In August I shared a little bit about my experiences of exploring nature and photographing butterflies in My Big Brum BioBlitz blog post. Another passion of mine is photographing birds of every type and description from Sparrows to Buzzards and Herons to Mallards. Most of the birds that I capture are by my local canal, which happens to be The Grand Union Canal in and around Knowle Locks.
The birds that I am going to feature in this blog are some of my favourites and are Grey Herons, Sky Larks and Kestrels and all three of these have been spotted during my walks along the canal.
The most common of the three is the Grey Heron, which is a very regular visitor to the locks and quite timid. You must be very quiet when approaching to be able to photograph them. Although their main colour is grey the patterns on this large bird are very attractive and a fully grown adult will grow to more than three feet tall with a massive wingspan. It is also a frequent visitor to our gardens in search of Koi Carp!
I took the below photo of a Sky Lark last year in the summer and believe it or not I haven’t seen any this year. This one was captured by the canal and is quite a rare visitor to these parts. In the winter they travel south. The most distinctive thing about Sky Larks is their aerial song which sounds quite beautiful. A fully grown adult will be 18cm long and feeds on grubs and caterpillars. It bobs along on hedgerows looking for food, nests on the ground in a deep hollow partly hidden by grass and has got beautifully patterned feathers. It prefers to spend most of the time in meadows and lives communally in flocks. Do let us know if you spot any in the fields by your home.
My final contribution to this blog is the Common Kestrel and what a little beauty it is. Like the last two birds I found it by the Canal keeping its eyes on some poor unsuspecting rodent in the meadow. This is the most common of all the raptors and can be spotted almost everywhere especially on motorway verges, farmland, moors, heaths and along our waterways. It nests in old tree trunks or a ledge of a cliff. It can be spotted hovering until it sees it prey and then pounces at great speed.
I hope my discoveries and photographs may be interesting to all you nature lovers and don’t forget to go out and see what you can find in your environment. You can find out how to take part in the Big Birmingham BioBlitz in Laura’s June blog here: www.birminghammuseums.org.uk/blog/posts/how-to-bioblitz .