Saturday, 29 December 2012

Review of 2012...the last part

 Well the weather was playing havoc during the summer for the waders at Summer Leys, I don't think I saw a juvenile Redshank, juvenile Little Ringed Plover at all on the scrape every time nesting took place, either the water level rose and flooded out the nests or the eggs were  predated. Mostly by Jackdaws, but also Crows,Magpies, a Fox but also by each other, I saw and photgraphed one Lapwing raid another Lapwing nest grab an egg pierced it then dropped it into the water, but I also witnessed a Redshank do the same to another Redshank. I did eventually see Lapwing juveniles (left click tiny image at bottom of post) and a surprise 3 juvenile Grey Partridges being led around the scrape by an adult. I also after stumbling across 4 pairs of Little Egrets that had bred in a tree got to see 10 juvenile Little Egrets, also at least one juvenile Oystercatcher, sadly I didn't see any juvenile Shelducks nor many juvenile Common Terns, though it wasn't a complete wash out, in my previous post I mentioned an ELS scheme. With the landowners permision I decided to observe what was happening on this bit of land. There were plenty of common birds with juveniles that had a couple of succesful broods including Long Tail Tits, Greenfinches which did very well, Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Blue and Great Tits, Dunnocks and Wrens. Other birds and a bit more note worthy were a pair of Mistle Thrushes that only managed 1 juvenile! and two pairs of Skylarks, I'm sorry but can't be sure how many juveniles fledged from this species, I wasn't about to go and wade through an already saturated field and disturb them, but did see two definate juveniles. But there was plenty of warblers on site, including Sedge Warblers, briefly a Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Cettis Warbler, Chiff-Chaffs and Willow Warbler (thanks to Mike Alibone's help with id help on the last two) and Bullfinches. The strangest thing I saw was a juvenile Common Whitethroat from a first brood feeding juvenile Common Whitethroats from a second brood. There was also plenty of Butterflies,Dragonfly's etc and even got to see a Grass Snake...not to shabby for an ELS scheme.
 Thanks to weather being so bad I had to look for other picture projects, I had already had a chat with Alex who I had met at Maidwell during the winter so went and knocked on his door, as soon as I went to his horse paddocks I could see why he loved Swallows as much as me. Loads of adult birds in and out of the stable blocks, dropping down on muddy puddles collecting mud for their nests I counted 10 nests during the summer all having three successful broods during the summer months, I was given permission to spend as much time as I wanted and to come back as much as I wanted on the condition I didn't reveal the location. The man breeds horses so is a bit sensitive about security, deal done. I had my picture project and was in my own little personal heaven. Not only were there plenty of Swallows, but House Martins, Swifts and a pair of breeding Buzzrads. Now a lot of "raptor haters" will bang on about how veracious Sparrowhawks are, but after a summer of watching these Swallows, I witnessed not only a female and male Sparrowhawk but also a Hobby being mobbed by adult Swallows and as the summer went on some of the early brood of Swallows were joining in. I didn't see the Sprawk take one Swallow though secretly I was hoping for such an image, but I did witness the Hobby snatch a Housemartin. By the end of the season I took a record image to enable me to count the swallows as they perched on the telephone line on the property, a total of 75 Swallows both juvenile and that good or bad? Given the fact there was 10 nests (20 adults) and three broods making 55 juveniles I'm thinking that's average....
Now to me the Autumn migration season really was a damp squib compared to previous years, a solitary Common Sandpiper at Welford Resevoir and another solitary Common and Green Sandpiper at Summer Leys sadly no Pectoral Sandpipers nor Woodsandpipers, but I did catch up with a few Yellow wagtails at both Summer Leys and Welford Reservoir, sadly some stupid kiddies park being built at Sywell meant no Spotted Flycatchers though their were reports I couldn't find any, I did stumble across both an adult and juvenile in the carpark area of Naesby reservoir. I also sadly came across one dying juvenile Barn Owl at Maidwell that seemed to have a damaged right wing and briefly an unringed Barn Owl at another location that suffered a collision with a car :(
I got a pleasant surprise at Stortons GP when I found a Turtle Dove, my first for about four years another bonus was I did find at three locations Cuckoo's at one site there was two males aggressively competing for the attention of one female!

 So once again from the Hosemartin and down please left click on the image to see it's proper size. In order you have a Housemartin, a juvenile Lapwing, a CRIMSON ROSELLA, a Skylark, a Spitfire and lastly a "cheeky" juvenile Swallow. Some of the images need explaining, firstly the Crimson Rosella. I had one visit my garden and was labelled a stringer etc but I found another not to far away from my house. That was a pure fluke of a find as I was trying to photograph a different bird, in Spectacle Lane near Moulton village. I got out the car and heard it's call, instantly I thought "what the..." something in me said and hoped for a Ring Necked Parakeet, more out of hope then anything I copied it's call and saw a Blue/Grey flash come up and sit in a tree, very twitchy the bird didn't stay put, at first I thought it was the same bird from my garden but this one had ringlets on it's feet, the one in my garden didn't! I did bump into another birder in Spectacle Lane, again I don't know his name but he wore glasses and knew "ginger" Nick and was out walking his little white dog. I told him about the bird, done my call and the bird not only called back but showed itself so I know at least one other birder saw it. The Spitfire came about when I was photographing another Skylark near Sywell airport I was treated to a flyby and a "wing-waggle" from the pilot, that day I got to hear two iconic Britsih sounds the Lark and a Merlin engine of a Spitfire a great day. The juvenile Swallow you need to see it in it's large version (left click) to see why I think it was a bit cheeky.
As for the winter 2012, just have a read of some of my blog posts it's mostly Waxwings, Short eared Owls and rain!!
I hope you all have a brilliant 2013 and hopefully I'll get to bump into a few of you. A special thanks to Mike Alibone for the patience of putting up with me sending him countless images asking "Whats this then?" Thanks Mike. Also a special thanks to Alex who I printed some images for him and now sit in frames in his hall way, Alex I know you read this blog so THANK YOU very much, though I decided not to have a Swallow tattoo done :)


  1. Great years review Doug. Just a bit envious of that Turtle Dove. Didn't get to see on this year.
    I think the years weather has been pretty tough on a lot of our birds. I hope next year is a better one for them.
    Swallow flight shots. Yer just showing off now! lol
    And why not. They're great.
    All the best for next year.

    1. Cheers Keith, I was so chuffed to see the Turtle Dove definately my favourite find this year, though the Swallows was achieved by just spending so much time wacthing and photographing them I think I was suffering from "swallow-fever" I just love them :)

  2. Another great post Doug, with some stunning images, especially the Swallows. A bird I so far have seemed to overlook, but they will be on my radar next year.

    All the best for 2013, and fingers crossed for some better and more settled weather!

    1. All the best for 2013 too Paul. You'll love Swallows, bags full of character, in good light they look fantastic, tenacious and quite approachable, definately my favourite.

  3. I love those Swallow images Doug. I think that I've only got images of them sitting. Whem we had a boat at Sawley Marina they often used to sit on the jetties - very confiding too! However, the Turtle Dove is a real belter!

    I hope you have a great 2013

    1. Cheers Richard, funny I was thinking about how I was watching one pair of Swallows that nested at the Billing Aquadrome marina and how the juveniles were perching on the boats tillers and wishing I was able to get an image, my mate has a canal boat that he lives on is always sending my kingfishers perched on his boat. The Turtle Dove made me feel like a kid at Xmas :)