Friday, 27 June 2014


As we are now well into the doldrum months re. birding I went across the border into Worcestershire on Thursday morning to visit the gardens at the Nat. trust property  Hanbury Hall hoping to get some shots of Butterflies,Dragonflies and Bugs.

Got there when it opened at 10.30 AM and armed with some lunch and the SX50 bridge camera I strode off towards the gardens.Just as I approached a pair of stone columns that you walk through to get to the Parterre a bird landed on top of one of the columns.I knew what it was even before I got the bins on it.A Spotted Flycatcher ! !

Ever since I moaned early in June to anyone that would listen that I could not find any of these chaps at the usual spots this year ( 3 churchyards ) I've been lucky enough to see them in several new locations.This week alone I've found them in Warwickshire,Oxfordshire and now Worcestershire and each time I was not looking for them.

A bit worried getting any decent shots as I was carrying the SX50 bridge camera but I need not have worried as it performed very well.Amazing really for a camera costing less than £250.Took a few shots as soon as I went through into the Parterre.

Here are a couple of shots of the Parterre.The second shot shows where they were nesting which was at the top of the vine just below the eaves level.

Whilst the area was not busy they would fly down and perch on top of the numerous cone shaped topiary bushes.These shots were taken from about 25m away whilst sitting on one of the benches. Later 6 volunteers carried out gardening work in the Parterre and even then the birds still perched there.

It was a good job I found the Spotted Flycatchers because during a good walk round all the gardens I could find no Dragonflies by the ponds and the meadows only had a few of the more common Butterflies.Now I have got a camera with a macro facility all bugs have disappeared from the world so no good there either.

After lunch I went back to the Flycatchers and tried out the SX 50's built in digital converters.These shots were taken from about 6m using full optical zoom plus the 1.5 teleconverter.I'm very pleased with the results.I didn't miss the 7D and 400 prime lens my usual birding kit.The last two shots have been cropped more.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


The only decent local birds I managed to get shots of lately have been of one of my favourite birds Spotted Flycatchers and this has been due to Nic Barlow who arranged me to go on a private estate and Chris Hill who e-mailed me re. a pair in Wroxhall Village and a pair in the grounds of Packwood House.

Having overdone shots of Spotted Flycatchers a bit in this blog lately I thought I'd better give these chaps a miss and do something different.I chose to go to the Nat.Trust property Upton House which is not far from Gaydon.The plan was to walk the gardens and do some macro work with the SX50 and give birding a miss.Well that was the plan.

Got there at 11.00 AM and walked down the delightful gardens to the lake.

Spent a pleasant couple of hours there trying for pics of the large Dragonflies on the lake but failing.They would not land for me despite me being very patient.Lots of Butterflies there as well but nothing special and all I got was a.few macro insect shots.

After a picnic lunch I headed back up the garden.I called in at another smaller lake that seemed full of Koi Carp including this monster.It was at least 50cms long. 

As I walked along the terrace at the back of the main house on my way to have a look inside the house my eye caught sight of a distant bird perched low down on a post.Blow me down it was a Spotted Flycatcher.Are these chaps stalking me now ! !

It flew into a distant tree then came back along the house wall past me and landed in a vine growing on the house wall.Then another flew into the same spot.I'd found the nest.Sorry about this I didn't intend to post more shots of Spotted Flycatchers but my only excuse is that they are Warwickshire birds and the previous ones were West Midlands birds..Took a couple of shots with the SX50.

Going round the house which I'd done before was for gotten.I'd slipped easily into birding mode.I raced back to the car (well trudged back to the car as I no longer can do racing) to grab the 7D from the boot.One of the many great things about these chaps is that they are very obliging and this pair were no different.I just sat on the lawn about 5m away.

I left them alone after 30 mins and headed to the cafe for afternoon tea but just as I was about to turn onto the cafe path a couple of birds landed in a bush quite close to me.No guesses what they were.Another pair of Spotted Flycatchers.They definitely were stalking me ! ! 

Sunday, 22 June 2014


I thought I'd better get out there on Saturday morning as the weather was so good but where to go was the problem.I did think of going down the M40 to Otmoor again but reports of cars being broken into in the car park put me off so I headed off to Brandon Marsh to try and get some better shots of the Hobbies.

Got there just before 10.00 AM and after seeing very little from all the hides I soon ended up at the Newland's screens to take on the Hobbies.There was a problem though there were no Hobbies.After well over an hour down there they didn't turn up.All that was on show were a couple of the young Kestrels miles away. 

As there were no Hobbies on show today it gives me an excuse to show one I took earlier.Much earlier in fact last year at Marsh Lane.

Things got even worse when I was still at the screens because a bird flying low down right towards me which I thought was a Wood Pigeon was in fact a Cuckoo.It flew very close and landed in a nearby tree but it only stayed just long enough for it to look straight down at me and say "What a tosser"

By now thoroughly depressed by missing a great chance of a Cuckoo shot I trudged back to the car park when a Sociable Jay had pity on me and posed for a few shots.

As I headed home thinking I needed cheering up I decided to call in again to see the Spotted Flycatchers.They would cheer me up.Drove through the gates just before 2.00 PM and parked up in my usual spot.

After half an hour with no luck I thought that the chicks may have fledged and the birds would have dispersed making it very hard to get any shots.I should have had more faith because they turned up and put on a great display of fly catching.I was cheered up.

I even managed a shot of the pair of them together having a rest from feeding the chicks.

Thursday, 19 June 2014


Although we have just moved into the doldrums as far as birding is concerned I thought on Tuesday I'd better do a bit of local birding and as I'd not been to Brandon Marsh for ages I headed over there.Got there at 9.30 AM to find it pleasant weather wise if just a tad windy.

When I got to the Wright hide having walked all round past the golf course all I'd seen were a few Common Whitethroats,a couple of Sedgies and a lone Chiffchaff.The only shot I managed was of a posing Song Thrush.

It was very pleasant walking in the sunshine along the main path but I hadn't seen anything to point the camera at despite looking in all the hides.I was very pleased to see that the staff had just strimmed the path to the Newlands screens for me.Very nice of them.

My first scan of the Newlands was disappointing but very soon a couple of Hobbies showed up and one of them starting zooming around hawking for Dragonflies.I love Hobbies and could watch them all day but getting shots of these chaps is not easy.

It's made even more difficult at these screens because you have to poke your lens through the openings and if the bird flies left,right or up it goes out of view and much swearing ensues.I found myself dashing from one opening to the next to try and get onto it but often it had shot back to where I was before.Lots more swearing.Great fun though.

Here are a few shots that weren't silhouettes  or blurred blobs.Heavily cropped as neither bird came close.

Both Hobbies seemed to be catching a lot of Dragonflies and here are a few shots of them doing so.If you've got good eyes you can just see the Dragonflies.

After lunch I decided to go into Macro mode so I grabbed the SX50 and headed to the tip area.Struggled to find any Butterflies (too windy ?) but did see a Small Tortoiseshell.Got a shot of a Bee Orchid and an insect or two.