Friday, July 31, 2009


I really didn't know what this spider-like creature was when Kay's mum pointed it out at the back door. The extra long 2nd pair of legs and undivided body apparently mark it out as one of the 'huntsmen' - arachnids but not spiders - no venom, no silk. Hard to photograph for this blog sized view as the legs were so long the body is just that dot in the middle, but the close-up shows the weird 'lobster claw' appendages at the front end. Truly something different.

Bigger views on the web album.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Metrosexual Woodpigeon?

Metrosexual: A man who a woman has to fight for the mirror

I really like this series of shots, although truth be told I don't know the sex of the bird! They look especially good at larger size - click HERE, go to Latest pictures and run the slideshow.

Friday, July 17, 2009

They ended up black (brown) and blue

Grabbing some sun between the showers I headed off to try and find something to photograph. Severnside was quiet, other than the sedge warblers still feeding some young,
so I decided to head for Slimbridge in the hope of snapping a wader or two. I did find a heron - but that's not the type of wader I had in mind! Note the pose in the second shot - I believe the herons refer to it as the 'Karate Kid' stance.
Waders being conspicuous by their absence, in range anyway, I settled on the corvids - jackdaws and rooks. The sun showed their true colours as a mix of blue and dark brown, rather than black.
Is it just me, or do the rooks make anyone else think of a witch's face? OK it's just me. They really are not so nice close up .......
but I could kick myself for my inept framing of this shot of an apparently footless but quite majestic individual. I seem to have seen a lot of birds over the last year or two with over grown beaks, but for once here it seems to add to the appearance, rather than detract.

As always the pictures show better HERE in the Latest Pictures album.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Badly In Need of Max Clifford

" They fought the dogs and killed the cats,
And bit the babies in the cradles,
And ate the cheeses out of the vats,
And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men's Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women's chats,
By drowning their speaking
With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats."

RATS, of course, for those who know the verse. My own experience is nothing like that described by Robert Browning who penned 'The Pied Piper of Hamelin'. As a kid I kept pet rats, and what great pets they were too. Intelligent, friendly - and clean. Never once was I bitten, something I couldn't say for the various mice, hamsters and gerbils that seemed to delight in drawing blood just for the sake of it.
Living next to a stream/ditch/trickle we get them in the garden at times, where we try and discourage them by avoiding putting food where they can reach it. Even the new fence hasn't kept them out. Sadly the numbers often increase and we see the pest control van round at our neighbours who also back onto the stream. It was there the day after I took these pictures (from the hide - they're not that bold). And I do understand how people feel, but it's sad. We've even discussed stopping feeding the birds, but that too would be sad.

If you compare these pictures to the ones I took of water voles in the past (here) there really isn't that big a difference, yet the voles are revered, the rats despised. I suppose the problem is that very tendency to reproduce at the drop of a hat (Sunday hat or not), and then start to come looking for food when the numbers increase past the point where they can forage enough at night.

And yes I do know about Weil's disease, but deer carry the ticks that give us Lyme disease and we don't go around shooting them do we? Well okay, yes we do - apparently it's sport. Well alright foetal damage from your cat's toxoplasma, or your child's ocular toxocara from the dog. What we need is someone to breed strong, aggressive and infertile male rats we can release like they do with fruit flies.

There you go. Rant over. And don't tell Kay I've told you about the R . A. T. S 's , because they're such a stigma we don't usually mention them in polite company. And I know some of you will disagree, but allow me my view too.

In the Doldrums?

It's coming to that time of year when the birds go, relatively, quiet. Birders' blogs start to show butterflies, moths and dragons and damsels (got to have pictures of things you can name!).

At the wetlands there really wasn't much to photograph, although I was pleased to watch a too distant flock of 7-8 bearded tits flying past. This little reed warbler was the only thing to pose in range, nestling beside the 'bearskins' of the reedmace. Even that didn't stay long.

In the garden the sparrows showed well. Looking at the beak I guess this is a juvenile, with a hint of 'gape' remaining - compare it to the third picture. the wall next to the bird table is a good spot to catch birds against the conifers over the road - nice to know the blasted things serve some purpose. The collared doves weren't too shy, but sadly the jackdaws wouldn't play ball. I'd wanted to snap one of the juveniles. Maybe I need to leave the hide up so they get used to it .
I did manage to snap one of the rare Monmouthshire crested blackbirds, though.

The white plume moth was posing again, this time from the other side, and I couldn't resist the greenbottle. I find it strangely intriguing. As with all the pictures, especially the insects, it looks better on the web album - click the link HERE and go to latest pictures.
I'm pretty sure this is a common green capsid bug....
but I'm struggling with these next two. The first had a white heart shaped pattern on it's 'face'.

If you know what they are, please leave a comment.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Last night I spent a couple of hours sitting on my folding chair on the edge of a hay meadow. With an antihistamine keeping the sneezes at bay it was a good way to end a day - especially when the farmer in the neighbouring field, complete with 3 tractors, had finished collecting in the hay bales. Eventually, well past the time for pictures, I saw my target. Not this meadow brown (well you have to take at least one picture) .........
but a barn owl. A brief view as it flew into some trees, but a welcome sight so close to home. As I said, a good way to end the day.

P.S. For anyone interested I've added a couple more posts to the USA blog (otter and Space Coast) - click the link to the right.