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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Tuesday, 7 April 2009

I saw one!

It was a pretty dull and cloudy morning, but with a day off work, I wasn’t going to waste it, so I set off to local number 2; Willen Lake. An interesting lake, with a good variety of habit, and usually a good variety of birds to go with it.
I made my way up the steps from the car park, and along the footpath, towards the slope down to the lake. This area is usually good for Goldcrest; but not today.
Undeterred I carried on to the edge of the lake, and made my way towards the hide. About 15 birds were skimming over the water, and circling above. I scanned them with my binoculars, to reveal Sand Martins. Then, amongst them, I thought I saw a Swallow. At last! I tracked it as it soared, banked, and generally tried to evade my optics. I was sure it was a Swallow. Must be. I wasn’t 100% certain; maybe I was just kidding myself it was. I watched the rest flying around for a while, and then carried on. I can’t ‘tick’ that one, I told myself; not really certain.
A snipe flew up in front of me, cursing at me as he went, and the air was filled with the sounds of Chiffchaff. I glanced back, and saw someone else scanning the flying group of Sand Martins through his binoculars. I pressed on, and crept into the hide.

Across the lake, at the island, I noticed the Herons had reclaimed the nesting tree from most of the Little Egrets, although one was sitting defiantly on his nest.

Some Teal were swimming and dabbling just in front of the hide,

along with some Gadwall. The sun was beginning to break through the cloud now, dispersing any possibility of rain for a while. The gentleman I’d seen earlier popped into the hide and sat for a while. He mentioned he had been watching the House Martins earlier, and I said I had too, and thought maybe a Swallow was amongst them? He agreed, quite possible. Possible, not definite, I thought. Oh well.
A pair of Little Egret were over to the left, stirring up the sediment with their feet, looking for some tasty morsels. I got a few shots, but the long grass managed to be in the way most of the time.

Then they flew off to the island

I walked on to an opening amongst the bushes. This leads into quite a dense area, but always good for seeing the Chiffchaff singing in the trees. In a few weeks it will be too dense to navigate, so now is a good time to take advantage. Sure enough, there were Chiffchaff. A pair were chasing each other around the tops of the trees; must be a love thing I thought. Then I heard a call. I recognise that! Cetti’s Warbler, but where? I stood still and listened. Again, just in front of me. Now this is a bird I’ve never seen before. Heard, but never seen. I waited, he called again, and then for a few brief seconds he spiralled up the tangle of shrubs, and before I could get a picture, he dived back down again. But I saw it. A first for me. I was happy.

I made my out of the undergrowth, and had an idea. If I walk back round to the east part of the lake, I may see the Martins again, but more to the point, I’ve watched Swallows gliding across the grassy bank in the summer. If they are here now, maybe they’ll be over there. I’m very optimistic sometimes!
A Robin was singing in the bushes as I made my way along the path, a Song Thrush was poking around in the grass,

and a couple of Blackcap were joining the Robin in song. Greylag and Canada Geese were flying across the lake, and the Herons were backwards and forwards collecting nest material.

As I reached the east side, soaring above the lake was, a Swallow! Yes, a positive ID at last. His long tail was clearly visible as he twisted and turned. Graham, I’ve got one!
Happy, I carried on back towards the hide for one last look. I sat down and raised the binoculars to scan the edge of the island. Some Cormorant drying wings,

and there behind them, a pair of Oystercatchers.

This was turning into an excellent morning. A couple of not very good shots later, I decided to head for home.
Swallows in the bag!


  1. Nice one, Keith. Sounds like you had a great day and you got some super photos.

  2. Thanks Graham, certainly was. Swallows and Cetti's; magic. :)

  3. That's what I call a day off very well spent Keith. Great pictures - especially the Egrets in flight and I really enjoyed your account.

    And you saw a Swallow - I'm so happy for you

    (goes of in a funny shade of green)

  4. Well done Keith, Swallow & Cetti's. I have many friends who have still not seen a Cetti's!

  5. OH NICE, NICE, NICE!..Congrats on the swallow capture...you have a wonderful day off I would say...
    Here the Purple Martins have arrived for the summer nesting and the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds also arrived this week..its going to be a bit cold the next 2 days so I hope they make do. The Carolina Wrens are feeding their first brood in the gourd I placed on the fence, its been fun to watch them. I got a couple shots of them feeding, but not too close or they will shy away.

  6. Thanks Tricia. It was one of those days of surprises at every turn.
    Now it's all downhill; work is calling lol

  7. Thanks Frank, it's taken me a few years to see one. Now I need a picture. :)

  8. Dixxie, thank you. It was a spur of the moment visit there, sometimes the best kind. :)
    The Carolina Wren looks very similar to our Wrens here, (I looked it up), and the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds look stunning. Hope they make it through the cold.

  9. The Little Egret birds are beautiful! They look very elegant...

    When I woke up this morning, I heard two birds singing aloud and had no idea, which kind of birds it could be. How have you learned to recognize the voices of the birds? With the help of recordings?

  10. What a rewarding time you had. Fantastic for you to see the Cetti's Warbler. I loved the photo of the Little Egrets in flight and of the lovely Song Thrush, well done on the Swallow as well.

  11. Congrats buddy :-) Another rewarding day !

  12. Thanks Petra.
    There are a lot of bird songs I don't know, but the ones I do recognise, usually, are the ones I've frequently seen over my many years. If there's a likelihood of seeing something new, I've got some recordings on the computer that I'll listen to first, to try and get them in my head.
    I'll never know them all, but it is rewarding to be able to recognise some by their song, before you see them. :)

  13. Thanks ShySongbird. Would have been good to have got the Little Egrets flying towards me; another day perhaps. :)
    Really pleased seeing the Swallow at last.

  14. Cheers Nick, it was a great day. Just wish I could do it everyday. :)