Friday, 23 July 2010

Young Mink

I've caught several fleeting glimpses of the American Mink which live around Bretton Lakes but up to now none of them have lingered long enough to get a photograph.

They were the last thing on my mind this afternoon when I sat down on the bank of the top lake with high expectations of a visit from the Kingfishers and Wagtails. I'd been sat for barely five minutes when I caught sight of a couple of long, dark furry things, scrambling along a fallen tree at the edge of the lake.

The one at the rear quickly lost confidence and headed back from where it had come but the second one came out into the open to pose for some shots.

I think they're youngsters as they were only around a foot long, not including the tail.

At this point it swam across to the far side of the inlet and then out into the bushes on the shore. A few minutes later I heard a screech. I guess he/she had just caught a meal, probably one of the Bank Voles that we encourage to feed at the back of the hide!

Several more minutes went by and the Mink re-emerged, dived into the water and caught some kind of snail? Whatever it was it provided a snack.

If I'm correct and the adult Mink have now successfully bred, it can only have a negative impact on the reserve, particularly on the birds who nest on the ground and lake surface. The resident Great Crested Grebes have, for example, built at least 3 nests throughout this breeding season but they haven't produced any young. It is very likely that the Mink ate their eggs before they could hatch.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

It's all Gone Quiet... the nature reserve at Bretton Lakes. The birds have given up singing (barring the odd Robin and Wren) signalling the end of another breeding season.

This was my first visit for over a month. I didn't expect to see much so I decided to pay a brief visit to the hide before moving on to the inlet where I saw the four young Kingfishers on my last visit.

As expected there was nothing much showing on the lake but there was one expeption, the Little Grebes have returned at last. They didn't come close though so I had to make do with this long distance shot.

Young Coot.

One of the resident Great Crested Grebes swam quite close to the hide.

And then it was off to watch the young Kingfishers. I took up position in what's becoming my usual spot and waited. I once heard a saying that, 'It takes the woods half an hour to forget you are there' - this turned out to be true last time as the Kingfishers arrived right on cue.

No such luck this time though. How dare they stand me up?

I was on the verge of moving on when something flew in low and landed not twenty feet away on one of the fallen trees.

It wasn't a Kingfisher but the even more elusive (for me at least) Grey Wagtail.

It stayed around for a few minutes and I thought that was that. But then a few minutes later it returned with what I at first thought must be it's partner. They both looked a bit scruffy and I put this down to the toils of rearing the young. But after I returned home and uploaded the pictures I changed my mind. I reckon they are juveniles. They did look a bit on the small side and the scruffy feathers could be 'cos they aren't fully grown yet? Their breast feathers should have more yellow? Either way I was well pleased by their appearance. They stayed for quite a while too!

I'm not sure what it has caught but it did swallow it after thinking about it for a few moments.

When I headed home, well chuffed with the Wagtails I was meandering over a field when a Hare sprung up right in front of me and legged it, heading over a hill on the horizon. I threw the tripod onto it's feet and managed to fire off a few shots just before it dissapeared over the brow.

Even though he's moving away at around 40 mph his eye seems to be looking back at me!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Allerthorpe Common

Allerthorpe Common is a small Yorkshire Wildlife Trust nature reserve near to Pocklington in East Yorkshire. I haven't been there for a couple of years and a warm and sunny day was forecast so I decided to book a day off work.

The main reason for my visit was to try to get some pictures of the numerous Dragonflies which can be seen around the main pond. It was a warm, sunny day so they should be quite active. I wanted to have a go with my new macro lens which I've had for months now but haven't used yet.

The reserve is a good half-mile from the nearest car park but the stroll through the forest is nice and easy.

I came across this Carrion Crow. Its not often I attempt to get shots of these birds as they usually fly off but this one was quite happy on his tree-top perch.

I wasn't expecting a wave though...!

On to the reserve and I soon found out that the focal length (105mm) of my macro lens required me to get much closer than the Dragonflies would allow. They kept taking flight so I put an extension tube on my 300mm and used that instead.

I think this is a Four Spotted Chaser?


I soon got bored with the insects and decided to move on and try for some bird shots. There were several Green Woodpeckers around but as usual they refused to pose for photographs.

I set up by a small pond, under a bit of cover and this Willow Warbler(?) came quite close after a while. Nothing much else of note came near but I enjoyed watching the Blue and Coal Tits bathing in the cool water. Unfortunatley they were out of range for decent shots.

I uploaded this young Grey Heron shot by mistake so I might as well include it. It was taken from the hide at Bretton Lakes a couple of weeks ago.