Whos keeping an eye on me....

Friday, 28 November 2014

The Redpoll species

Mealy Redpoll Carduelis flammea
Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret

Thought I would add this review that I produced for my County recorder of two species that I am lucky enough to have in the garden during the winter months.

Lesser Redpoll Carduelis cabaret is a fairly common species in the UK and one that visits gardens up and down the UK especially when the winter months draw in.

Mealy Redpoll Carduelis flammea isn't so common and is quite scarce and usually very localised although we do have some years when large influx of birds arrive from Scandinavia.

The review for late 2013 and early 2014:

"I need to go back in time….. just a few days. December 28th 2013.

I had just returned home from twitching the American Buff bellied pipit and Siberian Chiffchaff when I noticed on the two Niger feeders were a large flock of Lesser Redpolls and within this group were possibly what I regard as my regular Mealy Redpolls. Proper inspection showed I had two together on the same feeder. Large, bull necked and paler they stand out a mile from the more slender and elegant Lesser Redpolls. I have certainly been able to get my eye in on these species variations over the last four years or so and instantly felt confident and excited that they were back. 

Sunday 29th December just a single Mealy Redpoll appeared although a morning’s walk meant I only had an hour or two to inspect the feeders.  

Monday 30th December and bam…….. 3 Mealy Redpolls. Two were very light individuals and one ever so slightly darker, but unmistakable. Phil Oddie had already asked to be kept informed and he duly came round, verified the sighting and went home happy with his local patch year tick (well, 3 x year tick). 38 Lesser Redpolls were counted also.  

The weather now turned very stormy and 31st and 1st January were a write off in the garden and only managed a brief glimpse of 6 Lesser Redpolls on New Years Day.  

I think the stormy weather had an effect on the garden as the next two weeks were fairly quiet with low numbers of all garden bird species and with my work pattern I wasn’t able to see any Redpoll species again until 23rd January 2014 when a large flock of Lesser Redpolls arrived with 25+ on the feeders. A day later and even better  as this time 32 Lesser Redpolls and you guessed it…….. 2 more Mealy Redpolls 

Unfortunately this was the last sighting of the winter, however my garden was now starting to become a pre-roost for the local population of Redwings. On a daily basis before last light a flock of upto 35 would sit high in the Willow for around 45 minutes before flying off. 

Now it’s approaching December 2014 and I await my first seasons Redpolls………."
Two comparison images Mealy vs Lesser

3 images of Lesser Redpoll

2 images of Mealy


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Dendrocops major:

A few hours at Pikelow farm to try and see some Buzzards failed miserably but I did get to see two or three Great Spotted Woodpecker individuals. Certainly an adult mail and a juvenile male. The light early on wasn't the best although it did improve before I left.


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Fly Agaric

Amanita muscaria

Common name: 
fly agaric or fly mushroom
Conservation status: 
Not considered to be of conservation concern. Widespread, and frequent to common throughout its range.
In woodland, or beside isolated trees. Ectomycorrhizal (forming a relationship with tree roots) especially with species of Betula (birch) and Pinus (pine), and occasionally with other tree species.
I found this lovely specimen in Macclesfield Forest over the weekend whilst on a family walk.

Teggs Nose Reservoir

One of four reservoirs situated in and around Macclesfield forest. (November 2014)
Teggs nose reservoir sits underneath Teggs Nose hill on the outskirts of the Forest. (April 2014)

Who says we don't get sunny mornings in the UK.......

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Autumnwatch 2014 (the last episode of the series).........LIVE

I got lucky! I got the guest invite ticket.....

A young lady with an idea to inspire a nation into loving nature through the power of social media, a family man with a passion for photography and teaching his kids all about nature and a TV show.

Springwatch 2014 had picked up on Lydia Johnson's idea of having 100 days of nature Lydia's day 1 of 100 then add my friend who loves his Macro photography and who would then take Lydia's inspiration and start on a 100 day venture of his own by capturing a different micro creature in his garden over the next 100 days.... meet Matt Doogue. He is an inspirational blogger who has created this wonderful 100 days of nature blog - catch his 100 days here.

Matt & Lydia backstage ready for the shoot.....

A new season and a new TV series....... Autumnwatch 2014 invited both Matt and Lydia onto the show for some interviews and discussion about their challenge.

Where do I fit in? well like I said I got lucky and as Matts wife was unable to attend off I travelled with Matt to the stunning Leighton Moss Rspb reserve in Morecambe Bay, Lancashire.

The itinerary was for Matt to be on location for a few hours to rehearse for his interview then spend some time taking up a macro shot challenge from within the reserve before going live on TV later in the day..... Twice! Autumnwatch Extra and Autumnwatch unsprung.

We would then watch the last of the series live from behind the scenes..... it all went perfectly.

We arrived in good time to spend an hour on the reserve checking out a couple of star species that this site has to offer. We managed to see two European Otters. One gave long but distant views as it swam across the expanse on waster before venturing off into the reeds. The other star species that I really wanted Matt to see were the Bearded Tits. I have been lucky enough to see them on each visit but I know of plenty of people who have failed to see them on multiple visits, so these are no way guaranteed..... pleased to say that Matt got lucky as we watched 4 feed on the gravel path.

I wont lie, these were too distant  to get anything else but record shots, but still a joy to see.....

these next two images are from a few years ago but at least show you how beautiful these birds are

Matt now had to go off and do his stuff for the TV cameras while I was able to enjoy the reserve and the hospitality of the Autumnwatch crew.
Marsh Tits are scarce and very localised in the UK so I always enjoy seeing the species at Leighton Moss and never pass up an opportunity to photograph one if I can.

you cant miss the Waterfowl at Leighton Moss......
and of course the Red Deer

the chase...... a youngster chases a female Pheasant

and we got this little fella trying to pinch the birdfood
Field Vole (I think......).......... a quick peek
and the sneak
Autumn watch presenters
Chris Packham (and your host Bfb)
Michaela Strachan
Matt and how very apt is that poster.....
Lydia and Matt filming
check out this guy, Beat boxer turns to the natural world he is brilliant and was a pleasure to meet him..... Jason Singh was doing his second season on Springwatch and Autmnwatch and his tune at the end of unsprung 2014 to celebrate Halloween was exceptional.
Jason & Matt
Nick Baker and Chris Packham sign Matts photo
in the unsprung studio before going live
and the final shot that I think sums up the whole day...... everyone important is in this image
Matt, Lydia, Nick, Chris and Michaela
Big thanks to my friend Matt Doogue for inviting me on his wonderful day and special thanks to the whole crew of BBC Autumnwatch 2014 for making the day very special.