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Birds at Night
Not quite night, but this nice surprise was the first time we knew there were ducks nesting on our site. This is a mallard female leading her brood. Another photo taken within a day or two of this also shows 4 ducklings, so we think this is probably the entire remnants of the brood (which is typically 8 to 11).
Since this was taken we have come across active
nests twice (both in 1997) and know where they
hide. Unfortunately the moorhens won't tolerate
their presence once they have hatched, and see
them off ALL the ponds.
Once the duck has given up on the harassment, she marches them off down to a brook about 600m away - unfortunately right across the quite busy country road. If we happen to see this in progress it is fairly nerve racking but there is nothing we can do to help. So far we are aware of no casualties to man nor bird.
Our night photo kit amazingly photographed these swallows, one with a beak full of insect(s). No we were not this lucky - this is a montage of two shots!
The night photo equipment isn't designed to react extremely fast (it takes about 300mS, unlike the insect flight equipment which takes about 10mS) so the birds are already out of the area of crisp focus. But its interesting none the less.
Technical: The background is very black even on the
originals, taken at F
11 on 200 ASA reversal (Kodachrome) film. So it must
have been well
past sunset, though not as dark as the background might
In February 2004 a pair of robins
started nesting in a woodpile next to
the kit. We repeatedly got shots like
this with one bird looking up at the
other performing various aerial
gymnastics including diving to the
ground. We assume it some sort of
Jays were absent for the first 10
years, but we now see pairs
occasionally turning over the leaf
This one took a number of photos of itself in a few minutes (mostly half off the edge of the frame!) so it obviously likes the peanut grits bait we put down and is not bothered by the clicks and flashes. Now we use a digital camera we don't have to guess the times - this one was 06:33 BST on 16 Apr 2004, 30 mins after 'sunrise' on a gloomy morning.