Friday 11 April 2014

Week 12, Take Two: Sparkly Spawn & Sparring Songsters

I needed a second bite at the cherry. You probably guessed that I wasn’t altogether convinced by my Wednesday effort at the Oak photograph. With improving health this week, I returned to the scene of the crime yesterday morning. I give you “Dellfield Oak and Cowslips”....take two.

Length: approx 8mm. Dellfield, more Life amongst the Common Nettles 
The other itch that needed scratching was a desire to get some singing Blackcap footage. They really are little tinkers. Either, he tucks himself away in a bush, sits still, and sings his tiny heart out. Or, he flits from branch to branch, bursts of his discordant song left in his wake, and no sign of him settling for more than a second or two. Either scenario is entirely soul destroying when it comes to shooting video. Yesterday was no different! Almost.

At Bovingdon Brickworks, in the same area as I filmed the Chiffchaff last week, I came across 2 male Blackcaps going toe-to-toe over territory and mate. There is clearly something desirable about this location as Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Dunnock have all set up territories here. Lots of insect life, I expect. Anyway, the two male Blackcaps were chasing one another in and out of bushes. Up and down branches. From one tree over to another tree. Into the open. Then back into cover. Explosions of song from both contenders filling the air. I tried and failed miserably to get anything on film and walked on to see how the Common Frog spawn were doing. At least they couldn't fly away.

The tadpoles look as though an over enthusiastic 5 year old has come along with a tub of gold, silver and bronze glitter and made them All Pretty. The speckled appearance at this age is a sure sign that they are the Common Frog species.

When I returned to the Blackcaps, they had stopped chasing one another (a good start!), and, eventually (meaning, after getting lots of wobbly images of empty twigs and skinning my knuckle on the tripod, trying not to miss The Moment), I managed to get the footage below. Unfortunately, I was the wrong side of the gate when the bird flew into the bush beyond. It was a case of catching some distant footage....with an awkward viewpoint....through heat haze, or likely get nothing at all. If you spend the whole video wishing you could move the twig out of the way, you're not the only one! The sound of the brickworks in the background doesn’t help...and the Chiffchaff above my head drowned out the Blackcap at one point....but, hey, I think it’s better than nothing. Incidentally, a lady Blackcap arrived on the scene this morning so hopefully one of the males did enough to impress her.  Not to be left out, the Chiffchaff features at the end of the clip. Ironically, the Blackcap tried to sing over him! The Chiffchaff's reaction was priceless…complete indignation. I don't think the death stare was fatal but it made the point.  Singing louder seemed to be the weapon of choice.

P.S. The leaf buds on both the Oak and Ash trees are now just beginning to lengthen and/or expand, soon to burst. It feels as though almost every other tree has beaten them to it. More on that next week, perhaps.

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