I started off a bit slow at Summer Leys as I described from the last post.
So from the Summer Leys I got the following:
Black Headed Gull
The Little Egret was actually the last bird I took an image of before heading in search of Starlings murmarating. The sun though bright was setting so cast with the aid of light cloud cover an almost pink'ish hue.
The Marsh Harrier that at the moment is wintering in the area made appearances but always distant. Still I like the village of Great Doddington in the background.
Birds of prey don't always get their way..
So to the murmaration. Excuses: fading light, wrong lens but still fancy counting them for me?
These two images are uncropped and about a third of the flock in the top image and a small section that was joining the main flock in the second image.
I couldn't believe with about 1/400th a second shutter speed I was able to get something the 1d mark 2 isn't great with fading light and high iso's so shot at ISO 640 and rapidly getting dark I was reasonably happy with what I managed.
The trees in the above image is actually where they roosted and not reed beds on this night.
I also like the hue of the sky in both images
The next images kind of reminds me of the weather of late as they to my eyes as the flock shuffled across the horizon reminded me of tornados if I had used a smaller lens you'd see the 'tornado' better
And on the last image a final please, please count them I've used up all my fingers and toes and that includes my greyhounds toes, full frame and circa 1/3rd of the flock.
As a side note to the weird winter and end of the year we've had the branch belonging to the shrub in my garden due to mild temperatures has not only developed buds but even started to flower. Normally happens mid March/early April!
A unexpected food bonus for the Blue Tit.
Nor had much luck with the weather of late but not as misfortunate as some in the UK though.
I wish a Happy New Year to all those I have met this year whilst birding, who read my blog (still not sure why) and those who've left comments etc, have a good one and I'll hopefully bump into more off you next year
Also a great birder/photographer and mate (Mr.Z) has started a blog of his own please check it out http://www.martinswannellbirding.wordpress.com you won't be disappointed, top bloke.
I've got some photos that I'm yet to work through and as you can see the light was fading. So that and the 500mm lens (I needed a smaller lens) means they're not brilliant. I shot the following video just using my camera phone and boy what a sight. Not often I'm left gobsmacked but I was, the video doesn't do it justice added bonus was the now wintering Marsh Harrier that showed up four times during my visit to the reserve but even that seemed 'old hat' compared to the Starlings.
Basically I walked out of the carpark and turned right and stood at the gate about 10 yards down the road and stood with the horses and looked over towards Grendon Lakes
It seems there are two very sizeable Starling murmaration happening in Northamptonshire at the moment.
Titchmarsh, Summer Leys and now Storton Gravel Pits.
Not exactly huge but impressive none the less. I did reckon we'd see something here again. There was a lot of Starlings on the housing estate, industrial estate nearby and some in the fields and service station (scavenging) at Junction 15a of the M1...all very close to the reserve at its reed bed.
I got some shoddy footage of it from my mobile on my cycle back from work, The Hunt eat your heart out :-)
Should've known the minute I was looking forward to a few days off I'd be hit by a double whammy, rubbish weather and DIY around the house.
Now I've not had a proper cigarette for two months and "Vaping" instead being my sole nicotine joy the house needed a lick of paint, the better half wanted a new basin and new taps in the bathroom. I did of course sneak out in between visits to the DIY store.
First outing found me lurking around the Billing pub, not much on the marina apart from gulls...hardly any geese or swans which was odd. Saw a Kingfisher couple of times but the only thing that presented itself was this Grey Wagtail
Having done my domestic chores and no leaky taps my next outing (Friday) was on the bike. Obviously along the Brampton Valley railway and up to Pitsford reservoir. The railway section provided out of focus images of a male Merlin, such a tricky bird to keep in frame, I've managed that bit just got to get it in focus now lol. Plenty of Fieldfare and Redwing and quite a large flock of Linnet circa 50+ but rather quiet I headed up Merry Tom Lane towards Brixworth/Pitsford, still some Skylarks about, a couple of distant Red Kites and Buzzards (too far away) worm hunting in the fields made it worth the cycle up the hill from hell.
At Pitsford reservoir there was three Little Egrets, plenty of Pied Wagtails, Little Grebe and a Green Sandpiper but what caught my eye was a distant (poor record shot coming lol) Chiffchaff probably a Siberian Chiff-Chaff, it definitely stood out and caught my eye considering the distance it was from me
The light was annoying me one minute sunny then the wind would blow over a grey cloud, no better example then on the way home just below the water treatment centre this Kestrel flew right in front of me and hovered for ages, check the horrid grey sky
Then as the grey cloud moved over/away the Kestrel flew off....typical of late
Saturday saw me purchasing a ticket of my mate and watching my beloved but bedraggled Chelsea. I think I was the only fan not singing José name, can't believe others were and to prove that indeed I've slipped into a parallel universe Leicester are top of the league...fuck me I don't like this universe....
Sunday was spent doing my Goldfinch survey for the BTO. Still 31 birds eating nothing but sunflower hearts, I have never had so many Goldfinch on the garden. The tame female Chaffinch is still in the garden
As are plenty of male and other females. The only way of separating the tame bird from the normal skittish Chaffinches is it doesn't fly off when I venture out of the shed
The boss. Greenfinch.
Other good garden news is along with myself four neighbours have created a Hedgehog "gap" between the fences. None of us wanted cats (plenty of them) taking advantage so we opted to dig holes under the fence panels on the theory the cats won't want to crawl under....time will tell.
Well my sum total of images for the weekend is two so, so images of a Kestrel.
I could only manage a dodgy outing to the quarry today (Sunday) as Saturday was a washout. Today I wasn't much better cycling into a peak wind speed of 24 mph seemed hard going and wishing I hadn't agreed to do my birding by bike rather then car...only a month to go and the bet is over.....maybe.
There wasn't much going on at the quarry, given the poor light and wind hardly a surprise.
A few Redwing at the entrance, a mini flock of Pied Wagtail (6), a fly over Buzzard was seriously low but up against a dark grey sky meant it might as well be doing cartwheels. A single Snipe was also present. But the quarry was so quiet I didn't even locate many common species such as Dunnock...proper bad visit.
I watched the Kestrel land just above the Sandmartins colony. I wasn't happy with the angle nor the horrible bit of rubbish present so risked moving a bit closer and a slightly better angle, not easy with next to no cover of the quarry floor
Still I have some days next week off so at least I don't have too long to wait for some decent birding....weather permitting.
I'm going to be vague about the exact dates as earlier in the year I pulled a sickie off work. I had a terrible virus (if I remember rightly) but now my boss at the time has departed for pastures new I'm relatively but tentatively confident I can say I was lying lol.
I woke one morning and thought "fuck work" looked at my car and camera and headed out. It was bloody early the sun wasn't due to rise for at least another 3 hours, not sure why but I headed for Norfolk.
I made the carpark at Cley Marshes as the sun tried to burn through some low cloud/mist. I had to close the car window to muffle the calls of a nearby Skylark and distant waders as I called in sick. Job done I switched my phone off. I got to the hide nearest to the carpark and stood outside. I could hear then see Bearded Tits on the far side of the channel. But it was a distant Marsh Harrier that presented a half decent photo chance
I knew this near the hide would mean not many waders or wildfowl would be immediately out the front of the hide but went in.
Another togger told me I just missed a Spoonbill close to the hide. It did return but distantly and stayed with the other delights.
Still I couldn't help thinking if I get rumbled by the boss it was worth it and it was still early. Not slagging off reserves but as each visit to reserve gets ticked off the less appealing they are. Of late I have got accustomed to walking and love the 'freedom' it sometimes brings. It was still early and it was getting a bit busy so walked back to the car, I could stretch my legs at Salthouse not before snapping a Reed Warbler the first pulling apart a web
I bumped into a "Salthouse" local togger who happened to be "sick" too (lol) who told me of the havoc winter had done to the pools so I opted to head for breakfast at Brancaster Straithe. I love this harbour and even more the fried breakfast. It's good for waders mostly flying through and terns. Not my best efforts but a Little Tern flew through. Sadly getting close to rarity status these days...
The boats in the harbour are marmite, personally I like them. Others I've talked too reckon they detract from the image, hmmm.
The waders, well being a small working harbour draws all sorts in. I got loads of Curlew images to go through. I'm really struggling composition wise with those at the moment. Plenty of Redshank, Ringed Plover, just two Grey Plover, plenty of Sanderling and Turnstone though. I struggled to find a pure white Sanderling I found one that had me checking my book which set it off differently to the others
Compared to the majority still in spring plumage, being vague on time of year, I was assuming these were leaving soon for breeding but other Sanderling were still in spring'ish plumage of sorts...maybe it was an age thing....
The Turnstone will be a clue to exactly what time of the year it was to birders though, blasted Turnstone's, I love them though.
I took a wander searching for anything small and scarce but only got more of the same and an Avocet not really happy with the picture though.
What I hadn't realised after a good day was how ill I was and how it (the virus) would strike again, conveniently for a part two....
I was still hesitant about posting the first two images. But I will explain why I've opted to post it in a moment...easy explanation for all the images it was to clear space off the hard drive and couldn't bring myself to pressing 'delete'.
Some time ago I mentioned the Little Ringed Plovers on the industrial estate I work on. Also how our county recorder really didn't want it publicised as such.
And rightly so. They're a schedule one species, not every birder nor photographer has restraint coupled with no physical restrictions like fences and wardens it would be likely they'd be disturbed or worse nest trampled.
Towards the end of the summer as these were getting ready to head home I sat myself on the bank and waited, waited a bit more, got some strange looks off passing workers and waited a bit more.....was it worth it? Probably not if I'm honest but it was one of those unique opportunities I like. I'm not really a nature reserve dweller though will go in desperate times. I like underwatched areas, new locations/habitats or areas that sane people wouldn't go looking for nature.
Also and the main reason I've posted these now rather then store/delete and the reason I risked ridicule by ignoramus passing public was I knew these artificial mudflats would be built on soon.
Alas today whilst watching some Teal, Pipits and Wagtails on the flats there was a group of men pointing stuff out, measuring etc. So I went and had a word, apparently one (they're undecided which one) of the three flats is going to be started to built on in......spring. So in terms of recording the species in a special location it was worth it and the main reason I'm posting now, otherwise they wouldn't have seen the light of day....note the bricks in the images.
The second species is a Black Tern from Welford Reservoir in the spring. I was passing through on the way back from Leicester on a really grim/dark/rainy day and thought I'd just have a quick look since I was passing. Pure crap, but was hoping to hook up with them the next day but they moved on, typical. I chased a few Autumn sightings but missed out so didn't get 'better' images
This was the view from the dam horrid rain and low cloud.
My last offering was from a small unnamed harbour, now my boss has moved to a new firm I'll post some more later but I pulled a sickie in the Spring annoyingly I got some cracking birds that day and images too yet couldn't post one image as my boss at the time read the blog, especially if I was struck down by jungle fever or the like and was forced to pull a sickie lol
Sanderling flock, uncropped