Monday, 27 May 2013


Went over to Marsh Lane Monday morning getting there not long after 8.00 AM.I was glad I'd got a warm coat on because although it was sunny it was pretty cold and very windy.

Spent most of my short visit at the causeway screens.The only interesting thing I saw on the car park pool was a couple of Redshanks fighting off a BH Gull and what a fight they put up.  

At the causeway screens a Sedge Warbler was singing out.

Not too far away a couple of Great Crested Grebe with some chicks were showing.There were at least two chicks and possibly three all well hidden on the back of one of the parents.

It was very nice to see one of the parents catching a fish and luring one of the chicks out from it's free ride to be fed.

There was an interesting thing that happened in the reeds just in front of  the causeway screen.There was a sudden violent thrashing in the water and the reeds were being bashed about.Blimey I thought it must be a crocodile making that amount disturbance.

What it was in fact was a very large fish at least 60cms long (a Carp I think) that had apparently come into the reeds to clean itself.Several others came in and did the same while I was there.Fascinating to watch.

Sunday, 26 May 2013


Having been forced to stay in on the last two days by the dreadful weather when the weather looked like it was going to be good on Saturday I was keen to go out there with the camera.Where to go was the problem because all the local patches were having a very thin time.

Decided on Brandon Marsh in the end because the Hobbies might show again now the weather was better and chances of bumping into friends there was good.

Got there just after 9.30 AM and bumped into two friends who had both been there for a couple of hours.The news was not good "It's very quiet".I had a good wander around and they were right it was very quiet but after waiting for ages at the Newlands screens two Hobbies turned up and for quite a while put on a great show.

I did get some pretty decent shots but it was disappointing to see most of my shots were out of focus.I failed dismally to lock onto these great birds most of the time.

Got a couple of shots of them with what they were catching (Mayflies ?).

Amongst the loads of crappographs I managed to salvage these.

Thursday, 23 May 2013


As soon as I heard that the weather would "brighten up by mid morning " there I decided I would make my annual trip to the Chilterns to take some shots of my favourite of the bigger birds of prey Red Kites.

Everyone has their favourite spots in the Chilterns for seeing these majestic birds and I've been to most of them over the years but my favourite spot is the village of Watlington. This is not the most picturesque place you can go to to see them but it is where you are guaranteed to see loads of them often close and at low level.

I arrived in the free village car park at 11.15 AM and as I got out of the car I counted 22 Red Kites with 6 of them quite close.You have no need to leave the car park but I always go for a wander around the village.At the very close pub you can sit in the garden with your drink and watch the Red Kites cruise over your head.Magic !!!

It was not all plain sailing despite the Kites often coming pretty close the weather did not brighten up and it remained dull.Without some brightness behind you lighting up the bird I got loads of silhouette shots despite winding up the exposure compensation settings.Won't moan too much as they fabulous birds just to watch effortlessly cruising around.Here are a few shots I did manage.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013


Not having been out with the camera for a few days as soon as I finished some shopping this morning I headed over to Brandon Marsh.

I got there at 10.30 AM and found it overcast,damp and pretty chilly.Had a bit of luck along the main path when I spotted a distant Cuckoo in a hedge.

Not only did I see nothing of interest from all the hides along the main path but I saw no birders until I entered the Carlton hide where a lone birder sat in the corner.He quickly told me "He'd never been so cold in May before and he'd lost feeling in all his fingers an hour ago".He also said that he'd not seen any Hobbies all morning.

I then went down to the Newlands screens where it was pretty quiet.I then used a photographer's trick : Start eating and something will show up.Just as I was half way through eating a salad roll 2 Hobbies turned up.

This time I decided to be patient and wait for the Hobbies to be in the sky before taking any shots thus increasing the chances of getting them in focus.The trouble was they seemed to fly low all the time and often far off but I managed a few shots of these cracking birds.

If you look carefully in these two shots you can see the remains of what they were eating.Mayflies ??

Usually when I go to the cafe I'm cheered up by chatting to the film star waitress.This time it was different !!! We'd been chatting for a while and I was getting lost in those blue eyes when she said that she was leaving this week.

It was like a knife being plunged into my heart.I screamed out and sunk to my knees and begged her to stay but she wouldn't budge.I strode off and immediately resigned my membership of BM in protest.You wont see me there again.Well not till the next decent bird turns up.

Saturday, 18 May 2013


When I had a tip off  early on Friday morning from John Oates that there was a Med. Gull on the railway pool at Marsh Lane I couldn't go.Nearer lunchtime Nic Barlow tipped me off that it was still there and as I'd finished all my chores  I shot over there.

The car park was empty when I got there at 12.30 PM so I was not confident of it still being around when I entered the Oak hide.Nic had given me the spot it was last seen but I'm blowed if I could see it.After 40 minutes of  having no success and going insane looking at BH Gulls I left the hide and headed for the railway hide where I'd heard a Cuckoo calling.

The Cuckoo must have moved on because it was not calling but as I scanned the islands I very quickly spotted the Med. Gull which of course was much nearer the Oak hide.Just as I got back to the Oak hide I met up with Andy Hale and we soon enjoyed good but distant views.

Spotted a Common Tern with a good sized fish which it managed to eat with ease.

Just as I was about to drive off the Cuckoo started calling again from the stream line.As it flew across the crop field I managed to get a single crappograph. Nice to see one at Marsh Lane however distant.

Friday, 17 May 2013


On Thursday morning I was very pleased to see that the January weather of yesterday had reverted back to what you'd expect for mid May so without much hesitation I went over to Brandon Marsh getting there just after 8.30 AM

I decided to give the hides a miss and have a look at the wooded areas and reed beds etc. but although it was very pleasant walking round after 2 hours I'd not used the camera at all.It was pretty quiet.The day was saved not this time by the film star waitress but by one of my favourite birds Hobbies.

Three Hobbies were performing over the Newlands and could be seen from the screens.Often distant and flying low over the water but what a wonderful site to see these fabulous birds.Took loads of shots over a two hour period the vast majority being total rubbish  but managed to fluke a few decent ones.

Luckily occasionally one of them would perch on the dead tree.

On one occasion two of them fancied the same perch and they had a set to.

Managed a few flight shots that weren't out of focus.

They were feeding well but on what with no dragonflies about was not certain.Mayflies ?

After 2 hours of trying for Hobby shots my neck,shoulders and back were screaming out in agony so before I turned into a zombie I headed off to the cafe where a smile from the film star waitress soon revived me.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013


Although the weather was awful just before lunch on Wednesday I went over to Marsh Lane to see if the 24 Dunlin and the 3 Sanderlings were still about.

They had moved on and to make matters worse the bitterly cold wind was blasting through the flaps of the Oak hide making it very uncomfortable.So when Andy Hale said there was a Black Tern at Shustoke I didn't hesitate and headed off there.

There was good and bad news at Shustoke.The good was that the Black Tern was showing.The bad news was that it was showing miles away right across the reservoir and if anything it was colder and windier here than Marsh Lane.All I could grab was a couple of crappographs.

Flying round the reservoir were at least 2000 Swifts.I'd never seen so many in one place before. Couldn't resist having a go yet again with the camera.Did a bit better this time.

An unexpected bonus was when a Kittiwake (not the one seen there some time ago but a new bird apparently) flew fairly close. 

After an hour I was frozen solid and had to head home to thaw out.Despite the weather an enjoyable trip.