Oscar is Back!
Wednesday 21 January 2009
Oscar is Back!
Friday 16 January 2009
I did try counting them, but they were moving at such speed and constantly changing position, however the reliable figure for that day was around 400 Red Kites . At 1400 hrs the food appeared from the bucket of a tractor, which apparently had been changed a few days before, so the new tractor was making the Kites more nervous (honestly I did not notice). Other Birds joined in for the free meat. A Heron, Common Buzzard were around already and flew straight on to the ground whilst interestingly the Carrion Crows, Ravens and Rooks were much more nervous than I would have thought. The cheeky ones were three Starling who got out before any of them grabbed the meat and flew off. Back to the Buzzards, with only one Red Kite coming to ground to feed and the others all swooping in grabbing a bit of meat, eating it in the air, and then coming back for more. Where ever a Buzzard was sat quite happily munching on the ground, the Kites would gang up and quite deliberately dive bomb and snatch the pieces of meat that was the closest to any Buzzard that waas sat on the ground, this seemed to be planned with Kites working together to try and put the Buzzards off.
Buzzard tries to defend itself, obviously it will need an aspirin in the morning for this headache
Three Kites dive past two Buzzards, note Buzzards stay put for now
Do you sometimes get that feeling your being watched?
The spectacle went on for nearly 2 hours before the Birds started to disperse away from the feeding area. In that time I had seen many Red Kites and really close. Some interesting behaviour between Red Kites and Buzzards, and of course one of my favourite group of Birds the Corvides who also did not let me down with their presence, and I nearly forgot the one Heron who joined in as well. Gigrin Farm is really well worth a visit if you have not been, indeed now seeing this for myself, I can't wait to return and see this great spectacle again. I did have the camera with me as you can see, however it was quite a dull day so the ISO is running quite high on my Canon EOS 30D this to keep the shutter speed high enough for the flying birds. However may I suggest to people who go to take pictures, to go twice, once to enjoy it, and the other time to take pictures. I found it extremely difficult to do both, hence there are not many pictures.
Red Kite at Gigrin Farm note the wing tags
Monday 5 January 2009
Trapped Swan on the ice of Portishead Lake grounds
Swan being secured ready for transport
Portishead Life Boat crew, me and the newly named "Frosty" the Swan
Frosty on the mend at Secret World
On Saturday 10th we were supposed to release Frosty back at Portishead, but the milder weather that had been predicted was a day late. I did a recce at the lake grounds and found that after a another night of minus 6 degrees centigrade, it was no surprise that the whole lake was still thick with ice.
Portishead Lake, still frozen up Sat 10th
Adult Swan on the edge of the lake Saturday 10th
I contacted Pauline Kidner at Secret World and called off the release, postponing it for another day. Returning Frosty to the lake grounds also caused another headache, as all his 4 brothers and sisters had now moved a short distance to Portishead Marina, (what we yer locals used to call Portishead Docks). Indeed later that day I went to the marina and there was about 15 to 20 Swans gathered in a mix group adults and sub adults, with the yearlings from the Lake grounds.
It may have been possible that by returning Frosty to the lake Grounds I could have just caused the adults there to just push him a way. So I made the decision not only to release on Sunday, but to give Frosty a head start and put him with the gathering of Swans at the Marina.
At 1400 hours on Sunday 11th of January I arrived at Secret World and saw Frosty out in the Swan pen, he looked great and ready to go.
Frosty showing good energy and fitness as he resists capture at Secret World
Staff at Secret World, who have done a real professional job for Frosty
BBC Cameraman, Frosty and Me, no more Rod Hull and Emu jokes please!
After a very quick interview I unstrapped Frosty from his restraining bag, and he was off, in fact just like a Duck to water (sorry bad pun). Interestingly his spell in captivity meant that the first thing he did once in the water was preen like there was tomorrow. The reason for this is to re oil himself to make sure his feathers are fully water proof, I could actually see him rubbing his beak across his preen gland then draw his feather through his beck, really great bit of behaviour. The other Swans looked on with interest and couple of the older more white ones, went out to show Frosty who was boss, this is normal and nothing to worry about. This is a big gathering of Swans and unlike his parents they would not try and get rid of him.
Frosty heads to water, note the onlookers
Frosty exercises his wings in the Marina
Well that's it and hopefully Frosty is on his way. He should live for a while at the Portishead Marina, he will of course be looked after by all the Portishead people who come to see the Swans gathering and of course to feed them. If anything does go wrong for any of the Swans the early alarm from the public is assured. From these gatherings young Swans will meet other Swans and in the Spring they will pair off and find somewhere in the Gordano Valley to have nests and bring up their own cygnets.
A huge thanks must go to the public of Portishead who raised the alarm about this Swan in the first place, and of course the rescue would not have been possible without the Portishead Life Boat Trust. Also thanks to Hawk and Owl Trust volunteer Dave Newton who used my camera and took all the pictures at the Marnia. Its very difficult holding a swan and taking pictures at the same time, thanks Dave.
And to Secret World http://www.secretworld.org/ for their communication, speed and care at the wildlife centre in Highbridge.