Thursday, 30 April 2015

SUMMER LEYS 30/04/15

I opted for a visit to Summer Leys, I needed to boost my year list with some waders. Sadly I didn't get to add to many. Plenty of Little Ringed Plover in the middle of the scrape. The recently reprofiled scrape is looking good and the decision to hold the water levels high has so far worked. I couldn't see any Black Headed Gulls far. A notable absentee was Redshank, previous years you could guarantee a minimum of four birds, the whole time in the Paul Britain hide I only saw two birds and they flew in then out from Brayshaws Bund. 3 Snipe were also present.
Heavily cropped though. Lapwings were also present, busily fending off the local corvids. But still a great place to see Lapwings up close and personal.

Best bird but sadly no image was the first bird of the day a Water Pipit on the earth mound between the Pioneer hide and Rotary Island hide. A school boy error on my part (hadn't turned the camera on) meant after confirming it was definitely a Water Pipit, glancing down to turn camera on it had vanished....shit, I spent 20 odd minutes checking the ditch, Rotary island and the scrape but it eluded me, adding further insult to injury, adding it to the Birdtrack app on my phone I was greeted with a message "bird species not recorded in the last month", grrr, stringer alert lol.

 Mistle Thrush and the ultimate Tug of War.
Also saw some Shelduck and Egyptian Geese (2). Found this and took a snap with camera phone.
Badger or fox? Given my experience with puppies I'd say that's only a week old maximum. Saw my first Swift and a lot of Common Whitethroat.
 Both images quite distant as it kept going back to one area with food so I opted to stay a bit further away then I'd normally like to.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


On my last visit to the site I had been spoilt by returning warblers and Sandmartins (well 4 birds) and three Wheatears. Also on the last few visits to the site there was a noticeable increase in visitors to the site. Mostly dog walkers, the odd horserider which is fine but more importantly more youngsters turning up on moto-cross bikes. Don't get me wrong I could appreciate why the quarry was an interesting place to ride. But they were a nuisance volume wise.
I arrived on the site today and things didn't look 'right'. It was windy so wasn't expecting to much but a glance over the quarry floor there was rubbish everywhere further scanning revealed no activity at the Sandmartins colony in fact no birds even flitting around. Now I know the bikes aren't responsible by means of riding, the slope is 90° degrees straight up, there is still some holes from last year but the new holes gone. Given the very dry soil, followed by rain, then a frost and strong winds has caused a 'collapse', not good. What's worse I only saw two Sandmartins all day, last year it was only 12 birds two is awful though.

Normally if on my bike this sort of thing on a footpath would annoy me. But I am not even going to grumble, in fact I'll give the landowner a "virtual thumbs up" no motorbike (mountain bike can be chucked over) can get through.
Whilst giving my seal of approval standing on the earth mound considering if I could do a Steve McQueen impression this bugger flew past fast
Looking directly into the sun it's horribly back lit, but pleasing to see it taking it's prey back to nesting site. The Buzzards were on form but still it was probably the worse visit I've had I mean I'm posting a Linnet for Christs sakes
However the weirdest bird of the day was with the regular Mistle Thrush....
A Fieldfare!! That has to be the latest I've seen one around here. It looked lost.  Sums up my birding day perfectly wrong bird, wrong place, wrong time and dodgy photo(s)

Monday, 27 April 2015


Finally I have got round to uploading some images onto my 'site photograph' pages, just click on the tab on the top of the blog. Nowt special in terms of quality I'm just doing it to give a rough idea of the variety of habitats you might find a Doug lurking.
A Chiff-Chaff from Saturday.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

QUARRY WALK 25/04/2015

I couldn't resist another visit to the reed bed today. I couldn't get their as the reed bed awoke, oh no I was to be punished and have to go 'shoe' shopping with the better half. With that chore done I got my permission slip stamped and off I went.
Had to chuckle at the Moorhen crossing the road, it could do with MORE shoes. The terns looked good too going up and down the Nene.

I bumped into Bob who kindly informed me there was now two Grasshopper Warblers on site. The original bird seemed less confident but probably due the presence of another bird. Here's more of the Grasshopper Warbler from today.

It wasn't hiding too much today when it showed it spent a lot of time scuttling on the ground. I have no shame in admiting as long as the bird remains on site it'll get the majority of my attention....I've waited to long to get a showy individual, the second bird is where I normally see them, miles away.

A Chiff-Chaff did the usual (for me) of hiding behind the mass of willow.
It's either read my blog moaning about 'intruding branches' or heard my two worded expletive and felt sorry for me.
Not quite what I had in mind. Nor this one......
So it co-operated:-)
But my favourite Chiff-Chaff of the day was this one.
I bumped into a few more birders, so far five of them this week, which is more then I seen during the  whole of last summer lol. The site needs more people scanning it, it's too big for just one/two to do it justice.
I was distracted by the increase of Swallows, House Martins and the odd Sand Martin down at the lake. Loads had turned up, I scanned for anything out the ordinary but alas there wasn't.
A distant male Sparrowhawk gave chase to the 'Martins , but still no Hobbies or Swifts they're late for this site Hobbies by 5 days and Swifts just a couple of days late.

Friday, 24 April 2015


Shot from the top of the weir on the Billing Aquadrome marina, slight awkward angle etc.
It caught a Perch a bloody good sized specimen too, one I'd been happy to catch in my youth.
Despite the concrete top of the weir I really like the next image of it shielding it's catch...

Thursday, 23 April 2015


These are the images from my previous visit and didn't make it into the original post.
 I really did enjoy watching this master of skulking.
The above image I was trying to demonstrate how the bird just walks along the lower base of the vegetation and pretty quick at moving but so silently.

I wish I nailed the flight shots that were on offer maybe if it's still there on my next visit and it still showing as well this is what I'll concentrate on.
Mind you the above image I could stare for ages at at full magnification on the computer monitor I love staring at the lower part of the bill in full song and how much it's extended, reminds me of a Bunting.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


I headed off to Quarry Walk aka The Reed bed. It wasn't looking good first thing at the reed bed. The warming sun had created a mist that was quickly burnt off. I was hoping to catch up with some warblers and Cuckoo. But as I approached the boardwalk I could hear an all to familiar reeling call of a Grasshopper Warbler. It's not an uncommon bird on the site, this is the fourth consecutive spring/Summer one has showed.
Normally they're half away along the embankment/raised path, to far out in the scrub. Knowing my luck with this bird I hastily took the above image thinking it would vanish into the scrub, it didn't.

In fact it stayed close to the boardwalk but still tricky to get an uncluttered image.

Despite it's calling away I was struggling with all the vegetation. It briefly popped onto the handrail of the boardwalk and STILL branches going through it. I did get some but not in the pose I wanted.

I got one that was close to a good pose (image below).
 I did get some obscenely close views that left my binoculars redundant. Watching it wind itself up for another reeling call. With it's upper body shaking, then throwing it's head backwards and the tail bouncing to a rapid beat, beautiful views.
I could hear the Cuckoo calling down the bottom end of the reed bed so seeking shade I opted to go looking. Didn't refind the Cuckoo but did connect with some Sedge Warbler and Common Whitethroat too. Before leaving the boardwalk I had a few more attempts below is probably my best effort, I really think you need the tail in the image of a Grasshopper Warbler.
It was still on the site when I left this evening, I admit the bird beat my best efforts today....or was it the vegetation, definately the best showing Grasshopper Warbler encounter I've had and I didn't have to leave the boardwalk either. But easily my best efforts to date.

Sunday, 19 April 2015


Time was at a premium for me this weekend.....codswallop too lazy to be more honest. A shed load of motorsports to watch live, WTC, F1 and BTTC not to mention good old Chelsea stumbling to yet another 3 points. I also had to tidy up the shed too and tidy the garden in general. My winter hibernation in the shed has taken it's toll, cigarette butts forgotten about coffee mugs and the odd bit of bread etc plus the Sycamores needed pruning back a little. Got two nice visitors whilst skulking/sulking behind the shed showed briefly. First and briefest of visits, I'll get a few visits as the summer gets going.
Chiff-Chaff (Phylloscopus collybita): good hear this calling but what with garden fences and neighbours houses couldn't really spot it until the last moment. Got four frames before it vanished over towards the park.
Second visitor is not that common round the estate with the odd one on the park and non-existent in my garden.  This was a first actually...
 Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) singing as it went. I opted to leave the Sycamores and other pruning duties for another day.