Heard my first cuckoo for this year on Saturday whilst on a bike ride. Its great to hear it again.
The bluebells in the wood are looking (and smelling) amazing now. I’ve been trying out an experiment with my trail camera and the bluebells. More to come later.
Also saw the goshawk again yesterday. This time it was riding a thermal over the woods opposite our house with some buzzards which was good for size comparison. I tried to get the camera on it but it was too far away and too high up.
April 7, 2016 by Jackson Hellewell | Comments Off on Chiffchaffs officially back in my patch!
Although I have heard 1 or 2 Chiffchaffs a day for the last week or so I don’t call them ‘officially back’ in my local area until I have seen one and heard a lot more per day. On Saturday I heard at least 12 when I was on a cycle ride and so I am now officially saying they are back in my patch.
Also I have seen another summer migrant in and around my local patch, the Swallow! I have seen a couple now, hopefully more and more will be arriving soon and they will start to nest. They seem to be very early this year, probably another side effect of the weird winter that we had, the first time I spotted one this year was the 31st of March!
March 7, 2016
by Jackson Hellewell Comments Off on Goshawk seen over my garden!
Yesterday whilst in my garden I heard all the small garden birds suddenly break out in alarm calls and then the pigeons shot from the tops of the trees where they had been roosting.
Looking up, I was amazed to see a goshawk fly over my garden. It was massive (probably a female) it didn’t flap once whilst overhead, it just glided across at incredible speed.
Luckily I wasn’t the only one to see it. There were several of us in the garden as it was Mother’s Day and my uncle who is a very experienced birder verified that it was indeed a goshawk.
It was all over in seconds as it headed from the woods opposite towards what we now call Goshawk wood (where I have previously found evidence of a goshawk plucking post. See post). We are now forever looking up in the hope of seeing it again!
Here’s a similar view of a goshawk. Of course I didn’t have my camera with me when ours flew over so I was unable to take a picture so this brilliant photo was taken by Lewis Thomson.
Image thanks to Lewis Thomson
March 6, 2016
by Jackson Hellewell Comments Off on First Bluebell 2016
Its been a very wet but mild winter. Much of the woods has been impassably muddy recently but there are signs that things could be getting more spring-like… Mum spotted the first bluebell on the 5th March. A good couple of weeks earlier than normal. Here’s one just coming into flower that we found at the weekend, also a frosty looking robin.
February 3, 2016
by Jackson Hellewell Comments Off on Blashford Lakes – Wildlife Rangers day
At the Blashford lakes Young naturalists group at the weekend we made a dead hedge to shield the people walking past from disturbing the birds on Ivy lake.
These Scarlet Elf Cup were a nice splash of colour in amongst the rotting leaves and logs.
When we had finished we spent an hour doing the Big Garden Birdwatch from the woodland hide there, and saw many birds. The finches particularly were making a real noise in the trees above the woodland hide. I couldn’t believe how many there were there altogether. Our final tally (the most seen at any one time) was: 17 siskin, 7 blue tit, 7 goldfinch, 7 dunnock, 5 greenfinch, 5 robin, 4 great tit, 4 lesser redpoll, 3 collared dove, 2 coal tit, 2 blackbird and 1 nuthatch, great spotted woodpecker, brambling, stock dove, jackdaw, wood pigeon, long tailed tit and sparrow hawk. For more info have a look at the Blashford Lakes blog.
We also saw lots of birds at the Ivy South hide. There were cormorants in the tree and a great crested grebe which came pretty close to the hide. I also took this little video of a tufted duck.
January 18, 2016
by Jackson Hellewell Comments Off on Buzzards eating worms
Most days on the way to school I quite often see up to six buzzards (and sometimes red kites) feeding on the ground in a field. They are usually surrounded by redwings and fieldfares and I think they must be eating worms. The other day I got these shots from the road which aren’t too clear. At the weekend I tried to get closer but of course they decided not to bother that day! I will have to try again.
At the weekend I took advantage of a short break in the seemingly relentless rain to visit Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve. Although the decent weather didn’t last, my brief visit turned out to be jam-packed full of a vast variety of birds.
These snipe were oddly gathered in a big group (64+). I have never seen them in such numbers before – is it strange for them to group like this?
Outside one of the hides a flock of siskins and long tailed tits gathered in this tree and the siskins began feeding on the cones. It gave me a perfect opportunity to take some photos of their green feathers shining in the sunlight.
The long tailed tits, on the other hand, were flitting around in the trees making their high pitched squeak call and were very hard to photograph.
Also whilst I was there I had a good view of a male and female marsh harrier hunting, even when it was pouring with rain. Sorry for the blurry photo, it was moving very fast and I couldn’t focus in time.
Other things I saw included stonechats, black headed gulls, shovellers, teal and various other waders and waterfowl.
January 2, 2016
by Jackson Hellewell Comments Off on First Birds of the New Year
On New Year’s day I got up early and took some photos of the birds in and around my garden, putting food near to the feeders to get them to perch in more interesting places. I then used an app which connects your camera to a smart device (in this case an iPad) and therefore allows you to take the photos remotely. I was testing it out and was pleased with the results. Here’s a couple of the best shots:
This Blue tit obediently sat on a log while I was taking his photo.
I think this robin must have heard the clicking sound that my camera made because he gave it a strange look! I quite like this photo though.
December 22, 2015
by Jackson Hellewell Comments Off on Highly Commended in the BBC Wildlife Bloggers Awards 2015 (Junior)
Last week I was really amazed and excited to hear that my blog has been awarded Highly Commended in the 2015 BBC Wildlife Magazine Bloggers Awards. A BIG, Big thank you to BBC Wildlife Magazine staff Ben and Jo who have given me so much encouragement and also to the judges:
It has inspired me to continue writing the blog and to see how I can improve it and do things differently. I will always love wildlife watching and photography so I will try to keep it an interesting place to visit.
November 15, 2015
by Jackson Hellewell Comments Off on Marsh Harrier and Peregrine at Farlington Marshes Nature Reserve
Today my mother, grandparents and I went to Farlington Marshes nature reserve near Portsmouth. Farlington is one of the oldest reserves managed by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust. We went in search of Short Eared Owls which we had heard were being spotted there recently, but when we arrived the conditions were incredibly windy and most of the birds were hunkered down, sheltering. Undeterred we continued with our circuit of the reserve and good job we did too, for when we were only 100 metres in a Marsh Harrier took off out of the reeds and flew about almost posing for the camera.
Here is a shot of the harrier scanning for prey. There were all sorts of waders and wildfowl in the salt and fresh water lagoons within the breakwater, and great flocks of small waders that I think were dunlin.
I spotted the unmistakable pale headed harrier as it launched itself from the reeds.
After a few circuits of the area the bird of prey proceeded to fly in amongst a flock of starlings. The smaller birds were quick to escape, although I’m not sure if the marsh harrier would have attempted to catch them.
A little later we checked the skies for another predator as every bird on the ground flew up in a startled frenzy. The sudden appearance of a peregrine falcon became apparent as it patrolled the reserve. It was difficult to film the peregrine as it was very far away and moving very fast.
As we came through the final gate out of the nature reserve we spotted a kestrel perched in a tree only 5 or so metres away from us very intent on something below it. I took the opportunity to take as many photographs as I could. Here are the best of those images:
Once I had finished the kestrel took off, and began hovering in a fixed position nearby so I carried on filming. The light levels weren’t great but it was so lovely to see.