Saturday, 25 October 2014

STONECHAT

I fancied a cycle and really fancied a Stonechat picture too. I knew thanks to local reports a pair had been showing quite well up at Blueberry Farm at Maidwell. So set off from home in Northampton via the quarry and along the Lamport railway line which for those outside of Northamptonshire is an old railway line that now is footpath/cycle path a small section is still used for a "classic" collection of trains. The cycle path as a result is flat and even and there were a few nice diversions en route. Spring Marsh just after the Spratton Crossing is interesting but as the name suggests better in the spring, only bird of any interest were the odd Reed Bunting. The tall hedgerows were full of berries (no hedge trimming) but no Redwing and Fieldfare. Quite a few Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits overhead. A couple of Buzzards too. I got to Blueberry Farm and bumped into fellow Northants birder Stuart who pointed out where both birds were...far away lol. Though Stuart reassured me they would come closer and had been.
I didn't see the Short eared Owl but think I was in the wrong field. Whilst talking to Stuart we did have a Buzzard and heard a Tawny Owl calling,  given it was quite bright I was surprised. 
FEMALE STONECHAT
 After a while sitting it out on a convenient log pile and the few people around had gone and it had decided to cloud over they popped up right by the track as Stuart had said they would (cheers mate)
MALE STONECHAT
I think there is three and not two, 1 male 2 female. I think the female is the better of the two images some good light would've been nice we did have some good light,  but sod's law no Stonechat. 
To prove it look a Buzzard and blue sky too.
 I was pleased to get the Stonechat. Okay they're not a "mega" but for me they're a bit special. We only get them in Northants in the winter. The special bit for me is that before I was a birder I used to walk my dogs around Summer Leys and I saw a male bird and some friendly birder told me what it was before pointing a female out too. They just ignited a flicker of curiosity at the time. I even remember the birder doing a really good impression of the birds call with just his mouth, no sound recording or "app" very good birder he is. We used get them all over the County but in recent years a bit thin on the ground. I rarely see one at Summer Leys or Mary's Lake these days. So for me I was glad to try and photograph them. Will try harder next time though. If you want to see some proper Stonechat images go and read RICHARDS BLOG
On the way home stopped for a passing and noisy tit flock near Spratton Road and got this Blue Tit, I like to think it's taking a leap of faith into the dark :-)...


Friday, 24 October 2014

GREY WAGTAILS AND THE POTTING SHED

Since my last post the weather has been appalling. Either very cloudy or strong winds and on some days both. So instead of disturbing my new Barn Owl for unusable images and the fact cycling head on into strong wind is pain in the arse (though pretty cool when it's pushing you) I stayed quite close to home.
First up was a Grey Wagtail on a weir. The weir is conveniently close to the pub, poor light and a couple of pints later these were my best on a day with really dark skies and a wobbly photographer....hic:-)




It was obviously catching food and doing a good job but looking at the next set of images I am not sure how it wasn't pushed off the edge by the strength of the water. I also like when it's stood right on the edge of the weir it's feet effected the water flow falling over the edge....



 The last one from the Grey Wagtail marathon shows what it was catching.
AND A COUPLE FROM MY POTTING SHED, this time no falling asleep.
A Blue Tit on a windy day.
 A Goldfinch
 And finally a Long Tailed Tit from Eastfield Park....a crap week so FAR but with predicted sun tomorrow hopefully something a bit more exciting.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

ANOTHER SPARROWHAWK AND NEW BARN OWL

I haven't done much birding. A stinky head cold has just left me exhausted and wheezing like a miner everytime I got near my bike. I went into work as I could hear the cynism in my bosses voice, I managed to spread my cold to four co-workers it seemed stupid to go in but the boss knows best. I had to on one of my days off accompany my boss to a jobs fair. Waste of time, we turned up just before 9am to set up our stall and outside was a group of eager looking hopefuls, all forced to attend by the job centre (where it was being held too) but as we got closer we started to spot the "special brew" cans and I could smell Jamaica's famous form of tobacco all before 9am!!. In the two hours we had, a total of ten people came over of which a total of 7 smelt of booze or weed. Ukip don't have to worry about migrants taking British jobs, the Brits do a fine job of not getting jobs by themselves we were looking for minimum of 70 staff to add to a site in one of our depots "up north".Waste of time.  
Still with a head cold went up to a local reservoir to find a Grey Phalarope, missed it, I really wasn't feeling good so after speaking to a couple of birders headed home...it's still there so might go again. 
I managed to clear the fall of sycamores leaves in my garden and spent some time in the shed/hide. I got this close up Robin 
I somehow fell asleep in the hide and it was dark when I woke up, ooop's. 
Well at least today I am feeling better and went up to the Little Owl barn.  
The Little Owl remains but is hanging around the "bridge of death" so it sees me coming from an actual mile away. I headed to the barn assuming no owls and flushed a solitary Barn Owl. My first new barnie in 16 months. I waited around all day at the "bridge of death" some 800 metres away and only when it got to 18:30 did it come out to hunt, too dark. Still it has turned up like the farmer said it would but a few months earlier then normal. 
Whilst waiting I enjoyed 8 Skylarks laying claim to the field (a winter crop in the field helps) but also got these 3 images of a female Sparrowhawk I seem to be a bit lucky with these of late.