Tuesday, 2 September 2014


The last two evenings after work I have been up to Moulton Quarry. It's only a three and half mile cycle from my home and it beats what counts as entertainment on TV of late.
I am having to rename Moulton Quarry to Pitsford Quarry. There is a sign at the entrance saying so.
It has been an interesting exercise to see what I think of the pit now some of the summer visitors are leaving, but also what is/might drop in and new birds I hadn't noted during the summer.

I found four Goldcrest on Sunday evening which was added to the site list. On Sunday I clocked a Kingfisher darting through the quarry floor, but since it didn't land on the site I wasn't to quick to add it to the site list. I did this evening add it to the list though. As I sat trying to photograph the Willow Warbler I heard it arrive. It was well hidden amongst all the willow in one of the pits as I looked down from above. I got on my belly and waited with the only clear perch in view.
Now all the pits have water in them but I cannot see any exits for them into a main watercourse so didn't think any fish would be in them.
But I could hear (not see) it splashing into the water, followed by wing flapping and brief moment later a bashing sound, which I am confident enough to say that was it knocking it's prey before swallowing. I was getting a bit frustrated thanks to the willow when after about ten minutes it perched right near me on a small elderberry bush, to my right about 2 foot away, staring right at me, BUGGER, way to close for the 500mm, I did try, even on the close focusing setting it would not focus, too close, so not wishing to be rude... I stared back. This was the closest I have ever been to one, it's bright orange chest was dazzling  I dared not breathe, it was on the bush for ages just staring and tilting it's head, sod it I reached for my phone and was going to film it, I grabbed the phone, changed the settings, zoomed in, I was going to get one helluva video, pressed the play button, BEEP, from pressing the play button, the Kingfisher beeped too and flew off to the other pit, idiot.
I managed a photograph tick this evening though of a Lesser Whitethroat which was bird I have seen many times but due it's elusive nature was a bit of a bogey bird photo wise. This was on the big wood pile which is a bit of a favourite spot of mine there is always something to photograph here.  This image is a bit better then a record shot (don't worry I have a record shot coming) I call this a BANKER ie Got one but room for improvement, one in the can!
I stayed at the wood pile. There was also 2 Common Whitethroat adults and this younger bird, it still has a slight gape. All 3 flew off together.




The site seems to be an evening roost for smaller birds with all sorts roosting in the thick willows of one of the pits. The most numerous is the Goldfinch, followed by Linnets as this flock came into roost I grabbed a proper record shot of the whole flock wasn't easy but I got them all in one frame so I could count them when I got home... 35. The Yellowhammers that were prevalent on the site during the summer have all but vanished, not a surprise as during the winter I am lucky to see one around here. A mini migration further south?
Just as the light was fading I could here a Common Sandpiper, it got louder and louder, it was heading this way so got down and tried my best at hiding, it dropped down into the pit I was sat near, closely followed by a second one, calling away (might be able to see it's bill open in the image below) the bird in the pit called back and I now had two and another bird on the site list. I checked my settings and with only 1/20th shutter speed and a very high view I didn't bother pressing the shutter, no point just to flush them. Confirmed they were definately Common and not Green Sandpipers I left them to it.
I am hoping for a few more passage birds from this site, hopefully this autumn :-) come on birdy God's a Wheatear or Wryneck would be nice...oh and you got two record shots too lol

Thursday, 28 August 2014


I had a day from hell yesterday, it was due and I was quite surprised it hadn't happen earlier. Oh yeah my trusted ol' bike got a puncture about 10 miles from home yesterday. So I had to walk and push my bike plus the 500mm lens a total of 12 miles (made a short detour). Boy was I pissed off I got about half way home (Cogenhoe Mill campsite) and decided to stop for a quick smoke, some liquid refreshment and sit on the small stone bridge, looking down on crystal clear water watching Perch and Tench lazily swimming up and down the river...easy life for some. I was contemplating wether to paddlock the bike to a lampost and jump on a bus and perhaps come back for the bike. There wasn't too much happening bird wise, a distant Chiff-Chaff and Buzzard was as exciting as it got birdwise.

I should've had my bike pump with me but hadn't put it back in my bag after teasing (blowing air)on one of my long suffering  greyhounds with it, greyhound's revenge!
When I noticed two little brown jobs in the bushes, it was a mammal and not a bird, but I wasn't sure if it was a Field Mouse or Wood Mouse at times in a certain pose it reminded me of a rat, but it was tiny.
 Only a slight difference in these two images

 In the image below shows why I was doubting it wasn't a rat despite it's tiny size, I really aren't certain, mammals aren't my forte.

 I got a nice surprise as I sat on the bridge when one of the two came towards me, looked at me then turned around and went back to eating the berries. It hopped off rather then scuttle and someone once told me if it hops it's a mouse if it scurries/scuttles it's a rat, not sure how scientific that is to be fair.

Any help much appreciated. Either way it was light relief watching it clinging onto the branches going from berry to berry, one false move and it was falling into the river below. Somewhat recharged I carried my long walk home...knowing today I need to get some new bike parts, the tyre has had it, with very little tread left on it.

Thursday, 21 August 2014


Roughly three weeks ago my Sandmartins left the ex-quarry I had been visiting a lot of lately. I took advantage of them all perched up on the phone wires and counted them, 38 in total of mixed juvenile and adult birds, the next day they had gone, migrated.
It will not be long before the Swallows and Housemartins at one of "my" many Swallows sites will move off, in fact of the sites I visited yesterday in dubious light in my records they should be leaving any day now. Looking through the four years of records I have on this site shows the following dates and numbers of birds: 25th August 2010: circa 59, 28th August 2011 circa 45 birds, 23rd August 2012 circa 35 birds, 25th August 2013 circa 42 birds. So for birds =Swallows and circa well it is unless doing counting at the nest site near impossible to count every bird, what I do at this site is wait for them to perch up on a telegraph pole/wire and count them and then try and count every bird left flying, not easy. Last night I managed to count 49 birds on the wire a mixture of juvenile and adults and circa 10 feeding up/flying around. I reckon these will be gone after the weekend, though there are a few signs not all will go and one bird in particular worries me.
The biggest problem for me at this site are the rather curious but docile bull and cows which obviously help provide a lot of food for the swallows and has helped the swallows to have three broods and boosted numbers to when I first started watching the swallows here. But a pain in the backside when trying to photograph them as they dodge a heffer or two or when the cows like the sound of my camera and come and stand in front of me, ever tried mooving a cow...sorry.

 Now the below image is the bird causing me some concern. A slightly soft image not a favourite of mine, but posted to show my concern. It is very small and young (look at the gape) and not very fast nor agile. In fact so slow I could have easily caught it in my hand as it flew past, it is still very dependent on being fed by two adult birds often being passed food.
So could this be the latest date of departure I put in my record's. One other positive from this site is the number of Mistle Thrush, despite and eager Buzzard taking a fancy to them, there was a total of 23 birds (juvenile and adults) with what I know of 6 nest sites. I am partial to Mistle and Song Thrush so to see so many on the site was great but a pain as I can't get near them at the moment with the camera.....yet!
In fact talking to some of the local residents they are telling me of Housemartins still in the nest and of at least one swallow still having a brood on the nest.