Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Blue-tit box

So, our darling little blue tits have flown the nest. Luckily they decided to go on the last day of the half term, so we got to see half of them leave before the school day started. My entire tutor group got to see the final one fledge too. Very sad to see them go, but very exciting at the same time! Here are photos from most days from next building through to fledging. I just hope this might inspire a few of my pupils, who have seen this through from an empty nest box to eight chicks fledging, to give nature a home too.

24th February 2014 - Checking out the box
7th April 2014 - Completed nest
15th April 2014 - 6 eggs in the nest
22nd April 2014 - 11 eggs in the nest. The female started incubating.
6th May 2014 - Chicks at one day old (we think!)
8th May 2014 - The chicks being fed at 3 days old. We could count 8 or 9 at this point.
The camera has also been connected to the school laptop for clearer images.
12th May - Hungry chicks even after a visit from both parents!
13th May 2014
14th May 2014 - Beginning to look a little less weird and a little more fluffy. Cue the cuteness factor!
15th May 2014 - They have flight feathers and are a bit more mobile. Growing so fast!
16th May 2014 - Eyes are open! Much to their own shock and surprise it seemed...
19th May 2014 - They grew loads over the weekend. They're getting a little cramped in their little nest.
20th May 2014 - They're now very cute and very fluffy. Looks like they'll be ready to go any time...
21st May 2014 - About the same size as the adult, who has just collected a faecal sack.
21st May 2014 - ... and they've been testing out their flight muscles.
23rd May - Time to go! This was the eighth and final fledgling... Very sad to see them go, but happy they all made it!
My entire tutor group got to see this little one's first flight. 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A Norfolk Wildlife Menagerie

It never rains but it pours. The last week and weekend have been so wildlife filled, I don't really know where to start!

7-spotted ladybirds

Nature Area

Wednesday 14th May 2014

At work, we are very lucky to have a nature area, an orchard and wildlife garden. Unfortunately, none of these have been managed for some time. A group of teachers, other staff and pupils have come together to sort it out, and we decided to take photos of any interesting biodiversity we found to stop the whole thing being weed killed for us to make a fresh start. Here are a few examples of what we found...

More 7-spotted ladybirds
Blue shield bug (thank you ispotnature.org)

Foxley Woods

Friday 16th May 2014
It had been a long week last week, so after work on Friday, a teacher friend of mine and I decided to go for a relaxing walk in Foxley woods. She had never been there before, and we had great fun exploring, identifying things and watching small animals busy themselves about their day to day business. My real aim was to catch the last of the bluebells, but they were mostly a bit too far gone, with the exceptions of the photos below. However, we also saw a baby coal tit that must have fallen from its nest far too early and a very cute harvest mouse, who decided that we weren't a threat when we'd stopped making any noise. Here are a few examples of what we found.

Early purple orchid

Baby coal tit

Native bluebell - they smelled amazing

Greater stitchwort
Mixed flower 'meadow'

Mystery mammal paw print - any suggestions appreciated!
Butterfly orchid - this was fenced off with mesh to prevent damage

Strumpshaw Fen

Saturday 17th May 2014

On Saturday afternoon we met some friends for a wander around Strumpshaw Fen. I love this place, but this weekend's visit surpassed all others. For the first time ever we saw a bittern fly across and land in the reeds near the reception hide, then we heard another booming when we were on the opposite side of the reserve! I was very excited! We also heard our first cuckoo of the year, and I managed to track it down and take a long distance look at it. Also the first time I have ever seen this bird, even if it wasn't clearly. To top it off, we even saw a crane flying across the water, being mobbed by a band of gulls. Every time it moved, it was mobbed. There was also a common tern fishing at the reception hide, and we saw a good number of Azure damselflies, with the odd large red thrown in. For butterflies, the most numerous were silver-studded blues and brimstones, along with a few peacocks and tortoiseshells. Here is a selection of my best pics from the day.

Mating Azure damselflies
Brown-banded Carder bee (I think...)
Slightly battered peacock butterflies
Female Azure damselfly
Large red damselfy
Silver studded blue

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Birds of Budapest and Baby Blue tits

"What will her parents say when you tell them that the last time you saw her, she was chasing a hooded crow round the back of a church somewhere in Hungary..."

I spent the long weekend in Budapest with my other half and his family. We attended a baptism, then as we were chatting and waiting outside, I spotted a hooded crow. Having done no research on the birds of Hungary, assuming we would have no time for wildlife watching, and having lived my entire life somewhere in East Anglia, I took pursuit, trying to get a photo of the hooded crow. It was only later that I realised the rest of the gathering (mostly local) probably thought I was mad... Later on, we saw them everywhere. There were a flock of almost twenty near the palace. Still, it was a first for me...

We also heard (and later saw) our first swifts of the year too in Budapest, although we haven't as yet  seen any in Norfolk. There were also swallows and house martins aplenty, and black-headed gulls, cormorants and herons frequenting the river Danube.

Tuesday 6th May

Blue tit box update

Our blue tits have hatched! I think they must have appeared on either Sunday 4th or Monday 5th May. They were all out, live and kicking when I went into work on Tuesday morning. My classes, other teachers and I have been very busy watching their antics and their parents' visits to the box to feed them, keep them warm and remove fecal sacks.

Thursday 8th May

Friday 9th May

Friday 9th May

As well as pictures of our beautiful blue tits, I now have the capabilities for video too! Here is a little snapshot from Thursday 8th May.