Friday, 28 November 2014


Not many blog reports lately not because I haven't been out with the camera but because I haven't been able to find any decent birds locally mind you the gloomy weather hasn't helped either.

One of my favourite local patches until the last couple of years used to be Draycote Water (or in the winter months Ice Station Draycote).I have seen some cracking birds there over the years so I thought I'd remind myself and others what used to turn up there.

A first for me was this Green Winged Teal that used to hang round Toft in April 2009. 

Every winter there'd be a Great Northern Diver or two there (the most I saw there was four).This shot was taken the end of last year.Let's hope one turns up this winter.

This was also a first for me a Lesser Scaup that hung around Toft in October 2009.

Another first for me was this Manx Shearwater that a friend and I spotted on the water just off the Farborough Bank in September 2009.We weren't sure what it was and I was lucky to grab some shots as it flew off.

Very pleased to find this Pectoral Sandpiper was still on the Spit along the Farborough Bank in September 2009 because I'd been in Norfolk the week before and missed one.Yet another first for me.

This  Red Necked Grebe stayed for ages and you were able to see it's plumage change weekly as Spring approached.Taken in March 2009 from the Farborough Bank.

Very lucky to be walking along the Hensborough on a bitterly cold morning in January 2009 when this Red Throated Diver for once came fairly close to the shore.

Every year a drake Smew shows up here.This one was around in December 2009.Yet again taken from the Farborough Bank. 

Didn't believe a friend who text me she had heard that a Spoonbill was showing well by the Outlet one day in October 2011.Had to race over there when I later found the info was correct.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


My plan this winter was not to go out birding when it was very cold but when it came to it on both Monday and today I went out and my god was it cold ! !

On Monday I was walking round Marsh Lane at 9.00 AM in the freezing cold and had the place to myself.Made a major error straightaway when I decided to head to the river hide to try and find the Goldeneye.Unknown to me as it was dark in there condensation had rendered the seats and shelves soaking wet and as I opened a flap and sat down I very quickly got a wet bottom and a wet camera.Heavy duty swearing followed for at least a minute.

Had a brisk walk round with a wet bottom but did not see anything new to point the camera at so no shots.On the way home I spotted a Common Buzzard high up on an electricity gantry but it soon flew off. 

Back home that afternoon another disaster struck.I was so pleased to see a bird in my backgarden from an upstairs window (it's been very quiet so far this winter) as I grabbed the camera and opened the window I broke a china vase that was on the window cill.More swearing followed.

The bird I'd seen was a Wren bathing in the icy water of my birdbath.

Like a fool I went again this morning to Marsh Lane and if anything it was even colder and quite misty.There were half a dozen Yellowhammers flitting around the car park but I failed even to get one shot which was annoying.

I was very careful when I went into the river hide but surprisingly the seats were quite dry and the Goldeneye was on show but not close unfortunately.Did manage e few shots including a couple as it flew off.

             Didn't stay too long as it was bitterly cold and if anything it was getting more misty.

Thursday, 20 November 2014


I had been to Marsh Lane twice this week already so I wasn't going to go this morning especially as the weatherman told me it was going to be cloudy all day.However when I looked outside it didn't look too bad to me so off I went.Glad I did because it was a cracking morning's weather.How can they get it so wrong.

Saw this Pochard on the CP pool with a beak saddle which I never had seen before.I've subsequently found out it may well have been put on in France.

Got my first view and shot of a Fieldfare this Winter along the old road.Not a great shot too many twigs but an OK first go. 

The view from the CP hide in the glorious morning sunshine was pretty spectacular.The islands and nearby water was heaving with birds nothing new but with loads of Geese,Ducks,Gulls ,Lapwings etc.Couldn't resist a shot of a very handsome Wigeon.  

As I opened the flap in the River hide I spotted a Common Buzzard not too far away on a tree.It soon gave it's opinion of my photography skills and promptly flew off.

Spent a fair time this morning trying to get a decent shot of the female Goldeneye that's been there a while now but yet again failed.Cannot get it close or in decent light.

Sunday, 16 November 2014


Went over to Marsh Lane Saturday morning to find it very misty and very damp and depressing.Not the conditions for any decent shots.

Soon found the female Goldeneye from yesterday this time on the CP pool.Tried for an hour to get some decent shots but failed.For once it wasn't the distance it was the misty conditions that did not improve during my two hour stay.

The Goldeneye also got very fed up with the conditions and flew way off North.It had disappeared from view a long way off so we were very surprised when we found it a few minutes later on the RW pool.Two birds ??? 

I hadn't seen them for a year or two but the pair of hybrid Whooper Swans were cruising round the CP pool in the mist.What was interesting was one of them was ringed.

Saturday, 15 November 2014


When the rain finally stopped lunchtime on Friday I popped over to Marsh Lane to have a go again at getting some shots of the Jack Snipe that has been seen in the marsh from the Oak hide.

Got into the hide at 12.30 PM and found my good friend Jeff Rankin there who also was after shots of Jack.The good news was that Jeff had found it but the bad news was it was well hidden and you could only see bits of it's head.It was not playing ball at all and remained well hidden for the best part of two hours.Jack then finally moved but only to go deeper in the undergrowth and out of site.

It wasn't till another half an hour had passed when John Oates who had joined us spotted it again.It was a bit far off but it was in the open so managed a few shots.Not my best but I was pleased that my patience had paid dividends and I'd got my first shots of the year of a Jack Snipe 

Although I was concentrating on keeping an eye on Jack most of the time I did spot a female Goldeneye on the RW pool.A bit distant but nice to see as they are not too common at Marsh Lane.

Thursday, 13 November 2014


After the rain stopped Wednesday lunchtime I decided to brave the conditions and go across to Marsh Lane and try and get some shots of the Jack Snipe I'd found earlier in the week in the marsh from the Oak hide.

Spent over an hour in the hide scanning the marsh but I'm blowed if I could find the Jack Snipe.It wasn't a waste of time in there because my good friend Jeff Rankin was in the hide as well and he had brought down his new 7D mk.2 camera.He was trying it out with his 500 lens with a 2X converter attached and was getting some amazing long range shots.I'm getting left behind ! ! !

There were loads of Common Snipe in the marsh and I was able to get some shots.The Water Rail showed but he darted across the marsh giving me the Water Rail equivalent of two fingers so no shots.

Monday, 10 November 2014


Undeterred by the recent trips out with the camera being poor I went out again this morning down to Marsh Lane.Things didn't start well because the chap who I followed through the main gate took the padlock with him.Mind you it took a while for  me to realise this and not till I searched around for it with much swearing.

Hadn't seen much after an hour's search but when I went into the Oak hide for the second time things did improve.Searching in the marsh for Common Snipe I spotted one bobbing up and down and when it turned it was clear that it was a Jack Snipe.The first spot I think at ML this winter.This was the good news the bad was that it only showed for a few seconds dropping down out of site so no shots.

A very colourful Green Woodpecker then showed on one of the islands and I was at last able to use the camera.  

A Water Rail then appeared from the left of the marsh and darted across well hidden for most of the time.It was pure luck that I managed to grab a few shots before it scurried into the reeds.

Sunday, 9 November 2014


The bad run I'm having to find decent birds locally is continuing despite a few visits to Marsh Lane and a couple to Shustoke Reservoir.Friends have put me off trying Draycote Water and Brandon Marsh as they have told me that they are very quiet.Even my back garden feeders usually so good at this time of year are not attracting any birds.

All I've got this week on the picture front are some pretty average shots of my first sighting this winter of a Yellowhammer and of a few Golden Plovers that flew over the CP pool at Marsh Lane one morning.This is not good ! ! !

Things did not improve when on Saturday lunchtime I received news that an Otter and three young were showing well from the South causeway hide at Marsh Lane.The trouble was it was raining heavily and as president of the Fairweather Birders club I should not go but as my shots of Otters are pretty poor I thought damn it I'll go.

This turned out to be a bad decision because I got soaked,got very cold and after over 2 hours did not see an Otter.I went again this morning getting into the hide before 8.00 AM but again despite a long wait I saw no Otters.Oh Dear.When will this bad run end.