Please, do not hamper a young bird's life by picking it up, and taking it home with you. It is calling its parents to help them in locating it.
After fledgling from the nest, the parent birds will keep feeding it, and look out for it, until it will be able to look after itself.
And the reason you cannot see a parent is because of your own proxomity to the young bird. And while you are ebating if or not you should take the bird home, you keep the parent from giving it well needed nutrition in the form of a meal!


The photos on this blog are all taken by me. If there is any picture you might want to use for any other than personal use, please drop me a line to the email address shown in the sidebar on the right.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Goldcrest and Robins

Ever since my first visiting Goldcrest, and when I did manage a photo of this lovely creature, I've been wanting to get another one.

I can safely say that I've been almost as restless as the bird itself, afraid I'd miss the opportunity to photograph this lovely little creature.

When taking a break from my dishes, so that one bit could dry before the turn of the last bits, I spoted it on its way out, and, looking at the clock, it had been bang on time too, 1pm. So I did not think it would return this afternoon.

Well it did, to my surprise, and although it did not really sit still, this is the best I could do.

The annual Robin fights have started again. Last week two went head to head and it will be a bit calmer next spring, with only two Robins claiming this food source, after I found my third Robin last week.

In spring this year I observed three Robins on my wall.

It is best to understand when you start with picture number one, then go to the next by pressing the right arrow on your keyyboard. This way you can keep looking at the monitor and then you see the small position changes in the birds probably best.

We've now arrived at the usual roster where one Robin comes in to feed, and as soon as it leaves, number two flies in.
Robin One and Two: I don't know which produced it, but every year sees one beautiful young Robin. One of the most beautiful chicks on earth.

One of the Chaffinch females.

Friday, December 26, 2008

White bellied Cormorant ?

On Christmas Eve, (what day was that again? I'm lost again!) I went out for a quick tour of the backroad to the bay. I had little time, yet I did want to get out. Even so, I stopped for a minute or two for only one or two pictures. I've always been mad about the colour of Gorse. It is so vibrant! Only a few people were about on the road, but the weather was nice; it was mild, a light breeze yet this grey cloud which had covered us all this time was still overhead and giving me this claustrophobic feeling. Does any of yuo sense that too? That without change in light/sky, you start to feel caught in the middle of it without a way out.

At the bay I spotted a Cormorant, which sat waiting for the new tide to complete filling up the bath while it was sitting on a bit of seaweed, flanked by a Redshank.

Something was odd about it, but only after a bit did I really spot its white belly; and such a Cormorant I have not seen before which is why it looks a bit strange. A Cormorant should be black all over, right? And the Shag is the smaller one of the two. However I have yet to hear about this one. With an awful vertical reflection from the trees and a shine on the water, photography was difficult.
As I expected, the Cormorant started to do its funny take off, which always reminds me of Swans taking off while walking over water.

A Grey Heron was looking in the mirror with neck stretched forward to check its make-up and feather-do, I guess. What do you want, it would be Christmas Day the following day!. Last year I'd seen a couple of Grey Herons in similar positions, trying to swallow something which had been stuck in the middle somewhere.

The "white-belly" Cormorant in front of the church of Ireland, at Dunmanus Bay:

Also in and at the bay, a Grey Heron and a Hooded Crow, one of five flying above me with this one settling in a tree ahead of me and allowing me a very quick and careful picture. Although Overcast overhead since a few weeks now, and also on this day, there were nasty vertical reflections behind the Cormorant as well as the Grey Heron, resulting in me having to change the time of day in the image of the Heron and size in the case of the Cormorant.
Meanwhile, I've been told that it concerns a young bird; a Cormorant of 6-8 months old. Thank you very much, David Gains!)
I sm really delighted having been told that it concerns a new generation here.

In my garden, a Pied Wagtail, a male Chaffinch, a male Bullfinch, a female Chaffinch and Coal Tit:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Twice Lucky Wren.

In March 2008, I shot my first ever Wren picture, as it was toying with this bright green cayerpillar. The series of five photos with the grub in varying degrees of "flatness, showed how the Wren killed it first by slapping on the wood of the shelf and only then ate the result.
Wrens prefer to stick to the wooden supports underneath the shelf, flitting between the slats, looking for Insects.

A few days ago, I spotted my Wren and it was strutting a whitish worm or caterpillar. A bit like the caterpillar of the Small Magpie Moth, I guess. Which is well possible it was one of these as I've seen the Small Magpie Moth on four or five occasions in the house/garden. After it had finished this one, it was still hungry apparently because it popped up again from below with a green caterpillar! There was barely 10 minutes between the two. It was moving about constantly with the green price; however it kept putting it down repeatedly, looked at it before picking up again. It was further away than the one in spring, making observation and photography harder.
Prior to the Wren I had concentrated on a few more detailed shots with the camera set on macro. Between the rapid clicks of the shutter I was trying hard to 'un-click' this setting with the little button beside the shutter. It did not really work and I shot a whole "film" before these shots which were totally ruined by the wrong focus. A pity because many had the first grub in the Wren's beak also. Which I thought would be a nice comparison with the green pictures.

The exppressions of the Wren is my main reason for taking these pictures; one of these birds with a face like no others. Otherwise I would not have posted these because the quality is not my best.

I have no idea what the green grub would become eventually, had it been left alone l . ater, and if anyone has any ideas, please let me know.

At last she is having the guts to pick it up again.

She then took it to a dark corner behind one of the little uprights on the shelf. I could only see the green grub tremble and move nervously as the Wren was still toying with it.
All These photos were the last of his/her encounter with her meal; she had been slapping it about for a bit before I took these pictures.
I think what happened was that this particular grub took longer to die. Which might explain her behaviour and expressions on the face also.

I am just very glad that my overgrown garden is still able to offer two meals at this difficult time for Birds. I hope there are many more left between the bits out there.
It is fasvinating I think that Great Tits especially, will also visit the support slats on their search for Insects. The Coal Tits too and even House Sparrows and Chaffinches have been down there. A pity that it is such a dark spot for photos.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas pondering

With everyone, but us, getting ready for Christmas, I put up my Christmas card on Wildlife on Wheels, but JJ asked me to put up his message too, so here goes:

And from me too:

I hope 2009 will be a good year to all species, avian and Terra/aquatic alike and for us humans too. Perhaps we will use this year to start thinking of what ew are actually doing to uor lovely planet and those which share it with us?

Or am I too hopeful? Course I am. unfortunately.

Mind, I am hoping that the promises made to me by two nature sites, of getting another path or trail accessible to our wheels, will not be in vain. And that indeed we can go an have a look there.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wagging Wagtails

Every winter the White Wagtails come here from the fields behind and beside us to spend the winter in our garden and stealing scraps from the Corvids in the school yard.
When we see flashes of white (tails) in the garden we automatically think of Chaffinches, males, females alike. In our case it can very well be Waggers too, and this can be quite confusing sometimes when you are used to it being a Chaff more likely over the spring and summer time. Apart from me, the birds do have to change their mindset again too. It will get quite bossy now with 5 Great Tits, 2 or 3 Robins, a number of House Sparrows and 2 Dunnocks, one of which is turning out to be quite a match for any one of the latter! Never knew the shy Hedge Sparrow could be a fierce opponent to the bigger ones of the small garden birds.

The Grey Wagtails from the river, about 100-180 metres behind us in the valley, used to disturb me with their shrill call. These would visit the wall behind the birdtable and visit the birdtable sometimes also. It is a real shame that they stopped this habit in 2006, because I would have loved to get one or two piccies of them. Only got photos of a Grey Wagtail chick out at the mouth of the river at the shingle strand where it sat for 30 minutes waiting for mum or dad to bring food.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Eire's smallest bird: a tiny one in my garden

What I have not mentioned before is that the Long Tail Tits which I saw in September on the High Botany backroad, had moved about 1kilometre east when I spotted the flock flitting about this tree at the entrance of, not just anywhere, only "just" at one of the houses of the latest extension of our council estate. This tree is more or less at the entrance of the little cul de sac where we are living.

I would have been delighted any other day of the year, hoping I would be able to lure it over into our garden- (mind, we are the one at the final end of the 26 council houses.
I had just done the last of our shopping before we would leave to town for our break in the Maritime hotel over Halloween. I id mention this because they were gone, four days later.

Yesterday, I was in a little dark mood because the weather promised to keeop me housebound for the rest of this week, and after returning home from the village shop I suddenly spotted something dive behind the Fennel at the back of the planter.
With four eager Coal Tit flying about, I had trouble concentrating on this one point, and my first instinct was a Wren; it showed the same secretive behaviour.

Then suddenly, I called Francis; I was desperate for him to see Ireland's (and UK's)smallest Bird.
My hand was too shaky for a picture, but Francis told me that it would return, so don't worry. (wouldn't it be lovely to have this lax and sometimes naive way of thinking of the non-birder?)

Anyway, he was right. As you can see in the two pictures, it did return this afternoon. About the same time (1-2pm) and the weather's behaviour seemed less important: house arrest looked not too bad with a Goldcrest in my feeding station.

Mind you, it was still tempting otside, it did rained now and then for 2 or 3 minutes, but that was the problem, plus it was still very dark.

Being prepared this time, and waiting for it with camera ready, I got a few reasonable photos. Still, it was very nervous, and I still need to learn its habits; a preferred route about the planter, which food tray it prefers, does it come in from the left or the right, and how does it interact with the others?

In fact it imitates the Coal and Blue Tits a little in getting a bite (peanut cake/feeder or seed) and eating it in the Fennel, and going around the outer edge of the planter.

Late August, while I was eying a Whiffwaff (either a Willow Warbler or Chiffchaff- often too hard to tell apart) in ther Fennel with the camera to get good shots for a probable ID, a Goldcrest sat watching me, the garden and my birds from the fence before leaving again. Was it preparing for winter and searching the area for a good and safe diner to help in surving the cold winter?
I had the feeling it would come back this way, since then. A little cold can do wonders. Now all it has to do, is stay and call a few friends perhaps. ?


The newcomer was observed with curiosity by all customers, it was not directly seen as a threat yet, and it was lucky not to have met the two Robins this time. These are very fierce in protecting "their" feeding station from new intruders.

The Wagtails are moving in aain too with their shrill call warning you where they are.

All you need to see are two eyes.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

2 places to go Birding on Wheels in the South West: South coast

Aftr having got the info from Niall on the three reserves on the East Coast, I feel rather envious when living in such a beautiful part of the country.

Anyway, there are two lagoons on the South Coast of West Cork. Both are lagoons, one in Rosscarbery, beside the Celtic Ross Hotel, with a road along the side. A large flock of Mute Swans is resident here, and I remember of endless trips in the bus of the West Cork Branch of the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) as we drove passed, collecting members living near Ross. And although I cannot remember the particular birds I saw, there always was much wildlife in the lake, created by the causeway. More details
I have many times been in the hotels for IWA committee meetings, yet I cannot remember having gone onto the road without the bus, and do not know if you can get close to the edge. I am dying to find out myself, and would not say no to a chance to go and have a look. Transport, as ever is the big problem though.

The other is in Clonakilty, a little further than Rosscarbery. Or closer, if you are coming from Cork city.
I have never done this walk, or part of it, as I only recently came upon the website, myself. Like Ross, I have been in Clonakilty endless times. A nice historic town (as is Rosscarbery) which has won Tidy Town numerous times.

The NPWS is still working on the marsh to develop the place and offer things like hides, etc. so, I will contact them about these and accessibility.

It looks as if you are able to do birding from a car. As long as you bring scopes and lenses.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Latest JJ photos

I've been rather busy lately and have spent not that much time behind the camera. This is highly unusual for me with the camera living at my arm in the window at my kitchen window and the bird table at the other side so to speak. JJ, his siblings or cousins, and the Rooks are darkening the sky regularly when they all come out to feed on the playground beside us, and on my peanut cake.

I went through some old photos this evening, of the young ones this summer, and had planned to go out to the bay during the afternoon, but after a quick dive to the village for some white wine, milk, and the papers, I was frozen already. So perhaps tomorrow, although I doubt it very much already. Besides, the pain is not looking forward to that anyway. We'll see. you see, I hate it that my early morning trips are off the card these days. Although I am very careful on the road in rain and with frost (not that I get much experience with the latter phenomenon here in the "tropics of Eire, I am afraid for the possible carelessness of other road users. Even in the early morning.

Anyway, enjoy the pictures.

I love the details in these pictures of the Rooks. And what I like about black and grey birds, regarding photography.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Another side to my Blue Tits: musings and reactions.

A few days ago I reported the strange behaviour among my Blue Tits. And I asked Niall at Birdwatch Ireland for his ideas or if he had ever come across this kind of behaviour.
Although these Bird's behaviour is still pure guesswork on my behalf, and I would not know for sure what had happened on my fence that morning, except what I observe, it is perhaps easiest to try and look into the incident as two different visits? First it is the single Blue Tit which comes to take a look at the stunned bird, and tries to bring it back to life by the tugging on the wings of bird number A. Also it was flying nervously around the little victim. What is, if at all, was the bond between the two?
Perhaps the relation between these two birds can partly be explained by the behaviour I observe on a year round basis.
For a number of years I follow the two birds, always together, roosting in a wall opposite the window of our workroom from where I used to follow them. Every winter they would use it a hide from where they would feed in my garden on a regular basis during the day, but also in the garden at the other side of the wall in the garden of the house which stands in front, but on a lower level than us. This is why we only see the TV aerials on the chimney. The wall, which lines the path leading up to our house, is there to protect anyone from falling down into the garden below.

Their roost is a little narrow gap in the cement in-between two breeze blocks. The opening is only just big enough for the little Tits, with on the other side of the wall another slit high up a “cliff” of limestone, the main ingredient of our hill, rising up out of the garden of my neighbour below. The pair of Blue Tits will always be in and around the wall in front of the trees also rising up from the garden below. Early spring, the two will start with “building a nest” here, but in the end they always abort after awhile, choosing another site for breeding purposes. Most of the time this is in the Conifer trees next to the school and the house below us, just in front of the side of our garden. Here they have to fight for their place though; competition from Coal Tits, and other little ones.
Even so, this year they came to show off their single fledgling this summer.
I have added this, to illustrate the bond between the, what I believe to be, same Blue Tit pair than the ones which were involved in the window-fence incident.

Anyway, this is what Niall's ideas are:
"The Blue Tit behaviour that you noted is indeed very unusual, and I have to say that I have never come across anything like this myself. It is interesting to see such apparent concern for the welfare of this stunned individual from the other Blue Tits, but I suppose we can only speculate as to what the motivation was. We understand very little about the social relationships of even our most common garden birds, though perhaps there was indeed a strong pair-bond present between the stricken bird and its helper and this is what caused it to behave in this manner. The behaviour of the other Blue Tits is a bit harder to try to explain however, as this unfortunate individual would represent competition and it would be in their interest (harsh and unpalatable as this may seem to us) for it to die. Whether they were trying to help or to hinder it is something that we will probably never know, though their behaviour may well have been far from friendly. However, perhaps they were related in some way to the bird and so were keen for “their” genes to survive. It would be fascinating to know for sure."<

Another reaction comes from Mike, an Irish reader which told us this about Coal Tit behaviour:

".Coal tits act in a similar manner when one of their own or even another species of small bird is in trouble, I had an experience of this a few months back, after a sparrow had snuck into my bedroom through a window and I did not notice it until I heard something fluttering madly near my head at about 5 am.
After about an hour of searching I found a poor little sparrow, who was badly in shock, so I put an empty shoe box near it and it went into it after a while, I then brought it out the back and placed the box in a quiet spot near the bush the sparrows favoured and I sat nearby, to keep an eye on it as it was not well at this point.

As the sparrow lay in the box, a coal tit came down to see what was in the box, and was not put off by me sitting by it, the coal tit flew off and within ten minutes I had coal tit after coal tit arriving to look into the box, and giving their little badger head cheeps as they did.

The little sparrow did not make it in the end and died after about 60 minutes."<