Jay the ripper

Eurasian jay

Meet “Jay” the ripper… Credit: Yalakom

The past couple of days have been rough for the great tit couple that nests in front of my apartment building. An Eurasian jay viciously hunted down several of their fledglings, killing at least two and injuring three. Knowing Eurasian jays prey on great and blue tit chicks is one thing, witnessing the brutal hunt is another. I had never suspected my spring watch would take such a dramatic turn.

The great tits built their nest inside a street lamp post, 2.5 meters off the ground, a smart choice in an urban environment where nesting cavities are scarce. I kept an eye and ear on the nest to try guessing when the chicks would fledge, always a special moment to attend.

Two days ago, I was awoken by a concert of alarm calls. Two great tits were flying in circle around a high branch of the large oak tree that stands across from my window. A jay soon came in sight Continue reading

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Season’s goslings

Some greylag goslings (Anser anser) from a nearby pond. The parents are impressively relaxed among humans and even approach those who sit on the benches, begging for food. Here are some photographs of this lovely family of seven taken with a 55-200mm Nikkor lens.

Location: Bayreuth, Germany


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Life & death at the fieldfare corner

Adult fieldfare

One of the parents. Credit: Yalakom

Each spring, millions of fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) migrate to Germany to breed after spending the winter months in Southern France and Italy. In Northern Bavaria, the birds can be seen from late March and are presently busy raising their first brood. A couple of them built a conspicuous nest up on a leafless tree across from my apartment block. I had the chance to observe the five chicks fledge, an experience I find worth documenting here due to some peculiar circumstances.

Fledging is a decisive moment in the life of a bird, one without a second chance because once out the young never return to the nest. It is a bold leap into a ruthless unknown and many chicks don’t make it past Continue reading

New Year, New Style

This young, unexperienced Black Redstart somehow nearly got himself scalped. With a face like this, Apache is the first name that came to my mind when the bird became a regular at my window feeder. Who would imagine a bird’s head is so flat without all the fluffy down to cover it!

Location: Bayreuth, Germany

A shelter for a blackbird chick

This Blackbird juvenile was fetched, unwell, on the side of the road, taken care of and released where it was found a couple days later. The parents took no more than 20 minutes find the fledgling after hearing his high pitched calls. They instantly recognized and welcoming him back. Before these pictures were taken, the hungry fledgling was given some banana-plum mix; some leftovers can be seen on the tip of its large bill.

You can read more about Blackbirds here.

Location: Bayreuth, Germany

Black Redstart siblings

Portraits of Spot (top) and Apache (bottom), two black redstart chicks and siblings that visited my attic window feeding station for about a month after fledgling this past spring. Lively, curious and bold, the birds provided a great daily dose of entertainement. On these pictures, the juveniles are a little over a month and a half old. Both birds progressively vanished from the area shortly after these shots were taken probably in quest of a territory to settle in.

Location: Bayreuth, Germany