Wednesday, 31 July 2013

FOX AND THE SKYLARK

I'm an angry bugger at the moment, the joy of having two weeks off from work soon vapourised. My local council seemed to see it fit recently to "loan" £12 million pounds to the poor excuse of a local football club...now before Cobblers fan start to foam at the mouth (start, huh, most already do anyway) let me explain why it's a poor excuse for a club,i) back in the day when George Best was playing the "cobblers" went from 4th Division to 1st Division (to all SKY sports viewers, it was a league before Thatcher and Murdoch sterilised the English game) in consecutive seasons then promptly went from 1st to 4th division in consecutive seasons...quality! ii) I went to one of their home games once, and a cobblers player handled the ball, to be met with calls of "HANDBALL!" from his own supporters, the ref had to give a freekick...quality! iii)About four year ago they were nominated as the fourth best team in the county!!! One team that beat them was in the conference and the other was going out of business, not sure who the third place team were...probably my local pub's team!
So our alleged cash strapped council lent the club the money, to build a hotel (similar to that of my club Chelsea) and increase the stadiums capacity to 10,000.  Now considering last season the cobblers went to the play-offs they still didn't break an average attendance of 2,500. The real reason why it was to be extended to 10,000 was because poor old Coventry City FC was looking for a new home and was going to ground share with the cobblers. This now looks in jeopardy, which is good for the long suffering Coventry supporters, so the proposed move may not happen, I wonder how that £12 million is going to be paid back? I also wonder if it is right for the council to use public money to help out a private company such as a football team? Their is no point in having a "hotel" at a football club, look at my team Chelsea, good transport links nearby, theatres, tourist attractions etc and yet is rarely fully occupied, lets look at what the Cobblers hotel has to offer, trains station, yes but about two miles away, views, sort of, if you look south you get Stortons Pit (surely under threat from development, but nothing from Northants Wildlife trust so hopefully not!!!), view north,cinema and assorted fast food chains, view to the west-an industrial estate and a scrap yard, to the west housing estate,petrol station oh and a hotel which is cheap as chips....not really a good business plan is it? What else could the  council have used that £12 million for, would it surprise anyone to learn that not only is Northamptonshire dominated by the tory MP's but the tories are in charge of the council too?
SO BACK TO NATURE.....
Through lowered windows of the car and shooting through the gaps of a metal gate I got this fox, judging from it's size I'm guessing it's a youngster. The "ironic" bit for me is that the fox was in a field next to this house, the house was a stable yard that was until recently owned by a man that liked to chase foxes on horses, he recently sold up due to financial issues (poetic justice!?) and moved out...you got to love nature, regardless what we humans do it just seems to bounce back....

My main mission was to go and get some images of Skylarks, I knew this one pair had already had one juvenile so I thought I would try some "adult" Skylark shots. I had permission not only to enter the field but was told I could follow the tractors track's through the field. I was a bit dubious about doing this as Skylarks nests are really, really, really hard to locate and I didn't want to risk standing on any eggs. There is in the field a massive seat aside (much bigger/wider then what is recommended), the middle section of the setaside, roughly half way down the length of the field, is barren of any wildlfowers etc due to the topography of the field and the shade from a row of trees and the height of the hedgerows. This in turn allowed me to walk up to the edge of the crops where I opted to stop, didn't fancy trampling on any nests.
I didn't actually get many images, in fast fading light I watched a healthy population of Swallows skimming the tops of the crop catching insects, a Kestrel hovering on the far side, but the best was the Skylark. They definitely have a second brood, I watched one 'lark descend with a mouthful of insects, just as it landed another 'lark ascended flew about 160 metres from the nest with a foetal sack in it's mouth and got rid of it, this lark then ascended and came back down, again with a mouthful of insects, the 'lark which was on the ground then took it's turn to grab some insects, this process during an hour of observation happened 26 times, up and down, up and down, though I only witnessed the larks disposing foetal sack three times in that hour, fascinating to watch...well for me anyway.
As usual I had the wrong lens for the job...poor excuse, I was too far away but grabbed a record image of the lark with foetal sack in it's mouth, squint hard and you'll see a white blob in it's bill...
I call this a "record" shot as I know with a teleconverter I can get a better image and will try again I have two weeks to find something to do lol..

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A BIT OF A ROUND UP: Darford Warbler,Stonechat and Swallows

I haven't done too much birding in the last couple of weeks, thanks to work, though thanks to work I've had two consecutive shifts working in and around Hampshire. Sadly I don't like driving around Hampshire.....it should be explored on foot and every time I drive through (especially the New Forest) I pray to the driving gods for my lorry to breakdown, never does though, I even mark Points of Interest on my Sat-Nav as I drive past a tempting looking bit of a habitat and there is plenty and as always I tried with some luck to get my tacho breaks in some areas that looked good, so the images come from these tacho breaks.
However I did get some birding in between my shift patterns here's how and what:
EASTFIELD PARK SPARROWHAWK: Just two juveniles have fledged the nest which given the weather and early attempts by someone to climb the original nesting tree is quite good. I'm a bit mixed with my emotions when I hear the female and juveniles begging for food as it's starting to draw some attention from the park's other users, so far it's been mostly good....
EASTFIELD PARK TAWNY OWL: Despite it's very urban surroundings we've always had a Tawny Owl on the park, this February it was rather quiet from the pair with no sightings of owlsnor non being heard calling, the friends I have who's house back onto the "wood" section of the park were also worried about the lack of owl's calling. In the past we've had Tawnys on the roofs, lamp-posts and even the odd satellite dish. So with the awful winter I thought we had lost "our" Tawnys. However the last two nights there has been a single juvenile Tawny calling for food, a very distinct call that once heard never forgotten. Normally by now the juves have left the nest so this either a second brood attempt (or first given the lousy weather, if that makes sense) and it's only a single juvenile...I think! I say that because despite it only being a small wooded section in all my years living hear I've never been able to locate the nest site during "normal" hours.
LOSS OF JERSEY'S CIRL BUNTINGS?: Regular readers of this blog will know of my fondness of Jersey and my joy of seeing Cirl buntings on the island, they only have two breeding birds that had been absent from the island for a long time. Subsequently when I was shown where they were I was pleased just to get views, I could've got nearer and got photo's but the cautious side of me and the fact they hadn't been there a long time made me stay a safe "viewable distance". Sadly there nesting site was subject to a fire, which is currently being investigated by the Island's fire brigade. Sadly neither bird has been since the fire (well over a week), so I think they have either perished in the fire or deserted the site, either way it doesn't look good...fingers crossed!
So what did I get from my two shift patterns in Hampshire, well one delivery (boss doesn't like me saying the firms so I can't) was at an interesting Country Park (some playground equipment) after unloading I needed the toilet and was pointed in the direction of a small converted barn, interesting toilets I thought, even more so when a swallow "whished" past my head and up to a nest on the exposed beams, three juveniles beaming down at me...different I thought (I think the toilets description may have given away the Country Park's name for anyone who lives in Hampshire). I even broke the cardinal "urinal" rule, as I stood there I heard the juveniles call out followed by a woman scream "arrgggh a bat", followed by another woman who said "no they're swallows", I chuckled to myself and the bloke next to me quickly zipped up and left, I forgot and in case any other blokes forget the "rules of the urinal" are, approach, unzip, spit,cough,zip back up, wash, leave, NO LAUGHING, NO EYE CONTACT AND NO TALKING....ooops! Before leaving I got a dubious flight shot and a "not too bad" portrait, I didn't think it was advisable to get images from inside the toilet, wouldn't have gone down well.
IS IT A BAT ,IS IT A PLANE, NO IT'S A SWALLOW.

As I went back to my lorry a Country Park worker remarked how surprised he was to see a "trucker" into wildlife, really? I know plenty who don't count themselves as "birders" but will often say "Seen a Buzzard/Kite/Kestrel" etc. I think there's a connection between slow moving vehicle and hours of talking to no-one leads the mind and eyes to wander. Those two images were from the last shift pattern, the previous shift pattern I managed to get into a layby by the side of a dual carriage way, there was a flight of steps that lead up an embankment and onto a heath. I instantly saw a Stonechat and decided to follow it (here comes a silly tip) as when I do I always stumble across a Dartford Warbler (if they're present), the Stonechat I got near to but exposed it all wrong it wasn't that black, sadly the Dartford Watbler had a lot of gorse between me and it and I wasn't going to trample through it in case the nest was nearby so I got a dodgy record shot, I was just pleased to see it.
STONECHAT

DARTFORD WARBLER
One day I will visit Hampshire with my birding hat on rather then my driving sunglasses it has some fantastic looking habitats, even this heath by the side of the dual carriage way had Buzzards, Kestrels, Hobbies etc...just wish every time I do visit I'm just passing through:(

Thursday, 25 July 2013

LITTLE OWL'S ARE LIKE BUSES....

....nothing for ages then three come along at the same time.
The first is the one I've already blogged about which is proving tricky to get an image of. The other two were flukes. Last night as I came back from walking the dogs up at Salcey forest I stumbled across this one.
Quite a bold individual, it had spotted me and I thought I'd missed my chance as it dropped off the "green" sign it was sat on to the ground (behind a hedge) but it popped up as quickly as it had dropped down, and kept repeating the process...hunting? If it hadn't been so late (21:05) flight shots were in the offering at  ISO 1250, 1/60th second shutter speed (300mm and x2 teleconverter) I was happy to get a portrait, all the flight shots were binned. Can you spot the damage it has done to sign (advertising a boarding kennel) just behind it's arse? It had done that pulling away at it with it's bill and pecking at the exposed area, it looked like it was hunting for small grubs and insects.
The third owl was much late (21.45) and was behind the Moulton Park Indusrial estate just a record image of this bird sadly, and a bit of "photoshopping", not that you could tell!!!!! I left a few clues to where it is in the image lol.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Can't think of a title

Well I've struggled to be fair to find anything of note to photograph the last few days to be honest. On Friday (19th) I went up to Cottesbrooke to try and locate a reported Barn Owl, no luck sadly, though I had a couple a people from the village say they had seen, sods law I guess? Still not a complete waste of time, I checked on a Little Owl I had almost ran over, it wasn't to hard to locate as it was perched on the village sign welcoming visitors to Haslebech, I pulled up and the moment I stopped off it went...must have remembered the vehicle and the close shave..., got some good views but that was about it, hmmm not much luck there then, so I cleared back off to Cottesbroke for some late Housemartins and Swallow images, not many Swallows here this year as in previous years, however the Housemartins are about the same in numbers. I managed a few shots before the heat got be thinking pub time.....
HOUSE MARTIN, COTTESBROOKE, 19TH JULY 2013
KESTREL, MAKING A CALL FOR SOME TAKE OUT, HASSLEBECH 19TH JULY 2013
Kept a dodgy kestrel image from the Little Owl watching, not great but at least it hanged around unlike the Little Owl.
Saturday (20th) was dedicated to bird watching of another sort, the girlfriend wanted to go to a "French Market" at Castle Ashby, nice food (really nice), nice wine (really,really nice wine) and cheese (not so nice..yuk!) but despite it being a "French Market" not many French people for sale or present...shame. Meanwhile I kept looking skywards in between attempts to look interested, hundreds of House Martins mixed in with plenty of Swallows. First a Redkite glided over and the flock gathered up giving a good idea to the numbers, easily 100+ House Martins but only about 20 Swallows. The House Martins here were in very good numbers at this village, probably the best I've seen in the county, heard a Buzzard before seeing it also a Hobby. I must have been looking up for a long time as some old boy said "Have you seen the Raven?", "No" came the reply, he then went on to tell me about it, something to check out I thought. With the House Martins etc I pencilled a visit for Monday.
Sunday (21st) I foolishly took the advice of the weatherman who promised "sun" by early afternoon, so the morning I ventured to a fishing lake with a friend who had been seeing Kingfishers regularly, he wasn't joking, all morning I watched an adult male and female taking it in turns to feed two juveniles on a branch, completely un-bothered by our presence about 11am they vanished and according to my friend "they always do that, won't be back until the evening", great views but sadly my definition for close enough for an image is somewhat different to my mates, after I explained how close I would have to be I was promised a "new" spot, he will do it too, once he's got permission for me being at the private lake. Still no sun so I went up to Welford reservoir, not much image wise and bird wise, I did manage some Pied Wagtail images but nothing special.....when the sun finally showed itself....
PIED WAGTAIL, WELFORD 21ST JULY 2013, A BIT CAMP LOOKING?


Today (22nd) I was going to go up to Castle Ashby, however the Highway Agency decided to resurface to complete road outside (thanks to our local MP) so no more potholes to explore the depths of anymore and no more ripped up tyres, but it meant I couldn't leave the house until 11pm by which time it was scorching hot and very humid, I drove around Castle Ashby, got some rather distant and high up House Martins, a Redkite, Buzzard, Hobby, Kestrel,Sparrowhawk and a total of 8 Skylarks and some Yellowhammers up near the riffle range also another Little Owl, sadly the only half decent image was this Collared Dove from my roof whilst waiting for the road resurfacing to be completed, to be fair a bit of a let down for me this weekend, I guess better luck next time!
COLLARED DOVE, MY ROOF 22ND JULY 2013, NICE LICHEN!!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

SOD BOB, IT'S DOUG THE BUILDER...

....of sorts. My Friday was full of chores around the house, plumb in a new sink, new washing machine and an outside tap. My ol' mucker Ben the Plumber must have taught me something right as I managed it all on Friday and not a leak anywhere (except the ones in my vegetable patch), well chuffed and earned some "bonus" points with the missus. I also had to "re-build my last 1.4 teleconverter and see if it was working ok. I needed time, I wasn't going to rush it, exploded diagram in hand I set about dismantling the converter, the greyhound and in particular the hairy Australian Shepherds (not sure what one is check out "My Canine Friends" gallery at the top of the blog) were banished, phone off I set to work. It didn't look good, bits of plastic dropping out and a screw! Hmmm, not good. So I got the old converter and took that apart and cannibalised it for parts that were still working. After a couple of hours of tinkering I managed to get it all screwed together, took a lens cloth and gave it a clean, attached it to the camera body and ol'faithful (500mm), switched the camera on....the LCD screen read f/5.6 part one of three completed and working.
 So part 2 was a simple task stand with the camera and pretend to take flight shots, "whirl" around like I was tracking a bird in flight, yep I looked a right plonker, but still the aperture was reading f/5.6, so far so good.
Part 3 was to actually take some images and make sure the images were still sharp and the damage and subsequent repair job hadn't made it go soft. I didn't want to risk spending hours in the field, take a whole load if images only to see image after image being soft, so I needed somewhere close by with birds a plenty, grab some images and get home and check the images out.
Off to the Billing Aquadrome, plenty of Geese,Mallards,Gulls,Coots,Grebes and Terns to aim at. I managed a few Tern shots and a Green Woodpecker, which really tested the converter with it's undulating flight. The converter was solid and the lens did move in it's mounting, result.
Got home checked the images and apart from a few out of focus shots (normal) it appears to be ok, maybe a bit soft, but that could be all in the head if you know what I mean.
See Bob the Builder couldn't have done that!!
Sadly I had no time this weekend for proper birding, apart from standing in the garden and photographing the Swifts over my house. I'm on "deathwatch" my eldest Greyhound, Buggsy, appears to be dying, he's losing a lot of weight and constantly going to the toilet and on Friday, blood started to appear, it's his liver. Sadly and disgracefully racing greyhounds are doped up with drugs not only to make them run faster, but also slower, yet Buggsy is 16 (had him for 14 years), has "out-lived" his sister of which I had both, he wasn't in pain this weekend but I'm off to the vets with him on Monday, to see what they recommend, though I feel it might be his time. It's not sad to be honest, when I got him and his sister from Woodgreen, they were shunned by people looking for "cute" dogs and were skinny as a rake. We got both of them and have had a great time with the pair, Buggsy nicking bread (he loves the stuff the freak), an Xmas Turkey, a beef joint just some of the things the bugger nicked (see why he's called Buggsy?), fourteen years of pure laughter, which given the state of the pair when we got them is quite a long time. Also thanks to Buggsy and his sister Katie I've always owned Greyhounds and can't ever see me not having one they're truly great pets, they're one dog breed I never worry about when a young kid comes up to say "hello", brilliant nature...just don't leave food laying around.
Sadly on Tuesday I'm on "nights" out in the truck so might not be able to get near a wifi connection so I shall be a bit "quiet", until at least Friday. 

Thursday, 11 July 2013

BITS AND BOBS FROM THE REEDBED

Yesterday (Wednesday,10-07-130) it was overcast and cloudy givivng me a chance to catch up with some processing of images. I had been at the reedbed all day on Tuesday (5:30am-20:35) as a dawn to dusk experiment. I really wanted to get a "feel" for the site, I also wanted another go at the Cuckoo and try and figure out what the Hobbies were doing too. It's the perfect site in my opinion to spend all day birdwatching. Downside's-No toilets, no shops and no shelter from the sun or rain! Upsides-Very few people (farmer and his wife were the only other people I saw), loads of wildlife to have a good gander at. It made me wonder as I sat at the site, why when grants etc are spent to create such a site WHY more people don't venture down there, some of the excuses I've heard have been "too hard to get an image", "too far to walk from the carpark","not much down there" and "no hides". It's four of the most stupid reasons I've heard....EVER! Well if fellow birders and lovers of wildlife aren't going to venture to site like this, then you haven't got a leg to stand on when you moan "we need more wildlife sites" etc!
First up the whole point of sites like this is to create habitats for wildlife, not a theme park/zoo, so views and photographic opportunities HAVE to a back seat, in my opinion views and images are just an added bonus. On Tuesday as I sheltered from the blazing hot sun at lunchtime, my back propped up against a willow sapling with elder trees forming a "sun screen" over my head providing a rest bite from the sun, I opened my bottled drink took my shirt off (too cool down) and closed my eyes and listened to the sounds, Reed Warblers chugging and whirling away from the reed bed, Sedge Warblers constant chuttering, a "squelch" from a Common Whitethroat, calling Buzzards followed by the explosive call of a Cettis Warbler (which still to this day makes me jump every time it starts it's call), a wren ticking away from the nearby hedgerow followed by a very brief view of a Lesser Whitethroat and as for the Water Rail squealing away from the reed bed had convinced me there really is no need for hides/shops or somewhere to go toilet!!! Just use a bit of imagination, the same goes for images...be creative try some good ol' field craft. The site is definitely in my opinion one of the hardest to get images from, but it's not rocket science, for example I heard a Long Tailed Tit flock coming towards me, so I left my shady area and waited for them to come along the hedgerow...to me



 You've played the game or "App" now meet the inspiration to "Angry Birds"...
As I've seen at this site and Welford apart from it being a mixed flock of Tits, there was of course Chiff-Chaffs with them, this adult came to the ground......silly high shutter speed and not enough time to adjust settings means it looks very sharp (too sharp) but the shutter speed was at 1/6000th, way to much, it was only on the ground for a second, so grabbed the image before it flew off to the bushes..bugger!
The next two images came from the 07-07-13 when I managed a few images of the Cuckoo, my excitement meant I never got around to processing them for the blog at the time, not sharp and in composition terms a bit poor, but it made me laugh it was of a juvenile Blue Tit having a wee bit of a struggle with some Lichen.

Sadly the Hobbies did show but on "private" land, those aware of the site will know where I mean about private land, the bloke doesn't really like birders so it's best not to venture on to his land, so was left as "observed" and not photographed...way to far away, I didn't even hear the Cuckoo never mind seeing it, that could be it for the male as they head off south normally about now, so fingers crossed I'll see some juveniles. I managed a few Reed Warbler images but weren't happy with the results so left them unprocessed for now, plus with the heat they were hiding at the base of the Reed stems, though I did get a record shot of a juvenile, which cheered me up (seeing a juvenile not getting a record shot). I did manage a Reed Bunting image, a bird that seems to divide opinion, myself I think the male bird in summer plumage is a handsome looking bird and the species is under-rated, others "just a reed bunting", hmmm people believe it or not used to say that about Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers, when they were numerous and common I remember as a kid Corn Buntings were quite numerous near to where I lived as a kid (remember that Ben and the lane near Sywell country park?) and were described by one birder as "plain,brown,chunky and rather boring looking", the species "falls of the cliff" in number terms and suddenly they're a "desirable" bird again, does a bird have to disappear before it becomes a "notable" or "exciting" species?
"JUST A REED BUNTING!!!"
So apart from the heat draining the energy from me it was another good visit to the reed bed, in fact it dawned on me today I haven't once gone to Summer Leys this spring/summer and have only visited Welford reservoir and Stortons Gravel pits a couple of time and one other "under-watched" site this spring/summer, and I think I can confidently say which site I prefer the most...the Reedbed.
On the walk I managed a few shots of the Buzzards on the site. I noted three things a) juveniles are being encouraged by the adults to leave the nest site b) when the Buzzards fly over the reed bed all of the warblers and reed buntings go quiet and the Water Rails squeal away in a "panic" like call c) one Reed Warbler even has a partial "buzzard" like call before reverting to it's normal call, which is odd and amusing to hear.


Sunday, 7 July 2013

THE END OF THE CUCKOO CURSE?

Well most who know me either via this blog or in person will know about my "Cuckoo curse", I've never really struggled to find this bird but it's actually achieving the "shot". My best image to date came a couple of years ago on the scrape of Summer Leys NR during a thunderstorm!! A clap of thunder sending a male in full panic mode past the hide windows-gery skies, or a hepatic version (rufous) again Summer Leys, but to far away, or a while back an Oriental Cuckoo in Norfolk-record shots. But it seemed to me always with difficult weather/skies.
NOT A PROMISING START! 
So with clear skies and scorching sun forecasted for the next few days, now was the chance to slam dunk the curse once and for all....however...it never quite works that straight forward does it? Bird photography would be too easy otherwise.
As I left home at 5:30am it was sunny and cool with a slight breeze but as I headed for the River Nene the valley had a low mist, "not a problem" I thought it would (and did) soon burn off. Parked up and headed for the public footpath, right away I knew it would be a good day when a vole ran straight across my path, stopped, looked up, squeaked and legged it back to the hedgerow...very Dr.Doolittle lol. The mist actually looked great, suspended a foot above the crops, quite serene, wish I had a smaller lens! I got to the reedbed and the boardwalk, tried a few Reedwarbler shots and soaked up the sounds of Reed Buntings, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Long Tail Tit flock calling away. A Buzzard being mobbed by some crows and with something dangling from it's talons and gliding low over the farm grabbed my "world-weary" eyes and I walked off to see if an image was possible when "cuckoo-cuckoo" from very close to my position yet faint and right by the edge of the footpath sitting in a tree was a Cuckoo, great, well of sorts, into the rising sun and with some mist still hanging in the air I grabbed a few record images like the one above, a few minutes later it was off, nice first encounter. I turned my attention back to the reedbed with about an hour until the sun was in a more favourable spot in the sky, no point trying for an image with the light being in my face...but would my curse bite me on my arse? Was that record shot all I would get?
ABOUT TIME!!!
Would it heck, the above image well and truly sent my curse packing. I ignored the boardwalk, the reedbed here seems to be thriving from first the wet weather and now the dry weather...very tall and bushy meant most of the Reed Warblers were obscured by reed stems as was the Cettis image (kicking myself about that one!!).
As I walked down to the bottom of the site were the Cuckoo headed off too, Water Rails were squealing away, never seen thanks to the density of the reedbed, however with two VERY separate groups of adults calling from different parts of the reedbed, I would have to use my imagination to guess how many young are in there...."what is that calling" came a female voice, making me jump as I hadn't heard her approach, it was the farmers wife taking her dogs for a walk, "Water Rails, did you see the Cuckoo?" I asked "Yeah we had it calling from the the Ash tree at the back of the garden this morning"...lucky lady. She pointed which tree on the next section seemed to be the Cuckoo's favourite perch, she wasn't wrong either.
I sat on the bench overlooking the lake and with Cuckoo in sight sat and waited. Took a few Blue Tit images and Sedge Warblers and soaked up the sights of orchids, dragonflies and butterflies all the time with a backdrop soundtrack of a very faint Cuckoo calling away....life really doesn't get much better then this does it? Well at least until it flies right towards you, a huge slice of luck I've been waiting/deserving for such a long time....result, here's the fly past I've been dying for..."don't screw it up" I kept telling myself, "wait for it, patience lad", then "click,click,click" of the shutter, 13 frames on the memory card, hopefully one will be good...got one really good one and one "so-so" the rest, not really happy with (am I ever?).

 The above image is my second favourite.


It perched up on another tree very close, but again right into the sun, giving great views as it looked over the reedbed calling away. Not sure how much longer the male is going to be around before heading back for Africa, I can say THERE MIGHT be young on the way as a chat with the farmers wife confirmed a female is flying around, she knows her stuff so I would say without fear of contradiction she's right. Sadly I didn't see my second "target" bird all day, Hobby, which was odd seeming as there were so many fluttering insects for it to feed on, but that would be asking for to much wouldn't it? By 4pm I was well and truly knackered, the sun draining all life from me, grass snakes scurrying off into the hedgerow along the footpath was the highlight of the walk back to the car...they do have shift!!! VERY QUICK. But none of that mattered as I had finally got rid of my "Cuckoo Curse".......

Saturday, 6 July 2013

WELFORD, 5TH JULY.

Ah, glorious sunshine peeping through the crack in my curtains and if we can trust the Met. Office a heatwave in the next week too.....expect flooding then!
I had to sort some things out at home so by the time I got out in the afternoon it was hot,hot. So I headed for the north of the county and headed for Welford reservoir. I hadn't got any decent Housemartin and Swallow images and there was a slim chance of an Osprey (it never showed), plus the air just seems a little cooler, it might be all in the "head" or it could be because it's elevated and not in a valley like so many of my other spots, who knows?
By the time I got there, the worst of the heat was cooling down but still a bit "heat-hazy" image wise, so I went for a walk round and see what I could find in the bushes, the swallow and housemartins weren't going anywhere so could wait.
In a previous post I mentioned how in with a juvenile Tit flock was a singular Chiff-Chaff (juvenile), well I found the same thing but with Long Tail Tit flock, quite clever what it was doing, it was stealing any food the juvenile Long Tail Tits were catching, also when an adult bird was coming in with food the Chiff-Chaff would barge the Long Tail Tits out of the way and snatch the food, BUT there was also an adult Chiff-Chaff lurking and standing back watching what was happening.....interesting...I thought!
NOT A HAPPY JUVENILE LONG TAIL TIT

LURKING AND WAITING FOR FREE FOOD

RECORD SHOT OF CHIFF-CHAFF WITH ADULT LOTTIE
It was pretty quite apart from a peeping Kingfisher that kept announcing it's arrival on the reservoir, I would see this bird a total of 18 times during the course of the day! Each time it flew away towards the pub (clever bird) before coming back and each time it left, it left with a fish, good fisher then.
This Chiff-Chaff amused me having a root around for food
IT'S IN HERE SOMEWHERE!!

GOT IT!!!

A SCRUFFY COMMON WHITETHROAT 
Also got these Cinnabar Moth caterpillars (I think), there was a lot of these on site. Not easy doing this shot with a 500mm, also a lot baby toads were in the long grass, definitely one not to try with a 500mm so I left the vulnerable looking toads.
 I shouldn't laugh but sibling rivalry can be amusing to watch, not for the young Long Tail Tit on the left, in the last image you might be able to tell which direction it was pushed in and which way it fell, sadly to fast of a fluttering for me.

I'm missing my teleconverters as the swallows and housemartins weren't taking a drink close enough in (kids and dogs swimming didn't help). These would've been better with more focal length

Still Welford does pull a surprise from time to time. I sat down on the steps on the wall of the dam hoping the swallows would come in closer, watched as the female Kestrel perched on the phone wires on the carpark, sadly/gladly the sun was in my face for the shot, so left it. A few Linnets and Yellowhammers calling away, then a piping call we all know was heard, distant but getting closer, coming in off the fields (from the direction of the gliding club-north) was an Oystercatcher, it flew in and landed on the dam.

It flew off and settled at the Sulby end of the reservoir, "piping" away, no sign of a second individual. After a couple of hours it flew back towards me over the carpark in a southerly direction, "that's it then" it's off to Hollowell I thought, but I watched it land in the fields behind the houses on the High Street were I could still hear it calling, a few minutes later it landed back on the reservoir and was still there when I left at 20:36...hardly a rarity or even a "reportable" bird but takes my wader count for the reservoir to 11 (stop laughing) which includes Dunlin, Wood sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper,Common Sandpiper,Green Sandpiper,Greenshank,Redshank, Little Ringed Plover,Ringed Plover,Curlew and now Oystercatcher. No waders breed on site and most waders are normally migrants passing through so I'm quite chuffed.