Author Archives: Words

Summer Swallows

If one swallow doesn’t make a summer, then I think I can safely say summer arrived today (even though it may be short lived).

With the sun shining I headed over to Sheepcote Valley this afternoon. As always I have my eyes open for kestrels (I saw one, way up high), but it was the swooping swallows that caught my eye. This season’s broods have now fledged and the adults were in frenzy of insect catching to feed countless hungry mouths. The fledglings were in smalls groups, perching on low bushes along the side of Brighton race track. There were sheep grazing in the valley, but they were happy to ignore me as I settled down for a long afternoon of swallow-watching.

I’m still working through the shots I took, but here are a few that I’ve processed quickly and am blogging now as otherwise I may never catch up!

fledgling swallows

Four fledgling swallows waiting patiently to be fed.

Adult swallow feeding fledgling

Adult swallow feeding fledgling

adult swallow feeding fledgling

Adult delivering an insect meal

Adult swallow feeding fledgling

Adult swallow feeding fledgling

Fledgling swallow

Fledgling swallow

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens.

Posted in Birds Tagged , , |

Ant Hill Mob

A few weeks ago as part of tidying up the garden we dug out a long-standing ant-hill that was in the middle of the lawn. The ants weren’t too happy, but they’d had a long run of several years undisturbed and it was time for them to move on.

The lawn has now recovered with some re-seeding, and the ants – so it appears – have found a perfectly good new home. This was the sight that greeted me when I opened our compost bin earlier in the week.

ant colony with pupae

Ant colony with a huge number of eggs pupae. The dark areas are
tunnels leading down into the compost bin

You can clearly see the tunnels they are building down into the compost, a little bit like a hive. There are a huge number of eggs pupae (larger than the ants) on the surface, plus some large winged ants, though vast majority are the standard small worker ant. I’m trying not to disturb them too often as once daylight hits the surface they go into a frenzy of moving everything.

ant colony with winged ants

There are several winged ants among the mass

ants moving pupae
ants moving pupae

Close-up of ants and eggs pupae

The major problem with the colony is that they make the compost more or less unusable, so we may have to start again entirely. The ants are safe for the time-being!

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens.

edited 20/6/19 to correct references to eggs to ‘pupae’
Posted in Ants, Insects, Wildlife Tagged |

More on the fox cubs

The fox cubs are growing up (slowly), and I’m beginning to get a pattern of behaviour. There’s one cub in particular (a male) who follows Wolfy around a lot. The others seem more reticent so although I know there are at least four cubs, as you can see here, generally there is only one or two in the garden at the same time.

Wolfy with four of her fox cubs – (photo 29/4/2019)

Two fox cubs playing chase

There is one particular cub (a young male) who tends to be the boldest, and who follows Wolfy around a lot. Most of the recent photos are of him.

Keeping close to Mum

A rare daylight visit

Wolfy, meanwhile is working very hard to look after her brood. Here she is eyeing up our hedge for nesting birds. She didn’t attempt to climb it (though foxes will climb trees if the incentive is sufficient).

Wolfy investigating a hedge where sparrows may be nesting. Note the cub at her feet, watching!

Look before you leap!

There is a second adult fox, but he never shows himself when I’m there. The nearest encounter is this photo when he was watching carefully from below the fence line as I photographed the bold little cub. Wolfy was further in the garden, just out of shot.

Fox cub, with adult fox in background keeping watch through the fence

Finally, another portrait of the little fox.

Smiling fox cub

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II. The night shots were with the EF 70-200mm f/4.0L IS II USM lens. I used the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM for the daytime shots.

Posted in fox cub, Foxes, Wildlife Tagged , |