martes, 29 de marzo de 2011

Blackcap nest

The above image shows a patch of degraded scrub typical of uncultivated land in low-lying areas, consisting of a mixture of genuine Canary Island flora together with various invasive species.

In the shady area on the left is a species of Sorrel (Rumex lunaria) and, right of centre, the bright green, succulent foliage of a Verode (Kleinia nerifolia) can be seen. It is in this latter bush that a pair of Blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) have decided to nest...

Both parents assiduously feed the chicks, usually perching on the Sorrel bush before first swooping down, and then up, through the branches of the Verode, often in one single movement, as the following image attempts to illustrate.

Male Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) carrying food to nest

At ISO 400 and 1/3200 of a second, this photo leaves plenty of room for improvement! When either of the birds briefly perches before flying up to the nest rim, as was the case with the female below, it is obviously much easier to freeze the action.

Female Blackcap perching before flying up to nest

The remaining images show the two birds transporting food items to the breeding site, which is located in a ludicrously exposed position very close to a track, in an area which offers an almost unlimited supply of more secluded, virtually impenetrable vegetation of exactly the same type. So why there precisely?

domingo, 20 de marzo de 2011

Common Nesting Birds 1

Canary (Serinus canarius)

Ancestor of the numerous caged varieties bred over the centuries, the Canary (Serinus canariensis) is plentiful and widely distributed in both natural and man-made habitats, including pine forests, heathlands, coastal and summit scrub, and gardens and farmland. The three images shown here were taken in degraded scrub in Las Martelas, an area of irrigation basins outside Los Llanos.

Regarded as a subspecies of the Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita), the endemic Canary Islands Chiffchaff (P. canariensis) is extremely common in a wide range of habitats, at all altitudes. It is one of the only four warblers found on the island, the other three species being the Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla), the Sardinian (S. melanocephalus) and the Spectacled Warbler (S. conspicillata).

Canary Islands Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus canariensis)

Female Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)

Abundant in both forest and scrubland habitats, this species is largely absent from pure pine forests. The male's melodious warbling is frequently heard in urban surroundings, coming from the dense foliage of the Ficus microcarpa trees planted in squares and streets throughout the island.