A long hot day, and some unusual sightings. My kind of day
It started this morning when I noticed a pair of birds circling high over a neighbouring garden. Gradually they came closer into view, and my initial suspicion that these were hobbies was confirmed. They circled for a couple of minutes or so, before moving off to survey more open land.Pair of hobbies
This next shot shows the facial markings and distinctive streaked body (the peregrine is broader in the body and has horizontal bars going across the body).Hobby
Being the weekend, this afternoon I made a quick trip to the local recycling centre with more garden waste. Always a task I'm happy to do as I have to drive past a prime kestrel site. So I stopped off on my way back and went in search of more birds of prey. For once, none were about. Possibly, it was too hot for them and they were sheltering from the sun until the early evening. I did manage to get a shot or two of one of the other field birds, a whitethroat.Whitethroat
There are more shots in the July Birds
I hadn't yet given up seeing a kestrel and made my way along one of the paths near where they hunt. My attention was grabbed by a pair of mating moths.Six spot burnet moths
The moths were a first for me, but easily identifiable from field guides. It's relatively unusual in that it is predominantly a day-time moth and apparently spends a good deal of time resting on plants. It protects itself from predators by exuding a bitter-tasting poison. So, the hobbies, a decent shot of a whitethroat and a new moth. Good, but none of those quite prepared me for the day's big surprise.
After I'd photographed the moths I moved further along the path. I heard some rustling in the thick undergrowth, and after searching for a moment or two came across a rabbit in very obvious distress. It was laying prone on its side, clearly unable to move. I watched for a moment and then saw it move backward, being dragged along the ground. That gave me my answer as to what I was seeing. Although not visible, I was absolutely certain that at the far end of the rabbit I'd find a stoat.
I tried to find a better vantage point, but getting anything like a decent angle through the plants was almost impossible. This very roughly is the sequence. The rabbit is a fair bit larger than the stoat.RabbitStoat, just visibleStoat dragging the rabbit
It was one of those wildlife scenes that is both fascinating and difficult at the same time. The rabbit was disabled, but had not yet suffered the kill. A couple of times while it was being dragged it let out a piercing distress call. I left after the stoat had dragged it out of view into impenetrable undergrowth.
So no kestrels, but I did see a sparrowhawk and numerous butterflies while I was out. And both vixens were in the garden late tonight (though not at the same time). Camera note: all shots taken with the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS lens.