Welcome to my world. I work hard and play harder. My favourite patch is Lake Farm in Hayes,
Middlesex but I also frequent Cranford Park, and like to take mini-breaks all over the UK. Every photo I take is like capturing a memory for me. And at the end of a day of bird and wildlife watching, nothing gives me better pleasure than a large glass of wine whilst I'm going through my recently taken photos.
Tuesday, 5 March 2013
Beautiful weather, my first butterfly of the year and a sunbathing fox
Weather-wise I love days like today. Crisp cold early mornings with clear blue skies and milder afternoons. It was so mild today that Nelson and Kate had their winter jackets taken off for the second day in a row.
I popped down to the paddocks briefly this morning to give Nelson, Kate, Star and Stevie a carrot each, and saw a lovely Sparrowhawk soaring above. It was circling but coming down low, so fired off a few pics. As I was walking back to the office I happened to glance back and saw another one had joined the first. Size difference was so obvious, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not get a shot of the pair of them in the same frame. I then beat myself up all day questioning if they were Sprawks or if they were actually Kestrels. There was no hovering as the birds weren't hunting for food, they were obviously on a mission to woo each other, and were going around in circles. Other birds, like the Fieldfares and Redwings (only 3 of each seen today) and the Blackbirds, all took off to the nearest cover, but Ive seen them do that when the male Kestrel has sat on the fence. So what do you think ? Was this (below) a Sprawk or a Kes ?
The weather really warmed up at lunchtime, but I was very busy a work, the phone didn't stop ringing, and I couldn't justify leaving the office for any reason than to look at damage on the trucks or trailers, or to see out a driver. But just sitting at my desk, I could see birds are definitely pairing up. The Collared Doves, Magpies, Blue and Great Tits, Robins, Pied Wagtails and Dunnocks are in obvious pairs now. Chaffinches are still singing but not quite attracting mates and Woodpigs are just scrapping and fighting all the time. I also saw my first butterfly of the year. A Large White fluttering across the yard. Then I saw another, looked like a small brown one, then another, then another and then another. So in total I had five butterflies today. Great sign that spring is nearly sprung.
Mid-afternoon, work had quietened down so I went back down to the paddocks. During my chat with Nelson at the fence (yes I now talk to the horses too) I could see his attention was elsewhere. Both he and Kate kept staring over into the other paddock, but I couldn't see what had caught their eye. Then all the Woodpigs that had been feeding flew off from an area near a mass of brambles, and out trotted a fox. As per sods law, I didn't have my camera, so shot back to the office, grabbed it and shot back, and well guess what......the fox had gone. Having nothing to lose I wandered off right down to the bottom of the paddocks, where Skip Man keeps his skips. Banks of earth have been built up around here to make two smaller 'yards'. The banks are obviously well established and are covered with patches of grass, teazles, buddlia, brambles and the first signs of nettles (this is going be a wildlife haven for me in the summer !!). The banks are roughly 10 foot high, so I cant see the paddocks once I'm inside these little yards. And what did I find, this beautiful fox (below) curled up asleep in the sun right on top of one of the banks. It wasn't the same fox I had seen emerge from the brambles (that one was very grey around its back and had a huge brush tail). This one sleepily put its head up and let me take over 20 pics before the bloody work phone rang, and it shot off. It was so beautiful that its deserves the privilege of having its photo set to extra large, instead of medium !!
Sleepy sunbathing foxy
This is also not the same small young dog fox that occasionally appears around the trucks in the yard. The face is much thinner than Squiffy. So if the first fox I saw today wasn't this one, and this one isn't Squiffy, then I have a feeling I have stumbled upon a foxes den. Fingers (and paws) crossed and watch this space.
Happily I wandered off back to the office. The weather by this time was gorgeous. I had two herons, eight mallards and three noisy Egyptian Geese fly over, plus Green Woody at the far end, and the three Fieldfares in the far oak. I also keep seeing a Goldcrest in the same shrubbery, and it was there again this afternoon.
Not much was on the ground in the paddocks as the horses were thoroughly enjoying the mild weather too and regularly were having rolls around in the grass. Nelson was showing off and running around the paddock, while Kate and Star done what they usually do, and followed me all the way down the avenue.
So a very enjoyable day, not just for watching wild life, but also at work today. I love it when its busy, and don't feel so guilty going down to the paddocks as I tell myself I deserved the break. I reckon I also deserved the two glasses of wine Ive had tonight. Don't often drink on a 'school' night but sod it lol. Two more days to go until my scheduled four days off, I wish this type of weather would continue, but I've got a horrible feeling it wont.