Sue is not an early bird, though I may have converted her after what we saw this morning.
We were at Cranford Park at 7.45am looking for the Little Owls. Within 45 minutes Sue spotted one flying into a tree with prey. Neither of us have ever seen one eat, so for the next few minutes it was complete verbal silence and concentration as our cameras went into 'gunfire' mode, taking snap after snap after snap. I've selected the best that I took below. They have been heavily cropped and lightened though.
Well you can only imagine the silly grins on our faces ! What a great thing to experience, though maybe not for the poor mouse though.
John arrived just fifteen minutes after the Little Owl flew off. Sue had to disappear for an hour, so after John and I briefly scanned the trees for the owl without luck, we decided to go and see the Kestrels and resume our owl search when Sue came back.
The Kestrels didn't disappoint either. Just before coming in to the park earlier this morning I'd seen Lorraine and Ginny the dog, and Lorraine said the Kestrels had already been seen on the grassy paths so John and I headed there first. And there they were.
|Juvenile on the left, adult female on the right.|
|I could not get all three birds in focus, but at least I got three together.|
|You could always tell which birds were juveniles by how they landed in the tops of the shrubby trees.|
|Watching them hovering and practising their 'swoop' was brilliant. I really could watch these birds all day.|
And we managed to see five Kestrels all at once, though no photos as two were flying and three were on the ground. But it does look like both the adult male and female were still staying fairly close to their three off spring.
While John and I were immersed in the Kestrels, there was a call next to us and up came a Skylark. I don't normally have any luck photographing these beauties as they soar so high up, but this one only rose to head level and even I managed two half way decent photos.
We made our way back to the owls as I desperately needed a cup of coffee, and John had kindly (with a hint from myself of course) bought a large flask. He makes a mean cuppa. Sue arrived shortly after, with Jasper the bird-dog, and just as we were chatting and supping coffee a Little Owl flew in and landed in the next tree. None of us were quick enough to grab a photo, and it was soon off to another tree.
For the next few hours it was 'find-the-owl', and several times we succeeded. Sometimes the owl was too high up the tree, or had it's back to us, so we didn't always get photos.
But sometimes we did.
I still think there are only two juveniles, and they are almost 'teenagers' in age. I managed just two poor photos of two birds....
|A juvenile just hidden by leaves on the left, and a possible adult on the right|
|One (an adult I think) in top left corner, and a juvenile in bottom right corner.|
But we did at last see three birds together. Sadly I didn't manage to record it, but hopefully John or Sue got a photo of all three that I could post on my next blog.
Shortly after the sighting of three Little Owls both John and Sue (and Jasper) had to leave.
I stayed on as I had set myself two targets. To find a native honeysuckle and get a cutting to hopefully grow in my garden meadow at the bottom of the Marks Mansion estate, and to get some seeds from one of the many wild foxgloves that grow in the woods. And I got both.
There are two varieties of honeysuckle growing at Cranford Park. I don't know the name of the one below, but carefully took a cutting anyway.
and the one below is the one I've been after. Lonicera periclymenum. I carefully took two cuttings of this one, and will pot them on when I visit Marks Mansion tomorrow.
I also found some gorgeous foxgloves and gently collected the dried seed from the bottom of the flower spike.
Also abundant at Cranford Park at this time of year, are these perennial sweet peas. They are very tall with thick upright stems, so as I was in the collecting mood, I carefully took some seed heads too.
So a very enjoyable and productive day. To finish off my blog, a couple of 'black mail' photos........
and one of Jasper after he became bored looking for Little Owls, and decided to have an afternoon nap under the bench :)
and lastly a thank you to Gina for helping me identify the honeysuckle and sweet peas.