Sunday, 30 March 2014


 I had an encounter with a Common Buzzard on Saturday morning which for once didn't fly off straight away into the distance.It was a good job I did because I had a pretty poor day's birding which was a shame because it was cracking day weather wise.

I got to Brandon Marsh not long after 9.00 AM and headed along the path past the wind pump to try and find some Warblers.Couldn't find any Willow Warblers but did OK with Chiffchaffs.

As I was standing on the path near the sheep field a couple of Common Buzzards came towards me looking great in the sunshine but just as they came into range they turned back the way they came.Typical !! A few minutes later whilst I was trying to get near another Chiffy something big flew just over my head.Not knowing what it was I have learned to take some shots and worry about the ID later and if it's a Crow so what just delete the shots.

It was a Common Buzzard and for once it didn't fly off straight away but cruised above me for a couple of minutes enabling me to rattle off plenty of shots.Amongst masses of black blobs,silhouettes and blank screen shots I managed some decent ones. 

After this bit of action things went down hill badly and I never used the camera once although I visited all the hides.As lunchtime approached I was heating up alarmingly (overdressed for the weather) and I felt hotter than being in a Swedish sauna.I then made another error because after heading back to the car and taking off a few layers I headed off to Ryton Pools where a Hoopoe had been reported earlier in the day.

Had to pay to park up which I never like and after an hour's stay I never met another birder let alone saw the bird.No one I spoke to knew anything about it so I left in a bit of a huff hoping it wasn't still there and I'd not gone to the right spot. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


On Wednesday morning I went over to Marsh Lane hoping something new had dropped in.Got there not long after 9.00 AM and had the place to myself.

Had a couple of hours there and visited every hide and the back gate coppice but didn't find anything new.What I did find was that it was bitterly cold and when I visited the railway hide I thought I'd got lost and had wandered into a large freezer.I didn't stay there long.

I did catch up with a Chiffchaff along the causeway which enabled me to get my first shots of the year of one at Marsh Lane.

The cold had got to me as lunchtime approached so I headed home.Along one of my back routes home I came across a Common Buzzard perched high up on a telegraph pole.I'd seen one perched here before but they always fly off when I'd stopped.This one didn't but of course the sun was right behind it and I could only park at an awkward angle very difficult to get the camera onto it.

I tried to get the camera onto it through a side window but the angle was too tight so after much swearing I  twisted round in the seat a bit more and just about got onto it.I then made a major mistake and thought I could twist around a bit more to get a better angle but all I got was a stabbing pain in the groin.A lot more swearing and and a Buzzard flying off. Damnation ! ! ! 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014


Hadn't been to Brandon Marsh for ages so when it looked on Monday morning that it would be sunny I grabbed the camera and headed over there.My main target was to get some first of the year Chiffchaff shots which had eluded me so far.

Got there at 9.30 AM and found it bright and a bit breezy.I'd walked all the way round to the golf course and although I'd heard a few Chiffchaffs I'd not taken a shots as they were too high in the trees.All was not lost as a couple of Common Buzzards were enjoying the sunny weather.   

As I walked down the main path  I spotted this Treecreeper looking for food near the Baldwin hide.

I knew that a pair of Avocets had been seen much earlier and I'd assumed that they had gone so I was surprised when I entered the East Marsh hide to find them still there.A nice bird to find inland.Managed a few decent shots including some flight shots but as usual I struggled to get shots of a black and white bird in bright sunshine.

Went to the cafe for a cup of tea with a couple of friends at lunchtime and as we laid our gear down on the table it was interesting to see that they both had kit costing in excess of £10,000.Nearly as much as my car !! Mind you they do get some great shots.

After leaving the cafe had another go at some Chiffchaff shots.Did better but it was hell of a game to get one without the sun behind them.Do they know we're trying to take shots of them ?

Saturday, 22 March 2014


Having had a couple of wonderful mornings at Earlswood searching for and struggling to get shots of the Firecrest I have had to come back down to earth because it may have moved on.What a cracking bird I hope it's still about.

Did have another go for it Friday morning but in an hours stay I never heard it let alone see it.I'd gone into proper birders mode and picked a spot where I'd seen it before and waited patiently for it to appear but no luck.No other birders were there which may be a significant pointer.In the gloom I did see a couple of Treecreepers though.

Paid a flying visit to Marsh Lane at lunchtime but the weather had gone down the pan and it was cold and windy.Didn't see another birder there also.Where people avoiding me ??

Didn't see anything new but rattled off a few shots to avoid the camera rusting up.

Thursday, 20 March 2014


Wednesday morning started off with a surprising garden tick.I'd gone to put out the bin for the dustmen when I spotted this Greylag Goose strolling across my suburban front garden in Knowle and into my neighbours where it settled down for a stay for most of the day. 

As soon as it was obvious that it would be bright day I decided to have another go at the Firecrest in Earlswood and try and beat the crappographs I got the day before in dull conditions. Shouldn't be too hard.There was one problem it had not been reported on Birdguides so was it still there ?

Parked up in the pub car park at just before mid day and soon found some birders in the coppice who confirmed it was still about.There then followed an enjoyable couple of hours trying first to spot it and then to try and get some shots.Luckily it was still singing which helped a lot trying to locate it.

After a couple of hours I'd taken loads of crappographs including numerous empty twig shots but also managed some better ones.

Just as I was about to give up it landed fairly close for a few seconds and I managed some better shots.

I was pretty chuffed with these shots till I was shown the shots a young chap had taken.He had a pretty small lens as well.He had found it on the bank of the stream where it perched only a few feet away and he got some great shots of it singing out with it's crest up.Superb shots.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


I hadn't been out birding for a few days as I'd been on gardening leave.Literally on gardening leave as over the weekend and into Monday as I'd dug over both the front and back gardens which left me aching all over and very much in wimp mode by Tuesday morning.It would need something special for me to be dragged out.

Something special did turn up.The Firecrest that Matt Griffiths found the day before in Earslwood was still there and as it was pretty near for me I shot over there arriving in the pub car park at 9.30 AM.As usual there was good and bad news.The good was that Matt was there.The bad was that the light was horrendous in the coppice and the forecast of "It will be dry and you will be unlucky to get a light shower this morning" was in fact "continuous drizzle with a deluge at 11.30 AM" 

Matt was excellent as he found the Firecrest several times during my 2 hour stay but I'm blowed if I could focus on it  and that coupled with the rain and the very gloomy conditions I couldn't even get a decent crappograph.The company was good however and the banter amusing so all was not lost.Here are my best shots which I hope you can see it was a Firecrest.They could well be the worst ever shots of one.

Here are a couple of shots of a Firecrest I took earlier.Much earlier in fact.The first was taken in Feb 2008 at Alvecote and the second in Feb 2009 at Hams Hall.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014


Went to Marsh Lane Tuesday lunchtime and was relieved to find it quite warm.I had done some early morning shopping and had found it bitterly cold which made me think I returned my thermals to the bank vault much too early.This can be fatal.

A good look round all the pools revealed only a pair of Dunlin very distant on the railway pool far too far off for any shots.I had however seen a few butterflies so I went back to the car to get the SX50 camera which I was keen to try on them.Here are a few shots I got and I'm pretty pleased with the shots you can get on a cheap bridge camera.


Whilst wandering around I came across Jeff Rankin who was in macro mode also getting some early shots of butterflies.