Monday, 16 July 2012

Benefits of Patience.

The back garden might not be the first place some people think of when asked where they asked about great wildlife viewing hotspots but with a little patience you can be amazed by the sights and sounds of the wildlife so close to home.
   On a typical day our garden can be visited by numerous species of which mostly commonly seen include chaffinches, blackbirds, robins, magpies, woodpigeons, green finches, house sparrows, blue tits, great tits, starlings, rooks and jackdaws. Less common visitors include bullfinches, blackcaps, pheasents, long tailed tits, goldcrests, redwings and jays. These all over time have learnt there are generous helpings of free hand outs to be had unaware that in return for visiting the garden they give a huge amount of enjoyment to anyone watching them. The tranquillity is sometimes broken however in the chaos, which ensues only, when an approaching sparrowhawk is approaching as birds erupt in panic and desperately search for cover, a split second difference in reaction time could well be the difference between life and death.

    Further across the garden our small pond provides a home for a whole range of different species, which can be seen particularly in the warmer weather including pond skaters, toads, frogs and newts. One of the highlights of watching the local wildlife is witnessing the development of tadpoles into fully grown adults always fascinating. On warm summer evenings, bats can be seen flying low over the water to catch midges and other small flying insects always providing spectacular acrobatic displays. In the woods very close to the back of the house, tawny owls can be heard calling while often foxes barking like vocalisations call also be heard in the nearby fields. Plants provide a home and food for a whole miniature world as bees busily pollinate and spiders spin their webs waiting for an unfortunate victim. Butterflies of several varieties also like to call a quiet back garden home.
 So often taking the time to just sit, watch and listen can often be just as rewarding as going on long trips searching for wildlife, which sometimes is right under our noses.
Until next time, all the best  George.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Brilliant birds and clumsy stupidity.

When the frankly atrocious weather finally took a break long enough to allow an extended outdoor excursion, I decided to make the most of it. I am fortunate enough to live close to the coast and decided on a coastal walk with the aim primarily of bird watching. And so set off with enthusiasm and optimism at what the outing would bring.


 The route to the coastal walk itself passed by several fields and hedgerows ideal habitat for small mammals and birds of which I particularly expected to see.  It did not take long along the route before the first glimpses of Rabbits bounding for cover came into view while House Sparrows and Chaffinches called loudly to each other as I walked past clearly unhappy at my presence. Further along my walk I was greeted with a sight, which always makes enjoyable watching, Swallows a sure sign summer has supposedly arrived on their completion of their migration from Africa, twisted and turned chasing after small flying insects with remarkable agility. After watching them for a while fascinated by them, I decided to move on.  On arriving at the turning for the cliff path, it was noticeable that although the sun had unbelievably made an appearance, it had in no way been out long enough to dry out the deluge of rain that appeared over the previous few days, as the large puddles clearly showed. Unperturbed by this hardly surprising discovery I pushed on, and very quickly was rewarded with a sight I had not witnessed for quite some time. A beautiful Kestrel hovering over an open field searching for potential prey served as a reminder why they are one of my favourite birds. The incredible ability alone to be able to hover is amazing added with  their fantastic eyesight and adaptability and it really is no surprise they are such successful hunters. For several minutes the majestic bird continued to hunt within view, before then clearly deciding that the area for now was vacant of tasty Voles and moved onto a different hunting ground sadly out of immediate view.

Kestrel hovering.
 Image available at:

Surprisingly little else was seen on my walk and if I had turned around after seeing the Kestrel not only would my walk have ended on a high, I would also of saved myself a fair amount of discomfort. As I continued I was suddenly presented with a potentially difficult obstacle. Directly in front was a very large puddle, to my left was a National Trust sign, blocking my immediate route around the swamp and my right presented a delightful assortment of Brambles, Thorns and Stinging Nettles. After considering my options it became apparent if I was careful and agile, (I am neither of those things) I could jump over the narrowest part of the swamp and avoid the sign, I decided to go for it. Mistake. My leading leg cleared the obstacle fine, however I realised at about the same time as my trailing knee clattered into the sign that I had miscalculated. Donk! was the sound it made as my the knee connected, I'm sure the sign nearly was uprooted by the force of it. The knee unsurprisingly was not to pleased with me about my mistake and the pain was quite amazing I decided after this to cut my loses turn back and hobble. All the way home.

   Despite this however the wildlife seen was well worth it and as I write this the resident Jay I had started to become worried about after not seeing for a few days reappeared. And to make it better it brought a partner with it! not  a bad way  to sign off I think.
 Bye for now George.