Monday, 24 July 2017

The Reed Bunting

Back in May, I took some photos of a little bird in a wild rose bush. I didn't know what it was at the time, but now believe it to be a female Reed Bunting. It had a pleasing chirruping song, and when I spotted it, seemed to be calling for a mate, which makes sense, as they do mate as early as May.


The female Reed Bunting   ( Emberiza  schoeniclus )
 

They are about the same size as sparrows, but have longer tails, streaked underparts, and a buff coloured line above the eye.
 

Females have a brown head, and buff throat throughout the year.
 

Reed Buntings prefer to roost in large numbers in reed beds or wet and marshy areas, where they can be safe from night predators.
 

The female makes the nest, and can start to breed as early as May. We saw this one in the wetlands of Alvor, in southern Portugal.
 

Monday, 17 July 2017

Algarve and the Little Owl.

As I was walking Mel one day, I passed the place where I had seen the Little Owl last year in the hope of seeing it again, but the old pylon must have been demolished, and been replaced by a new one. I was always on the lookout however, and then I saw it, or another Little Owl, perched on top of a pole, way out in the middle of a field, far from the road. Would you believe that I didn't have my camera with me!! As there was more traffic than usual, I had had to put Mel on her leash, so had left my camera in the car. Back at the car, I retraced my steps to the field, and as luck would have it the Little Owl was still there.


This is the road where I walk Mel.
 

At first the Little Owl appeared to be asleep, with it's eyes closed,...but as their eyes are light sensitive, I expect...
 

he was just protecting his eyes from the bright sunlight whilst moving his head from side to side, surveying the land.
 

I was delighted to have seen this Little Owl, and walked back to the car, with a spring in my step, never dreaming that I would see it again later in the evening.  

Americo taking photos of an ant colony,...
 

and this is his photo.
 

A male Stonechat
 

A Whitethroat Warbler.
 

Another encounter with a Little Owl on our way home. His eyes were wide open this time.
 

The light was not only fading, and  I was on the wrong side of the sun, to get really clear shots of the Little Owl.
 

Nevertheless I'm still glad I captured these images, and that he stayed long enough for me to get these four shots,...
 

and then he flew away, and I never saw the Little Owl again,...perhaps next year I will be just as lucky.
 
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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Jays and other Garden Vistors

For a change, I am sharing some photos I took this morning in the garden.


Juvenile Jay photo taken through the window.
 

Adult Jay, photo taken from my hide.
 

Makeshift birds feeder, but it works!:)
 

Hungry Greenfinch.
 


 


 

Hungry Adult Jay.
 

Trust the squirrel to displace the yellow food container!
 

A Meadow Brown butterfly.
 
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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Algarve, and a pair of Bee-eaters.

The day after we arrived in the Algarve, we headed for the Bee-eater site we had discovered last year. I was really lucky to see a Bee-eater fly onto the branch of a tree only a few meters away from where I was hiding behind the trunk of our car, which we had parked in a small opening off the road. Within just a few minutes another Bee-eater joined it's partner, enabling me to get all these shots, and as you will have noticed, I later chose one for a new header.

I would also like to wish all my American friends a very happy 4th of July. Have a good one!!:)


BEE-EATERS  ( MEROPIDAE)  ARE MONOGAMOUS.


DURING A NESTING SEASON, AND IN SEDENTARY PAIRS, THEY STAY TOGETHER FOR MULTIPLE YEARS.


DURING COURTSHIP, THE MALES FEED LARGE ITEMS TO THE FEMALE, WHILE EATING THE SMALL ONES HIMSELF.


BREEDING PAIRS NEST IN LONG VERTICAL NESTING BURROWS, THAT THEY THEMSELVES, EXCAVATE.


THE TUNNELS ARE AT LEAST ONE METER DEEP, TERMINATING IN A NEST CHAMBER.


THEY MAY BE REUSED, IN CONSECUTIVE YEARS, BUT MOST PAIRS WILL EXCAVATE A NEW ONE.


WE NOTICED  THAT MANY BURROWS HAD BEEN ABANDONED, BUT IT WAS EASY TO FIND THE NEW NESTS,....



AS THERE WERE HEAPS OF EARTH UNDER THE NEWLY EXCAVATED NESTS.



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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Insect, Birds, and Freshwater Turtles in the Wetlands

I have always been fascinated by insects, and when we discovered this large one in the wetlands of Alvor, we were amazed at it's size and appearance. It must have been at least 15cm in length, and had striped eyes, and was fully aware that it was being scrutinized, but stayed perfectly still as I took macro after macro. It was only during the editing that I spotted something that may be fanciful, but it really moved me. What do you think! After some research I discovered that it is the Egyptian  Grasshopper.


THE EGYPTIAN GRASSHOPPER   ANAERIDIUM AEGYPTIUM
 

HE SEEMS TO BE LOOKING RIGHT AT ME, AND PLEADING "PLEASE DON'T HURT ME" !!
 

WE SAW IT HERE, WHERE WE OFTEN WALK MEL. 
 

A VERY PEACEFUL SPOT, BUT.......
 

WE ONLY CAME HERE IN THE LATE AFTERNOON, JUST BEFORE DINNER; TO AVOID THE HEAT.
 

SPOONBILLS
 

SANDWICH TERN
 

HERRING GULL
 

NOT SURE OF ID OF THIS LITTLE BROWN BIRD, MAYBE JUVIE SPECKLED WARBLER.
 

BABY BLACKBIRD
 


 

MALLARD.
 

ANOTHER VIEW OF THIS FLAT AREA OF WETLAND:
 

 AS WE PASSED BY ONE OF THE STRETCHES OF WATER, I SAW SOME FRESHWATER TURTLES.
 

I DIDN'T PHOTOGRAPH THE ONE WITH IT'S HEAD STUCK IN A WATER BOTTLE. I WISH PEOPLE WOULD BE MORE CAREFUL. I COULD DO NOTHING TO HELP.:(
 


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