Category Archives: Birds

Fledglings

I spent the afternoon today at Woods Mill. The young kestrels are nearly ready to fledge and can now be seen at the front of the nest box. The adults are still very busy feeding them and guarding them from other species.

Kestrel chicks

You can just see four of the six chicks in this photo

kestrel chicks

Kestrel chicks at Woods Mill

crow attacking kestrel nest box

Corvid attempting to raid a kestrel nest box

Those were all taken from some ridiculous distance away, but I was able to get a little closer to a young robin. It was sunning itself and kept hopping right up to the camera.

robin fledgling

Robin fledgling ‘sunbathing’

robin fledgling

Robin fledgling at Woods Mill

robin fledgling

Robin fledgling at Woods Mill

Plus a quick fox photo from last night. Pretty has taken a shine to rooftops!

fox on roof

Fox on a roof

Camera note: First photo taken with the EF 500mm f/4 IS II USM lens + 2x extender and the third with the 500mm lens (no extender). All other bird photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens. The fox photo was taken with the EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens.

Raising Kestrels

For past few weeks I’ve been watching an amazing live feed from the kestrel nest box at Woods Mill, the headquarters of Sussex Wildlife Trust. There are half a dozen chicks in the box, and the adults are working feverishly to keep them fed. I’ve been down there a couple of times to watch the adults at work.

The feeding goes on throughout the day. The male tends to arrive and drop off the prey, but the female takes more time in the nest. The chicks can feed themselves now, but in the first days she would distribute the food across the brood taking care that all the chicks received a share.

These photos were taken today over the course of a few hours. I was set-up well away from the nest so these are all moderately heavy crops. I used a 500mm lens, sometimes with a 1.4x extender. For the majority I locked the focus on the box and waited for the adult to fly across the same plane. Plenty of misses, but far easier than trying to track a bird that appears from nowhere against a dark background.

The male delivering a vole 

The female with a rat for the hungry brood

The male again

The male with a young rat wood mouse

kestrel with prey (wood mouse)

Female kestrel leaving the nest

The male leaving the nest

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 1DX Mark II and EF 500mm f/4 IS II USM lens. I used a 1.4x extender on a couple of the shots.

Young Skylark

Just a couple of photos today, of a recently fledged skylark that I spotted at Sheepcote Valley today. Skylarks are possibly the distinctive sound of the countryside as they hover high above fields with a constant trilling, before spiralling back down to earth. Recent significant declines in their population mean they are ‘red listed’. The decline is thought to be due to changes in farming practices. Nice then to see a healthy youngster.

young skylark

Young skylark at Sheepcote Valley, Brighton

young skylark

Young skylark at Sheepcote Valley, Brighton

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