Wednesday, 20 September 2017


I've been stalking a couple of local reservoirs of late, shunning Summer Leys. Nowt wrong with the reserve, it's just there's a regular group of 5 toggers plus myself meant I was just getting the same images as everyone else, they're also more than capable of covering anything that drops in, apart from the potheads that were going up during the day, off I went when I got the coded message on Facebook. See four youngsters in the two tier hide and thought,  good. So in true birding style snuck up, walked up the stairs un-noticed (think they're driving back!) on hands free to the police, fling the door open and shout "what the fuck are you doing" they visibly jump except one fat twat, marked him down for special treatment, "errm we're just smoking weed", "not in here you're not and look at the fucking mess, someone's cleaned this today and you're cleaning this up" put my phone on the side and produced a carrier bag "put them out and clean it up now" fatty chirps up "no we're not" so I walk up to him, operator telling me to calm down,  police coming and are responding with Blue lights, fatty has pissed me off though so with minimal force I shoved my open hand into his windpipe and very gently shoved him to the floor, one of the others starts shouting to get off him and I strike a deal and tell them I'll release fatty once all the food wrappers and drinks bottles both inside and out are picked up.
To my disappointment they did lol and I told fatty if he wants another pop at me just say so, he didn't so once the hide and all the fag butts were placed in the bag I escorted all four to the carpark, of course telling them to pick up the odd bit of litter lol. The police weren't happy as they were waiting in the carpark. Confiscated their weed, gave them a caution, sent me to the hide and told me to wait there, they came in polite etc, in a round about way told me off if front of some other toggers, the shame lol.
Funnily I saw fatty and one other in the Chippy at Earls Barton so turned around parked up and waited by their Corsa. You should've seen their faces, a real life Chuckie (Google it)  by their car,  but funnily enough both were truly apologetic and said they hadn't realised the hassle they'd been causing, curiously said they'd shared a spliff with a birder in the hide and accurately described him!! After a few chips, I left it at that. If they do go back to the reserve I know their car, where two of them live and they don't know which car is mine...sorted I hope.
Dunlin, Holowell Reservoir 

So the first resrvoir was Holowell. I visited late one evening just as the sun was going down and buggered the exposure on what is my truly a nemesis,  the Whinchat, see a few but always distant.
Being a weekday I popped in the following evening but only got the wren where I saw the Whinchat. Sadly no 'chat though.
Hollowell takes some true field-craft. No hides and no real cover. Two options are used depending on species. Skittish birds just lay down and be patient.
I just picked a spot near some Pied Wagtails and two Ringed Plover and knew they'd wander down eventually. I struggled with both the harsh exposure and swivelling discreetly on my belly for this flight shot
 But was more then happy with this frame filler
Pied Wagtail love them or ignore the, personally I actually enjoy watching their insect catching antics. But yet to catch the particular image in mind.
The Dunlin, well it's pretty simple I think with Dunlin you avoid eye contact and walk in a deliberately meandering zig-zag.
I got lucky with the setting sun and again manged to get both muddy and full framers.
And before any smarty pants remarks about being to 'close' go back to the first Dunlin image, that bird was feeding in front of me then went to sleep!
I sadly dipped on the Grey Phalarope sadly due to over running work commitments.
But before that bird appeared I struck lucky and got three very early Little Terns, two juveniles and an adult. I heard them first when I was checking for any interesting but non existent passerines, flying up the resrvoir I thought they were leaving and frantically went for my phone, no phone! Luckily they weren't going anywhere so hoped either Mr.Z or Kathy might soon appear, four hours later and the sun setting neither turned up but the Terns were still busy fishing.
The images do get slightly better but thought since I couldn't get the message out I get some record shots, spot all three?
Adult Little Tern

Juvenile Little Tern, same bird couldn't get two flying together, typical :-)

First ever county record for myself and only fifth time I've seen the species so it was a genuine pleasure just to watch them for hours.
I think I learned something. The adult was both successfully and busy catching the fish, in no small part to a fisherman who was packing up and kindly was chucking some bait in as he left, we chatted and he told me they'd arrived at 9am.
I thought similar to most terns that I've seen the adult would catch a fish and feed the young on land. But EVERY catch (the juveniles were also catching fish) a young would fly with the adult
The young would then land on the water and the adult hover overhead and pass the fish, not once did they land on land apart from to rest

Out of all the birds I've seen so far this year, these were my favourite. And weirdly never though I'd see in this county.
Holowell and Sulby despite the departing Osprey has been fascinating, frustrating, muddy (good&bad), and thanks to the dropping levels of Sulby now more explorable. Plenty of Wagtails and hundreds of migrating Swallows and House Martins and the odd Willow Warbler.
SULBY has always been a personal favourite. Sadly and I believe wrongly the Canal Trust who own the two reservoirs for filling the canals kicked them off Sulby.
Once they got kicked off the boardwalk became overgrown and more the rickety in parts. The fishermen kept it really good order and do wish the Canal Trust reconsider.
Great woodland birds on the boardwalks, no disturbance I guess has it's benefits
As I scarily found out some of the boardwalk is dodgy as I crossed a section inches above mud, I knew my fate as I heard a creak followed quickly by a snap followed by a squelch and a justified expletive lol.

With the water levels dropped, I should've stuck to the shoreline but didn't fancy flushing the Great White Egret (Herons did that)

Sadly the solitary Common Sandpiper was even more distant then the Egret. I thought more waders might have been present as I personally believe it looks like wader haven

Grey Wagtails were obliging though.
The real bonus bird was as I sheltered from a downpour under one of the fishing jetties, the sun came out and was still drizzling when I heard a Kingfisher coming past, I managed just three frames, only one just about publishable
And finally a Spotted Flycatcher, but that's another rambling yarn for another day


  1. You old spoilsport, fancy crashing the lads'! Hopefully they've got the message now and will give the hides a wide berth?
    Excellent images Douglas..I wish I had your patience when it comes to bird photography! Nice to see the Little Terns (cracking shots) and you were privileged to witness some behavior that you'll probably not see again?
    Well done getting the Kingfisher, I thought they only came as a blue blur??...[;o)

    1. I must be getting old and grumpy Trevor :-)
      I too thought KF's were just a fast-moving blur I even checked my birding book to make sure that it was a Kingfisher

  2. A great post, Doug, and well worth waiting for! A super set of images, too. I love the Ringed Plover shots, and the Little Tern shots are delightful - they're a bird I could watch all day (if I had the chance!). Like Trevor, I've been under the blue blurr illusion, until recently. I've still not ever managed any decent flight shots, so well done to you for that wonderful one!

    With my best wishes - - - Richard

    1. Thanks Richard. The Little Terns was probably the best days birding I've had and was so pleased it was in Northamptonshire so far inland. Given there was two delibrate destruction of their nesting colonies in the UK I was pleased to see two really healthy but tiny juveniles. They definitely benefited from the small fish tempted up to the surface with bait by the fisherman. Privileged to both watch and photograph them all day.