Saturday, 7 June 2014


As most will remember from last year I have a bit of a soft spot for a "natural england"/ELS farm scheme in Northampton that I knickname the "reedbed". I personally think it's a stunning place yet others that I dragged down there hated it as it was a nightmare to photograph at thanks to the "non managed" state of the site, plus on a hot day there is no hides to seek shelter in (or if the weather turns crap). I always thought it was the species and their quantity that was important not creature comforts and the ease of which to get a photograph....sure I have left the site numerous times in the past cursing my luck but on the odd occasion I've left smug as bug. I'm thinking Cuckoo flight shots and on one occasion at the start of the spring migration 20 Hobbies patrolling the sky. So given the fact my 1d mark3 gave up the ghost I probably should have picked a better spot to get familiar with the buttons etc of my old 1d mark2 but I never seem to do things in the correct manner.
This was my first visit to the site and as I walked along the farmers field/footpath there was plenty of small common stuff diving in and out of the rape seed field as I approached the board walk I was greeted by the explosive call of a Cettis Warbler lurking in the undergrowth, there is a few of these scattered around the site, I also flushed out a frankly remarkable 8 Mistle Thrush from the field and some Starlings (seems to be a lot of Starlings floating around this summer), the reedbed looked thick and healthy...hmmm this wasn't going to be easy for Reed Warbler shots.
 No land management here with the exception of a new drainage ditch onto the site topping up the water levels...which explained why the reedbed was more lush looking and thicker then normal.
 Look at the image above and the height and thickness of the reeds! What really frustrates was the fact there was plenty of Reed Warblers within touching distance sadly no usable shots of said bird nor the Cettis that kept bursting into life, I returned to my camera bag to fetch a drink and formulate a new plan of attack and found this making a home on my bag, thanks to Trevor who named it as a Drinker Moth Caterpillar big old hairy bugger it was and given the fact I could hear two Cuckoo's calling (one in the farmyard and one down by the lake) I placed it carefully on a reed stem and watched it crawl away.
I was noticing a severe lack of Sedge Warblers around the site this year, not one seen all day. Plenty of Reed Buntings which hooked me for ages trying to get flight shots of them flying between the reed stems...failed but more down to aesthetics like poorly exposed or reed stems in the way the 1d mark2 was marking easy work of flight work....still the best autofocus system to this date in my opinion.
You can see from the below shot getting a "clear" image was hard thanks to the reed stems.
 Also got this Garden Warbler with food in it's mouth too.
 But it isn't just the reedbed that makes life hard the Willow is everywhere down there making it hard to get a clean shot without a branch nipping in the way, plenty of juvenile birds around, mostly common birds at the moment like Long tailed Tits, Blue Tits, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and these two Great Tits, have you noticed the amount of food in the images?
There was plenty of bugs crawling and flying around...technical term for a numpty like me.
I found these two willing to pose for my big old 500mm lens not the perfect lens for a spot of macro, I think these might be Broad Bodied Chasers...don't quote me on that though.

It was getting hot and I needed some shelter from the sun so opted to walk down to the lake and hide under one of the many willows (told you don't need hides), the copse opposite me I could hear the Cuckoo again and despite it sounding really, really, really close I couldn't see it I couldn't stray onto the private land to see if I could locate it (landowner hates birders) which was annoying as I could hear both Little Ringed Plover and Oystercatchers calling, there is on the private site a couple of small islands that I have in the past seen both of these species plus Green Sandpipers and Common Sandpipers too, nevermind.
Whilst sat there I could see a pair of Common Whitethroats and at least one Lesser Whitethroat, again images were pants thanks to the bushes but shall try again.
I saw three Hobbies hawking high for insects and they never really came close except one that came from behind me low and quick and from out of the sun it's shadow on the ground alerting me to it flying over.

 Still despite this it bumped the number of Hobbies seen this year to five, hopefully with better results to come. I also managed a shot of a fleeing Starling.
I had a 8 mile cycle home in hot weather and was mulling my route home whilst watching a pair of Buzzards gliding over the reedbed, thinking one day it should be a Marsh Harrier, it only has to be a matter of time before one or two set up home here, can't think of a better place myself when I heard a Kingfisher, guess what, yes you guessed it, the bird perched on a branch with another branch blocking it, still this was a new bird on this site for me, so here it is.
In terms of images, yes I had a bad day, but I still love this site and yet I still didn't seen one other person, shame really.
and other predictions
1st Lewis Hamilton
2nd Nico Rosberg
3rd Botas


  1. That looks like an absolutely magical location, Doug. I can sense that you were a little frustrated by the lack of photographic opportunities, but the results are far from shabby to my mind!

    Hope you get the camera sorted soon.

    Best wishes - - - - Richard

    1. I wouldn't say frustrated as the site is hard to photograph at. I think I was more frustrated with my choice I should have gone somewhere with birds that were easier to photograph to get reacquainted with the 1d mark2. I really like this site alot even if I am only watching rather then taking images it's so peaceful

  2. I'd be delighted with any of these. It looks a grand spot. Suzi Perry gets more and more annoying but I don't watch that bit.
    I'll go out on a limb Botras, Alonso, Hamilton.

    1. Sadly Suze does get more annoying.Brave choice of finishing order that would make an interesting race as with 70 laps people will be coasting...snooze fest'.
      It is an interesting spot shame more people don't venture down there, their loss my fain I guess :-)

  3. oooer!...I think it went something like this?!

    Super images here Douglas...despite the twigs.

    The image of the Garden Warbler is a beauty, as are the two of the dragonflies...correct ID for the second one.... the first one is a Four-spotted Chaser.

    It looks like a good site with loads of promise, and you've got it all to yourself....that can't be bad?

    I'm sure that the Kingfisher will take pity and 'sit up' for you sooner or later?

    F1 predictions...Suzi Perry IS / WILL BE annoying.
    Safety car soon after the start as Vettel and Massa get it on together.
    1st Rosberg who will well and truly 'stick it' to
    2nd. Hamilton who will loose the plot and go into a mega sulk for the rest of the season.
    3rd. Alonso who will once again drag his lame horse around for some decent points.
    Watch out for Button who will have a steady run and will say afterwards that it was the best that he could expect given that the car didn't feel right from the start and if we'd have only...yawn!...yawn!....ya...
    And then there's 'laid back Kimi' who doesn't 'give a shit' will give the excuse that if it wasn't for (insert any name) ruining his race he would have finished on the podium!

    And Suzi Perry will STILL be annoying!..[;o)

  4. Thanks Trevor I had a heart attack when I realised I pressed the wrong button cannot believe Google doesn't have a "comment retrieve" option...
    I think you and I are thinking along the same lines with some of the F1 drivers perhaps if Button spent more time testing rather then making stupid adverts he'd have a better car!
    I wasn't sure about the first bug it looked different in flight plenty of dragons and butterflies down on this site I even found a hornet.
    The site is fantastic to my knowledge there is one fellow birder who does a WEBS count and there used to be a ringer too but I haven't seen him for ages the only person I saw was the farmer walking his dog!

    1. Not a bad race in the end, is this the start of the Red Bull fight back?...[;o)

    2. Not sure about a Red Bull fight back. Botas had to slow down as did Nico. Lewis' car failed to finish and the other two Mercedes powered cars took each other out (I bet Seb shit himself lol). If in time for the next GP Renault do give the Red Bulls more power as promised, maybe but it was good to see Daniel win his face was priceless

  5. I think I said something along the lines of 'excellent' 'great looking place' 'correct ID' 'love the Garden Warbler' be careful with your finger ...............

    1. Thanks Keith a case of careless fingers.
      I heard someone say the Garden Warbler is plain and boring species. I thought it looked quite a handsome bird...maybe it's me.