Wednesday, 30 December 2015


Having been in wimp mode for a while now and only visiting very local places on Tuesday as soon as I saw that the weather was going to be decent I thought I'd better get into adventurous mode and go further afield.Not too far mind you don't want to be stupid.I left home pretty early and headed over to Brandon Marsh a reserve I'd not visited for ages mainly because the road works on route are a real pain.

Got there just before 9.00 AM and headed straight to the Steetly hide.I was wearing my wellies which was very shrewd as the path was very muddy.My wellies are designer poser's wellies and are comfortable and warm but the tread is poor so you can easily slip and they cannot handle floods over 20 centimetres deep.This gives me a problem later on.

The hide was full and the birders told me they had been there since dawn and had not seen anything.This was no surprise because the water level was coming right up to the Kingfisher perching pole.

I left straightaway and headed off to the Baldwin hide along a very muddy path but as soon as I walked down the main path leading to the hides I was greeted very soon by a flood.Got through this OK but a little further on was another flood which was too deep for my poser's wellies.Oh Dear ! !

I thought blow this for a game of marbles I'll leave and drive down to Draycote Water and try for the Smew and the Great Northern Divers.

Got there at 9.45 AM and though my luck had changed when I spotted a Peregrine sitting on some floodlights on the building on the left of the entrance road and when I parked a women kindly gave me her parking ticket.However when I went back for the Peregrine it was still there but I couldn't get a shot as the bright morning sun was right behind it.It soon flew off.

Being an old goat now I have limited range when out walking so I have to choose which way to walk at Draycote Water.I chose to walk down the Farborough Bank towards Toft. Big mistake because I didn't see the Smew nor any of the GN Divers. In fact I struggled to find anything to point the camera at.Oh Dear.Not having a good day.

Did manage a few shots of a handful of Goldeneyes but they wouldn't come close.  

A Meadow Pipit landed on the rocks but flew off before I could get close.

A Little Grebe caught a pretty large fish in the gloom at the bottom of the rocks.It took a while but it managed to eat it. 

So I did a lot of walking and a lot of driving for very little reward.Perhaps I should stay in wimp mode.Mind you I did meet a Leicester City supporter on Farborough Bank and had an enjoyable chat with him.He reckons that he has not stopped smiling for many weeks now.I also bumped into an old   friend Francoise who has not been well and it was nice to see she was much better.  

Thursday, 24 December 2015


It took me quite a while yesterday to remember what the strange yellow orb  was that was shining in the sky that morning.It was the sun ! ! ! Right I thought I'd better get out there with the camera but where to go was the question.

Didn't fancy going after the long staying Hoopoe in Kingswinford because I didn't want to be driving through the towns on route with all the Xmas shoppers about.The Great Northern Diver at Upper Bittell reservoir was a better choice but I wasn't sure it was still there so I played safe again and went to my local patch Marsh Lane.What a wimp ! !

Got there at 9.30 AM and decided to check out the Old Road first to see if I could get some shots of Redpolls.There were quite a few Lesser Redpolls feeding on the seed heads but they were pretty mobile and not easy to get close to but great fun trying to get some shots in the morning sunshine.

Spending time along the Old Road chasing Redpolls reminded me of a Redpoll that was seen in the same spot in January 2008 which attracted up to 90 observers spread out along the road.They had come to see one bird that many thought might be an Arctic Redpoll but others weren't so sure.Here is a shot of the bird in question.  

Saturday, 19 December 2015


I am not liking this very gloomy weather we have been having these last few weeks at all because it makes photography almost impossible and it's so depressing going out with no glimpse of any sunshine. 

Boredom and fear of the camera rusting up with lack of use have forced me out a few times this last week but it has not been enjoyable even though it has been very warm for December.

Last Monday morning I popped down to Marsh Lane and never saw another birder all morning however  I did see some surveyors in the SW corner of the reed bed field.Hope they weren't surveying for a siding for the new HS train. 

It was very quiet on the reserve probably due to the surveyors so the only time I used the camera was trying to get shots of a Little Egret on the dragonfly pool.

Boredom drove me out again to Marsh Lane on Thursday morning even though it was very gloomy and very damp.Although there were loads of Ducks ,Geese and Gulls on the pools I could not spot anything decent.I did get some shots of a Little Grebe in winter plumage from the causeway hide.Certainly not great shots but very good because it was so gloomy and I had to wind up the ISO to 6400 to to get any shot at all.

I couldn't get out of the reserve via my usual route because the resurfacing crew had closed the exit up to lay the tarmac across  so I had to out the back way.The road was very muddy and there were no birds to photograph on route till I got to the last gate where a couple of Common Buzzards were circling around calling out.Oh for just a little brightness.

On Friday morning I thought it was brightening up so I drove the short journey to Brueton Park.Surprise surprise it did not brighten up and was as gloomy as ever.I hoped there might be some Goosanders on the main pool but didn't find any.I then went through the cafe and had a walk round the nature reserve which was pushing my luck because it is gloomy there even in the summertime.

Half way round the pond I cheered up considerably when I spotted a couple of Goldcrests in the trees.I love these chaps to bits and so I spent half an hour struggling to get shots as they pinged around the trees.

Managed a few shots which as with the Little Grebe are not the best but considering it was very gloomy and again the ISO had to be wound up to 6400 I was very pleased with them and of course they are great to watch.

Thursday, 10 December 2015


Another sunny morning on Wednesday had me racing over to Marsh Lane arriving there at not long after 9.00 AM but what a difference in the temperature from Monday. 

On Monday morning I was so warm that for a while I thought that I was going down with Dengue fever till I saw that the temperature was 15 degrees.Wednesday morning the temperature was 6 degrees and a very cold wind was blowing.

On the CP pool there were 4 Common Gulls but little else of interest.Could not see the Goldeneye. 

Spent a very cold hour in the Oak hide searching in the marsh for the Jack Snipe seen earlier in the week but had no luck.There were at least 20 Common Snipe there including one with a bent bill.


On the Oak feeders a Greater Spotted Woodpecker was eating the last of the peanuts.

There were a lot of Gulls on the RW pool including 8 Common Gulls which I assumed included the 4 I'd seen earlier on the CP pool.Among the Gulls were a couple of what I thought were Herring Gulls.Their backs were a very pale grey.

Best of all for me was when walking down the old road I spotted a lone Lesser Redpoll feeding on some seed heads.Excluding the ones the ringer caught a couple of weeks ago the shots below were the first of the Winter for me. 

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


I hadn't planned to go out with the camera yesterday but after a visit to Sainsburys and the tip and I saw that there was a bit of brightness in the sky I shot off to Marsh Lane for a quick walk round before lunch.

The were as usual loads of Ducks,Geese and Gulls but I could not find anything interesting till I walked into the river hide where the Goldeneye was a little closer than the day before and I managed a few better shots.Although I've seen these birds many times over the years I've never got a really good shot of a male.The trouble is the contrast of the white and black and I can never get both colours right.

There was a distant female Goosander on the CP pool but she would not come closer.Shame as they are cracking birds to photograph.

Also from the river hide a Fieldfare was feeding in a distant bush.Too far for a decent shot but at least I was keeping the camera busy.

Another quick look in the CP hide was a good move because a male Goosander dropped in.This is another bird I struggle with to get a decent shot of again because of the contrast of black and white.This is the best I could do.

As soon as the male caught up with the female he dragged here off for a lunch date on the river.I managed some decent shots as the male took off.

Saturday, 5 December 2015


Very pleased to see that it was sunny on Friday morning especially after all the dreadful weather lately.Not wishing to miss this opportunity I grabbed the camera and shot off to Marsh Lane getting there at 9.00 AM.

Within 2 minutes of getting there I'd had two pieces of bad luck and one piece of good luck.The first piece of bad luck took place immediately as I got out of the car when  I spotted a hovering Kestrel close by but as I tried to get a shot I decided to drop the camera instead.What a idiot ! !  

The good news was that the male Goldeneye was still on the CP pool but the bad news was that it was a fair way off.This is all I could get.

Didn't see anything new from the Oak hide but there were at least 25 Common Snipe in the marsh.

I then had a patient walk in the sunshine round the back gate coppice but it was very quiet and from the RW hide the only shot I took was of a Common Buzzard that perched for all of 10 seconds on the tree line.

On the way back to the car park in the causeway hide a Wren seeing I'd hardly take any shots had pity on me and posed for some shots.

Called in the CP hide again before I left hoping the Goldeneye was a bit closer but if anything it was now further away.Did get a shot of a Common Gull and the Black Swan.So I didn't see anything decent but it was a very pleasant morning out in the sunshine.