Friday, 31 October 2014

Lying in wait

I found this little monster hibernating inside a shirt in the wardrobe, fortunately before I put the shirt on.  My mother will be the only one to notice that the shirt hasn't been ironed.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Water rail

I spent a few minutes in the Pearce hide in Gosforth Park this morning, before joining the boardwalk-building party.  We had brief views of a bittern and a kingfisher but this water rail was more obliging.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Pollen baskets

Despite it being nearly November and despite near gale-force winds the bees were very active this morning, taking advantage of temperatures in the high teens.  Their accuracy in landing in blustery conditions was very impressive.  Many were carrying large loads in their pollen baskets.  Those with chrome yellow pollen were carrying the most.

Although the pollen looks as though it might interfere with walking or flying, even a large load is around 5mg, easily manageable when a bee weighs 90mg.  Others were collecting orange or grey pollen.

This one on the left below, just disappearing through the entrance, is carrying propolis (plant resin) which the bees use for sealing gaps in the hive.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Red squirrel update

No red squirrels have been seen at Wallington in the past two weeks.  This may be due in part to a surfeit of natural food but it is probably also related to an invasion of American greys, as was seen a few years ago.  The feeders near the hide have been removed but control of the greys is difficult at this time of year.  With luck the reds are hiding out in the woods and will re-emerge when things improve.  To keep us all optimistic here are a few photos from earlier.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Bird of the week - Herring gull

I was on a low light and long exposure workshop with Doug Chinnery in Whitby but this fellow insisted on having his photo taken.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Roe doe

A roe doe with two young in poor light under the trees in Gosforth Park early this morning.  She already has her darker winter coat.  They were <30m away and seemed untroubled by seeing me close but wandered off after a couple of minutes.  

Monday, 20 October 2014

Just stopped for a chat

Stonechats at St Mary's this afternoon.  Half a dozen were chasing around the hedges, sometimes a bit windswept.  I met my friend and namesake Jack W as well so we really did stop for a chat.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Birds of the week - Magpies in the bath

Theirs, not mine.  I have been saving these photos for weeks to celebrate the Toon's first victory.  Let's hope it's not the last.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Where have all the toads gone?

This is the first toad I have seen in the garden this year.  Only three or four years ago they were plentiful, with two dozen or more sitting on the drive on a damp August evening.  Maybe the dry summer didn't suit them but there have been plenty of newts and frogs.  Let's hope they were just hiding and are still around.