparing the glimpses of Stoats peering around stone walls on Baildon Moor to this little thing peering over a mound of leaves and twigs) so I am happy for someone to say that it was probably a Weasel. Sorry, no photo, they are just too quick, they might seem to look at you, but if you move they are simply no longer there – gone.

About mid morning I saw a small muddy grey-brown bird with longish legs pass between a couple of clumps of Bull Rushes (?) and then I caught sight of a small thing paddle towards the “island” and disappear. It was too small for a Moorhen but looked too muddy to be a Water Rail. But I hung around. And eventually at about 11:30 I caught a glimpse of movement on the far bank. Yay! A Water Rail.

Just before spotting the Water Rail, and after, this little Redpoll was feeding around the edges of the small pond. Another first on the reserve for me. These are normally Winter visitors I believe.

I didn’t spend all the time hanging about near the ponds, I did go for the occasional walk about and on one of those spent some time watching Goldcrest there seemed to be quite a few about. Lots of Long Tailed Tits too.

I would say the most common bird around was the Dunnock with plenty of Blue Tits, noisy Robin, Great Tits, Blackbirds, Thrush, Magpie, Jay, Wood Pigeon and others.

So far I have just mentioned things from Thursday but these Roe Deer were from Wednesday. At one time there were 5 in the same area. One was chased away and another soon followed. It was during this visit that Steve said I needed to be around early in the morning to get sight of the Water Rail.

Wednesday’s visit also included these. The Buzzard is very blurry but the fact that it was in the frame at all is surprising. I heard a commotion and saw several Crows and Magpies flying about seeing this Buzzard off. I watched it but at the same time pointed my camera in the general direction and pressed the shutter a few times without even lifting the camera up to look through the viewfinder. The reason for including it is to show the wing tips. Normally a Buzzard has extended fingers as it drifts around but this one has slightly swept pointed wings. I assume this is due to it trying to escape.

If you are a new visitor to the reserve at this time of year, while the ground is so wet, please wear suitable walking shoes/boots or wellies and stick to the paths. This will mean paddling in places but the paths will dry to their normal hard surfaces whilst walking off the paths will churn up the ground that will then take a lot longer to recover if at all. Some of the routes to the liftable wildlife boards are not hard surface paths but the same applies. In fact it is a nature reserve managed for the wildlife so it is always suggested that visitors and their dogs keep to the paths especially at this time of year when birds are starting to investigate nest sites. Denso Marston Nature Reserve is not a big area so birds disturbed from one nest site may leave it and not find another suitable site.

Denso Nature Reserve and along Gill Beck

On Sunday it seemed too nice to be indoors but I decided to put extra layers on because I half expected to be standing around quietly hoping to see a Water rail at Denso Marston Nature Reserve. I didn’t see it but nor did I get cold.

On the way down to Denso, there were Blackbirds, Blue Tits, Great Tits, and Jackdaws. I then walked round to the pond and there on the decking was a Grey Heron. I know they have long necks but I think its range, for catching fish or frogs, would be limited from that height above the water. It then flew over to the “island” and spent a while preening.

I walked up river so I could come back to the other side of the pond near the picnic benches but still had no luck spotting a Water Rail but did stop off at the Spider Club feeding station to see this Long Tailed Tit looking rather slim. They usually look like little balls of fluff on the end of a stick, not this one though.

After getting frustrated rather than cold I decided to head up to Gill Beck where I was lucky to spot two Dippers on rocks in the Beck just upstream from Tong Park Industrial Estate.

I walked up to the bridge at the top end of Tong Park Dam and then headed up the side of the valley and spotted members of the Friends of Gill Beck Valley. I decided to head towards them to see how they had got on. They had plans to install some bird boxes to encourage birds such as Pied Flycatchers. On the way towards them I noticed this Buzzard circling. It had also spotted me.

Even though at about this time we had some horizontal hail the view from up the slope of the valley was quite good.

On the way back along the Beck I spotted Dippers a couple of times flying along just above the water. I was surprised at the amount of Butterburr growing along the banks of the Beck in the soft silt from the recent floods. There were also quite large expanses of fresh Wild Garlic, it was very noticeable because a lot of debris had been washed away leaving smooth silt for it to grow up through.

After this I went back to Denso Nature Reserve, but still no Water Rail. I am going to have to make do with the fleeting glimpse I got of its back-end the previous week.

If you are viewing this on your phone I find that the photo look much better if you turn your phone to landscape orientation.