I've tried to keep my camera at hand more often than usual as I have missed so many opportunities in the past. One of the trickiest for me is getting a photo of a Kingfisher. I see and hear them all of the time speeding past me and on occasion flying right over the top of my head. I don't have the time to sit still for too long and wait (or the patience) as most of my photos are when I'm on the go. I finally got lucky and managed to get a couple of photos by being in the  right place at the right time. In this photo the Kingfisher actually knew I was close by and looked over at me a few times. It was perched on a branch and 
swooped down to the water and caught a fish. It happened so fast that if I had blinked I would have missed it, hence no photo of that part.
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Once again we weren't successful with our barn owls breeding. When the box was checked for young owls it was found to be full to the brim with leaves 
as a squirrel had turned it into a winter home. All leaves and debris has been removed now and it's still not too late in the season for barn owls to breed. The good news is that they are still around. I have managed to spot one regularly, but it's a bit too high up in its roost for me to get a decent photo. 
 
Our honey bee nest swarmed again. They hung themselves in a huge ball on a low branch. It was so low that I nearly walked into it and that's how I discovered it! I can tell you that I moved out of the way pretty quickly. They are quite fascinating to watch, but scary at the same time at the thought of them getting upset. I managed to get some photos without standing too close, luckily my camera has a good zoom feature.
 
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Herons have been coming thick and fast to our canals. There has even been two at the same time. It's surprising how one particular canal attracts so much wildlife. I have seen a pair of green woodpeckers, a pair of Jays, a heron and the kingfisher all around at the same time, that's not to mention the damselflies, ducks, coots, moorhens, dragonflies, swans and fish that all favour this canal and its banks.  It also shows how healthy our waterways are. This heron seemed to be rather deep in the water and getting its feathers wet.
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The Buzzards have been ever present with the young one calling all day long which I expect is demanding food. Kestrels have been around too and several times now I have seen a kestrel chasing a buzzard away. Kestrels are rather tiny compared to a buzzard, but I would imagine that it had a nest nearby and this would cause it the chase the buzzard. How lucky we are to have such a lot of wildlife in one place. I have been keeping an eye out for the Hobby, they are similar in size to the kestrel, but seem to fly past so fast that I have missed many chances for a photo. I did however spot one land on a tree and put my camera's zoom into full stretch! Not my best photo, but still a delight to capture one.
 
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Our small herd of deer are looking good. They will soon be losing velvet and becoming rather muscular to be ready for the rut season. I saw a young fawn the other day with its mother, but the vegetation was too dense to get a photo, perfect cover though for fawns to hide in. I'm still seeing the odd muntjac on site, look at this handsome boy, I took him by surprise and it's the first photo I have of one in velvet.
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I'm still keen to get some more opportunities with the kingfishers. I know that there is a pair here as I got a photo of a male and female on separate days. The first photo at the beginning of this column is a male, he has an all-black beak. This photo is of a female, you can see the underpart of her beak is orange. I thought I'd be content just getting one photo that was ok to share with you, but no, I want more! 
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So there you have it, no photos of kingfishers for ages and then two at once. I hope to bring you more wildlife photos next time around so until then I'll be keeping my eyes wide open, let's just hope that my camera is in my hand!
 
Julie Matthews
Mills Nature Conservationist