Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Welsh Trees...

When I call this post "Welsh Trees" I am not meaning they are trees unique to Wales: I am staying in Wales in Manorbier, a small village on the South-West coast, dog-sitting for my friends, the artist Philip Sutton and his wife Heather , who I have written about previously (Link). They live in an idyllic setting, surrounded by rambling flowers, trees and even a meadow, now in full bloom. As if this is not enough, the sea is only a short walk from the house- a beautiful bay with exciting rock formation.

There are so many visual, brightly coloured stimulation's here - comparable to treasure chests- and my head is full of them. One moment I am swooning over the flower-filled meadow, the next over the colours and patterns of the rocks and the patterns of the waves. I will write about the bay later, but first a return to TREES!

My favourite walk is down to the sea, usually accompanied by Toby the Norfolk Terrier I am caring for. Each time my attention will be caught by a different tree- or sometimes just the same one in a different light. Poor Toby is usually very patient and often will just sit in a resigned fashion while I take countless photos- although one time he was really fed up with me and the moment I lifted up my camera gave an extraordinary, rage-full screech!

One thing I do associate very much with West Wales is dark, green woods of ivy smothered trees so I will start of with some of them:

Apart from these ivy covered one, I have been obsessed by the shapes of some Sycamore trees, both in the garden and down the lane:

(this next tree is actually an Ash)

(whereas this next one IS a Sycamore)

And again and again I photograph this Sycamore branch, as I leave and return to the house:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We can FLY! and leave our Nest...

Last Thursday I had to leave Ilford to spend nearly two weeks by the sea in Wales. This meant leaving my obsession with the Herons in Valentines Park behind me- a wrench!

However, the day before I left I was relieved to see their nest was at last empty, proving that each of the three chicks could now fly. Checking round the island I saw all three of them-in different locations- plus one adult, keeping an eye on them. They were still being aggressive to each other and to their parent, yet sometimes they fished peacefully, side-by-side .

Although they have all now fledged, I'm sure they will continue to visit their nest and hang around the island - but for how long I do not know.

Here are some images of the so-called chicks flying from tree to tree and from their nest to the water beneath them:

It does not seem long since these now mature looking birds were squawking to their parent in the nest:

And now the nest is empty...

Monday, June 14, 2010

Birds. Birds, Birds....

I am just writing to explain that one of the reasons that I have yet again neglected this blog is to do with my bird obsession- or should I say Heron obsession? Every day I have been spending many hours observing and photographing the young Grey Heron family in Valentines Park. I have then been feeding photos and stories about them (and Great Crested Grebes, Mute Swans and Egyptian Geese) to the Redbridge Birdwatching Blog. By the time I have done this I have not had the energy to update my own blog! but it has seemed important to do this as there is so much local interest in the Grey Herons nesting in Redbridge for the first time for over 100 years.

I will certainly be writing more about them here, but in the meantime here is an image showing that two of the heron chicks have now fledged, although they still sometimes return to their nest:

Here too is a photo of the Great Crested Grebe on her/his nest with three eggs! I previously described how the Grebes had left this same nest when the four eggs vanished, so you can imagine my delight about this new development. We can only hope they have more success this time round...

If you'd like to read more about this, have a look at the Redbridge Birdwatching Blog...both in the posts and under headings for individual birds (Great Crested Grebes, Grey Herons, Mute Swans and Egyptian Geese) in the side column. But you will find you have already seen many of the older photos...

English Oaks...

A change from birds! Here are two very English Oak trees in a very English landscape. The photos were taken when I was staying in a village near Bath recently:

Between the two Oaks, I am placing a not-so-English Copper Beech, in that the trees were ornamental cultivars (developed by horticulture selection- makes one think of GM trees...) from the European Beech in the early 19th Century. This was growing alongside the oak trees, a foil to their bright green early Summer foliage...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Grey Heron Chick again...

Today there was again much sibling rivalry among the Valentines Park Grey Heron chicks. When I arrived to check up on them all three were on their tree and one adult flew up from the lake at that moment, settling high above them. They were making an HORRENDOUS noise and a dog having his walk was upset by them and would not stop barking, to add to the cacophony of sound! One chick flapped about around the nest while the other two were scrabblig, fighting, squawking and flapping, in the above ivy covered branches.

Eventually, one- I guess the one who has already left the nest on several occasions- struggled up to where his parent was sitting. He did some more squawking and flapping but was not welcomed. He gave up and later climbed to the very top of the sycamore tree, perching on the dead branches which emerge from the ivy before flying down to the log in the water where he fished yesterday. I will just show you some images of the chick on his final perch, silhouetted against the sky:

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grey Heron Family Again!

For those who are tiring of my Heron Obsession I apologize- but each time I plan to focus on trees there is a development in the heron family that I cannot ignore!

Today I got a shock when instead of two heron chicks I saw THREE- two on the nest and one on their branch, the evicted one having returned...

However, the threesome didn't last long as soon the fledged one (assuming it was him) flew down to the island's shore, where he landed on a log in the water:

Here he proceeded to search for food like an old-timer:

And here he plays at being Narcissus!

And here he seems to believe he is a Duck...

Now when I first arrived, I had spotted a Heron lurking high in the foliage of a large island tree, and rightly guessed it was one of the parent birds. Suddenly, he (or she) came swooping down to land on the chick's log. He immediately went wild, flapping his wings and making loud squawks- a big baby again!

The two stayed together for sometime, moving around and fishing for food:

Finally, the parent decided it was time to leave and flew up into a nearby tree:

where he sat until he REALLY decided it was time to leave and flew off the tree and into the distance...

The fledgeling carried on with his work and I reluctantly left, leaving him in the water and his two siblings on their nest and branch...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Eviction in Heron's Nest

As I have said before, one cannot afford to get emotionally involved with wildlife...

Yesterday there was discord in the Grey Heron's nest: when I arrived the three mature chicks were prancing up and down on their branch. Then one of them started to climb their ivy-covered tree, jumping from branch to branch and clambering through the ivy in an ungainly fashion until he reached a very high position:

After some time he evidently decided it was time to return to the comfort of his nest and started to make his way down the tree...

and this was when the trouble began: his two siblings started to be extremely aggressive, squawking, flapping their wings wildly and stretching up serpentine necks, showing him very clearly that he was not welcome in his nest:

It really was disturbing to watch...he kept making new attempts but every time received the same unwelcoming reception. One of the two nest-defending birds then started mounting the tree himself. They both disappeared in the ivy at the back of the tree where I could only see occasional wild beatings of wings.

Eventually, the ostracized bird retreated to another high position on the tree, seeming to give up. And this was the last I saw of him...

Today I anxiously returned: just two conquering birds on the branch and an empty nest as I had expected. I felt quite desolate!

While watching them, I became aware of a movement in the undergrowth on the islands' shore not far from the nest. It turned out to be two herons. They were difficult to see in the foliage but I reckon one was a parent bird and the other the evicted chick.

Well, I expect my next heron report will be to say the birds have flown. I will miss them.