Friday, 29 June 2012

Lizard Update

So, we are now aware of NINE little lizards in the tank, calmly eating every ant egg we can find. The little darlings have absolutely no fear, and will take food from tweezers as soon as we get near the tank.

They're all cocktail stick sized sunbathing machines!

And are happy to sit anywhere, including fingers

Or on Mum's head...

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Lizard Babies!

LOOK WHAT I DID! Okay, look what Vivienne did! At the present count we have SIX tiny common lizard babies. Its good to know that we've been feeding Viv correctly and keeping her at the correct temperature, and now she's given us these speedy, slinky little reptiles.

More pictures to follow!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Escape to Little Cumbrae (a.k.a shagged out)

By god I had a magic day! I have spent my day on the (almost) uninhabited Little Cumbrae, my first ever ringing excursion. Phil, Sean and I left Millport Pier at 9:30 in gorgeous sunshine, and sped across to Largs Marina to pick up Bernie, Shona, Dawn, Jen and Lucy. On the way there were wheeling Gannets and, as we entered the marina, a flash of a Black Guillemot. We soon had everyone aboard and set off for the small ilsand, just south of my current home on Greater Cumbrae.

The First Sighting of the Day

  Disembarking at the little harbour we traversed the island in 30 minutes, halting at the new lighthouse for a speedy lunch stop. I had wheedled my way onto the trip by way of cake based bribery, and I hastily handed out the blueberry cupcakes. Thoroughly refreshed and keen to get going, we began the perilous route around the base of the cliffs.

It would have been less than 30 mins if we weren't so distracted. (Whatever they saw, I didn't)

Its hard to get a picture of anyone when they don't have their bins to their face.

Shona hands over our first feathery find

Unfortunately its a bit to young for ID

I will spare you the details of the smell, which was... noticeable, and skip to the views. The Shag colony is very healthy and has whitewashed the dark granite. Tucked away on ledges and in the crevices were untidy nests, some holding up to 3 chicks; Jen and Dawn quickly got to work, scaling the scree to hand down their complaining occupants.

Sean joins Jen and Dawn on a perilous clamber for Shags

Eventually it was decided that Lucy and I should have a go, and Bernie took us to a particularly easily accessible nest. I was handed my victim, and was instructed on how to safely attach the ring (which is more difficult than the girl's had made it look), and I then replaced my disgruntled friend back on his ledge.

point its bum that way....
Me and MY shag

On the way back to the ferry we chanced upon a lone Oystercatcher chick. It seemed rude not to ring it too. Here I am holding it...

Me + Oyc

...isn't it a beaut! From here it was just a short slog over the bouldery shore, up a flight of rickety stairs, up a ridiculously steep hill, across the island top and down the slope to the harbour, and the rib waiting to take us back to the boat. But the fun doesn't stop there. On the way back to Millport we saw 4 Harbour Porpoises, countless (as in I didn't count) Guillemots and a few Gray and Harbour Seals.

Great Company, Great Day!

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Nests and what to do about them! (Because my cousin is awesome)

I have previously mentioned my awesome cousin, Rachel, in my post on Wildlife Expo. Well, a couple of weeks ago she sent me information regarding a nest she and her mum had found in the garden. She has carefully provided a photo of the inhabitants.

Who is sharing your garden?
Rach is going to keep us posted on the progress of the chicks and I'll get her to write me a round-up when they fledge.

I have also come across a few nests this year and the best advice I can give is steer well clear. Its important to remember that most chicks can easily choke on the food you put out for adults. Don't put out bread as it can swell up in their teeny throats! Peanuts can also cause problems. If you want to really help out, pop out some mealworms. So grab your bins, settle down in your armchair and do some window watching; enjoy your back garden babies!

If you have any nests in your garden you can let the British Trust for Ornithology know here!

Saturday, 16 June 2012

House Guest

I've had a great day today; nice lie in, good food, finally tracked down the nest of the sparrow hawk that had been repeatedly hitting my feeders (can't wait to watch the little beauties grow), and on the way to work I found a new friend. 

She's a gorgeous Common Lizard, and is heavily pregnant. Lizards aren't happy in the cold and damp we've had recently, and she was half in a puddle on the pavement and not moving a muscle, minus a tail (probably from being attacked by something in her sluggish state), and with a few cuts and scrapes. So I took her to work with me. An hour in a spare tank in my warm office and she was looking more spritely, but still not moving around. So, I've brought her home to warm through and chow down on some spiders in my flat over night. Hopefully in the morning she'll be well enough to head back out into the field.

Zootoca vivipara - female
Picture - Matthew Luckcuck
UPDATE: Vivienne had her first spider this morning, om nom, arachnids!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

I win at "spot the birdy"

First of all, I want to thank Billy from the Lochwinnoch (LW) team for letting me try out his 500mm lens before I shell out my hard earned cash. I can confidently part with my money now!

and what better subject to snap away at? (see below...)

This was about the only sunny period of my shift!

Right, enough of that, on to my win today. I'd arrived at LW half an hour before my shift and headed into the vol's room for my usual pre-shift coffee. After greeting the usual staff members I hadn't bumped into before, I was left alone to my coffee. 

Settling myself down beside the window I cursed leaving my optics at home (too distracting whilst in the shop), especially as, down on the scrape, something was taking a bath....

I nipped through to the store and grabbed some spare bin's... Snipe.... Two Snipe. Camera OUT!

"That's a dumpy looking wader..."

A Deuce!
 Later, when I was playing with the Big-Boy lens in the photo hide, they reappeared. My Day. Thoroughly made!

The usual snipe view (along with "disappearing backside")

One stripy head

That'll teach me not to leave my bin's home, could have been a disaster, luckily I kept hold of my camera. But still, first ever bird up on the day list for me (the 12:30 start doesn't help)! Other highlights of the day included the ever charismatic Greater Spotted, some particularly fine redpoll, and a lovely blackcap.

The rest of the day was spent sweating in pre-thunderstorm weather as I lugged 12.75kg sacks of feed around (£5 quid off big sacks until Tuesday folks!), chatting with ever-so friendly visitors and picking up treats for my birds back home. All in all, another great Sunday.