Sunday, 31 July 2011

Baddesley Clinton.

I have now got a new favourite local patch.It's the NT property at Baddesley Clinton which is only three miles from where I live.

With all my other local patches being very quiet lately it has been pretty good in comparison with Blackcaps,Nuthatches,Goldcrests etc. showing pretty well but the stars for me are at least two Spotted Flycatchers that do their stuff not far from the manor house moat.

There are two problems with this place as a local patch : 1. If you are not a member of the NT it costs a fortune to get in and 2. The place can be extremely busy around the grounds which is not good if you are trying to get shots of a bird.Yesterday I was homing in on a pair of Goldcrests which were showing well in a conifer tree when a couple of children appeared and they were playing that popular game "Who can shout the loudest".The Goldcrests were last seen heading for France.

Here are a few recent Baddesley Clinton shots.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Don't you hate it when this happens.

In an attempt to prevent people getting bored with this blog I thought I'd better say straight away that again this post includes references to Spotted Flycatchers so if you wish you can leave this blog now.In my defence this time it was not by design I stumbled on some by chance.

Having stayed in on Wednesday and as soon as I completed my chores yesterday morning I had a look round some local areas to see what was about.The quick answer is absolutely nothing so after lunch as there were no birds about I thought I'd take out my landscape camera down to the NT property at Baddesley Clinton which is only a couple of miles away.The birding camera/lens was left at home.Oh Dear!!!!!

Got some shots of the church and of the moated Elizabethan manor house.

Because there was some scaffolding round parts of the house I walked round to the northern side to see if I could get some more shots which hid the scaffolding when my eye caught a small bird that darted over the moat caught a fly and landed in small tree.No way I thought surely not a Spotted Flycatcher!!!! It was and there were two of them that were using this small tree close to the path as their base for catching flies.They were no more than 4 metres away and were not bothered by my presence.I thought these chaps were scarce this year but I've been lucky enough to see nine of them in four different locations all in Warks/West Mid.

Initially I was not bothered by not having my birding camera with me because I've got loads of shots of them this year but when a pair of Blackcaps landed in the same tree and two juvenile Nuthatches were in another nearby tree I cracked and decided to race back home to get my camera.

There is always trouble when need to have a speedy journey and my journey was no different.When you leave this place you have to go out via the shop which was empty when I arrived earlier but now it was full of members of the Very Slow Moving Old Ladies club who must be having a day out here.When I finally got out the drive home was OK but when I swept into my drive one of my next door neighbours insisted I looked at the plants she'd just put in.The drive back was pretty quick and I was chuffed to find a parking spot in the busy car park right by the entrance but when I got out the car I saw the "Disabled" sign.Bugger Bugger !!!!

I finally got back to the small tree about half an hour after I had left but I was completely knackered and much worse there was no sign of any birds.Bugger Bugger !!!!! I think this young Song Thrush felt sorry for me because it came over to try and cheer me up.

As I was knackered I was happy to plonk myself down and wait to see if they turned up again.I eventually found them but they were now high up in the taller trees.After quite a long wait one did come down to the smaller tree but it didn't hang around long.I was chuffed to see these chaps again because seeing them here was a big surprise and any non churchyard pics of them are rare for me.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011


I think I am in great danger of becoming a ghoul or even a necromancer because just lately all the birding I have been doing has been in churchyards.

Last week I went to the churchyard at Napton on the Hill twice,Tuesday morning I had a look in Knowle churchyard while I was waiting for the bakers to open, in the afternoon I went to Berkswell churchyard and yesterday morning I was wondering around the churchyard at Napton yet again.

There is a good reason.Whilst all my local patches are very quiet churchyards at the moment are the best spot to see something decent and in particular one of my favourite birds the Spotted Flycatcher.They do seem to favour churchyards which are the only places I seem to see them.They must be very religious birds and are C of E because I've never seen one in the churchyard of another denomination.

I think I saw a Spotted Flycatcher in the Knowle churchyard on Tuesday but I couldn't be certain as I hadn't got my bins with me.In the afternoon I got two at the Berkswell churchyard but only at distance and in the trees at the back.They didn't not venture on the gravestones.I did get a shot of a Green Woody which is not a great shot but I was pleased as I cannot get near these chaps.

Went yet again yesterday morning to Napton on the Hill churchyard.There usually four Spotted Flycatchers flitting around the gravestones here but I struggled to find even one.I eventually found one on the lower graveyard and in the twenty minutes it showed it gave a great display of fly catching and chasing butterflies.

Called in at Brandon Marsh on the way home.The only thing of interest we saw was when walking in the field near the river and we stumbled on a couple doing something much better than birding in the long grass.No pics !!!!!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Out early on Saturday morning.

Starved recently of seeing any decent birds to point the camera at I decided early on Saturday morning to go to the churchyard at Napton on the Hill where you have a decent chance of seeing a Spotted Flycatcher.

Another reason for going again was that although I've seen these chaps over the years quite a lot I haven't got a decent shot which is a pain because I've got some nice shots of Pied Flycatchers and I hardly ever see them at all.I've even got some close ups.

As I got half way to Napton I noticed I'd not put my outdoor boots on and was still wearing some lightweight shoes and even worse I hadn't put on my birding cap. Bugger Bugger !!!!

Got there just after 8.00AM and soon managed to get my shoes soaked as I walked across the wet grass in the churchyard to get to a decent spot.Things got even worse then as it started to drizzle and as I sheltered under a tree dribbles of water dropped onto my hatless head.Wonderful.

No more moaning because the Flycatchers were out and about.There are at least four of them there and if anyone says there are six I wouldn't argue with them.They were a bit flighty but I managed to get some decent shots.

Didn't stay too long because when a woman approached me and said " Are you the wedding photographer ?" I realised a wedding was imminent.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The struggle to get decent shots continues.

Having been trapped indoors for a few days with all this rain this fair-weather birder thought sod it and went across to Marsh Lane Tuesday lunchtime for a quick look round.It was gloomy but not raining when I drove into the car park.

On the car park pool I thought I'd spotted something good when I saw three ducks but after a while I realised they were juvenile Shellducks.The rest of the pool was quiet with only the odd LRP flitting about on the islands.

From the causeway I tried to get some shots of the many Common Terns whizzing about with fish in their beaks presumably for their chicks but my efforts were very poor because of the gloomy weather (excuses excuses).You can tell how poor my shots were this is my best.

From the Oak hide I was pleased with seeing a couple of Common Sandpipers which I haven't seen for while.

Mid morning on Wednesday I went over to Brandon Marsh for a couple of hours.Again it was a bit gloomy but the rain had held off.Managed a couple of shots of what I think is a young Chiffchaff by the sheepfield but there was nothing else about.

The only thing on offer from the Carlton hide was a couple of the long staying Green Sandpipers and nothing else. A KF flew through twice but never stopped the miserable sod.

In the woods I looked for Green Woodpeckers and Jays for a shot or two but these two chaps must be the most nervous of all birds because you cannot get any where near them before they fly of to the next county.All I got was a distant shot of a Jay.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Struggling to get any decent shots.

I suppose you should expect it this time of year but I have struggled this last week to see any decent birds to point the camera at.

Last Monday at both Whitacre Heath and later in the day Marsh Lane I could not find anything interesting to get any shots of so on Wednesday I went to Napton on the Hill which has been great lately with the Spotted Flycatchers showing well every time I've been.

When I got to the churchyard it was soon obvious it was having a bad day with no birds showing at all let alone the Spotted Flycatchers.What had happened the day before apparently was that the farmer had mowed the field next to the churchyard and the noise had dispersed the birds.On a walk to the windmill did manage some shots of a Blackcap (I think a juvenile and not a female).

On Thursday I went to Brandon Marsh.As I walked down the main path I convinced myself that I would be lucky to find anything and so just enjoy the walk in the nice weather.This plan was dashed almost immediately when I bumped into Martin by the wind pump and yet again early that morning he'd got some cracking shots of the Cuckoo being fed by the Dunnocks.Observers saw me turn green with envy as I looked at his shots.Of course I searched for ages but never saw it.

You can tell how poor the birding was that day as the only shot I took was of this dragonfly.

To have a chance of seeing the Cuckoo Martin says you must get there at 7.00AM so I made the effort on Friday morning and was in position at 6.50AM but after a patient search I drew a blank.Bugger Bugger !!!!!

Had a quick walk round and I can see why real birders go out early because there were loads of birds about particularly from the Carlton hide which was awash with Warblers but only a quick fly by by a KF.

I then shot off to Napton on the Hill to see if the Spotted Flycatchers had returned and they had.I hadn't even opened the churchyard gate when I saw four of them two of them on the church itself and another two flitting about on the gravestones.I though we're OK here I'm going to get some great shots but they were very lively and after only ten minutes they had flown off.Did manage a few shots before they flew off.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A couple of local trips.

Sunday morning I made my usual trip to Marsh Lane getting there just before 8.00AM.

Although it was pretty early it was a warm and bright morning ideal for getting some shots but unfortunately there was nothing new around for me to point the camera at other than a LRP chick that was too far away for my lens.

I did manage a few decent shots of a Sedgie that came close to the side of the Oak hide.

Monday morning I reluctantly agreed to join a friend who was going over to Whitacre Heath.I say reluctantly because my friends have got more patience than me and are happy to sit in the Scrape hide for hours waiting for the KF's to turn up.After a couple of hours of only seeing some Common Whitethroats I left the hide to have a walk round.

After lunch I headed to Marsh Lane hoping the warm still weather would lure a Hobby in hawking for dragonflies but no such luck.I'm doing badly this year for these chaps.

I did bump into a young friend ( Martin ) whilst walking round ML who luckily for me still had in his camera some stunning shots he took last week at Brandon Marsh of a Dunnock feeding a huge Cuckoo chick.Amazing shots.

Martin : I know you sometimes check this blog so if you don't mind could you send me some of your shots.Send them to

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Out birding on Saturday.

Having not been out with the camera for a few days I was determined to venture out on Saturday fingers crossed I could avoid the showers that had been forecast.

Pretty early in the morning I set out for the churchyard at Napton on the Hill hoping that the Spotted Flycatchers would show better so I could get a decent shot and also hoping the chicks had fledged.I arrived there at just before 8.00AM and had the place to myself.

I settled down under a tree and waited.Yet again there was good news and bad news.The good news was that I soon saw an adult and a couple of juveniles not far from where the nest had been.The bad news was the early morning brightness disappeared and clouds rolled in,the wind got up and it got pretty chilly.Bugger Bugger !!!!

I did get a few shots but because the chicks had fledged they were pretty mobile and I kept losing them and each time I found them they were in the gloom.After a couple of hours I gave up and headed over to Brandon Marsh.

When I got to Brandon and before I headed to the Cafe to see the pretty waitress I looked for the Cuckoo that had been seen recently being fed by a Dunnock "near the wind pump" but I failed and never saw it.

After lunch I joined a couple of fiends in the Carlton hide which for a change was OK.There were five Green Sandpipers feeding on the mud and a couple of juvenile Redshanks that were famous last week because they had been ID on the Teal Pool as Wood Sandpipers causing several birders to race over to see them.

The other thing of interest was caused by me because on seeing a young Grey Heron on the water I said "Everyone has got a shot of a Heron with a decent sized fish in it's mouth but me and this one doesn't look like it's going to change that".Blow me down but a few minutes later it came out of the reeds with what I was told was a decent sized Tench.

Then half an hour later it came out of the reeds again this time having caught a pretty decent Perch.Fascinating watching it turn it round and swallow it whole.