Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Sunday, 29 March 2009

A close encounter of the Goose kind

Sundays plan was to catch the sunrise at the local, and then head off somewhere different for a change. My plans seldom work out, and this was no exception.

The morning was dull and overcast, so no sunrise; or trips out. I resigned myself to a day in, and maybe some tidying up. By eight o’clock the sun was pushing through the clouds; it was getting better by the minute. I grabbed the camera and set off to the local. There didn’t seem to be many people about, so I set about a leisurely stroll round the north part of the lake.

A Song Thrush and Chiffchaff were competing to see who could sing the loudest, whilst remaining invisible. I think it was a tie. I did see a Coot though, struggling through the water, dragging a large chunk of reed with him. Hard work this nest building.

I watched a Heron being a statue for a while, trying to fool the fish. He made a couple of lunges, but was unsuccessful.

A couple of Great Crested Grebe were too busy to notice, they were more interested in bouts of head shaking.

Further on a Robin gave me the once over, and posed for a picture, before flying off.

I could still hear the Chiffchaff singing from almost every tree as I carried on, but none were too keen for pictures, preferring the higher branches, out of range of my lens. As I continued my circuit back to the car park, I spotted a lone female Goosander. There have been a few here recently, but this one seems to have been left behind.

Back at the car, I decided to pay a visit to local number 2. Willen Lake. Larger than Caldecote and always busy with people. There’s a couple of sporty keep fit places, a large bar/restaurant, water sports and even a small fair at times. Thankfully all of this activity takes place round the south lake; I’m heading north. It’s a bit quieter.

Plenty of Magpies and Crows around as I make my way to lake edge, to walk to the small hide.

The hide looks onto a small island, that houses quite a large Heronry, but this year the Little Egret have claimed the Herons favourite tree.

I sat for a while watching a pair of Swans doing a spot of housework on their nest, some Gadwall and Teal cruising up and down in front of the hide, and noisy Coots chasing anything that passed.

And more Chiffchaff, chiff chaffing. I was determined to get a picture, so I followed the nearest sound. Found him sitting high in the tree, as usual. I asked him nicely to ‘come down a bit’. Yea, I have these mad moments at times.

Then he did just that. He flew down the tree a few feet, and sat singing, just long enough for me to get some shots. Happy!

By midday I was getting hungry, so started the walk back. Up ahead were some Canada and Greylag Geese, munching on the grass, and amongst them a white goose. They all started honking together, staring whilst I stared back.

Suddenly big white took off and flew towards me. I raised the camera for some shots, but it wouldn’t focus. He was too close by now, and as I turned my head, I swear I felt his warm breath as he brushed past my shoulder and landed in the lake behind me. He climbed out, and seemed to puff out his chest.

One nil to the White Goose.

Saturday, 28 March 2009


After a weeks appearance money at work I needed to get out and blow the cobwebs of ‘work’ off me, so what better place than my local, Caldecote.
Sun peeping through the black clouds as they were thrust along by the wind, rain ever present; but who cares? I had to get out.

I wandered round just part of the lake, (I was tired), and dodged the joggers and dog walkers. Saturday afternoon this is a popular place. This is my time to unwind, and what better way than to just take in what’s offered by nature. The distant clouds looked ominous, but I carried on.
Over one of the footbridges towards where I’d previously seen a Bittern, but nothing.

An elusive Robin was singing, but he didn’t want to show himself.
The Hawthorn was out in flower, and I could see an old nest amongst the bushes. The sun was pushing its way through the cloud, and everything was good.

I sat and made a cigarette, (yea I have some bad habits), and just watched the lake in front of me. A couple of Great Crested Grebes cruising along, some Coots shouting from the reeds and Gulls soaring overhead. No idea what they were; not very good with Gull ID’s, but they looked big, so not Black Headed Gulls.

I made my way back towards the car, the sky was getting darker now, and I didn’t fancy a soaking.
One minute dull, the next sunny…….the weather couldn’t make up its mind.

Close to where I’d parked was some grass, leading down to a small bit of water that runs off from the main lake. A Kingfisher usually frequents this part, so I wandered down there, scanning the bushes as I went.

It’s amazing to think in just a few weeks this part will be waist high with nettles and plants with small white flower head clusters the size of dinner plates. (no, I don’t know what they are, but they’re quite common).

But for now the Cowslips are laying claim to this part of land. And they look beautiful, with the sun shining on them just now.

Over in the lake, some Tufted Duck are ducking and diving, along with a lone Great Crested Grebe.

The sky is beginning to look rather angry in the distance and I’m thankful the car is only a short sprint away now.

A Swan decides that the one near him is a bit too close for comfort, so decides to show him this is his part of the lake. He noisily takes to the air to chase off the intruder, and gives me an opportunity to record the event.

Suddenly I hear a high-pitched whistle, and turn to get a fleeting glimpse of electric blue flash past. The kingfisher. No picture this time, but this year, he is my target bird.

I’ve too many ‘blue’ flashes recorded, I want a decent picture.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The local

No, not a pub, but my local patch, or place just up the road from me where I can go and escape for a bit, watch some birds and take some pictures. It’s called Caldecote Lake, and I did a bit of research about it a while ago. Mainly because I was curious, and wanted to know a bit about it. Seemed only right; after all, it gives me a lot of pleasure, so I felt I should know a bit about it.

Well, Caldecotte is a district in the parish of Walton, Milton Keynes that includes the site of an ancient village of the same name. The place name, is apparently a fairly common name in England, and is Old English meaning "cold cottage". This refers to a resting place for travellers or other strangers on the road.
The excavation of Caldecotte Lake unearthed the fossilised remains, of an Ichthyosaur, approximately 150 million years old. The same area also provided signs of early human activity when gravel deposits exposed by the construction of the lake produced evidence of the manufacture of flint tools around 6000 BC.

Caldecotte Lake, was completed in 1984, and is the second largest after Willen Lake, at 108 acres, with the distance around round both north and south lakes of about 4.2km.
Grassy slopes, trees, shrubs, reeds and even small wooded areas; it’s got it all.

A popular place for joggers, fishermen and dog walkers alike, with a Water Sports Centre on the east shore of the south lake, which is home to MK Sailing Club, and MK Rowing Club.
A development of four-storey townhouses, (Grafham Terrace), and the new Derwent House development by McCann Homes sit on the southeast shore, overlooking the lake.
The town houses
Further down from the Water Sports Centre, the office park, developed by Highclare Properties Ltd in 2000, is set within a 12 acre landscaped site overlooking the lake.
The office park
Arguably the Lakes most well known feature is The Caldecotte Arms. Built in 1992, it has been constructed in the style of a tithe barn with a windmill made with authentic parts from Holland. This popular family-dining pub is on three levels and outside there is a large beer garden and children’s play area.

Caldecote Arms
With all this human activity going on, it would be a reasonable assumption to say that the wildlife would be fairly scarce. How wrong. In just over a year, that I’ve kept notes, I’ve seen a modest 63 different species to date.

A large colony of Cormorant enjoy the safety of an island on the south lake throughout the year; Mute Swans and Great Crested Grebe breed round the shores of the lake, Reed and Sedge Warbler sing in the reed beds, a Bittern has made an appearance this year, (a first), Kingfishers hang out in their regular spots, and Canada Geese are always in abundance along the grassy slopes in front of The Caldecotte Arms. And if the children get tired of the play area, there are always the ducks, (along with the Swans, Geese and Seagulls), to relieve them of the sliced bread offered.

In late summer, a plethora of butterflies feeding on the swathes of wild flowers, and Dragonflies skimming along the waters edge.
That’s why I like Caldecotte Lake. A wildlife haven on my doorstep.
In the words of Confucius, Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.

This is how I see it.


Part of the main dam, north lake

The river Ouzel

Tuesday, 24 March 2009


As I write this, it’s another beautiful sunny day. The wind is a bit cold; it slices its way through the layers of clothing, belying how warm it actually looks. I know, I’ve just got back from taking Jim for his run. Cold doesn’t seem to bother him. Well, he has a big furry coat doesn’t he?

A couple of Goldfinches are helping their selves to some sunflower hearts from the feeder in the garden, and a Blue Tit is taking advantage of some mixed seed in another. Some hungry Starlings are raiding the fat balls, and a Dunnock is content to poke around on the lawn.
A perfect day to go out armed with the camera and take some spring shots.

Unfortunately work beckons, on what should be a perfect day off, in the shape of a meeting. Stuck inside, I’ll have to be content with gazing out the window, scanning the skies and treetops, whilst looking interested.

All ways another day I suppose.

Daffodils in the woods

White Primrose

Sunday, 22 March 2009

A well kept secret

That’s what one of my books says about this 95 acre reserve, managed by BBOWT. It’s also what a gentleman said whilst I had a brief chat with him. He was one of 4 people I saw all day. There’s only room for about 3 cars in the off road parking space, so it’s probably just as well hoards of people don’t descend on the place. The wildlife probably agrees too.

The place is called Calvert Jubilee, in Buckinghamshire, and it’s a little gem of a place. A large lake, apparently about 80’ deep, (according to another gentleman I spoke to, and spent some time wandering around with there). He was the odd job man, he told me, and certainly knew a lot about the place.

The lake covers about 50 acres, and the rest of the reserve consists of woodland, left to do its own thing, which was great to see, and a large ‘heath’ type bit of land.

The 'wild wood'

One of the paths through the wood

The 'heathy' bit

Got off to a great start with 4 Buzzards soaring in the sky, and later, over the lake, a pair of Red Kite.


Buzzard again

The Red Kites

Lots of Chiffchaff singing, and he told me quite a few other warblers visit through the summer too. One bird that eluded us both, despite his frequent calling though, was a Cetti’s Warbler.

One who wasn't too shy to sing, the Robin

Maybe next time I visit, I’ll see the Cetti’s Warbler, because it’s certainly on my favourite sites list.