An early start.

So with a hot weekend forecast and today being a Bank Holiday, we decided to walk locally and make an early start. So at 05.00hrs, we were out in the fields. Picture quality is not too bad given the slow shutter speed needed for the low light.

We had seen a Barn Owl locally on a couple of evenings and had hoped to see him hunting in the morning but sadly he was a no-show.

We did see several foxes and a Roe Buck and Doe.

A Green-woodpecker

Around the pond

A stroll around some local ponds and there is always something to see.

Little Grebe in the Water Lillies since I lat saw some of these small diving birds they have coloured up and are in their breeding plumage. They feed on insects, larvae and small fish.

Great Crested Grebe I spotted at least two birds sitting on nests they build a raft/platform nest on trees that overhang into the water. These elegant waterbirds with ornate head plumes led to them being hunted for their feathers, almost leading to their extermination in the UK. today there are some 5,300 breeding birds here and over 23,000 wintering birds.

Chicks are often carried around on the backs of their parents something I am hoping to see this year.

Willow Warbler. A summer visitor to Britain from Africa arriving in April with an early return passage during August and September.

A Coot in a Flap!

It was unusual to see Sparrows hunting for insects on the Lilly Pads.

LTT family.

A long-tailed tit family.

The male and female birds work together to build their nest, which will take the best part of three weeks if it’s early in the season. Later builds can be done in a week.

The nest is shaped like a bottle, usually with a roof and an entrance hole near the top. They construct it in a bush or in the fork of a tree, from moss, camouflaged with lichen with interwoven cobwebs and sometimes bits of paper stuck on the outside. they add a feather lining. As the chicks grow the nest expands.

The female incubates a clutch of between 8-12 and eggs – sometimes as many as 15. Once they hatch, things get crowded but the nest is stretchy the nest expands.

When they leave the nest the family of young birds are often seen lining up together. I spotted this family while out for a walk this morning.

Above is a parent bird, all other pictures as young birds.

Foxes.

As part of my volunteer work, I have access to the grounds of a restricted training area which is closed to the public. Roe deer & foxes have no such access restrictions and in the quiet of the early morning or early evening under the nose of the security cameras they go about their routines within the grounds.  Wednesday evening with good weather I took the opportunity to photograph some of the foxes. Many of the females have cubs Рin the some of pictures you can see some are heavy with milk however, they are keeping the cubs safe deep in the woods. One family live under a storage container wary of people and Police dogs.

Sitting quietly I was pleased to get some pictures.

One fox is in poor condition suffering from mange. Sarcoptic mange is a disease caused by mites irritating the skin. This condition is common in foxes in the UK.