Wednesday, 20 September 2017

INTERESTING TIMES

I've been stalking a couple of local reservoirs of late, shunning Summer Leys. Nowt wrong with the reserve, it's just there's a regular group of 5 toggers plus myself meant I was just getting the same images as everyone else, they're also more than capable of covering anything that drops in, apart from the potheads that were going up during the day, off I went when I got the coded message on Facebook. See four youngsters in the two tier hide and thought,  good. So in true birding style snuck up, walked up the stairs un-noticed (think they're driving back!) on hands free to the police, fling the door open and shout "what the fuck are you doing" they visibly jump except one fat twat, marked him down for special treatment, "errm we're just smoking weed", "not in here you're not and look at the fucking mess, someone's cleaned this today and you're cleaning this up" put my phone on the side and produced a carrier bag "put them out and clean it up now" fatty chirps up "no we're not" so I walk up to him, operator telling me to calm down,  police coming and are responding with Blue lights, fatty has pissed me off though so with minimal force I shoved my open hand into his windpipe and very gently shoved him to the floor, one of the others starts shouting to get off him and I strike a deal and tell them I'll release fatty once all the food wrappers and drinks bottles both inside and out are picked up.
To my disappointment they did lol and I told fatty if he wants another pop at me just say so, he didn't so once the hide and all the fag butts were placed in the bag I escorted all four to the carpark, of course telling them to pick up the odd bit of litter lol. The police weren't happy as they were waiting in the carpark. Confiscated their weed, gave them a caution, sent me to the hide and told me to wait there, they came in polite etc, in a round about way told me off if front of some other toggers, the shame lol.
Funnily I saw fatty and one other in the Chippy at Earls Barton so turned around parked up and waited by their Corsa. You should've seen their faces, a real life Chuckie (Google it)  by their car,  but funnily enough both were truly apologetic and said they hadn't realised the hassle they'd been causing, curiously said they'd shared a spliff with a birder in the hide and accurately described him!! After a few chips, I left it at that. If they do go back to the reserve I know their car, where two of them live and they don't know which car is mine...sorted I hope.
Dunlin, Holowell Reservoir 


So the first resrvoir was Holowell. I visited late one evening just as the sun was going down and buggered the exposure on what is my truly a nemesis,  the Whinchat, see a few but always distant.
Being a weekday I popped in the following evening but only got the wren where I saw the Whinchat. Sadly no 'chat though.
Hollowell takes some true field-craft. No hides and no real cover. Two options are used depending on species. Skittish birds just lay down and be patient.
I just picked a spot near some Pied Wagtails and two Ringed Plover and knew they'd wander down eventually. I struggled with both the harsh exposure and swivelling discreetly on my belly for this flight shot
 But was more then happy with this frame filler
Pied Wagtail love them or ignore the, personally I actually enjoy watching their insect catching antics. But yet to catch the particular image in mind.
The Dunlin, well it's pretty simple I think with Dunlin you avoid eye contact and walk in a deliberately meandering zig-zag.
I got lucky with the setting sun and again manged to get both muddy and full framers.
And before any smarty pants remarks about being to 'close' go back to the first Dunlin image, that bird was feeding in front of me then went to sleep!
I sadly dipped on the Grey Phalarope sadly due to over running work commitments.
But before that bird appeared I struck lucky and got three very early Little Terns, two juveniles and an adult. I heard them first when I was checking for any interesting but non existent passerines, flying up the resrvoir I thought they were leaving and frantically went for my phone, no phone! Luckily they weren't going anywhere so hoped either Mr.Z or Kathy might soon appear, four hours later and the sun setting neither turned up but the Terns were still busy fishing.
The images do get slightly better but thought since I couldn't get the message out I get some record shots, spot all three?
Adult Little Tern


Juvenile Little Tern, same bird couldn't get two flying together, typical :-)

First ever county record for myself and only fifth time I've seen the species so it was a genuine pleasure just to watch them for hours.
I think I learned something. The adult was both successfully and busy catching the fish, in no small part to a fisherman who was packing up and kindly was chucking some bait in as he left, we chatted and he told me they'd arrived at 9am.
I thought similar to most terns that I've seen the adult would catch a fish and feed the young on land. But EVERY catch (the juveniles were also catching fish) a young would fly with the adult
The young would then land on the water and the adult hover overhead and pass the fish, not once did they land on land apart from to rest
'Incoming'

Out of all the birds I've seen so far this year, these were my favourite. And weirdly never though I'd see in this county.
Holowell and Sulby despite the departing Osprey has been fascinating, frustrating, muddy (good&bad), and thanks to the dropping levels of Sulby now more explorable. Plenty of Wagtails and hundreds of migrating Swallows and House Martins and the odd Willow Warbler.
SULBY has always been a personal favourite. Sadly and I believe wrongly the Canal Trust who own the two reservoirs for filling the canals kicked them off Sulby.
Once they got kicked off the boardwalk became overgrown and more the rickety in parts. The fishermen kept it really good order and do wish the Canal Trust reconsider.
Great woodland birds on the boardwalks, no disturbance I guess has it's benefits
As I scarily found out some of the boardwalk is dodgy as I crossed a section inches above mud, I knew my fate as I heard a creak followed quickly by a snap followed by a squelch and a justified expletive lol.
BOTH LEGS UP TO MY GROIN I WAS WORRIED AND PULLED MYSELF OUT!!
YETI!! 

With the water levels dropped, I should've stuck to the shoreline but didn't fancy flushing the Great White Egret (Herons did that)

Sadly the solitary Common Sandpiper was even more distant then the Egret. I thought more waders might have been present as I personally believe it looks like wader haven

Grey Wagtails were obliging though.
The real bonus bird was as I sheltered from a downpour under one of the fishing jetties, the sun came out and was still drizzling when I heard a Kingfisher coming past, I managed just three frames, only one just about publishable
And finally a Spotted Flycatcher, but that's another rambling yarn for another day

Sunday, 20 August 2017

CHINESE WATER DEER

It's been hard work to photograph anything of note this week, everytime Birdfair is on the birds vanish, looking through my records as I do when I'm struggling to locate anything it's always a but quiet this time of year.
A juvenile Night Heron would have been lovely but even though on a garden pond for nearly a month and with the species breeding for the first time in the UK down Somerset way....well I'm gutted no access was allowed and any information about the bird surpressed. That really pisses me off. I 'get' the private garden aspect  BUT not the surpressing. The bird surely would visit other areas (canal, river and lakes are numerous nearby), money could've been raised for charity, a chance to get visiting birders to sign a petition to stop a railway terminal being built nearby all a missed opportunity. I've like others have withheld locations, bird locations for sensitive reasons as you can't account for the odd idiot. BUT a highly important bird like this needs to be out there, either word of mouth or the like. It's hard thing to judge and normally either way you go, you get a barrel of abuse.
We're loosing our county recorder Mike Alibone over something similar. People have got their knickers in a twist with me as I won't reveal the location of the nesting Osprey BUT I've put images out there, it's down to those who are desperate for whatever reason to observe at the nest (which there is no need, it's on a safe location) to GO out there and do a bit of old fashioned detection work or as the ol'timers call it...BIRDING.
A slow week as I've said the Dunlin and Ringed Plovers were still on the verges of Holowell Reservoir also sporadic visits from the Osprey but fly overs and no fishing attempts. Hard place to tog' waders, no hides, no real cover, my partner loves me coming home in mud surprised she hasn't got me doing a lie detector on Jeremy Kyle, yep on your belly crawling time and wait......and wait
Back-lit Ringed Plover
 A walk by lol, followed by a kip, obviously copying me. Seriously it went to sleep.
Not interested in sleeping birds so swivelled round, more mud on my belly for these two
Summer Leys was quiet apart from the railway line and Mary's Lane which was buzzing with freshly fledged juvenile Warblers including great views of Lesser Whitethroats and Willow Warbler (Mary's Lane by the small wooden foot bridge onto the reserve) and juvenile Bullfinch. Railway line was heaving with juvenile Long Tailed Tits being the most prominent and mixed in with Blue Tit and Great Tits but also plenty of of Chiffchaff and great views of the secretive Cetti's Warbler.
Only half usable image though was a family of Grey Wagtails on the dam at Sywell Country Park, things were that desperate I found myself at Sywell CP more herberts then wildlife here :-(
Skipping back to our county recorder, Mike published this on his website. A really useful tool of Northamptonshire birding locations with an interactive map. I'm posting a link as some of you might find it useful, I did during a quiet week. Using it to locate some areas even I wasn't sure of the location (Polebrook and Borough Hill peeking my interests for future visit), THANKS MIKE AND ONE OF MANY REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NOT HANG UP YOUR MANTLE... PLEASE.
Click here and have a play https://northantsbirds.com/birding-locations-map/
The highlight was last night, with all the rain I sneaked a look at the big hole in the ground and had a sneaky look and the other big hole in the ground near the A45.
As I trudged back to the camera not having pushed the shutter button once three deer popped into the field I was crossing.
At the time, I was thinking Muntjac but they didn't look right and was thinking Chinese Water Deer. I've only see CWD's twice, years ago and distant at Cley and briefly at Woodwalton Fen.
They certainly brightened up and dull evening especially as they were seemingly unconcerned with my presence and were busy grazing and playing


It was an amazing fluke encounter and an animal I wasn't expecting to see and another to add to the list of 'odd' visitors to the county for the summer.
Yeah they have the cutesy factor but I have to wonder if they survive, A45 and main roads, their lack of fear, poachers in area, fox hunting and pheasant shooting might have an impact but wonder what damage they're going to cause with British deer in high numbers can the countryside bear the brunt of the damage?
When these animals escape why is there no big fine levied at the culprits? Woburn Safari Park isn't miles away from here so probably originally escaped from there.
As I said they were hardly fearful this is full frame and uncropped with the 500mm yet they still came over down to about one and half metres, my lens can't focus on anything less two and half metres and was wondering if I was going to stroke one!

Of course I tried once I had every possible photo/image I could think...selfie time lol.
Sadly it

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Birds, birds and more birds

Peregrine, Summer Leys 
It's been an odd summer in the county and before Autumn migration kicks in we've had some cracking birds.
Though I've not seen any regular Hobbies, at the start there was the usual gathering of hobbies and good numbers. I had 8 at a regular spot, then nothing. I see the odd bird but it worries me somewhat the lack of birds.
I've seen 3 different Ospreys during the summer. No luck photographing them. Forget lousy skies and blah, blah, blah. I'll be honest every time I see it I'm just too excited lol.
8F (ring tag) seemed to be the most frequent visitor to Welford but on one day I had two Ospreys over the resevoir (1J) the third bird and only saw it once was tagged with just "32".
Regular readers will know this isn't the first summer Ospreys have stayed in the county, so please next year, breeding please. And I'll get some practice in.

Summer Leys has been interesting with regular Bittern sightings and Great White Egret showing well.
At the start of the summer, I was hooked on this site, until the gravel company stopped access due to damaged generator.
A great big ugly hole, to the untrained eye. A really good variety of waders dropped in. My favourite was the Grey Plover as you don't get many opportunities for Grey Plover around here. Little Ringed Plover successfully bred. I counted eight nesting birds.




I also learnt the difference between 'Tundra' Ringed Plover and 'normal' Ringed Plover.



The Tundra is the female with the sticking up white feather. I was lucky that 1) Mike Alibone was via Twitter helpful with identification 2) I had Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover and 'Tundra' to initially compare the slight differences in size, subtle but obvious.
Whilst laying on my belly grabbing wader images I was entertained by a Skylark depositing it's foetal sacks in the grass behind me.

Even dropping down on the raised earth bank I often hid behind, crappy image though a wonderful sight be seeing so close
 A pair of Yellow Wagtails were also on the site and stayed past the time they normally migrate off. Soon enough I saw them always returning to one particular spot. Definitely a breeding attempt but due to not being able to get back onto the site I can't confirm if it was successful or not.
Given so few Y'wags breeding in the county I was more than happy to find another pair to add.

 There was plenty of Sandmartins and of course Pied Wagtail.
Oystercatcher
Little Egrets all from Summer Leys
 This one is full frame and uncropped at 500mm focal length not sure how I didn't clip it's wings
Reed Warbler, Summer Leys


 Juvenile Reed Warbler





This is my favourite record shot ever as I never knew nor seen a dragonfly catch a moth mid-air and predate it.
Sedge Warbler, guess where....Summer Leys


 Treecreeper (juvenile)
 Grass Snake
Last ones from Summer Leys are juvenile Starlings



I found this lane whilst out looking for owls, it is a dead end with a huge cattle farm and a extremely chatty and friendly farmer. We got talking about all things and Spotted Flycatchers which surprised me. He pointed out he has three pairs (he does as well) but despite 6 birds only one juvenile fledged the nests!!!!
Bit of a theme going on, juvenile Spotted Flycatcher


I love and equally hate this next image, juvenile Starlings
Also present were Swallows. Honestly I've never seen so many Swallows. The farmer reckons he's got over 30 nests on his property. He ain't lying either, every time a sparrowhawk turns up and flushes them up I estimate 100+ birds!



A Common Tern from Welford Reservoir
Pied Wagtail too.




A female BlackCap, errm a juvenile.




 Ringed Plover from Holowell Reservoir
 Guess what, juvenile Dunlin from Holowell Reservoir

And finally a Barn Owl....adult lol