Friday, 30 August 2013


Well firstly knowing that this weekend is the last weekend of the summer (boo-hiss) I knew this day would come and comes from a heavy heart and a little despair to say that the House Martins and Swallow I had gone to photograph today had vanished and more likely to have migrated, didn't see one all day from 06:00 till I left at 14:45 I saw a few pass through in three's and four's but no swarming flock over the water, I checked a horse paddock nearby, the owner said "they went yesterday evening" I also checked a few houses where House Martins had nested, there's a finite amount of time someone that looks like me can hang around in a car outside someones house before the police are called, no martin's...gutted. That's five days earlier then last year.
However something has changed at Sulby reservoir, both Welford and Sulby (separated by a dam) reservoirs are owned by British Waterways. They use the water to keep the canal network "topped" up and of late they've been draining Sulby, it's amazing how much the water level has dropped.
Now in a previous post I mentioned how Sulby had been leased to a fishing syndicate so I don't generally walk around it to avoid upsetting the fishermen, well for what ever reason British Waterways have kicked the fishermen off, there are signs posted near the small grassy carpark of Sulby stating no fishing and threats of prosecution, I can't think what the fishermen have done to anger British Waterway (if they have?) as they're still being allowed to fish Welford, but many don't because of human disturbance and dogs swimming.....ahhh!
So with all this glorious wet, sticky mud now exposed I had to go and have a good look around.....
 Well first up I thought I would give the adult and juvenile Common Terns a go on the wall of the dam and saw four snipe land on the mud on the right-handside of the reservoir (if you're looking up the reservoir from the wall of the dam) so off I went I got as far as the second fishing platform before being defeated by the vegetation, I seriously needed a machete, I turned around and walked back to the wall of the dam as I walked along I spotted the Kingfisher on the rocks, took a "bird in it's environment" and not a record shot (don't worry there will be a couple in this post), couldn't get close for a decent shot before off it went. I would see a pair of Kingfisher during the visit a lot. The other bird of the wall of the dam was juvenile Great Crested Grebes.
As I stood there for a while trying to and failing to get some terns shot.......
 I was set on minus 2/3 for the exposure (needed to go down further) from the corner of my eye I caught a familiar sight, a Hobby, I've dipped on this species this year and every time I've seen one the sky has been proper s..., I went from minus 2/3 to plus 1& 2/3 and got two frames...swine!
My destination was going to be the feeder stream end of the reservoir and I was going clockwise/left handside round, it was still tricky going doing the limbo under several fallen trees, I stopped off on some of the fishing platforms on the way, some have names(!!!) with wooden signs the ones I noted some interesting birds on were "OAK VIEW" and "DOUBLE BOTTOM", I think it's called Double Bottom as you have to duck under a very low hanging berry bush, scraping your bottom on the way on then off the platform....good a reason as any!!!! This is the view from Double Bottom.........
A mini scrape has been formed by the falling water levels, in front of the grey heron on the shore line to the right is a Green Sandpiper, if you can see it? The four Snipe flew past towards the feeder stream so off I went, the water level is VERY LOW, for Northants birders think feeder stream like Hollowell but two streams, deeper and higher banks and shed loads of mud. I sat under the fallen/dead trees that litter this corner (the vegetation at this point defeated me) and hid myself and hoped for the waders to come close enough. Whilst sat there I was looking at some of the footprints in the mud, one set of humans that go so far out onto the mud, you could see where the person sank into the mud (deep footprint) and his/hers hasty retreat...silly billy, still some foxes footprints, moorhen footprints kept me amused as did the two Kingfishers that nipped through. There was also a small number of Teal but apart from the four Snipe I got 5 Common Sandpipers, 2 Green Sandpipers and 2 Greenshank and a Little Egret

So here comes a record shot (one per post remember lol).....
There's a lot vegetation on the reservoirs drying basin (I hope the image above conveys this) and two small waders I didn't see to much of nipped out after this shot was taken, I never saw enough of them so won't call them as a sighting BUT going on what I saw...possible Dunlin but I can't be certain.

So in all 4 Snipe, 5 Common Sandpipers, 2 Green Sandpipers, 2 Greenshanks (couldn't even get close enough for even a record shot), Hobby, Teal and Little Egret well worth starting and loosing out in a fight to some plants.
On the way back to the car I got three Yellow wagtails near the bridge and the two Kingfishers again! Osprey though.
Have godd weekend and since it's the last of the summer expect heavy snow on Monday.


  1. Hobby and Common Sandpiper a couple of crackers.

    1. Cheers Keith, I was really happy with the common sandpiper with those flappy little wings.

  2. Top post Doug, the first common sand image flying over the res is BRILL!

    1. Cheers Paul, I was happy'ish with that too, probably the best image from the day, hopefully better to come.

  3. You always find them. Maybe I see the world differently. I love the world through your lens. Bet if you headed north you would not only find ab eagle you would snap it carrying a baby away.

  4. Not always lol. I work off a very basic principle of water,trees/vegetation and mud also rain helps (puts passing birds on the ground)it's not foolproof.
    As for an eagle, one day I hope though I'll have to photoshop the kid :)

  5. Amazing set of images Doug! I really love the Common Sand in flight. I can see that I really do need to practise flight shots as yours are inspirational. That Hobby image was rather fine too!

    1. Cheers Richard, had a lot fun exploring this part of the reservoir, it was worth checking out, the walk round was very tricky eg stinging nettles head hight whipping your head etc, even a massive hornet nest in one fallen tree!! The common sandpiper made it all worthwhie.

  6. Good number of birds seen then! I am awful at waders, well sandpipers and that sort of waders. The ones which look so so similar! I have been catching up on all your posts - somewhat behind in the last few weeks. Super martin and swallow photos and of course that king shot in your last post!

    1. Lou, given the choice of walking and enjoying the Kent countryside in good weather or sitting down processing images and read/writting blogs I know which one I'd rather do :o)
      Sandpipers and other waders can be hard to id at times especially some of the less common ones. For Greensandpipers and Common Sandpipers there's a couple features to look out for in the field using my images as guide look at the common sandpiper not in flight just in fron of the wing on the birds body you might be able to make out a white "v" shape that goes up to the birds neck this unique to the Common Sandpiper, the Greensandpiper has a whte belly but no "v". Also in the flight shots on the Greensandpiper on the tail of the bird you have three solid "bars" but the Common Sandpiper has a more solid brown tail, however my favourite id method is the call a good friend of mine taught me when I first started out the importance of learning bird calls and it's been invaluable to times but I still can get it wrong lol