Thursday, 30 October 2008

Afternoon on Westleton Heath, a clear blue sky meant that when the sun dipped below the horizon the temperature dropped rapidly and by the time I left the Heath, the temperature reading on my car thermometer read minus two degrees.

Very atmospheric dusk with the local red deer stags bellowing calls travelling across the Heath as they brought their rut towards its climax.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Knackered Starling and Perky Robin, Titchwell

Lovely afternoon light. Still lots of vis mig with flocks of redwings and starlings in particular making their way west along the coast.

This Robin was particularly obliging, so perhaps it is one of the 'tame' local birds rather than a migrant.

The Starling looked absolutely shattered and I suspect won't have survived the night.

Life and Death

Started out trying to get some interesting composition shots of Sundews and then noticed this struggle for life going on.

Amphibious Redwing

Wonderful calm day last autumn on a fishing charter out in The Wash, lots of vis mig. This Redwing landed on the surface of The Wash to the side of the boat and appeared doomed before to my amazement it pulled itself back into the air and landed on the boats safety railing.

Natterjack Toadlet

Three tiny Natterjack toadlets scurried across the sandy path through the dunes. Picture taken using the macro setting on a Ricoh Capillo R4 digital compact.

Camouflaged Spider

Came across this well camouflaged spider at Holme in the summer. I am told that it is a Running crab spider.

But I'll let my spider expert Ian continue the explanation. It's from the family Philodromidae, and more specifically one of the Philodromus aureolus group, which comprises at least four species in the UK: much the most frequent are P. aureolus and P. cespitum, while P. praedatus is reasonably common on oak, and P. longipalpis is rare on trees. Males are straightforward to identify but females like this one are the only fair-sized spiders which need dissecting to be absolutely certain of specific identification. This one probably isn't praedatus which never has such solidly dark bands down the sides of the carapace, and can reasonably discount longipalpis on range and habitat, so it will be either aureolus or cespitum. Both are very variable in colour and occur in a wide range of habitats on vegetation - field layer, shrubs and trees. As the name suggests these are amongst our fastest runners and can certainly move rapidly. They don't spin webs, using silk primarily as a safety line or to spin their eggsac.

Great Grey Shrike

Watched this bird try and chase down a Linnet which when the shrike gave up turned round and mobbed it. The Shrike then got in amongst a flock of Linnets before turning its attention to the juvenile Red Backed Shrike that was also in the area. First I knew of this was the screaming call of the fleeing Red Backed Shrike as the Great Grey unsuccesfully pursued it across the marsh.

A couple of birders present told me that they had seen it catch and eat a Linnet, Blue Tit, Linnet and Frog over the previous couple of days.