Thursday, 18 June 2009

A ROE BY ANY OTHER NAME




Max is in the middle of his A-Levels at the moment, which is - I suppose - a perfectly valid reason for him not having done any bloggo stuff for yonks.

However he has managed to sneak out a few times to sit in his car and listen to Tarkus with a peculiar look on his face, and occasionally to do a little bit of bird watching.

He usually takes his camera with him, and over the last few months has built up a fantastic library of images of the wildlife of the Wells region of Somerset. Here, in a new series, are some of them...










I was out bird watching ‘t other day to stop myself from having a mental breakdown, (it being the second week of my A-Levels) and I found myself sat in a silent hide hoping for something interesting like a hobby or bittern to pop down, drink a pint of shandy (you can’t drink and fly remember) with me in front of the camera, before going off about on their daily business. I waited for half an hour or so, and heard a rustling in the reeds to my left.

“Great Scott!” Exclaimed I, “It must be a hoatzin!” (OK I didn't say anything of the sort, but in my Biology exam yesterday there was a question about hoatzins, and I feel incredibly smug because I think that I was the only person in class to know what the hell they were).

It was not a hoatzin, but a very cute female roe deer with her young (interesting rod deer fact: their coats are grey in winter (see the photo posted on my blog a while ago about the roe deer being killed by a big cat) and a light orange to red colour in the summer).

They were not bothered by me, and came to within 10 yards of my position, not minding as the camera shutter clicked or I dropped my binoculars. The female moved into the reeds in front of me, whilst the baby stayed a little way back, obviously still a bit new to this whole thing.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Grebe-oh Guru




Max is in the middle of his A-Levels at the moment, which is - I suppose - a perfectly valid reason for him not having done any bloggo stuff for yonks. However he has managed to sneak out a few times to sit in his car and listen to Tarkus with a peculiar look on his face, and occasionall to do a little bit of bird watching. He usually takes his camera with him, and over the last few months has built up a fantastic library of images of the wildlife of the Wells region of Somerset. Here, in a new series, are some of them...




Whilst out at a local reservoir checking out the local birds, I saw a pair of Great Crested Grebes. These are the largest British grebes (adults are usually 1200g in weight), though not the largest in the world , they are still impressive birds. Fire-red head tufts, often extended upon meeting another grebe, are their most impressive feature (other than their stupendous diving abilities) and form an integral part of their mating display. The male and female erect the tufts and begin to dance around each other, each doing the same as the other. So, if the male moves his head to the left, so does the female. If the female moves her head back to the right, so does the male. Note: this is NOT a mirror image!


The grebes swam closer to my vantage position, and, causing annoyance to a nearby fisherman, began to display. This was great for me, and I started snapping away. Behind me, an elderly couple walked past and the gentleman (as indeed, he was) exclaimed

“How brilliant! Crested grebes displaying. Go on son, get in there!”

The last part was yelled directly at the male grebe, who then zipped under water. Bugger, thought I , that is the end of them displaying at such close range.

The male popped back up again just as I began to wander off, with a large piece of weed in his beak. He began to display to an impressed female, and again the gentleman got overly excited and shouted “That’s the stuff lad! You are going to get some tonight!” His wife told him sharply to shut up before chatting to me about the camera.

Only when I got home did I realise that the photos were so out of focus (I have now learnt from this mistake, and have changed the autofocus point), so I must apologise for it!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

OUT AND ABOUT WITH MAX: Egrets


Max is in the middle of his A-Levels at the moment, which is - I suppose - a perfectly valid reason for him not having done any bloggo stuff for yonks. However he has managed to sneak out a few times to sit in his car and listen to Tarkus with a peculiar look on his face, and occasionall to do a little bit of bird watching. He usually takes his camera with him, and over the last few months has built up a fantastic library of images of the wildlife of the Wells region of Somerset. Here, in a new series, are some of them...

Here, at a place called Shapwick, back in March, we see two rare egrets.

For those of you not in the know, egrets are any of several heron species, most of which are white or buff, and several of which develop fine plumes (usually milky white) during the breeding season.

Many egrets are members of the genera Egretta or Ardea which contain other species named as herons rather than egrets. The distinction between a heron and an egret is rather vague, and depends more on appearance than biology. The word "egret" comes from the French word "aigrette", referring to the long filamentous feathers that seem to cascade down an egret's back during the breeding season.

They were hunted to extinction in Britain during the 19th Century, mainly because the aforementioned feathers were so sought after.

However, they have been very succesful in recolonising the UK with four species existing here now..

However, it is unusual to see two species together at once, and Max was very pleased to be able to photograph a little egret Egretta garzetta (left) and a great egret Ardea alba (right) together.