Wednesday 20 April 2016

Common Tern rafts Launched

Well, after many man hours of work on the Tern rafts, Wednesday morning was the day we were going to launch two of the four rafts which Andy Smith and I had made, onto Thornton Reservoir. With the the help of Jim Graham, Ben Croxtall, Russel Parry, Roger West and Graham Middleton - the latter of whom allows us to use his farm to make the rafts on, and who also provided the materials for the rafts' anchors, the gravel for the rafts' floors and the transport from the farm to the reservoir, a sincere thank-you from LROS - and hopefully the Terns too! The weather was perfect - the sun was shining, and no wind - ideal for the rafts to be launched; from start to finish, both rafts were in position after only a couple of hours  -as they say' many hands make light work' so a big thank-you also to all the volunteers who helped along the way.
 The above image is the first raft loaded on Grahams trailer ready for the journey to the reservoir
 All the lads after lifting it from the trailer slowly and lowering it down in to the reservoir. I'm now hoping it floats
 Ben looking the part in his waders with the first raft now in the water, and waiting for the gravel to be loaded on to the rafts' floor
 Russel, Andy and Roger towing the first raft out out into position - Russel picking the short straw,having to do the rowing
 This is what the rafts are anchored down with - a car tyre filled with concrete, with a chain concreted in, then a rope between the raft and the chain. We use two - one at either end of the raft
 The first raft in position which was slightly listing as there was too much gravel at one end, but it was soon rectified by just equaling out the gravel. You can see on the above image and below, there are some ridge tiles - these are used for shelters for the chicks

 The second one in position, all anchored down. Now both rafts are just waiting for their tenants - so fingers crossed, soon there will be breeding Common Terns on Thornton Reservoir!  I will of course keep you all informed as to how the rafts are doing; as for the other two rafts we made, it is yet undecided where they will be sited
As always thanks for stopping by and any comments are most welcomed.

Wednesday 13 April 2016

An unexpected find....

Late afternoon on Monday the 11th I was going out to check some owl boxes with my buddy Paul Riddle; Paul was checking a couple of boxes on one of our sites in South Leicestershire, when he was called on his phone by another land owner in the same area, saying he had a strange bird in a ploughed field, which he thought was a Crane, so Paul headed over and went with the land owner to investigate; on seeing the bird, Paul called me and said he was looking at a White Stork! For a minute, I thought he was joking, but he sounded quite serious so I headed over to where he was, and it wasn't long before we both stood there looking at the White Stork. There were no rings on it, and it looked fully winged - it looked to be the real deal - it ws just like the loads of White Stork I've seen in Spain!  The land owner said we could take our vehicle into the field, and as the bird was taking no notice of the tractor and harrowing machine, we did just that. The bird was  busily feeding, but getting closer to us all the while; we just sat there in the vehicle watching it, and eventually got some decent images. After probably an hour or so, the bird flew off high to the west
                                                      Feeding on worms
                                              Looking for its' next morsel
Paul and I have spent hundreds of hours making and erecting boxes and checking them year in year out, and we see loads of different birds and wild life - but to see a White Stork on one of our estates was just amazing! Just goes to show what birds are out there in the middle of nowhere! Many thanks to land owner who brought it to our attention, as he really could have said nothing about it. Sadly though, he did not want hoards of people on his land - even with Pauls' powers of persuasion - he was not going to budge on the matter -it wasn't for the want of us trying, but in the end,you have to respect the estate owner's wishes, which is why we were unable to put the news out for other birders.
As always thanks stopping by

Sunday 10 April 2016

Kingfishers and Wagtails

Just a short post today - a couple of weeks ago, my mate Paul Riddle and I were going out to check  a few of our Barn and Little Owl boxes, but before we started, we grabbed our customary sausage and tomato cobs,  and went to see if the Kingfishers were showing at Pauls' site; its the same site we were at a few posts ago. On the slow drive to the Kingfishers, we noticed the Green Sandpiper was still frequenting its usual haunt and also a pair of Grey Wagtails had taken up residence, but on this visit there was no sign of the Water Rail
                                                                   Green Sandpiper
                                                                 Grey Wagtail

Whilst Paul and I sat there by the river enjoying our breakfast, the male Kingfisher landed on one of his favourite perches; he just sat there preening and having a bit of a stretch now and then. Paul then heard another Kingfisher and our male bird's posture totally changed - something I've never seen before - making itself look a lot bigger, as you can see in the last image. It chased the intruder off, before coming back to the perch. I could have stayed watching it all day, but the owl boxes don't check themselves, so Paul and I left the Kingfishers to their business, and we went and did a bit of work on the boxes
                                                          Kingfisher having a stretch
                                                             looking for his breakfast
I'm bigger than you think!

As I said, just a short post for today. Thanks for stopping by

Monday 4 April 2016

Antarctic Cruise the last part

Leaving the Falkland Islands behind us, we were heading for our last port of call which would be Montevideo in Uruguay This would mean another two days at sea, but those two days were quite productive -  Soft-plumaged Petrel and Antlantic Petrel were noted.  Humpback Whales were seen along with two other cetaceans  which Sue found -both being quite rare! Unfortunately they were both in the same area, and I only got an image of one of them -the Long-finned Pilot Whale (I think), the other was Southern Right Whale Dolphin (seeing one of these is a 'red letter' day apparently!) and it's another one that Sue can grip me off about. It was the last we saw of the Wandering Albatross as we traveled further north but still lots of Black-browed, though,  and we started to see some Sooty Shearwaters too It was a good two days spent at sea, and on the 27th we would wake up in Montevideo

                                                               Hump Back Whale
                                                               Hump Back Whale
                                                            Long-finned Pilot Whale
                                                             Wandering Albatross

In Montevideo we had arranged to meet up with a guide we had found on birdingpal;  his name was Lionel, an Australian now living in Uruguay with his wife Silvia, who was also a very good birder. We spent about four hours with them at a little wetland site, and even had a picnic by the river. Birds were a bit sparse but we managed to see Bare-faced Ibis, Rufous-sided Crake, Wren-like Rushbird Spectacled Tyrant and Hooded Siskin, plus a lot we had seen already in Buenos Aires - but all the same, it was  a great few hours. They then took us for a quick guided tour around the city, before dropping us back at the port where we had a little look around the market before we went back to the ship for our final night.
                                                             Rufous-sided Crake
                                                              Wren-like Rushbird
                                                                    Rufous Hornero
                                                                 The Hornero's Nest

Whilst waiting for the ship to depart back to Buenos Aries my last lifer was noted - a White-necked Heron put in an appearance on one of the board walks
White-necked Heron

I thought this was an interesting sign - not one you see every day whilst out birding!! It is, of course from the Falklands - and the mines are still there, being cleared by specialist teams 

The image below is of the Southern Right Whale Dolphins we were lucky enough to see.
This smashing image was taken by Mark Hefter (New York)

This cruise was a trip of a lifetime, and if you are lucky enough to get the chance to go to Antarctica,  I would definitely recommend you take it!!
Hope you've enjoyed reading about our adventures, and as always, thanks for stopping by.