I just have to open today with what my well be my bird of the year, a Great White Egret!
Now usually I can’t tell you too much about an individual bird but this one has a full history. He’s affectionately known as Walter White, after the character from Breaking Bad. I saw him over at Blashford Lakes where he has been a Winter visitor every year since 2003. He was ringed as a chick in a nest in Lac de Grand-Lieu near Nantes in France that year. This makes him 13 which is a ripe old age for a great white egret but he is still looking magnificent.
I’ve found myself at Blashford Lakes more and more often recently. It’s a fantastic nature reserve and at this time of year there is always something to see. Here’s a grey heron which was perched only a little way in front of one of the hides.
Although the Woodland Hide is perhaps less exciting at this time of year you sometimes get lucky and see some more unusual visitors. This nuthatch was feeding on and off for the whole time I was in the hide on my last visit.
I was also lucky to see a jay on one of the feeders. Jays are one of the birds which I have personally noticed the decline of. They were a relatively common bird a few years ago but now you hardly ever see them which is a shame as they are the most beautiful corvid we have.
It’s a big time of year for deer as the males are rutting, fighting off competitors in order to breed with the females. My experience of this is limited but I did see a few roe deer by the Avon recently. I suspect this is a young stag with a small harem, separate from the main harem which is likely to be held by a larger, older stag. There’s also the possibility that the stag and the two hinds are very young and therefore not concerned about breeding yet. You can see the relatively large antler for a roe deer and the real strength in the stag’s muscles.
A couple of birds I somehow haven’t yet mentioned here now. On my visit to Stanpit in Christchurch last week I saw plenty of oystercatchers feeding on the shoreline.
Not too far away from here, on a small stream passing through woodland, was this Grey Wagtail.
I actually see a grey wagtail quite regularly at a stream on the entrance to Blashford Lakes. I’ve never been able to capture that one clearly though because it flutters away as soon as I spot it and because they like covered streams it’s so dark it’s hard to get a photo from any distance.
I’ve seen some fantastic spider webs covered in the morning dew recently- it really makes you appreciate their intricacy when you can see them this clearly.
Here’s what I suspect might well be my last butterfly sighting of the year, a red admiral. This was on the 30th October but I haven’t seen any this week and we had our first frost on Wednesday night so it now seems unlikely, though not impossible, that I’ll see any in November.
Finally, here’s a red slug.
You can clearly see a large hole in the side of this individual. At first I thought it was damage caused by a predator but after some research I discovered it is actually it’s pneumostome. It’s a breathing pore which air goes through and into the slug’s single lung, a mantle cavity. I like to think of it as the slug equivalent of blow hole in a whale. It’s an interesting piece of biology which I had no idea about until I saw this slug!