Monday, 22 December 2014

JUST ONE OF THEM DAYS...

I wasn't actually going to post these images but seeming as this will be my last post this side of the "festive" season, what the heck.
I had been talking to a friend who happens to own a significant size of farmland/pheasant shoot. He kept ringing me saying "seen the Merlin again". Problem is he lives in the south of the county on the border of Northamptonshire and Bucks. A bit of travel just on the off chance of seeing a Merlin, especially since there's one within cycling distance of my home.
However I knew his farmland is pretty much farmed as best as it can be for both profit and wildlife.
The morning started with really gloomy and dark skies and with an obligatory coffee too warm my belly I used to fish the private lakes on his land in my youth so knew where I was going to walk  plus armed with afew tips to where the Merlin had been spotted, I also wanted to check out a small spinney for some Siskin too.
It was at the spinney in near darkness I got the Kestrel, I apologise for the quality, I've tweaked the exposure during processing which hides how dark the skies were and the wind well less said the better.
 It caught a mammal of some description it was hovering over one of the ditches that drains excess water off the field into the lakes, it dived down and as you can see pulled some vegetation out too, possibly a water vole. Not sure as it was hunting Redwing and Blackbirds too...well giving chase.
I made my way down to one of the lakes via the spinney whilst also having a good nosey around the ditches. In the spinney I got a Nuthatch, Jay and Treecreeper but it wasn't worth taking any images too dark.
As the morning progressed the light got better but very windy which was bitterly cold. I was actually impressed with the birds I was spotting, a small flock of about 150 Starlings left the safety of the reed bed and took the trees and hedges, a lot of Yellowhammers and Linnet, saw eight different Skylarks and the odd Pipit. I opted to hide and use a hedgerow for bit of shelter from the wind. I was watching about 50 Fieldfare, some Starlings and Yellowhammer dropping down into the stubble. Every now and again flushing each other for position.
Here's some dubious record shots in the first one Fieldfare, Starling and Yellowhammer
In this next one the birds were in a panic, the Yellowhammers and Linnet taking to the hedges for safety and the Thrushes from what I could see just hunkered down in the stubble the Larks going silent...
 It was a one chance moment and bit distant a Merlin came through, God it was quick but not only quick but also very agile, I swear it was if it places it's wing into your the ground to pivot and change direction but all at a speed that makes a Hobby look like Turtle. I couldn't keep the bird in the frame, obviously I was cursing  to which my companion remarked "thought birding was fun and relaxing" chortling to himself.
My friend departed to do some work and seeming as it was a bit brighter headed for another spinney, a lot of Finches with the exception of Greenfinch and Siskin were around in this spinney, it's my favourite one as there is a mix of beech, alder and ash in it plus a boggy surface, I've had Woodcock here before but not today. I did get some Bullfinch though.

 On the way back, the cold was getting to me by now I managed to creep up to a Redwing, hardly picture of the week but a banker image for now. 
I shall be staying around my girlfriends parents home down in Surrey so shall probably be doing more "Range Rover" watching then bird watching but was told to bring my camera as her parents have a rather tame Robin (should be fun, *sarcasm implied*) so shall be Awol for the Xmas period, so to all who drop by and read my blog and to those who comment have a safe Xmas period and lock up you credit cards......MERRY SKINTMAS.. sorry Merry Christmas.

13 comments:

  1. Not the best day for photographing birds Douglas? You didn't do too badly though, you got some good record shots...lol!
    But those Bullfinches are just gorgeous, a couple of beauties!
    What a shame that you couldn't keep the Merlin in the frame, at least you know where it is now....perhaps you'll have more luck with that 'posh' Robin??
    All the best for Christmas Douglas...have a good one....[;o)

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    1. There was quite a few bullies hanging around which was great to see. The Merlin was a thrill to see, I only saw it the once it's such a big site it's like looking for a needle in a haystack. I'm hoping with better luck with the posh Surrey bird but it won't be with the robin;-) nor Turkey have a Great Xmas and thanks for your comments and help over the year with butterflies

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  2. The Merlin is at the very top of my bogey list Doug. I have spent hundreds of hours in pursuit and not one sighting, EVER!!! I've spent time in Scotland, Derbyshire, Norfolk and Northants and zilch! So you did really well to have seen one recently, you lucky sod. You too have a good xmas and I'm sure we'll catch up in the new year, maybe whilst watching a Merlin at Blueberry!

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    1. Thanks Paul this is only my third Merlin I've seen and have one rubbish image it's still hovering on bogey list too, I've been told of another one today so hopefully more to come, thanks for your kind words I hope you to have Good Xmas and more owls next year

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  3. This was well worth getting cold for.
    Have a grand Christmas.

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    1. Thank you Adrian I too hope you have a good Xmas period. I look forward to reading more of your blog through the year.

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  4. Well Douglas at last your post arrived .on my dashboard. I really thought you had taken me off our reading list and it was great that you saw even though you were not able to photograph it. However you did get great shots of the Bullfinch.

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    1. Thanks Margaret I don't ever take people off my reading list I reactivated google+ so that might have something to do with not sure how Google works at times (nor Google themselves I think) have a Merry Christmas

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  5. As is always the case Douglas, a great narrative of your day out ..... well done and all the best to you and your good lady for the festive season.

    Its been a pleasure following you throughout the year !

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    1. Thank you for your kind words John have a great Xmas period. Hope the birds play ball over the upcoming year

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  6. That's a great day's birding Doug, and one that I'd love to have had myself. Great images, but I can understand your frustration at missing the Merlin. I guess you'll be back there soon, even if it is a fair distance away. I just hope you get the weather for it - it's long overdue!

    Have a really great Christmas and a wonderful 2015. I'm looking forward to another year of your posts.

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    1. It is a fair distance but it is tempting I'll have to see how I get on with this other Merlin. Thank you for your kind comments during the year and I too will be looking forward to reading your blog posts, have a Great Christmas.

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    2. It is a fair distance but it is tempting I'll have to see how I get on with this other Merlin. Thank you for your kind comments during the year and I too will be looking forward to reading your blog posts, have a Great Christmas.

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