This week I was lucky to be able to go on my third trip out with the local volunteer Ornithologists. It was an early evening adventure this time as they were checking the barn owls. The Barn Owls had been seen at two separate locations on the estate and it was unknown before this visit, if they were the same pair visiting both places or two separate pairs.
Heading for the first spot in West Park I was really hoping we would see something and we did as two beautiful adult Barn Owls flew above our heads. Unfortunately they caught myself and Charlecote Parks other Volunteer Photographer off guard a little and we both only managed to photograph a wing. I wish these birds would give more warning :) In the first Bird box that was checked, the Owl was just starting to lay her eggs so we did not see any little ones and it was left alone. Feeling a little disappointed but that is nature and how it is. Saying that, by July there should be a chance to see the young chicks when they will be ready to be ringed. I wonder how many eggs will be laid?
Moving on to the second Owl bird box over the other side of the park in Places meadow. I was very excited when the Volunteer Ornithologist opened the box and brought down four beautiful baby owls to ring. I was so happy that we were going to see some after the disappointment of the first box but also happy that we had two sets of mating Barn Owls within Charlecote Park itself. Barn Owls don't normally nest close to each other but the estate is large enough to give them the space needed for both sets and of course the Tawny owls too. Each nesting owls are at the furthest points of the estate from each other.
This is what we found. Four fluffy chicks all aged within a day of each other. The oldest owl is the one on the left which has less fluff than the others.
The oldest of the four. You can see more of the feathers on this one and less fluff.
This next photo I really like. It is like a baby looking up at it's mother. So cute.
Say hello to one of the youngest owls. This one is very fluffy and even though it is only about four days younger than the one above. What a difference those few days make.
This was such an amazing experience for me as like with so many people, the closest I normally get to Owls is either on television or pictures in books. To be able to see them up close like this was very special and I have to thank all the lovely volunteer Ornithologists who have been so kind to allow me to come along each time but also for taking the time to explain everything to me. I have really enjoyed my time with them all. Thank you again.
Just a little reminder in case you have not read my previous blogs on wildlife and my adventures with the Volunteer Ornithologists. These are trained people who check and ring the birds and they also have special licenses from the BTO.
Not far from the first set of Owls are the kestrels I covered in my last blog. I thought I would give you a little update on them . As I was walking back to me car, I walked past the tree which I knew the kestrels were nesting in and there, on the branches just outside the bird box were the young fledglings. What a difference fourteen days makes. When I first took this photo I did not see the second baby kestrel on the branch. There were three of the young birds out of their nest, taking in their new surroundings. The one perched on the bird box hurried back inside when it saw me but the other two were quite happy to just sit there and watch me.
How the baby kestrels looked fourteen days ago.
From scruffy fluffy chicks to beautiful feathered fledglings. Look at those big eyes.
They are amazing birds.
Walking through West Park out from nowhere jumps a little fawn and off it goes. As quick as it appeared it disappeared into the long grass. I watched from under one of the trees in the avenue, hoping to catch a second sighting of it as it ran further up the field but I could only see the mother and a rustle of grass moving as the fawn followed. I waited for a while trying to see it. Suddenly from a couple of feet away from me, a sleeping fawn woke up and ran. It all happened so quickly and it actually made me jump. There was me looking into the distance with my long lens on my camera and all the time there was one right by my feet. I cursed so much that I did not see that little Bambi asleep in the long grass next to me. That would have been the perfect shot! Photography is not all skill or natural talent. It is often being in the right place at the right time and seeing what others do not see. ''There are opportunities and missed opportunities'' as one of the regular visitors to Charlecote Park always tells me and he is correct.
This week I went out with a small group of people led by Charlecote's lovely Ranger Adam on the 'Fawn check' and almost the same thing happened. There right in front of my feet was a very small new baby fawn but this time I managed to get a photo of it before it ran off! I was ready with two cameras this time. I had taken my husband's camera with me and placed a shorter lens on it just in case I needed it. I am so pleased I did!
Isn't it cute?
These were my grandmother's favourite animals which is why as children we visited Charlecote Park. There is a little statue almost identical to the picture above at her final resting place so all the family really liked this photo. It is strange how some things trigger memories. All good ones too I am happy to say.
In the avenue were three more little fawns with their mothers. Click on the picture to see it a little larger.
This next fawn was hiding under a tree away from people and out of the Sun. Charlecote's Fallow deer are allowed to roam the park freely and wild so they will not come up to people as at some other places. Many of the males (Bucks) who spend a lot of time in the Main Park or Hill Park are more used to people walking around but I have found that at certain times of year, even they are very jumpy. At the moment the Bucks are quite mellow and will allow you to get a little closer for that shot you want but I still stay back out of respect for the animals. Most cameras, even the basic ones will zoom in a little and it is much better to stand back and admire them from a distance than chase after them as they will run if you get too close and then all you get is shots of the back of them. Lots of bouncing bottoms. I have a few of those images myself!
In West Park things are very different from the main visitor area. The deer there are not as used to people especially at certain times of the year. There is also an area 'The deer sanctuary' which is an area within West Park that visitors are not allowed in. This is for the safety of the animals and also so that they have somewhere to go where they can be left alone. We all need our own space sometimes. The deer at Charlecote are free to roam the whole park if they wish but some chose to stay close to the sanctuary.
At this time of year the females are very jumpy as some have their new fawns with them and others will have theirs soon. I saw a few heavy does while out on the Fawn check.
Some more little fawns spotted in the avenue in West Park
This one was taken from the bridge that crosses over to West Park.
Hiding in the long grass.
The fawns are so tiny but don't let that mislead you, they move very quickly and hide themselves very well amongst the long grass or the nettles under the trees. Often you don't know they are there until one moves. We could have been standing in West Park with lots of little fawns around us and have never known it. Isn't that a mad thought? They are such beautiful animals and I enjoyed the walk around West Park looking for the Fawns so a big thanks to Adam the Ranger for that. For more events at Charlecote Park, here is their events page.http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/charlecote-park/things-to-see-and-do/events/
I am determined to get a few more close up images of the fawns but it takes a lot of patience so 'watch this space' as they say.
A little catch up on some of the other wildlife in the Charlecote Park . There are two sets of Swans on the River Avon now. I think the ones from the lake and the River Dene have now moved to the River Avon as the cygnets have grown a little bigger and more mobile. One set still seems to have four cygnets but I could only see two with the other pair.
The second set of Swans and cygnets eating lunch near the waterfall where the River Dene feeds into the River Avon.
Also the Canadian geese chicks are getting bigger and now starting to look more like their parents.
Some still have their baby feathers on but they are disappearing quickly.
For my other Springwatch Nature blogs. Here are the links below.
My very own Springwatch at Charlecote Park
Animals and Wildlife at Charlecote Park
An amazing day as a volunteer at Charlecote Park
A link to Charlecote Park
Just a little reminder that these are trained people who check and ring the birds and also have special licenses from the BTO
Photos Copyright Jana Eastwood