Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Spotted Woodpecker

We get many species of woodpecker visiting the garden. This one is the Great Spotted (Dendrocopos major). Aside from the black, green and grey woodpeckers, the vast majority in our area look very similar and it’s often difficult to identify them. The Great Spotted is best identified by its long white shoulder patches.

 

Kestrel in tree

Kestrel in tree

I really hate taking photos when the sky is like this but you have to seize the moment. This is a Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) with unusual plumage. Unless it’s something else…

Hoopoe

Hoopoe

I know the photo is terrible quality but this really was a spur of the moment event and it’s literally only luck that got the bird in the picture. We were driving through the village when we passed a bird standing by the side of the road. It took a few moments for me to realize it was a Hoopoe (Upupa epops). I slammed on the brakes, put the warning lights on, left the engine running and got out to take a photo.

The bird flew off into a nearby tree. I walked towards it and it flew off again. For several minutes I followed but never had chance for a decent shot. eventually, it settled in a large tree and I could just make out its silhouette through the branches so I snapped one off. I thought I’d been unsuccessful until reviewing the photo later.

We used to have flocks of Hoopoe pass through in early summer on their way North but i haven’t seen any for a while. Maybe this one got left behind when they migrated back south.

Lesser Spotted Eagle with mouse

Lesser Spotted Eagle with mouse

We have a family of Lesser Spotted Eagles (Aquila pomarina) living in a tree a couple of hundred metres from the house. Because of the hot weather, they’re using this time to ride the thermals and regularly fly low over our heads. Their screams fill the valley. This eagle is returning to its nest with a mouse in its beak

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…

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….

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….

Red Backed Shrike

Red Backed Shrike

After an extremely stressful day, we decided to go for a ride on Feisty. We went to a beautiful little hidden spot which has a bar and trout ponds out in the countryside. The place was empty apart from us and a pretty young blonde barmaid who kept hidden inside. A metal, Japanese-like bridge crossed the ponds and, along with various bird song, the occasional splash of trout jumping could be heard.

Two Red Backed Shrike (Lanius collurio) flirted with one another as the sun began to set. An extremely peaceful place that I was reluctant to leave. I really need to cleanse my thoughts and achieve a much more spiritual, natural state of mind before I start work on my film project. The real world keeps kicking that down, though. Very frustrating.