Hide in the snow

 

Such a surprise this morning to wake up and find the ground covered in a thin layer of snow.

Within a few minutes of entering the wood I spotted a fox trotting along the hedgerow. I stopped and set up my hide in the hedge, although I think it had already seen me.

Watching the fox sprint across the field in to the opposite hedgerow, disappointment sank in. I thought that was the only glimpse of the fox I was going to get today.

Snow gradually to turn into heavy rain and water started to drip into the hide, I began to question whether I should head home and give up for today.

Still waiting, about 20 minutes later, with freezing toes and a wet leg, I was happy to see the same Fox run out from the wood, completely the other side from where it had disappeared. It slowly stalked across in front of the hide. Silently raising my camera I managed to get a few photos before he slipped back in to the wood.

Fox in snow 5Fox in snow 2

A trail of fox footprints told me that he must have circled behind the hide while I was waiting for him.

paw prints in the snow

Back home the bird table was busy as ever, from Long-Tailed Tits to Pigeons, chaffinches to sparrows, all bickering over the fat balls.

Long tailed tit

Pigeon in snow

Rat in the snow

Chaffinchsnow and fungi

Yesterday my mum called me saying that there was a Barn Owl a couple of miles down the road.

After a night of consistent rain the owl was still hunting at nearly midday. Barn owl feathers aren’t very water resistant so they tend to avoid hunting in the rain.

During the winter months the Barn owl’s main food, small mammals, such as Field Voles, Common Shrews and Wood Mice tend to become less active throughout the cold nights and more active during the day, meaning Barn owls can often be seen hunting during the day.

To preserve energy, during the winter months, Barn owls hunt from perches, like this fence post, rather than hunting from the air.

I took this photo out of a car window while we were stopped at a traffic light.

Barn owl

Posted in Blogging, fox, Fungi, mammals, nature, Oxfordshire, photography, Rat, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, Woodland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Afterschool

It’s nearly a month since Winter Solstice and it is definitely more noticeable that the sun is setting later.

This time last month the sun was setting around 3.45pm. Today it set at roughly 4.30pm. This has meant that I can start getting in a bit of photography after school.

The woods are starting to react to the slightly longer, if not warmer days. The Bluebells shoots and primrose leaves are beginning to break through the leaf litter.

The hazel trees are full of bright yellow catkins and small buds are appearing in the hedgerows and on the trees.

Even the birds are beginning to be a lot more noisier.

Last week I was really please to be awarded runner up in BBC Wildlife Magazine’s blogger awards 2017.

local-patch-award

BBC Wildlife Magazine Blogger awards 2017

This week I’ve been getting ready for the Big Garden Bird Watch

https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/

I’ve added a few more feeders and cleaned the old ones out. I’ve been trying different foods to attract different birds.

Bird table

 

Posted in birds, Blogging, Citizen science, Fungi, nature, Oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, winter, Woodland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Starling murmurations at Otmoor

It was 3.15pm, we had been walking around Otmoor for the past two hours. The weather was cold and windy, the ground a mixture of ice and squelching mud. Even with 3 pairs of socks on each step I took was beginning to hurt as my feet were numb with cold.

We had spent the past 10 minutes in the Wetland watch hide trying to warm up and decide whether we were going to stay to watch the starlings or start the walk back to the car park.

In the end we decided to head back out to the Starling viewing point. We joined tens of people heading the same way. Couples, birdwatchers, photographers, families with small children, all hoping to see the amazing aerial display put on by the Starlings.

Along the path, small bird shaped signs pointed out facts about the starlings or many of the other birds, such as Marsh harriers or Gold crests that can be seen on the reserve.

As we walked, small  clusters of starlings flew overhead, the sun began to set and the clouds cleared.

Groups of Starlings started to join together, some coming in small batches, while others poured in long dark tornado looking  masses. They moved from left to right in undulating waves. With each passing wave the cloud of Starlings grew bigger and darker.

Then the shapes started to appear.

This one was my favourite – it looks like Mary Poppins with her umbrella.

Looks like Mary Poppins - starling murmuration

 

 

The photo below is just a small section of the starling murmuration. I’ve put a grid over the photo to enable me to count how many starlings there were.

The middle square has roughly 50 starlings in it.

There are 70 squares which makes roughly 3500 starlings in this photo – and that was just a small section of the whole murmuration!

starlings with grid

 

Posted in birds, Citizen science, nature, Nature reserve, outdoors, Oxfordshire, photography, RSPB, Uk nature, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Bullfinches

Over the past couple of years I’ve noticed an increase in the number of Bullfinches on my local patch. I’m not sure whether there are actually more or whether I just notice them more often because UK Bullfinch populations have declined by 36% since 1967.

Now that I can recognise their song I’m also hearing them a lot more.

Did any one hear the clip on Radio 4 with Tim Birkhead, who talked about and played recordings of a Bullfinch that had been trained to whistle? It was amazing to listen to how well they can memorise and whistle back a melody.

Bullfinches feed on insects, berries, seeds and buds. The ones I’m noticing at the moment are feeding on blackberries.

You can see that one of the Bullfinches has scales on his legs that could be as a result of mites or it might be due to the fringilla papillomavirus which causes wart like growths.

The other appears to have a tick or growth next to his eye.

Bullfinch

Bullfinch in Brambles

Male Bullfinch

Bullfinch with possible Fringilla papillomavirus

Bullfinch with possible Fringilla papillomavirus

Flying through brambles

My most common view of a Bullfinch

Posted in birds, nature, Oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, winter, Woodland | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

If you go down to the woods today… January

January’s ‘If you go down to the woods today’…… in just over 50 words.

If you go down to the woods today listen to the ice crunch or the mud squelch underfoot.

IMG_3639

Look through the bare branches as zephyrs of Long Tailed Tits boisterously pass by or single Tree Creepers silently climb up tree trunks.

Long tailed tit

Long tailed tit

Treecreeper on Jan bird survey

Tiny bluebell shoots are just starting to break through the ground; a sure sign Spring is only a few months away.

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Posted in birds, nature, outdoors, Oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Woodland | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Durlston, Dorset

With wind bowing blowing sheets of rain on my face and the sound of waves crashing against the cliff face I stood at Durlston Head looking out to sea trying to spot dolphins. Unfortunately there were no Dolphins to be seen.

As the clouds raced across the sky, a rainbow came and went, and the sun began to show itself.

The view is amazing from the coastal path at Durlston Country park. From one side the view stretches over to Old Harry Rocks and from the other, Anvil Point with its lighthouse.

Durlston Country Park has a wide variety of wildlife from 250 species of recored birds, 500 different types of wildflower, 500 recored species of moths and thousands of invertebrates such as crickets and the Bloody-Nose Beetle. Many of which are named on the cafe wall.

Durlston Country park information

 

While I was there I encountered a number of different species of birds but the most exciting surprise was when I came across this beautiful Peregrine Falcon perched on the edge of the cliff face.

Peregrine falcons traditionally nest on steep cliff faces like the ones at Durlston where they hunt for birds, although they are now also seen in urban areas using buildings instead of sea cliffs.

The name Peregrine means “wanderer” or “pilgrim”.

 

Peregrine Falcon at Durlston Head

IMG_3755IMG_3734IMG_3738

Posted in birds, nature, outdoors, photography, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My local patch over Christmas week

The week since Christmas has been busy, together with patches of heavy rain, meaning I haven’t taken as many photos as I could have.

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for their support over the past year.

I’ve really enjoyed reading other people blogs, learning what you all get up to on your local patches and seeing your photos, it’s a great inspiration.

Wishing you all a wild 2018!

Posted in birds, Fungi, Happy New Year, nature, Oxfordshire, photography, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Wildlife photography, winter, Woodland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments