My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, all growing things and anything else that comes to mind.
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Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Birding at RHS Wisley

I seem to have become a bit out of step with my posts in that I'm posting a day after the event!! This post relates to yesterday (Tuesday); I will get back into step ere very long - I hope!

I was in a birding frame of mind and, remembering a bird walk I joined at RHS Wisley in December a couple of years ago, I though I'd follow this up and see if any Redwings and Fieldfares were around the Fruit Fields. Well - if they were I dipped!!

There's another Bird Walk (with David Elliott and Frank Boxell) on 7 December this year - BUT I'm too late - they're sold out! One of the attractions of this bird walk is that both David and Frank know where the likely suspects are to be found, and they are both very knowledgeable. Another advantage being - you're in the gardens before normal opening time!

However, I spent a goodly time at one of the very large feeders that are around some parts of the gardens. At this one, the visitors were:
Blue Tits
Great Tits
Coal Tits

Nutchatch and Blue Tit

Blue Tits

(Male) Chaffinch

Coal Tit

Blue tit

Coal Tit

After a walk through the Arboretum which produced a small flock of Long-tailed Tits and, I'm not too certain, what sounded like a Goldcrest. Much evidence that the moles were still about - last time I visited, the mole was very active in that I saw the earth moving!!

Back around the gardens, and a further visit to another feeder.
A Jay which had been very noisy and evident, dropped in for tea...

This time, although there were Goldfinches and Blue Tits around they were staying in the tree. Why? I imagine the Male Sparrowhawk may have had something to do with their wariness.
Hello, thought I, what's this I see - I couldn't see too much detail as I was looking against the sun!

He was perched high up in a (birch?) tree and totally uninterested in the birds behind him. And there he sat - I was there watching him for a good 10 minutes and I was the first to leave! He must have been "fed up" as he was totally uninterested in the birds around him!

On the way back home, I stopped at West End to see if there was anything of interest on Prince of Wales pond.

Just the usual culprits - Coots, Black-headed Gulls, Mallards and two adult Mute Swans with one Cygnet. I'm assuming that this is the pair that bred in the spring. Last sighting I had was of three cygnets but only one was in evidence today. They are, I'm reasonably certain, too big now to have been predated - but, who knows? I'm hoping they've just left for elsewhere.

With the sun now getting lower, it highlighted the water droplets on the swans.

It was at this point that my camera "froze" again! I had the normal evidence (both visual and audible) that the camera had focused -
Pressed the shutter button - zilch!
Re composed the shot - same thing.
Switched camera off and on again - no change.
- ditto -
Switched off and removed and replaced CF card - no change!
Then I got the dreaded "error 99" message.
Removed and replaced battery - normal service resumed.

I've been yearning for a Canon 50D (or possibly a 40D)as a second camera (I'm changing the lens between 100-400 and landscape so often!) for some weeks now - my credit card keeps fluttering its eyes at me. Get thee behind me........


Yoke, said...

Great visitors, Trish. Love the photos and the telling. Strange to see a Sprawk in rest and indeed sated, unless he has gone vegetarian?
Love the left Blue Tit in the 2nd picture, he/she seems to be a natural photo model in that position.

Come on, be brave and go for the Canon, if you really want to.

Tricia said...

Thanks Yoke. Re the camera - oh I really want to - but it's not cheap and with Christmas knocking on the door......

Border Reiver said...

Hi Tricia, nice posting from Wisley, it's a year or so since I've been there, if you go again, keep an eye out for Siskin, and as you mention Goldcrest, they'll be making a high pitched seep seep high up, especially in Conifers.

Now for your Sparrowhawk.... will you be annoyed if I say it's a female? (and yes it is in silver birch)I grant you the first picture with the rufous looking cheek could have been a male, but not the mottled brown back, males are slate grey, plus female Sparrowhawks are a lot bigger than the males, and this fellah looks the right size for a lady...... sorry!! Great views though and really it doesn't matter if male of female, they're nice birds :-)

Tricia said...

Border - I'm not annoyed in the slightest; I've still got my L plates on for IDing birds so welcome all the help I can get!

I thought it was a male and one of Wisley's birding experts suggested juv. Male - but I don't think he saw the picture of the rear view!

I'm still inclined towards male; because I don't think it was big enough for a female? I took this picture about 8ft below the branch.

oldcrow61 said...

Such lovely pictures. I love the second one of the hawk...a beautiful bird.

Tricia said...

OC - thanks. I would agree - they are beautiful birds although some might not like them as they are Birds of Prey! I think they're wonderful!

Tricia said...

Seems as though the debate continues: The following is from a contact at the RSPB:

"Hello Tricia,
I disagree with one of the comments from Border Reiver about male (juvenile) Sparrowhawks being slate-grey. They are not. Juveniles of both sexes have dark brown upperparts with rusty margins. This feature of male Sparrowhawks does not appear until well after the second complete moult.

I'm inclined towards a male but wouldn't be tempted to put money on it!

I hope this helps, and please do feel free to post my comments on your blog - some very nice photos there..."

Anonymous said...

It's a brilliant photo, no matter what sex it is.

And I love those Phalarope photos from a previous post.

Tricia said...

Thanks DB - I've just been lucky in having the Sparrowhawk and the Phalarope almost pose for me! Still grinning about the Phalarope though :D

Pete said...

its a juve

now Trish there is a beautiful bird posing for you, let say a kingfisher with a fish in its mouth and error 99

you KNOW it makes sense :D

Tricia said...

Yes Pete - it makes incredible sense.... :D

Border Reiver said...

Good to read the debate about the sparrowhawk Tricia, which I seem to have kicked off nicely. Oh dear, I got it wrong, apologies Tricia, hopeless eh!! ID'ying birds from photos always a bit tricky, so will rethink my thoughts re it being juv male, which I'd not thought of when I made my posting. No matter how much I learn, there's always more to learn and discuss, and mistakes and errors are a way to improve, which is why blogging is great, sharing views and news.

Even experts are foiled at times re the big debate going on at the moment over a Brown and Steppes Shrike in the UK even after many many photos have been submitted. At the end of the day it's enyoying wildlife which is important.

Tricia said...

BR - no apologies necessary - everyone's opinion is welcome - that's what makes blogging so good.

I think the main agreement (from comments here and forums and emails elsewhere) is that it's a juvenile!

Another comment theme is: it's almost impossible to sex a juvenile sparrowhawk.

I have one view (based on the eye stripe) that suggests it might be a juv. female.

As you say - the debate could go on for some time but - isn't that what adds to making birding so great?

And finally (I hear you all say - good!!) it's never easy to ID from pictures!!

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