Monday, 30 May 2011

Chick factor

Bad weather this bank holiday weekend meant we didn't do a lot. We did make a quick trip to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve, where baby birds were the theme of the day.

From Grebe hide, this sleepy puffball of a fledgling Blue Tit was just about visible through the willow leaves.

It was briefly joined (not that it noticed) by a more lively baby Great Tit, calling for its parents, which were not listening.

From the viewing mound we could see that the Mute Swans on the big lake had a cygnet - surely they must have started off with more than one? There are two other Mute females on eggs around the reserve that I know of, hopefully they will have more luck.

I spent a few moments here pointing my camera at one of the three or so Sand Martins hawking over the water. Was pleasantly surprised to get a few sharpish shots. It looks to me like it has a billful of food here.

A pair of Red-eyed Damsels in tandem. There was not that much Odonata activity today, probably because it was a bit chilly and breezy.

I thought at the time I took this shot that the Pond Skater had too many legs. Closer examination revealed that it's actually an amorous couple. Well, the male is amorous, the female seems more interested in the prey she's caught.

Our walk around the reserve was curtailed at this point when we met a very friendly grey cat, who seemed like he might be lost - this was a good distance from any houses. After resolving to take him to the nearest vets' to be scanned for a chip, we carried him to the visitor centre, where he suddenly freaked out and I had to let him go. The visitor centre staff said that he is not a stray but lives locally and visits a lot, and when they see him they throw water at him (hence his anxiety at being near the visitor centre, I suppose).

The day before this, I went to Tonbridge to see Michele, on her last weekend at her mum's place before she moves into her shiny new house in Southborough. I'm always surprised by how many birds visit this small garden. Today I saw this fine male Chaffinch, and more excitingly a Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling from a tree in the garden opposite.

The baby House Sparrows of the other week have grown up and wised up a bit. New babies on the block were a family of Starlings. The youngsters are very different to their parents, and spark a rash of identification queries on the various birding forums every year.

This brood were happily feeding themselves, but still didn't miss the chance to beg for a handout from a parent.


ShySongbird said...

Those juvenile Starlings and their parents are such a noisy mob! Very entertaining though :)

Love the photo of the little Great Tit.

Your cat story reminded me of when we encountered a dog during a walk round a small, local Nature reserve. There was no one else around and the dog followed us as we walked. As someone who is besotted with dogs I couldn't bear the thought that it might be lost so as we left we knocked at the door of the only house in the area. The dog had followed us until we got to the house where it hung around by the gate. The house owner took a rather uninterested look and confirmed it was his and that it 'always wanders around the reserve'. He made no move to encourage it inside and as we left the dog would have been quite happy to leap in our car and come home with us!

Marianne said...

Thank you Songbird :)

Thoughtless pet owners are the pits - I bet you wished you could have taken that dog home with you! I've been doing voluntary bits and pieces for a local rescue charity and some of the stories behind the poor cats and dogs who've come into their care are just awful.

James McKenzie said...

Great Photos Again Marianne, and I love the story's as well.