Thursday, 16 January 2014


Well the last three days birding wise has been a non-starter for me due to other commitments. So it was all down to today, my last day off from work. I was torn between going and seeing some Otters, trying to get some better images of the Great Northern Diver at Pitsford or a trip to my favourite ex-gravel pit.
Summer Leys won out. Why? Well I would be spoilt for choice in terms of birds. The Linnet and finch flock, Lapwings and Golden Plover, Redkite, possible Great White Egret and the Long Tailed some hides to take cover in when the heavy downpours eventually turned up, great call.
I got past the Two Tier hide on my way to the screen hide I got half way down the path when i caught glimpse of the Great White Egret taking off from the YOC spinney which still has some temporary small flooded pools of water, it was flushed out by a Grey Heron, which during the course of the day would be the Great White Egret's nemesis..this is it taking off from the spinney....
 It landed just to the left of the screen hide, there was no point in walking around to the hide as the sun would be in my face and would be a nightmare to expose without blowing the whites on the bird. It stayed there giving good views for 10-15 minutes before the Grey Heron flushed it away. It flew towards the back of Hawthorn Island so I hedged my bets and walked back towards the Paul Britain hide (Two tier hide) figuring it might end up near the scrape.
I couldn't believe my luck the bird had done a u-turn over the top of the island and was heading for the reed bed at Kim's corner (that's the bench at the entrance of the two tier hide), I thought by dialling in minus 1 exposure on the camera I'd be okay...nope, not totally blown out but I can do better, I got a sequence of it landing as I looked on, all excited, my best views I'll ever get unless I collide into one!


It was never going to stay here long (about a nano second) due to footfall of joggers,dog walkers and fellow birders, but I ain't moaning, the bird flew back over towards Hawthorn Island. I thought that was going to be it, wrong, I headed back to where I first spotted the bird, there was some Goldfinches,Bullfinches,Fieldfare and a Green Woodpecker to have fun with, I got to the wooden gate at the YOC spinney looking to see if anything was in front of the screen hide and just happen to glance to my left, it was going to collide with me!
 I ducked behind the gate the best I could and it plopped down in front of me and posed for a while, yep the Grey Heron showed it's face again and it flew off to small pool/scrape to the left handside of the Paul Britain hide.
 I walked up to the hide and there was another birder upstairs getting good views after a friendly and talk I decided that if I walked up the stairs (outside and not on the inside) it might flush the bird so I kept myself busy photographing some other birds along the footpath.
The other birder came down and we briefly chatted about the bird and off I went to the hide and got comfortable. It was mostly hidden from view thanks to the topography but was busy fishing, but guess what? Go on, guess what bird came and scared it off..a House Sparrow, nah just kidding it was the Grey Heron.
 Off it went and settled into the reed bed next to the main hide.
As did I. I saw the bird quite a bit during the day so was well chuffed. Saw a Redkite and a Peregrine too. A Great Spotted Woodpecker at the feeding station also two House Sparrows, I briefly got excited hoping they were the once fabled Tree Sparrows, sadly not.
 It was all luck and timing, I could and maybe should have gone to see some Otters or even the Great Northern Diver but was pretty happy with my final choice, good old Summer Leys, the importance of LNR's (local nature reserve) given the threat to a LNR in Derby.


  1. Doug, these are superb images. You certainly made the right choice in places to go.
    #3 and #4 are my favourites here.

    Let's hope the Derby threat is no more than a threat. It would be a travesty if it happens.

    1. Thanks Keith such a big bird shouldn't be so graceful in landing.
      Sadly deep down in my gut I fear the worse for the Sanctuary LNR in Derby, I look at some LNR's and SSSI's in Northants and really worry about what we face over the next few years

  2. These are all stunning even by your high standards.

    1. Cheers Adrian, I just one chance with the bird when the light source is behind me, just to help with the exposure. It's a cracking bird mind.

  3. Just one word, Doug - FABULOUS!!!!

    1. Thanks Richard the bird the true stunner, I just hope people don't tire of them like the Little Egret