Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Last Friday  (27-01-12) I went on a visit to Wilstone Reservoir, part of the Tring Reservoirs in Hertfordshire.  The sun was shining in a bright blue sky unfortunately there was a strong, bitterly cold, NW wind blowing.
A quick scan across the water revealed all the usual suspects, Mallard, Coot, G C Grebe and Pochard all in varying amounts, accompanied by small groups of Teal and Wigeon and of course the ever present Black-Headed Gulls!

Over the last few weeks there have been two long staying 'celebrities' a Dark-bellied Brent Goose and a Water Pipit. After a short walk, to its regularly reported favourite spot, I soon caught a rather fleeting glimpse of the Water Pipit, just enough time to grab a couple of quick record shots before it was gone!

Pied Wagtails were constantly flitting along the shore line accompanied by a single Grey Wagtail and, by the Reed beds in the far corner, a flock of around thirty Linnets.

Grey Wagtail

Linnet (female)

I then spotted  the other Wilstone 'celebrity'  the Dark-bellied Brent Goose just as it took off from the water to make a series of close fly by's before landing in its normal grazing field, soon to be joined by Canada and Greylag Geese.


Then there was a quick visit by two Red Kites who made a few lazy circles overhead before being 'seen off' by a group of Jackdaws that had until then been noisily minding their own business in the nearby tree tops.

There were also quite a few Redwing and Fieldfare busily looking for food in surrounding meadows and also searching the hedgerows for any remaining berries.


Fieldfare (he thinks I can't see him!)

And finally I spent some time watching the Teal and Wigeon 'dabbling' in the shallows.

Wigeon (male)

 The video...

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Last Monday Keith and I had a day out to Pitsford Water in Northamptonshire. We arrived at around 6.30am, and after buying our permits ( excellent value at £5) from the little hut by the main gate we parked up on the causeway that divides the reservoir into two parts (wildlife reserve and sailing). By now the sky was beginning to show the first glimmer of light and the first thing that we noticed, apart from the cold  ( -4 C / 25F ), was how low the water level was, which doesn't bode well for the Summer.

Whilst having a warming cup of coffee and waiting for the sun to rise we noticed stream after stream of Gulls coming in to land on the water from where they had, presumably, roosted for the night. Over the din of the traffic which was now getting busy along the road, we started to hear from across the water, what we decided were Jackdaws 'talking' to each other prior to leaving their roost and sure enough, as the chattering got louder literally hundreds of Jackdaws left the trees and started swirling around in the sky before slowly dispersing to wherever they were going to spend their day - a beautiful sight!

After recording at least 17 different bird species without moving away from the car and watching a beautiful red sunrise it was time to set off on our seven mile trip around the reserve and within less than 300 yards we came to a small group of bushes containing a feeding station where, amongst others, we found large flocks of  Fieldfare, Tree Sparrows and Yellowhammers. Keith also spotted a covey of Red-legged Partridge making a hasty retreat!
With another ten or so species recorded here it looked like a good day was in store.  Unfortunately  the birds were keeping their distance making it difficult to get any real close photo opportunities.


 Retreating Red-legged Partridge.
So, on with our walk, despite the sun now shinning in a bright blue sky it was still cold with a thick white frost on the ground. Although there are numerous hides overlooking the water we didn't see any waders mainly due to the shallow water in the scrapes being frozen over!

 For most of the way the path tends to be some distance from the water's edge and travels through various stands of trees, quite a few species noted here including both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Pheasant, and Bullfinch. We were also accompanied for most of the way by what appeared to be a single Robin darting from bush to bush just a few yards in front of us but in reality it was a 'relay' of Robins escorting us safely through their 'patch'.

There were still a few Jackdaws hanging around.

Nearing the end of our walk the path again afforded good views across the water where we had a good, if fleeting, view of  a pair of Goosander  and a male Goldeneye.


I also managed to capture this image of a different kind of aviation. There is a small airfield close by Pitsford called Sywell were they fly a lot of vintage aircraft. I checked the registration number and this is a  DeHavilland DH-82A Tiger Moth  built in 1939. I don't know what the passenger jet is but it just struck me as to how far (in some ways!!) we have advanced over the last 70 odd years!

So after seven miles and a little over six hours of pleasant walking we arrived back at the car for a welcome 'picnic' of rolls and coffee. With over fifty species of birds logged along with Rabbits, Brown Hares and Grey Squirrels it turned out to be a very enjoyable day.

A video of the walk!

Friday, 13 January 2012


This video is a selection of clips I've taken whilst out and about, since getting the camera a few weeks ago, of various birds and their behaviour.

Now, I've got to admit that it's not the  best video in the world as I'm still trying to get to grips with the workings of said camera while also getting my head around the editing program on the computer.  It's  a steep learning curve for a little brain!

Anyway here's my best effort (so far)!!

A Jackdaw eating sheep!
A Cormorant hanging it all out to dry!
Starlings aerating my lawn.
House Sparrows getting a little piece of the sun.
Mr and Mrs Shoveler. Looking for the soap?
A Pied Wagtail having a stretch.
A Carrion Crow.  Looking for one of Keith's apple cores?

Note:- The house Sparrow clip was taken through my kitchen window and the ticking you can hear is from the clock on the wall. Strange thing is I can be in and out of the kitchen many times a day and never hear the clock but the camera 'heard' it perfectly!

All the best and enjoy your weekend, whatever you're doing.

Monday, 9 January 2012


For some reason I've been rather lazy and lethargic for the start of the new year, especially in getting around to doing some new posts, I guess if I was a famous author I could say I'm suffering from 'writers block'!

However, I have managed to get out and visit a few local parks and lakes including...Tring Reservoirs where I was fortunate enough to see a couple of Common Snipe and a Jack Snipe (alas, too distant for photo's) and where the long staying Snow Bunting is still showing well...Stockgrove Country Park where a host of, well fed!, small birds can be seen at close quarters (photo's below) and I also saw, not one, but two Goldcrest bathing in a small puddle (sorry, NO photo's below, once they saw me they were gone!!)...Caldecotte Lake, on a pleasantly sunny day, where the highlight from amongst the forty different species noted was seeing three, well showing, Goosanders (a female with two males) I also had a pleasant chat, via mobile 'phone across the length of the lake, with Keith from Caldecottelake

A few images and a short video ( I'm still getting to grips with the editing!!) from my visit to Stockgrove Country Park.

Blue Tit

Coal Tit


Marsh Tit

Marsh Tit



Great Spotted Woodpecker