I had a quiet stroll along the river at Denso Marston Nature Reserve so I took some photos of flowers and spent some time looking for insects.
As usual you can tap on any of the images (except the header image) to view them larger in their gallery carousel.
The ring flash on my macro lens lit the Dandelion clock nicely and allowed me to use a small aperture to get a reasonable amount of it sharp. The Spanish Bluebells are still looking good and, of course, an early 2023 post from Denso would not be complete without a photo of an Alder Leaf Beetle.
I have seen several post on facebook where people have been commenting on the number of Heather Beetles in their gardens. So far I have not seen any in our garden but there are quite a few at Denso. I can’t say I have noticed it before but the females of some of this type of beetle can balloon to an enormous size when they are about to lay eggs, like this Green Dock Beetle.
Already it looks like the underside of every leaf on some of the Beech trees has dozens of Aphids. This is one of the reasons why it is not a good idea to park a car under a Beech tree, they leak.
The photo of the swarm of flies on the river was taken at 1/20s. Counting the wing beats shows that most of them are beating their wings 100 times per second. There are trails of a couple of smaller flies in the swarm that are show that they are beating at twice that rate.
The juvenile Goldcrest (?) has been ringed already.
Getting on towards what was intended to be the end of my visit I heard several Blackbirds sounding the alarm. I had heard a similar racket in our garden back in 2019 and wondered if it had the same cause. Lower down you can find a link to the blog post that resulted from that time.
And what a racket they were making. I walked along to a bench from where I hoped to get a look into the area where the Blackbirds were. They were flying around and into an area of trees so I settled against the side of the bench and started scanning for what was agitating them. It took me a while to find the first two fluffy young Tawny Owls. Once I had found them I was surprised how long it had taken me, they seemed so obvious. One of them was looking towards me. Given the size of them I was surprised that every time I looked away I then had to spend a while to find them again. First off I saw the two next to each other but after looking away I could only find one, and then realised it was a different one. I then managed to get all three in view. Cute little things, all looking away from me. After I looked away I had to hunt around again, but this time found a dozing adult facing towards me. I reckon that is the one that was spooking the Blackbirds.
The next set of photos are from a visit to Ben Rhydding Gravel Pits.
Through the trees on the river bank I spotted a flash of white that looked quite big, a Little Egret I thought. I watched the white shapes fly along the river and settle near a gravel bank. From the bits I could see it didn’t look vertical like Egrets often do in shallow water so I thought it might be standing in deep water and be tilted forwards. When I got past the branches and leaves I was surprised to see that it was a Black Headed Gull. Admittedly it looked a large Black Headed Gull but nowhere near the size of an Egret. However it wasn’t long before a Little Egret came along.
The family of Mandarin Ducks was cute but earlier on the Mum was making a lot of noise flying towards trees overhanging the river bank and I was wondering if there was a predator checking out her chicks and she was trying to protect them. Only a few minutes before a couple on the bench had said they saw an Otter go past.
A couple of times on previous visits I had seen sleak looking brown and white bird fly along the river. On this visit a similar looking bird flew along and landed up-river from me and I was able to get a photo and identify it as a Common Sandpiper.
Up river near where I would have to turn off to get back to my car a Grey Heron was having quite a bit of luck catching Minnows. When a Grey Heron looks straight at you its beak, head and neck look about 2 cm wide but when it catches something it can throw it up and open a gape that is wide enough for it to swallow the fish sideways. Amazing. The last Grey Heron photo is taken with a shutter speed of 1/8s fortunately the bird stayed reasonably still while the water was flowing past it. The water looks much smoother than it does in the other photos.
This link is for the blog post from the last time I saw a Tawny Owl spooking Blackbirds.
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