Sunday, 29 December 2013


Not having been out with the camera for ages I was so desperate on Saturday morning I set off to Ice Station Draycote Water having first layered up to try and survive a couple of hours in the intense cold you can get there.I chose Draycote because earlier in the week the Great Northern Diver,a drake Smew and a Red- breasted Merganser had all been seen near the Spit.

Got there at 10.00 AM and parked up in a busy car park.It was pretty cold cold  as I walked along the Farborough bank but it was sunny and fairly calm.Didn't see much till I got near the Spit where the Great Northern Diver was performing well not that far out.

I couldn't see the Smew or the Red-breasted Merganser and all the birders I spoke to hadn't seen either of  them.I then decided to take a bit of a risk and walk all the way down to the hide at Toft to see if they were down there.It's a risk for me because the hide is at the very limit of my range and going any further would pass the point of no return and to get back to the car park the air ambulance would have to be summoned.

It was while scanning the far bank from the hide I spotted the Smew.It was there the good news ended because despite a patient wait the miserable so and so remained  close to the far bank the whole time.This is all I got.

Every year in the winter a drake Smew visits Draycote Water and I always wonder if it's the same one.Here are shots taken in 2009 and 2011.


As I was feeling peckish and it was nearly lunchtime I set off back to the car.The wind had got up by this time and the water was getting pretty rough but it was till sunny so the crowds had rolled in mainly consisting of families with young children.

I do not complain at this as they have as much right as us birders to be there but what I do complain about and am amazed Heath and Safety allow it is the cyclists that use the same path as us pedestrians.Often these cyclists are large chaps racing along trying to beat their best time.It is very dangerous because you can't hear them coming.I had a few close encounters on Saturday.Very worrying.

Thursday, 26 December 2013


Early on Christmas morning I went to check out the local Rowan berry trees just in case some of the Waxwings that had been reported in the local counties were visiting the trees that they favoured last year.They weren't unfortunately and the berries were being devoured by some winter thrushes.

There were a few Redwings that dropped down to feed up on the berries. 

There were quite a few Fieldfares that also were devouring the berries.

This morning as I was gazing  out of a bedroom window and seeing that my feeders were still attracting very few birds a Male Blackcap suddenly appeared on top of one of my fences.Grabbed the camera opened the top hung opening light and managed to grab a few shots before it flew off.Pleased with the shots as it was very gloomy.

Thursday, 19 December 2013


As soon as I saw it was sunny on Thursday morning I raced through some household chores and grabbed the camera and headed over to Marsh Lane.What I hoped to do was get some shots of the Peregrine that my friend and well known wildlife photographer Kat Everitt had got earlier in the week.

Got there not long after 9.30 AM to find it sunny but damn cold.Would my thermals be penetrated ? 

Found the Peregrine straight away but it was a long way off sitting in it's favourite tree in the flood plane field.It loves that tree and stays in it for ages.Headed down to the Oak hide where I joined Stuart from Upton Warren and we enjoyed a Water Rail fest in the marsh where two of them showed very well for a while.When one came close it was in the gloom so tricky to get a nice shot of but very nice to see.

On the way back to the car park I spotted the resident Kestrel hunting and although it was far off managed some decent shots mainly due to the bright sunshine for once being behind me.

So where are the Peregrine shots then.The miserable so and so was still in it's tree where it had stayed for well over two hours.Here's a heavily cropped shot which is all I managed.Pathetic !!!!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013


Yes on Tuesday morning I went over to Brandon Marsh and had a decent morning with the camera.It was probably due to the decent weather for mid December which was sunny,calm and not too chilly.

Got there at 10.00 AM and headed first to the Hawthorn hedge by the coach car park to see if any Winter Thrushes were feeding on the berries.There were some Redwings and a few Fieldfare but as usual they were very skittish and I couldn't get close.

I then headed straight for the EM hide hoping that a Black-tailed Godwit that had been around for a few days was still about.It was on the right hand island but was asleep on the far bank and half hidden.I waited ages for it to wake up but it wasn't paying ball.Luckily a drake Shellduck swam over and I was able to get some decent shots.

After an absolute age the Godwit woke up and stated wandering around but it would not come close.Nice to see though.

Another visitor that came fairly close to the hide was the Yellow-legged Gull and I was able to get some of my best shots of one of these chaps.

The Yellow-legged Gull then put on a bit of a show.It would fly up a little then crash into the water.What a show off !!!

Whilst watching the Gull showing off I nearly missed the Godwit that flew around a bit before landing back on the same island.Pleased with the shots because it was a long way off.

Just after the Godwit had landed and I was in relax mode and the camera still in bright sunshine settings a Water Rail raced across the front of the hide.

I headed to the cafe after this having had for me a marathon session in the EM hide (over 2hrs) but it had been one of my better sessions with the camera at Brandon for ages.

Thursday, 12 December 2013


On Wednesday morning I went over to Draycote Water which as most people know can be as cold as Siberia in the Winter.So why did I go there then ? I wanted to get some shots of the Great Northern Diver that had been seen off the Farborough Bank the last few days.

Parked up at just after 10.00 AM and reluctantly paid the £2.50 car park fee.Put on loads of layers to keep out the cold and climbed up to the Farborough Bank path.Two things immediately depressed me the first was that it was pretty misty and the second one was I could see no birders along the pathway.Oh Dear !! Had it gone ??

Only a few metres short of the spit I spotted the GND through the mist not that far from the shore.Thank God it was still here !!! I followed it for the next 90 minutes it favoured a stretch of water 200m either side of the spit.Pics were poor to start with but quite soon it brightened up and I did OK.

Just before lunch It came in a bit closer to check out my photo skills and I'm damn sure it wasn't that impressed because it appeared to be laughing at me.

Went back to the car for lunch and as I was eating a very nice chicken roll I noticed a few Winter Thrushes in the trees at the far end of the car park.I carefully drove a bit nearer and managed my best shots so far this year of these chaps.

I went to the new cafe to check it out for the first time and get a cup of tea.It was very busy with many visitors enjoying an Xmas lunch.It was also very warm in there so I thought I'd better shed some layers but the zip of the second layer down a thick fleece jammed solid and would not budge.I drank my tea quickly because I was sweating bucket loads.

The only other bird I took shots of was a female Goosander.I didn't see the Long Tailed Duck.At 2.00 PM the fog was forming up again so I headed home.