22 Feb 2017

Dungeness January 2017

First Sightings

The first visit of 2017 to Dungenss RSPB brought some good sightings for me. First up I finally got to see the Long Eared Owl that has returned for a second Winter and that makes the final of the 5 Owls that breed her in the UK actually seen in the wild. I had only a few weeks before seen a Tawny at last light in a tree across the field that backs onto my garden. Since my visit I have seen that the female has now appeared too. 

Long Eared Owl

Moving on further a Chiffchaff appeared by the second hide. A stunning coloured bird and early appearing it was felt by all in the hide. 


Then at the 3rd hide in another rare sight appeared frequently it turned out. A Water Rail, scurrying back and fourth in front of the hide feeding. I had seen one (probably the same bird) pretty much a year to the day at the same spot. This time I managed to get better photos of the bird. 


Further seen in the distance and too far to photograph were a pair of Gooseander, another first for me. We then went to the ARC hide on the otherside of the road to the main reserve and had a pleasant showing in great light of Bewick Swans of some 30-40 in number and rounded of a great few hours of this trip.

11 Feb 2017

Woodcock in my Garden!

Two weekends ago on the very frosty Sunday morning, upon opening the curtains downstairs I saw a very rare bird indeed. A Woodcock, casually sitting under the bird feeder station without a care or stress in the world. It occasionally fed around the base of one of the feed stations feet for a few hours on and off. Then around lunch time gradually made its way to the bottom of the garden (charging at 2 Jackdaws that landed in the garden in the process). It then resided between the 2 wire boundary fences for a couple of hours. I managed to get photos of the bird with my long lens shooting through the window. These pics follow the timeline of the bird moving to the end of the garden and even meeting our resident Moorhen that was doing a "What the hell are you?" to it... haha.

Just fed

Looking inquisitive

Back detail

About to charge the Jackdaws


Out in the garden after charging the Jackdaws

Meeting the Moorhen

In all the bird stayed for around 6 hours in the garden. Those 6 hours were one of the most magical I have had the pleasure of with wildlife. I hope it will return one day after being left undisturbed.

10 Feb 2017

Garden Visitors 4

With the garden being so abundant, it has been hard to fit all my images into least amount of Blogs possible...lol. So this shows the rest that call our garden home most of the time...

First up is the Greater Spotted Woodpecker. A pair (in fact at one point 4 were seen) make daily stops on the Peanut cages at various spots in the garden. The images I have are from a branch I set up extending from the feeder station and only some 25-30ft away from the window shooting from. I have also brought in a dead tree's trunk and fixed it onto a fence post with feeders either side at the bottom of he garden, but time and weather has prevented me from capturing them sitting on it. They are very nervy but bold against other birds on their feeder. We believe to have the Lesser Spotted turn up too but I have yet to capture them. 

Looking Disgruntled

I am so privileged to have the wonderful birds visit our garden so regularly. It backs up how safe all the birds in the area feel in our garden. 

Of all the Tit species, this one, the Coal Tit is the most elusive in the garden. A pair do spend a lot of time in the garden picking a Peanut and flying off somewhere to eat it. But they move so quick and within all the shrubbery/ Cherry Tree branches that its been nigh on impossible to capture them. I have managed 2 shots but not of what I really want of them. The first is of a brief landing on the washing line and the second only 7ft or so from my bedroom window.

Life on the Line...

They are like the badgers of the bird world with their White stripe down the back of their heads. The colouring is great too with the Grey wings offset by the Yellow/ Greenish breast area. 

One Storm ridden evening a Song Thrush decided to sing on top of next doors Connifer. With the dark cloud in the distance, it gave me a perfect backdrop to capture him singing (if not quite in the Rain). The light hitting it really made it stand out giving a pleasing record of this behaviour. 

Distance wise it was around 35-40ft away but luckily having the 500mm lens I could get the reach required. 

Every shooting season sees the release of Pheasants on the Park behind us. Some of those each year also become brave and tame I would say, as able to get 12ft from one particular male in 2014. They come in to feed on the seed in the Apple cage like other birds. But with one advantage over the others, in that, they have the height to knock the feeder to get seed to drop out of it onto the ground. Its like ringing the "Dinner Bell". The following captures this in action plus some of the "Tame" Cock Pheasant and the Hen in lovely light.

In this last frame I was actually against the fence looking back to the house, which shows how trusting she and he was. Even though a common sight in the countryside, they are so full of colour and patterning that is always pleasing to see and even more special when seen up close with a wild one.

Garden Visitors 3

The garden is still in abundance with wildlife, with 3 mammal visitors too. A grey Squirrel, Hedgehog and Fox have been captured visiting. The latter also providing an untimely death for our poor 17yr old female Rouen Clare Duck called Jilly. For the 17 or so years she roamed free with her partner and offspring with no trouble and suddenly a pair of Foxes had been seen nearby and one Sunday morning, just 30 minutes after she was let out, suddenly my father spotted one Fox with her. Alas she fell from her injuries but had a good innings for a Duck. 

The Grey Squirrel sporadically enters the garden and makes his way onto the Peanut feeders for a top up of energy. Also picks up seed dropped from the Apple cage feeder hanging from the Cherry Tree. He is very timid too and these are all shot through windows.

Helping himself

Hedgehogs make yearly visits to the garden thanks to us only having wire along the bottom boundary. Late last year in the evening quite a small one made its way into the garden, (I have since found out that they should not be about at this time of day) so I proceeded to very slowly make my way to it with the camera. I was able to lay next to it and capture it in the evening light.

My Best Side

Say "Catfood"

I'm Off

The little thing was very patient and let me be near it for a while and then went on its merry way. Having discovered what I did thanks to a TV programme, I now know it should have been picked up and taken to an official sanctuary as it was underweight and too small in size and being out in daylight too. 

Onto the Foxes. Thanks to 2 foreign supermarkets of German origin my father and I were able to buy a Wildlife Trail Camera each. In December 2015 I set them up for the first time, given the noise of the Foxes calling at around 11:30pm the previous few nights. Well it wasn't long before we had some hits, ending with great video footage of one too.

So we got our moneys worth very early on with one camera. As sad as it was with the Duck incident, I still find them great to see and it is only their natural intuition of hunting so it is not their fault. Its nature! 

Another colourful character we have come in are Moorhen. At one point we had 7 young and 2 adults come in to feed on the seed in the Apple cages. As I write, only 3 are showing currently and two are a pair as the third gets chased off by them. In the following it is some of these 7 young that I have captured.

Ventured onto the Duck house

Feeding Time


The young are full of life and explored every inch of the garden, walking out onto the ponds netting cover trying to swim, climbing up framework and trees and the Duck house too. Even scrapping with each other, you name it they did it in 2015's Spring/ Summer. I have yet to photograph them in adult plumage, but I have done so at other locations anyway. But when the weather is right and the time is I will get them at ground level from my make shift hide.

5 May 2016

Garden Visitors 2

Following on from "Garden Vistors 1" and "The Rare Garden Visitors" Blogs, this documents the other visitors I have visit on a regular or daily basis. First is the well known Chaffinch. He and his partner spend quite a bit of time in the garden normally hanging around the Cherry Tree for security. These particular shots are quite close to the house on the lawn where some seed had been spilled.

Male Chaffinch

Next up the House Sparrow, used to be very common and frequently nest in our Eaves, then for some reason (as documented by specialists) numbers dropped significantly. The last 2 years has seen them returning and living in my neighbours Rhododendron. A group of around 10-20 spend there time in the Shrub and pop out to our feeder station constantly. I was lucky to get a stunning male once all fluffed up posing...

A right Poser...

All fluffed up

They are so expressive and a joy to watch with their splendid deep Red/ Brown colouration. I'm glad the numbers have increased in my area.

The Blackbird is a stalwart of British Gardens and as such in ours too. Thanks to territory wars each season I have been able to capture (if not perfect) some of this action going on.... It is very challenging to capture due to trying to get 2 birds in one frame and also with their Erratic behaviour too.

The first 2 in the sequence are from 31/5/2014 and the second 2 are just recent to my writing this on 20th January 2016. To get them pin sharp is very tricky but I love how the drama and violence is depicted through the motion in the shots. One of the males is actually pretty tame and just last summer he, his partner and 1 youngster were all tame and were happy to feed on the table on the patio just some 12ft away from me. The next 3 are of this family. The female is particularly petty with a light mottled breast patterning.




They did have a second youngster but sadly it flew into the window and died. Such is life's balance!

On a lighter note, one of the most comical birds I watch is the Jackdaw. The way they move about, scrap with each other and generally get into mischief is just so enjoyable to witness. In the follow 2 photos, we had brush out the dead fur from our Border Collies and I thought as it was nesting time that maybe leaving it out in the garden would provide some activity. Sure enough, he landed not to far from it, looked around to see if it was clear, edged closer, looked again, edged closer, then went straight in, gathering as much as he could carry. He made 5 visits in the end clearing most of it and providing me with some footage too.


Sorry can't chat, got me mouth full!!!

 So this wraps up a few more of life in my garden. There are still plenty more for another Blog or 2 to follow.