South Mimms. June 2009.

A fellow brother of the leaf from the UKCigar Forum contacted me to inform of a family of kestrels that resided at his sons school. Being near south mimms it was a straight forward route down for me, and with the school heads permission and want for some images, myself and sarah set off to meet with Nic on a weekday evening to suss' the place out.

The kestrels were set up in a tree outside the school building, with one almost ready to fly from the tree, and two already practising their flying techniques around the school grounds. The female parents entrance on the scene was welcomed by a cacophony of screeches from the younger birds. The female was seen to bring in a mouse on a couple of occasions and the flying pair would make their way onto the school roof to obtain the offered morsel.

I decided to come back first thing the next morning to photograph them again with the light in a better direction, and before the school kids arrived.
The morning was indeed a bright and sunny start and the un-flown kestrel was positioned higher up in the tree exercising its wings and no doubt due to fly today. The other two were sat up in another tree sleeping and sunning themselves. The mother bird was seen to bring in one mouse and pass to it to one bird before departing again. The orange glow of the rising sun changed the entire scene, but one that was lovely to capture.

One of the birds was happy to fly around the school building and perch on the roof on a couple of occasions giving me the opportunity to grab some shots, it was a lovely morning spent watching these birds and great to grab some images, and then it was time to head home before the school opened. Many thanks go to Nic for informing me about the birds and the school for letting and wanting me to photograph them.

Dungeness,Kent and Sandy RSPB.June 4th 2009.

The day started very early for me with a journey down to Denge marsh/Dungeness in the hope of connecting with the Oriental pratincole that had been found there yesterday. Unfortunately I was not to get my 'hat trick' of pratincoles, as the bird was not to be found. Despite reports of probable sightings I don't believe it was still there, later reports of a pratincole sp' at grove ferry furthered that thought.
On the way home I received a call from sarah telling the girls in the Lodge shop had phoned to tell me of a Nightjar showing very well. And so not too far off from the Lodge I decided to pay a visit. And true to their word it was right bang next to a pathway on a stump sunning itself. there was a bit of obstruction from the wire fence and foliage in front but what a wonderful sight and a welcome end to an otherwise unproductive day.

MUD ! ! !

With the dry conditions I thought i would make up a puddle close to home and see if I could tempt some birds in to drink and bathe and hopefully get some swallows or house martins in collecting mud from the puddles edge. I was not to be disappointed I can tell you.

The expected birds such as yellow wagtails and finches and buntings were present although shy to come to the water, and not staying for long. But it was not long before the calling of swallows became present and over the next 2 mornings I was able to get some new images of them along with the more shy house martin. What fantastic colours that shine and dazzle in the sun.

What a delight to watch them coming and going. The swallows obviously had a bit further to travel and the house martins were always first back, but they were a lot more shy in landing and it was down to the swallows return where they would relax enough to land and gather up the mud.

In watching them I could see that the house martins tended to gather small bits of grass material or grit and then gather the soft mud, the swallows would go for the strands of hay/grass from a nearby heap of manure and then gather the mud which would then be placed at the nest with the straw already built in and ready to dry. It was lovely to watch and with the ground so hard I felt good in providing nesting material for them.


With the lovely warm spell lately the moths had been increasing in numbers and so a few late nights with the trap out were in order. Quite a few species were recorded and photographed with a couple of new species for my list. Hopefully there is still plenty more to get on the wing this summer.