Sunday, 29 May 2016

JUST A HOBBY

Well I hope you all have a great Bank Holiday. I really, really hope it doesn't rain, honest.
You see someone of us will be working. Probably avoiding caravans....or not. Probably parked up on the M25 somewhere...oh joy.
But at least I got to see 5 Hobbies in the mix light today. Alas mostly similar too this one or further away, anyway enjoy your Bank Holiday...

Monday, 23 May 2016

OTMOOR NATURE RESERVE

Saturday was not only a bit of a washout but in terms of birds it was sadly a damp squib.
I had Sunday to get some birding in and really couldn't be bothered with Northamptonshire, I needed a change of scenery.
I initially planned a trip to Norfolk but the weather was a bit hit and miss, so instead snuck over the border to Oxfordshire, more precise the RSPB reserve of Otmoor (anyone heard of the plans for Oxfordshire to steal a big chunk of Northamptonshire by the way?).
I'd been before so felt confident I could find it (huh)  and satnav in hand jumped in the car and headed off, took a few wrong turns, chucked the satnav in the dashboard as it wasn't helpful, consulted a few maps, a smartphone, prayed to a deity I don't believe in and followed some crows until I found Otmoor Lane.....seriously how hard was it to find!
This reserve is worth it though. For an inland nature reserve it really is impressive. Both in habitat, species and simple vistas. I haven't left a reserve feeling not only feeling chilled out. But also feeling like I'd visited somewhere natural.  It was easy to find a place to just sit and soak in the bird calls and sights without feeling disturbed. That's not to say it wasn't busy. I struggled to park the car but the reserve is massive so no worries.
What did I see?
Loads of Warblers. A Marsh Harrier, Bittern, Grasshopper Warbler, Redkites, Redshank, 4 Cuckoos, 7 Hobbies and 2 Turtle Doves,Skylark, Common Lizard.
The Turtle Dove was one species I wanted to add more images of to my image bank only having two images so far to date.
My favourite was it taking off to drop onto the ground to feed from a fence post.



Surprisingly quite a confiding bird despite idiots shooting it to the brink of extinction.
The call is so bizarre I overheard one couple with kids in tow remark "I think it's that bloke with the camera making the noise", I had to giggle to myself. I rattled off plenty images ignoring it when it perched on the phone cables and opted for the fence...slightly better perches.


I watched the Redkites getting harassed by the Lapwings and witness one snatch a Mallard duckling. I watched Hobbies really close up but with the skies getting grey I had to be content with just watching them. As I headed off to one of the screen hides a Redshank flew over the hedges inches from my face, yes I did shit myself :-) there was plenty of Redshank too. At the screen hide I watched a female Marsh Harrier and very distant Bittern coming in to land
I watched 'Hector' officially the UK's laziest Hobbies, hoping it would hawk this reed bed section

But no, it sat temptingly close on this fence post only to fly lazily at most 100 metres from it and perch back up again...maybe on my next visit. Got loads of images to go through so should have a decent odds and sods post.

Monday, 16 May 2016

GOT SOME BIRDING IN

I actually got some birding in this week. Most annoyingly a visit to  Welford Reservoir I was greeted to a full on Quail blatantly calling in the scrub/hedge in the carpark. I've heard plenty of Quail, seen a few fleeting sightings too. Now the hedge was adjacent to a flight of steps and couldn't be no more then 30 foot in length. Surely in such a small area I was a shoe in for a half decent shot.....we'll say no more :-(
I had three good site visits to Quarry Walk, a bonus third thanks to Rosbergs inability to race, thank you Nico.
Plenty of  warblers seen but my main focus were on the Hobbies. Counted 10 on both the Quarry/Grendon Lakes/Quarry Walk areas. Heard a male Cuckoo calling from the paintball area of Grendon Lakes. Also a Kingfisher was present quite a few times near the screen hide.

I found it hard to focus on the other species if I'm honest

One slight downside, but predictable. The Lapwing that was nesting in the field has lost it's eggs to crows. Saw three successful raids. But on one visit I did get two Grey Partridges. Couldn't get anywhere near so a 'bird in it's environment' image


Saturday, 7 May 2016

THIS AND THAT.

My luck getting out birding has still been very, very limited. Again despite actually getting about with the camera I've either found distant birds or actually nothing at all to point my lens at.
I did get a text from Mr.Z (I'll sort a link to his new blog soon) about Quarry Walk and his Warbler day. You can read more by clicking on HERE
So last weekend ventured down to the site.
I was initially disappointed too see the thick brambles that played host to the Lesser Whitethroat has been removed, exactly where it had nested forcing it closer to the main road and thinner brambles and the added dangers of the local tabby....good luck.
There is at least one Lapwing nesting in the adjacent field/set aside. Another instant bonus on the boardwalk section was at least 4 very noisy Sedge Warbler, previous years has seen none. Saw two Hobbies, plenty of Willow Warbler and Common Whitethroat too. Heard but did not see the Cuckoo.
Got a distant Marsh Harrier on private land, it could be just passing through but did show some interesting behaviour. Vigorously defending one are from Buzzards, Crows and even a Red Kite. After defending this one area it kept circling this one area before heading towards Summer Leys
Whilst hoping for the Harrier and Hobbies to come close I found one Grasshopper Warbler and heard another, sadly all I got was a out of focus flight shot which I was gutted about because had it been it would've (should've) be a cracker...
However the other obvious bird there was plenty of was the ever elusive and skullky yet very shouty Cettis Warbler. This was the best I got though, arguably the best image I've got in the last two weeks, hey-ho.
The only other bird of note was from the previous weekend, shooting into the sun at Summer Leys myself and John & Kirsty Philpot were for a change wishing for cloud cover to photograph a pair of Whimbrel


Still plenty of good birds were seen including a Spotted Redshank in full black plumage never came close sticking on one of the biggest islands.