Sunday, 21 September 2014

A STOAT AND SOME BITS 'N' BOBS

On Wednesday 17th September I got lucky and had finished work by noon and was out of the front door, thanks to careless drivers playing bumper cars on the motorway the previous day I was out of regulated driving time, THANK YOU.
So it was off to the quarry where things didn't get off to a good start.
Knew it was to good to believe. Always wondered why a company would create a wildflower meadow, footpaths and plant new tree's if only to carry favour with locals and the planning department. I blogged about how this site was/had put in planning permission for a landfill site, now with bigger and deeper holes I can see once the gravel extraction has finished, if they get the go ahead then it won't be safe for people to walk around (not that I saw many) and the holes will be filled with rubbish.
I have asked a couple fellow birders about what to do etc, for what it was worth, and one pointed out that many of Northamptonshire best sites were ex-gravel pits: Summer Leys, Ditchford, Thrapston, Clifford Hill, Titchmarsh(?), Stanwick Lakes and Storton Pits...to name a few I was told "look at the site you're talking about" jeez thanks for your help.
Oh well I like a scrap and if I have to do it on my own so be it.
Birding wise things were slow and the skies were gloomy, most of the warblers have gone with just a handful of Chiff-Chaff's a few Sparrowhawk baits were floating around..Stock Doves, scummy looking bird but worth keeping an eye on....
 Sure enough the Sprawk made another appearance, the sky was awful but I think I dialled enough exposure in and got away with it....

Since things were slow and wasn't a million miles from Pitsford reservoir I headed to a bay called Moulton Grange as a few waders had been dropping in, to be fair Autumn migration has been so slow around here this year so wasn't to positive. I got myself settled in some long grass and was watching 5 Ruff, some dog walker flushed everything away so got a little closer and waited for them to come back, when they did 5 became 6 and a Snipe for an added bonus, grabbed a few record shots and since it was getting dark headed for home, this is as good as it got with the Ruff
So today's visit (20th September) to the gravel pit wasn't much better, really dark skies, 3 Snipe, 2 Meadow Pipits, 1 Little Owl, 1 Kestrel and a very brave STOAT. At first it was a bit distant

It kept using the boulders and the tunnels created by the boulders to nip back and forth checking me out. It got so close the little green light in the viewfinder kept flashing (on Canon it means it's not focusing/focused)  despite the lens (500mm) being on closest focus setting.


It was tricky guessing which boulder it would appear from behind next. It was like the fairground game where you have to bash a mechanical gofer to win a prize, except I was using a camera rather then a mallet.
The next one was full frame and uncropped, just resized down the file to save storage space, big file!

 So cute yet so ferocious
Didn't get any full body shots as I was sat down and was to busy sitting still and it kept popping up from the boulders, it just kept coming closer, having a look the disappearing and just when I thought it was gone, it turned back up. These are my favourite three, on the last image if you look at the top left hand corner you can see how dark/cloudy it was.




12 comments:

  1. The planning doesn't look at all good. I don't know what can be done.

    The stoat is perfect. It would have made my year. Tremendous shots. Worthy of a post on it's own.

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    1. I have a few plans as what to do about this, I have looked at failed and successful applications etc and just forming a plan of attack.
      I should have done a separate post thinking about it now but felt maybe stoat overdose

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  2. Douglas, I thought that this site had already been worked as a gravel pit, does this mean that they want to re-open it? It'll be a shame if they were to start digging it up again.
    Cracking shots of the Stoat, you've certainly 'hit the gofer on the head' with these...[;o)

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    1. Thank you Trevor.
      The site had closed and the pits which aren't very deep nor big were at one time earmarked for landfill. I have my suspicions that the grave extraction/sandstone is just an excuse to create more pits=more landfill=more money so it will reopen and will loose a footpath and flower meadow and all the wildlife. It makes no sense as all the equipment etc has been moved out and the costs must outweigh what they can extract.

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  3. As usual Douglas a cracking set of images, the stoat in particular is a star.

    Also, sorry to hear about the developments at the Gravel Pit so soon after you discovered it, it would be tragic to loose or have access restrictions to this gem.

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    1. Cheers John, I am not to bothered about access to certain areas of the site as officially the quarry as is, is no access but a blind eye is turned, it really what happens to the site and certain breeding birds on the site and then what happens to the site after the extraction happens, I will do more this in another blog.

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  4. These Stoat pictures are excellent Doug. Would have made my day for many days to come.
    Such a cute killing machine.

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    1. It really made my day Keith, the way it was scurrying around looking for food but kept coming to check me out, I was worried for my toes:-) it was very hard to vision it as a predator

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  5. I love your Stoat images, Doug. They're fabulous creatures to watch - if you ever find one! They certainly don't look like the mean killing machines that they are. Sadly, I once unavoidably killed one. As I was on my way to Birdfair last year, I narrowly missed a Rabbit that ran across the road in front of me, but hit the Stoat that was chasing it! The event haunts me still, and I take little consolation in saving the life of the Rabbit.

    I wish you all the best with the quarry. From what you've seen there, it's really worth fighting for!

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    1. Thank you Richard it was an incredibly bold individual they normally do a runner for me, as for running over one don't feel to bad I had a Reed Warbler attach itself to my car grill a few years back I was gutted and felt well guilty for ages

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  6. Fabulous Stoat images Doug, I had one show whilst waiting for the Kingfisher last week. It was running around like it was on steroids, too quick for me to capture an image sadly. Also loving the Sprawk in flight shots, very impressive!

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    1. That's how I am used to seeing stoats behave not placid. I hope to get more sprawk it's a getting quite regular

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