Thursday, 22 May 2014


.....for a change.
A word of warning for those who are a touch squeamish, sensitive of nature or young scroll past the following paragraph until the first image of my should be safe by then.
Right, my regular readers will know of late I have been using a bike to get around both for work and to do by bird photography and also with the main aim to shed some weight.
Well the last part of my goal has been successfully achieved, I have gone from a size 38 and currently hovering around a 32 inch waist (33 to be precise) and lost just over a stone in weight..yippee! All in under two months and thanks to an "app" in my phone I have accumulated a staggering 189 miles.
But (no pun intended) it has come at a cost. On Friday I realised there was something wrong with my butt and by Saturday morning I was in complete agony and unable to get up nevermind walk, which was bad timing as a pair of Black Wing Stilts had turned up at the local nature reserve, I even tried getting in my car but couldn't get out of bed!
By Monday I somehow managed to get to my doctors and the prognosis wasn't good nor pleasant I had thanks to my saddle on my bike got a perianal abscess right in my bum crack (told you not to read this bit) about the size of table-tennis ball. There was no choice but go under a general anaesthetic and have it drained which happened on Tuesday and meant no work for at least for 14 days and some poor district nurse to come out and visit me on a daily business to change the dressing, an actual dressing that is placed in the "hole" to prevent infection the glamorous side of nursing that you won't hear about at the Tory party conference...I did tell you not to read this bit didn't I? Still who knew riding a bike could fuck you up so much and make you the butt (sic) of all the jokes from your mates, can't wait to see what my work colleagues come up with...that'll be fun!
 But even after all that hassle I'm still loving my bike, though the manufacturer was a pure fluke.
I have stumbled across some pretty unique places I never knew about the first being the place in the images below.
 A very swampy patch of land all fenced off except around the perimeter which was a public footpath.
 Even in a "wooded" section it was still very boggy under foot. I did flush two Snipe which was interesting as I was under the impression they don't breed around here. It's a fascinating bit of habitat and I'm not sure who owns or if it's a part of project etc but one which warrants further investigation.
There was plenty of warblers including Blackcaps, Chiff-Chaffs, Cettis, Willow and the odd Sedge Warbler too plus plenty of common birds a low flying Buzzard hassling a pair of Mistle Thrush and a fly through Kingfisher. I should have turned left but went right and stumbled across this site.....
Another site that I visited, which I already knew about was a little semi-urban space at the edge of Moulton village, with Northampton ever increasing size what were once villages on the outskirts are fast becoming enveloped by the urban sprawl and becoming housing estates and sadly this is the case with Moutlon.
Within the shadow of the church and next to the agricultural college is a pocket park called Busby's Meadow.
I've driven past this site loads of times and never bothered stopping but it was on my route I had decided to cycle so thought I'd stop and see what was around.
Basically it is set up to by a wildflower meadow etc, it has a brook running through and actually looks quite a promising site. You are surrounded by houses etc but some of these houses and the horse stables on the other side of the road are home to both Swallows and House Martins also the church is home to Swifts. I did see a Kestrel, Sparrohawk, Chaffinch, Blackcap and Chiff-Chaff but the most common bird was the Hose Sparrow apparently bucking the national trend they were everywhere. Also I recorded 5 species of Butterflies, all common species but yet again a site worth another re-visit

I love these little pocket parks in urban areas everything you find regardless how common is a little gem. I might be wrong wrong but I think the site is ran/managed by the Northants Wildlife Trust and really is plant/bug site and looking around I can see this being a good site for some summer macro work.
As I've mentioned a few times now I bit the bullet a got myself one of them flashy smartphone's (shame I'm not a smart as it is). It's a Samsung Galaxy S5. Now according to the adverts the camera has a superfast Autofocus, and they're not lying either it is as fast as my trusted 1d for christ sakes!!!
But the camera has a lot of flashy modes, my favourite being the "panorama" mode.
 It has on the screen as you take the photo a "spirit" level and a simplistic blue box you have to keep between the lines as you take the photo. I tired it out on the industrial estate I work on that has yet again a massive park for us workers and others to walk around. It is again another fantastic urban space that has Buzzards, Kestrels, variety of gulls and common birds, warblers including Common Whitethroats etc, in the winter on one of the ponds (behind the trees in the left of the frame) I even had a Whooper Swan!, Northern Wheatears and Hoopoes too have been around at the right time of the year, the occasional Peregrine, in the grassy area roughly centre of frame has a pair of Skylarks and in the wooded section on the right in the distance a Little Owl too I have also seen Stoat and Muntjac....that's Brackmills Industrial Estate I remind you!!
To stop travellers setting up camp the local council built big earth banks that have grassed over and are home to ants the end result is the most common bird I see here are Green Woodpeckers and is often where I photograph juvenile woodies later in the year...on the way to work.

At the top of the hill is another cycle path that leads up to Great Houghton and is the the remains of the old Northampton to Bedford railway line and is full of both common birds and a variety of warblers along here (sadly no images) I saw an incredible number of mature juvenile birds the best was a Blackbird fully fledged and exploring and a Bullfinch on a branch being fed by an adult male. Again because of the steep banks the lack of wind seemed to be good for the Butterflies along here. None of which I would have seen nor photographed had I been in a car, I just would have gone elsewhere.
 One of the other good things about using the bike (despite having to lug around my 500mm prime lens in a bag on my back) is the ability to creep up on birds without them seeming to care, if I was to put a human emotion on the bird I would say the looked confused/baffled at what was watching them...or maybe the feel sorry for me :o)
Including the ever flighty Red Leg Partridge that was grazing right in front of me.....but it got a little better as.....

 As it was joined by a second one, I was still sitting on the frame of my bike, normally these birds will fly away flapping their tiny wings in a blind fury......
 And finally despite a sore arse I took these final three from my garden, this below Blackbird is busy feeding young though normally I see it with worms I'm not sure what is it's mouth any ideas?
 Then in my nest box I have a pair of Blue Tits rearing young, I took this as one of the birds is ringed, I am yet to get close enough to read the ring in detail but so far I got the letters "Y" and "U" but there is another letter or number...I'll have to wonder for now where it was ringed until I get a better image.


  1. You can't knock the NHS when something serious happens. You realize that the saddle post should have a seat on it don't you.
    Great shots as always. It's amazing how close you can get to things in both a car or van. I never thought a bike would work.
    The phones are good and obviously getting better.

    1. It's a real shame we only hear the negative side of the NHS never the positive. Personally I would give them a 5 star rating based on my experience.
      You're right about the use of van's and cars as mobile hides I too was surprised about the bike however I had heard about someone using a horse with some success!
      Saddle!? I'mean putting one of them inflatable swimming rings on it :o)

  2. Not a bum post at all Doug!
    Excellent set of pictures. I love the composition of the Peacock, and the partridge always look good shot with a camera rather than a gun.

    1. Stop it Keith it hurts when I laugh :o)
      You're right about Red Leg's with my lens I was wondering if the bird was wondering if it was a gun it kept it's eye on me all the time

  3. That's a bummer Douglas!!
    I hope your hole is feeling much better's not, yea that's it!...I hope you're feeling a whole lot better now?
    Seriously though, perhaps you should 'sit on it' until you're better able to take things in your stride.
    Looking on the bright side...that new John Wayne style of walking should go down a storm as your new party trick!

    Apart from the pain, the bike riding seems to be working well, you've found the perfect way to get slimmer and fitter while enjoying your birdwatching and you've seen those familiar sites from a hole (sorry!) new perspective.

    Some cracking photos here, as usual. It'll be interesting to see how far that Blue Tit has traveled?

    Once you manage to get out and about again I'm sure life will have a hole (sorry...again!)!.. ring to it?...[;o)

    1. Tanks Trevir I was dreading your comment lol. Still it wasn't as bad as when I walked into the pub yesterday afternoon and Hannah the landlady played "Ring of Fire" over the stereo
      I am hoping the blue tit is local there is two ringing sessions nearby (Pitsford and I think Moulton College) though if it carries on I won't have many apple's this year it's always in there.