Thursday, 29 June 2017

Cornish Kestrels last blog for 2017

During the last couple of months we have been following the fortunes of two pairs of Kestrel on the Cornish coast,  The first nest that we have been following for eight year had raised twenty four fledglings during those years but this year six eggs that had been incubated for fifteen days was suddenly all stolen marking the end of this years reproduction programme for a fine pair of birds,  Our blog continued with an alternative pair of younger Kestrel that were nesting for the second time and I am pleased to say that this year they have successfully raised and fledged four young birds all of which are doing very well,  With over seven thousand images taken over a three month period it has been a rewarding exercise which is now complete for another year,

The adult female Kestrel above and her partner have been excellent parents that will now teach the young birds to hunt before they disburse naturally into their own territory and I am sure these mature birds will continue in the same vain during 2018

Fox cub family

Ever since moving to Cornwall we have had a family of fox foraging our garden on a nightly basis and we have seen many families of cubs raised every year,  This year the appearance of the cubs was late by comparison to other years so we were very pleased when they started to show, with inclement weather curtailing much of my other wildlife projects I decided to build a temporary weather proof camera hide about a metre from a chosen focal point, set up my camera with a 14-24mm wide angle lens and see what I could achieve with wet fox cubs,  Over two nights and ten hours of waiting I managed to put together the range of portraits below starting with one fox and finally managing to get all four cubs in a frame together facing the right way,  

These fox cubs are a joy to watch but tricky to when it comes to good portraits,   I hope the weather improves shortly so that I can get back to a few earlier nights sleep !!

Monday, 26 June 2017

Battle of Britain

It was like ' The Battle of Britain' over one of our local ponds today with three male Emperor and four male Broad Bodied Chaser all competing in aerial combat for the mating rights of the pond,  I was really out for more Cuckoo shots but the display that these dragonflies were producing was quite compelling to watch,  Inevitably we ended up with a casualty as one of the Emperors crashed into the water and seemed unable to recover,  I took several shots of it trying to drag its sodden wings out of the water for nearly an hour but it was all to no avail,  Off came my shoes and socks and up went my jeans before I waded into the warm water with mud and who knows what oozing up through my toes,  I rescued the drowning Dragonfly with a piece of floating willow branch and placed it on top of a gorse bush to warm up and dry out in the afternoon sunshine,  Half an hour later it flew off to re-join the battle for the right to mate with the ponds female dragonflies

Dragonfly on rescue stick by Peter Tonkin

The sound of a Cuckoo calling then gained our attention and the next couple of hours produced a few interesting images,

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Cornish Kestrel part 33

Two of our young kestrels have now fledged from the nest,  They are now on a steep learning curve and it is vital that they stay off of the ground and within sight of the adult birds to provide food until they develop flight skills to capture their own prey, we expect the remaining two young birds to fledge in the next couple of days,

Cuckoo portraits

Over the last few days I have been watching a pair of Cuckoo in our area and learned to predict a few of their habits and favoured perch points,  The images below have all been taken using remote shutter firing to enable close-up Portraits without disturbing the birds or changing their behaviour,  It can be a frustrating way to work especially when a bird perches just inches out of your predicted frame area and you are a hundred yards from your camera but when it all comes together sometimes after many hours input it can produce some very pleasing images!

Friday, 23 June 2017

Orange browed Starlings

When I arrived home from a photo trip Pm yesterday my wife Heather hurriedly informed me that we had a new species of orange browed Starling fledglings feeding around our patio area before my return and she thought that they would probably be back,  I set up my camera in the lounge as it was now raining again outside so any shots achieved would be taken through wet glass but it was worth trying,  Sure enough the flock of orange browed fledglings returned guided by a parent bird to feed around our feeders creating the opportunity for a few ID portrait images,  It all seemed very interesting,  I had heard and seen Rose coloured starlings before But Orange Browed !!

Around ten minutes later all was to be revealed when first the adult and then all of the fledglings flew up onto a newly opened Cordyline flower head which had formed for the first time in our garden in eight years,  All immediately pushed their heads into the new flowers while brushing their wet heads over the prominent orange flower stamens,   Mystery solved !!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Cornish Kestrels part 32

Our Kestrel chicks are now nearly fully developed and most of their downy plumage has been plucked,  Two of the four are now exercising their wings on a regular basis but space in the nest site is quite restricted as can be seen in the images below, we expect at least two to venture out on their maiden flights in the next couple of days   Happy landings!

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

More pond Life

Having enjoyed my recent visit to local ponds and with the warm summer weather continuing I decided to revisit the same sites again today as in my previous blog, Dragonflies of varying species were even more abundant than my previous visit and after working with them for several hours I sat back in the shade of the willow trees quietly waiting for another possible Cuckoo sighting, I was in luck and have finished this blog with a sequence of its arrival,

Cockoo landing sequence

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Cornish pond life

The continuing summer sunshine is providing perfect weather for pond life around the area, Dragonflies top the list with many species making a good show yesterday, newts, tadpoles and frogs were in abundance and as my wife and I watched as the action progress for several peaceful hours we saw a cuckoo make a graceful swoop over a pond to skilfully take out a female Emperor dragonfly as it was laying its last egg,   To top the show a cycling continental musician appeared from nowhere,  Sat on the bank, played his guitar and sang us a few of his favourite songs,  A very nice way to end the day !