Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Summerleys 3rd September 2012

Incoming Little Egret
Part of the joy/frustration with Summer Leys nature reserve is that on some visits you can find nothing of interest to watch or photograph. Then you go the next day and it's all change.
When I arrived yesterday afternoon at the pit, the scrape was still relatively quite except for one distant Little Egret, the water levels are dropping a bit more revealing some large carp and small Perch avoiding capture by the Little Egret.
Very quickly two more Little Egrets arrived on the scrape and started to chase each other around for the best fishing spots, sadly there's a lot of Swan feathers on the water surface and I wasn't happy with the background on these images, the only uncluttered backgrounds are the images of the birds in the sky as posted above.
I was in the hide with another wildlife photographer, Kenzie, when all the Lapwings on Round Island and Gull island went up all at the same time. bird of prey. After a bit of time watching the Lapwings avoiding capture I've come to recognise the slightly different behaviour in avoidance depending on what sort of raptor is making the attack. They always flock together, safety in numbers etc, but if it's a Sparrowhawk they stay quite low but fly in a flock horizontally, if it's a Peregrine they go high and flock together in a circular motion whilst gaining height, and if you watch they go very high. I think they do this method to negate to Peregrines main method of attack which is started very high to enable it to gain it's speed. I mentioned this to Kenzie and we started to scan for a Peregrine as the Lapwings were gaining height, as they did the flock split into two groups and right in the middle of the split a Peregrine, what happened next was a distant sight but a sight I've not seen before, there was a smaller falcon silhouette, I pointed it out to Kenzie who had nipped out the back of the hide to get a better view, it was a Hobby. But the Hobby wasn't attacking the Lapwing flock (Ben the plumber and I witnessed a titanic battle between a hobby and lapwing at Otmoor Nature reserve which the hobby won, it lasted about 15 minutes and the Lapwing just gave up) it was having a go at the Peregrine. Like I said this was very high up and over the islands so even with 700mm to play with it was to far away for a decent image, the best I got were the two record images below, very dodgy I know but whenever  I mention these events to other people they always give me such a synical look..so it's been recorded this time.
Again click on both images to see larger versions, on the peregrine legs are i.d rings Left Leg Red ring, Right Leg Silver ring to far away for numbers. Later in the evening a Greenshank,Common Sandpiper,Green Sandpier and Snipe landed on the scrape near the Paul Britain hide. Again too far away to photograph but great to see something on the scrape, also the the Greenshank was very vocal and spent the whole time calling.


  1. Another great set of images Doug, and a lesson in avoiding being caught by a raptor too! Hope I remember that if I come back as a wader?

  2. Invaluable advice Paul, you'll now how a long life as a Lapwing lol