Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Free as a Bird...

With the summer in full flow, and the weather being so pleasant of late, it's been a good season for baby birds. On a sunny patch of grass by the woods I watched a young Magpie being fed by its parent.

"Feed me, feed me!"...

"More, more...."
They flew off towards the stream, cackling and squawking. The smaller birds wisely kept their distance from the dangerous duo... except one.

Oblivious to any threat, this little chap just sauntered about without a care in the world. She wasn't going to survive out in the wilds for long with such a reckless disregard for danger. There were Magpies, Crows, dogs, cats, foxes, as well as Sparrowhawks all out and about looking for an easy snack.
After a bit of a chat, Budgie and I decided that it would be probably for the best if she came home with me.

She's a pretty bird even though it does look like she's only got one leg. I can assure you that there are actually two!

Look, two legs... damn! How difficult should it be to prove a budgie has two legs?!!!

Right, there we are... two legs.

She's settled in fine. Happy to sit on my hand, and poo in my cup of tea while I'm not looking. We watch the Magpies through the window together, a much safer option.

I've even trained her to fly in slow motion!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Fox Tales... Nap Time.

She may try and look mean, with her best "I'm a big bad wolf stare", but really she's a softy.

It's just an act to keep the cubs in line, now that they're getting to that 'boisterous' stage.

Sometimes they're very cheeky, snatching food from right under her nose. If there is something you want to avoid, it is getting between a fox and it's food, I have the bite marks to prove it!

Out of the two remaining cubs, this is the most confident one, always getting into trouble. He's wet from playing 'catch the moth reflections' in the puddle.

A bit of running around through the tall grass soon left him dry and fluffy again.

His sibling is a little smaller, but can hold its own in a squabble over nosh.
When they were young there was a third cub, but nature doesn't favour all, and now there are just the two of them. It was a cold, hard winter, and foxes vary their litter size according to conditions, it seems even three was too many.

Once the cubs had had their fill of food, they went off to practice their hunting skills by terrorising the beetles attempting to make the already perilous journey across the desert of the country lane.
There's nothing like sitting on the warm tarmac under the stars, sharing a few raisins with a friend.

A combination of tiredness bought on by the incessant attentions of the cubs, and the brightness of the camera flash, soon caused sleepy eyes to appear...

... and 'nap time' quickly followed.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Damsel(fly) in Distress...

Even though I had a list of chores that needed doing, it was far too warm and muggy to do much. I elected to go kayaking instead.

I took my homemade underwater camera housing, but the water was murky, churned up by the passing narrowboats.

At the margins of the water, amongst the reeds and weeds it was a little clearer, but the fish I had intended to film had been spooked by boat propellers.

After a few miles of paddling I stopped for a snack. The damselflies were busy doing what damselflies do. These 'Large Red Damselflies' (Pyrrhosoma Nymphula) were quite striking with their bright red eyes. Although they're called 'large reds' they're actually very small, much smaller than the more common blue or green specimens.

This tiny chappess laying eggs on a twig is one of the smaller species (Ischnura Elegans).
In my eagerness to get a closer photo I scared the poor thing and it hastily took flight...

...straight into a spiders web. The spider was all of a fluster. It really wasn't sure whether it wanted this flying predator tangled in its trap, and quickly hid behind a leaf.

Carefully, I teased the damselfly free and let it perch on my finger.

It gave itself a good preening and carried out a few pre-flight checks.

It was a cute little thing. With a cock of its head as if to say 'thanks', or perhaps 'thanks for nothing', it was off, skimming the water, and dancing with its friends.

It was time for me to be off too. Homeward bound on my mirrored carriageway...