Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Wow what an Autumn!

Its been an amazing Autumn so far, seems its not rained for weeks, and with daytime temperatures sometimes up around July temperatures, its meant that its been great for the late rush of Insects. We have had one noted frost.

Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Blackcaps have been flocking through the local Woods, with good numbers at Portbury as well, this as they move south towards Africa. Sadly though here at Portbury they have cut back what seems to be a huge amount of vegetation meaning that all the rough grass with the exception of the ditch edges is now gone. Its a bad time to cut grass as there is no time left for the grass to recover and therefore hold any preyable population of Short-tailed Voles for the Barn Owls. Also gone is most of the seed head plants, which prior to the cut I had counted a mixed flock of Finches numbering as an estimate over 200 birds including Goldfinch and Linnets, well they will have to find somewhere else now. No I'm not talking about farmland I'm talking about a nature reserve!
Chiffchaff and shadow at Paula's Farm

Meanwhile I have started bird surveying on the Hawk and Owl Trust nature reserve called Shapwick Moor, with great thanks to Eve Tigwell (BTO rep Somerset) and Dr. John Edwards Hawk and Owl Trust Trustee for their help with this process. As I have only just started there's nothing much to report back on yet, however I was walking down the side of one hedge when a Brown Hare appeared right in front of me. I carefully crouched down using the background of sprawling Willow tree to shield myself and took about 150 pictures, and here's one.

What was really good was that the Hare had not noticed me, and fed for a while on the green grass, then returned back into the cover of an un cut and rough grassy margin were upon it simply disappeared. Here's yet another declining UK animal that needs a much more untidy landscape, the proof of that was in the observation.

I have been monitoring the 2nd Tawny Owl release, which so far has gone really well, here are 2 pictures from last Saturday nights monitoring session when I found this one actually hunting on a grass verge within 100 metres of the release aviary. I should state now before I get e mails from perfectionist photographers that these pictures were taken with the ISO cranked up to 3200 on eos 30D hence the grain (it was virtually dark). However for me they more than works of art, they are my proof that Owls I have put out are hunting and therefore self supporting. First picture is the Owl looking into the verge clearly hunting typical Tawny owl fashion, this Owl is now so reliable a film crew could film it (hint). By pellet returns its taking Wood Mouse and Brown Rat.

Same Owl, however it hears the click from the shutter of the camera going off, and turns to look.

Meanwhile back on Mendip Wheaters have also been in good number on one farm (thanks again Paula) we had I reckon some 20 individuals suddenly come to ground just before sunset, picture below is one of them taking during the red phase of sunset, a bold youngster which was really close, and made me fire off another 150 pictures.

And lastly I could not leave this Autumn blog without a look at the sunsets, some of them have been the best for along time, here's a picture from Mendip on last Saturday night, a scene that makes you feel good to be alive.

No comments: