Stork on chimney

Stork on chimney

Even though this is an annual occurrence, it’s still something that fills me with dread – a White Stork (Ciconia ciconia) inspecting my chimney. As they’re protected, if they decide to build a nest on the chimney then they can’t be moved and I’d have to wait until they’ve returned to warmer climes before I can get rid of it – which is a long time to go without a fire. This particular stork is a bit late with nest building as others already have young. I’m hoping it’s not the insane one from a couple of years back who woke me up in the early morning by hammering its giant beak against my 2nd floor French doors or who was repeatedly seen in the cemetery hammering away at gravestones.

The other reason i don’t like them anywhere near my roof is they leave the black tiles looking like someone pelted them with buckets of ice cream. They’re very, very big birds (4-feet tall) and they produce a lot of waste…

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Golden Oriole

Golden Oriole

The Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) produces my favourite bird song – it gives a tropical or Australian-like sound to the garden. They only migrate for a couple of months each year and will shortly be leaving, much earlier than other migratory species. I’ve been trying for years to get a photo of one but they never seem to sit still long enough, plus they prefer the higher branches of trees.

House Martin nesting in window

House Martin nesting in window

Each year, several migratory species return to this region. The giant white storks are hard to miss, and the air is quickly filled with thousands of House Martins (Delichon urbicum). The Martens are like mini-swallows and have the extremely useful function of keeping down the insect population. However, there is a caveat to their arrival and that is that they nest in windows.

Every window has a Martin nest made of mud and saliva and bits they’ve found, and every window sill quickly mounds up with guano. Most people tie ripped plastic bags in the corners of windows to frighten them away. We don’t bother. In the window where this Martin is building a nest, there is another Martin doing likewise in the other corner.

It’s ironic because I’ve got House Martens nesting in my windows and Pine Martens nesting in my house….

Slow Worm

Slow Worm

This weekend was scorching hot, above 30 degrees Centigrade. This Slow Worm (Anguis fragilis) was sunning itself on a road when I found it. Judging by its tail, it’s already had one bad encounter (they lose their tails when threatened but the regrowth is always short and stubby), so I moved it off the road and into the grass so it didn’t get hit by a car.

We used to get lots of Slow Worms but I now I hardly ever see them. It’s a real shame as currently we’re inundated by slugs.

Red Backed Shrike fledgling

Red Backed Shrike fledgling

Synchronicity at play again….

This photo I took a week ago in my back garden – over 30 kilometres away from the previous Red Backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) photo. I couldn’t identify the bird so I even showed it to an ornithologist. She mistakenly identified it as a Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) fledgling but I disagreed as I’m quite familiar with their young. It wasn’t until seeing the shrikes yesterday that it became apparent what this particular young bird was. Poor little thing just sat on my deer fence and got drenched in the rain.

Jumping fish and shrikes….