Saturday, 3 November 2012


On Sunday I have to return to work (boo!!) and my lovely and understanding boss, has given me two nights out in a lorry out of the four days, lovely. Normally I don't mind nights out in the lorry, I try my hardest to make sure my shift behind the wheel ends near to a nature reserve, abandoning an empty lorry and jumping into a taxi. Sadly it's winter which means less daylight. Which this week is a shame as I could've ended up at Leighton Moss and on Monday somewhere in Lincolnshire. In the past I've ended up parking up near Salisbury Plains with the new age travellers at Stonehenge, always a giggle, especially the time I was delivering a Police "meat" Wagon...oh the stares of utter contempt, followed by confusion when I stepped out with a massive lens and started photographing the Starlings and eventually a Barn Owl. I expected to come back to the lorry daubed in graffiti and slashed tyres. Or the time I kipped at Beachy Head and was constantly checked on by the coastguards (who make sure you're not going to do a Lemmings leap off the cliff/suicide watch), woke up early and photographed Stonechats, Barn Owls and Kestrels. Sadly this can't happen during the winter months, neverless I shall take my camera and laptop just in case. One of the biggest draw backs of lorry driving is that it's boring, seriously boring, I mean just watch that docu-drama on Channel 5 involving a certain firm and how they try to make a simple reversing manoeverve look "tricky" or "hard to do", get a grip...Ice Truckers it isn't!!
So the plan today was to exercise my legs and also get some images to work on when I've pulled over/stopped for the night.
 Sarah had to pick up her mum from Bedford, so instead of a family re-union I had her drop me off at Yardley Hastings and had her pick me up from Summer Leys once she had finished with her mum. I opted to walk from Yardley Hastings following a public footpath past Yardley Lodge farm up to the clay pigeon shooting range, the footpath went through a stubble field and alongside a stream. I got some images of Great Spotted Woodpeckers,Great Tits,Fieldfare and Treecreepers. Completely missed a Kingfisher, which I wasn't expecting, but did find two seperate Little Owls. Being on foot I opted not to try and get close, any attempt would've ended up flushing the birds, so I left them basking in the sun. I then got to the road which the "old timers" call the links, not sure why? And followed the road up towards Easton Maudit, I got some Starling images that were in the fields, a Lapwing some more Fieldfare and 3 Mistle Thrush, but also stopped to take some images of Crows and Jackdaws. Just before I got to Easton Maudit I relocated ol' faithful, another Little Owl, seeming as the road took me straight past it's tree, I approached very slowly, it wasn't having any of it and flushed off to a rabbit hole, you really do need a hide or a car/4x4 for these owls. I walked through the village of Easton Maudit where I got three Buzzards circling, and took the footpath that runs behind the hamlet and heads towards Grendon. It was approximately half way towards Grendon, when I got my best bird of the day. a Short Eared Owl, just the one. It was in the fields behind Top Lodge Farm near the stream. Spent ages photographing them making sure I had plenty to process over the coming days. I've noticed how hard these owls are having to hunt, with a lot of the fields water logged. I saw the owl "pounce" at least 8 times and each occasion it came back up with nothing in it's talons. I hope this isn't going to force the owls to relocate for more productive fields.
The walk from Grendon to Summer Leys was pretty much the same bird wise, apart from another Little Owl in the field opposite the carpark of Summer Leys, a Kestrel near Grendon Lakes and a perched Peregrine on the pylons in the fields near the entrance to Grendon Lakes. I got to Summer Leys absolutely knackered and sat in the Rotary Hide trying to get some life back into my legs. Ended up photographing a Golden Eye (female) before moving off to the Pioneer hide, I only had about 10 minutes here before Sarah picked me up and moaned at me for depositing half of Northants into her car, it was sadly didn't get to see the Bittern.


  1. An exhausting, but rewarding day Doug. Worth it just for the Short Eared Owl shots.

  2. You have shamed me Doug, I have been far too lazy of late, if my landie can't get there then nor can I! I have always thought "sod the walking" but beings as it is off the road at the moment I may well take a leaf out of your book and make the effort to wander down a few local footpaths, it seems to work for you. Nice blog and yes getting near to Little Owls on foot is very very difficult!

  3. Thanks Keith, definately worth the walk, it was interesting for another reason, but there shall be another post about day.
    Paul, no shaming mate I was wishing at several times for a 4x4 during the walk especially with them Little Owls. It's interesting to see what "slips" past in areas like this, wildlife rich area to be fair.