Thursday, 27 February 2014

Checking out Keith’s birds

Earlier this week I had occasion to visit Milton Keynes and, as Keith is away sunning(?) himself half way up a Welsh mountain at the moment, I decided to have a quick look to see how ‘his birds’ around Caldecotte Lake were fairing during his absence!
I only had a short time so was only able to have a look at the ‘arm behind the pub’. The lake is now back to it’s normal level after the recent flooding but surprisingly there wasn’t many birds around…perhaps Keith has taken them all away with him?…a few Wigeon and Tufted Ducks, a few Coot and a couple of Mute Swans and in the distance three Grey Herons were having a bit of a set too, with quite a bit of squawking and chasing around going on, watching through the bino’s it appeared to be an adult bird giving grief to a couple of juveniles…time for them to be on their way, I guess?
A pair of Great Crested Grebe appeared not too far away doing some ‘head wagging’ unfortunately they didn’t get into the full ‘weed dance’ routine and seemed to lose interest after a while and drifted away.
K's Birds 8 GCG

I then spotted, close into the far bank, a male and two female Goosanders. I slowly moved down to the waters edge and tried to hide behind a small group of bushes in the hope that they would swim out into more open water. Eventually one of the females ventured a little closer.

K's Birds 3 Goosander

I don’t know what spooked them, perhaps they spotted me?…but all of a sudden they were up and away.

K's Birds 4 Goosander

There were lots of Black-Headed Gulls, some just cruising around….

K's Birds 1 BHG

…and others just loafing on the water.

K's Birds 2 BHG

A good many of them have started to acquire their brown head covering now.

In amongst the Black-Headed Gulls I spotted a couple of 1st. winter Common Gulls and as they flew around I noticed that they both had leg rings, I spent quite a few minutes attempting to get some images of them, I eventually, after almost melting the shutter on the camera!!, got some images where I could read the numbers on the rings. This one has a white ring on it’s right leg with 17EB on it, it also has a metal ring on it’s left leg.

K's Birds 7 C Gull

This one has a green ring on it’s right leg with JO59 on it, it also has a metal ring on it’s other leg.

K's Birds 6 C Gull

The same bird…resting!

K's Birds 5 C Gull

The next day I sent off the ring details to the Euring ring recovery service, the following morning I received an email from a Mr. Morten Helberg in Norway telling me that ‘JO59’ had been rung, presumably as a chick, at Tveitevannet Lake in Bergen Norway on 19th. August 2013 which is 1001Km (622 miles) from Caldecotte Lake although, apart from a few sightings as it travelled south through Norway, we don’t know where it’s been or how far it’s travelled in the interim.
It’s always interesting to get information on how far, and where, a particular bird has traveled from and to and also to know that, now my sighting has been logged, I’ll always be a small part of that bird’s history.
I’m still waiting on any info/news of the travels of  ‘17EB’…I’ll keep you informed if I hear anything.


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Not what I was looking for…

…but a couple of nice surprises.
On Friday, but too late to visit, I saw the reports that a pair of Garganey were ‘showing well’ on a lake at a nearby nature reserve. So yesterday, hoping that they had ‘settled in’, I decided to go and have a look. It was a nice sunny/blue sky morning and I was up early and with time on my hands, the reserve doesn’t open till 9.30!!, I decided to stop off at a site where I’ve previously seen Corn Buntings…no luck this time though! I was however treated to the sight of a lovely pair of Stonechat, distant at first but, slowly getting nearer as I tried to make myself as invisible as possible by mingling my 16 stone bulk into a very thorny Hawthorn bush…ouch! But, as is the way of things, just as they were getting into decent camera range they were flushed by a group of walkers who were allowing their two dogs to race, seemingly uncontrolled, around the field where eventually they managed to scatter a flock of sheep with no discernable control or concern from any of their owners. I guess the dogs were just being dogs..but the owners….??

Hill 1 st-ch
A distant male Stonechat.

It was nice to hear the songs of the many Skylarks as, still killing time, I sat in the car with the warm sunshine streaming through the windows and read the newspaper. Now, despondent and fully depressed at all the ‘news’ I decided to have one more look in the field to see if the Stonechats had returned…unfortunately I couldn’t re-locate them but what I did notice were the Skylarks they seemed to be everywhere, and a couple were in camera range…just!

Hill 2 s-l

It was now time to make the five minute drive to find the Garganey. On entering the main hide, which was quite full!, the only conversation that I could hear was…”any luck with the Garganey?”….”have you spotted them?”…”seen ‘em yet?”…to which the replies were a rather subdued…”na”….”nope”….”not been seen this morning”… and then there’s always one smug smart arse who comes up with the most helpful and encouraging answer…” I saw them over in that corner of the lake yesterday and they were showing really well”…!!!
I eventually spent a couple of hours sitting in the, cold and draughty, hide watching the other birds that were on or around the lake…including; Wigeon, Tufties, Gadwall, Mute Swans, Greylag and Canada Geese, Lapwing..busy staking their claims to nest sites on the islands, Shoveler, one Oystercatcher, twelve plus Snipe..they’re good at hiding!! and the bonus of a new ‘tick’ for the year..a ‘bouncing’ Jack Snipe.
Oh!…and I almost forgot…..Saturday morning and half term school holidays = lots of noisy screaming kids…bah, humbug!!!

This notice, spotted on the way out, did manage to raise the mood a little…

Hill 3 notice
…Is it just in case they should get the urge to do something really naughty?

And after all that…still no Garganey!


Thursday, 13 February 2014


I caught this ‘headless’ Woody through the kitchen window a couple of weeks ago.

Headless Woody

Not the best picture in the world but, it amused me!

Monday, 10 February 2014


….This is my first post since the start of the year and I guess most of you will have now fully recovered from all the excesses and celebrations and, despite all the rain, be well into the delights and discoveries of 2014, it certainly seems that way when reading all of your excellent posts.
The main reason that I’ve not done a post till now is due to a large dose of apathy brought on by starting the year off with a mega cold/flu(?) that lasted from Boxing day through the most of the first three weeks of January. Then for the last couple of weeks it’s been a matter of finding the time, there seems to have been lots of those little important jobs that couldn’t be left any longer and needed to be done.  The third reason/excuse is that, although I’ve been out and about on a few occasions (most times with Keith), I’ve not managed to take many decent photographs.

So, after all of the excuses here’s a few almost half decent images!

This first one was taken on New Years Day when Keith and I, after visiting RSPB Titchwell in Norfolk, went to the nearby Holkham Nature Reserve. The day day had turned cold and wet with a steady downpour, it wasn’t doing my cold any good!  Little did we expect to find this many people out in the cold and the rain, the road is about a mile long, there were so many cars and people that we had difficulty finding anywhere to park the car!
About time 01 people
What’s it like in the Summer??

A few flight shots…

About time 1 MS
Mute Swan  RSPB Frampton Marsh Lincolnshire - 2nd.January

About time 2 C
Cormorant  Caldecotte Lake Buckinghamshire – 23rd. January

About time 3 P
Male Pochard  WWT Welney Norfolk – 27th. January

About time 4 M
About time 5 M
Mallard WWT Welney Norfolk - 27th. January

About time 6 L
About time 7 L
Lapwing RSPB Frampton  Lincolnshire – 3rd. February

About time 8 BTG
Part of a large flock of Black-tailed Godwit  RSPB Frampton – 3rd. February