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, 26 April 2009

Sunday sunrise

I wanted to get up early Sunday, for two reasons. One, to get some sunrise shots as a backdrop to the Peace Pagoda at Willen Lake, and secondly to check on my Black Swan. I wondered if he was still nesting with the Mute Swan.

It was still dark when I climbed out of bed, and got myself ready. Jim needed his walk before I left, so we headed off into the darkness, with just the sounds of the birds for company. Four thirty a.m.; ‘I must be mad’ I thought to myself. Jim didn’t think so; he was busily sniffing everything in sight, to check out who’d been there the day before. I heard a Cuckoo in the distance, my first this year. The sky looked clear, so hopefully not going to be a wasted early morning.

I parked at the car park, and made my way up the steps. Five o’clock, and not surprisingly, no one about. I got my position, and waited. It was slowly getting lighter, but no sign of the sun yet. I waited. I waited some more, and then a reddish glow began creeping along the horizon. The sun!

It slowly made its way to start a new day, the sky gradually changing with its progress. I fired off some shots, waited, and then fired off some more. Good job I had spare batteries on me. Too many to post all of them, so just a couple.

First one just before the sun broke the horizon, the second as it made its journey.

Next one is looking across the lake, from alongside the ‘Pagoda’.

Mission accomplished, I set off for stage two. The south lake, and the Black Swan. I kept to the path alongside the lake, listening to the Sedge Warblers singing from the reeds; a Chiffchaff announcing the morning, and a Robin singing heartily. The sky looked amazing, so I took a couple more as the sun continued its steady climb. In a short while this display will be gone forever, and a new one takes its place tomorrow.

I looked back towards my starting point, the sun lighting up the Peace Pagoda once more.

I followed the erratic curves of the lake; Goldfinches were flying from tree to tree, like a game of chase, making their ‘tinkling’ sound as they went. Blackbirds were searching for breakfast worms on the grassy banks, and about twenty Swans were congregating on the far shore. No sign of the black one yet though. A pair of Canada Geese flew overhead, honking at any one who cared to listen. There was only me around, so I did.

I reached the lakeside bar and restaurant, and made my way to the old House Martins nests left from last year. They’re probably only eight to ten feet up in places; they’re so used to people here. I saw some of the early arrivals last week, skimming across the lake. Would any be about today? My question was answered almost immediately; a tiny head peeped out from one of the old nests and gave me an inquisitive look.

A second face appeared, and began to scrutinise me.

‘That’s good’, I thought to myself, as I slowly turned away, in search of the Black Swan. I made my way to where he was nesting last week, and there he was. Still there, snuggled up to the Mute Swan.

Making my way back, I stopped to listen to a Chaffinch, belting out his morning song.

I took a couple of pictures, then he stopped, and gave me one of those looks that said, ‘clear off!’

So I did. Walking alongside the lake, I could hear the Sedge Warblers singing their song, but being very evasive. Not as evasive as the Cetti's though, (still haven’t got a picture yet), because I quickly spotted one singing from a branch, and managed to get a picture.

The sun was behind him, so it didn’t show too much detail, but never mind. Always-another time.
A pair of Swans flew overhead, and shortly followed by a Heron, barking as he went.

I stopped off at the hide for a quick look, before heading home. Not much about this morning, except for a few Greylag Geese, and Coots swimming and fighting. Then just to left I heard a Sedge Warbler, and spotted him near the base of some small shrubs.

The sun was in a better position this time, even if he wasn’t.
I climbed the grassy slope back to the car, and stopped to watch some Swifts circling above for a while.

Are they fast!


  1. Stunning pictures once again Keith - the sunrise and Pagoda pictures are outstanding.

    The pagoda looks a fascinating building. Just wished I'd known about Willen Lake on my trips to MK when I visited on business a few years back.

    Well done on the Warbler pics - not an easy subject to find.

  2. Your early morning plan worked out perfectly!..Dont you love that? The photos are awesome! ALL of them. I got a shot of the Yellow Billed Cuckoo last week...first this yr also. Thanks for the nice comments you leave, its apprecitated! Make the most of a Monday!

  3. Thanks Tricia, that Warbler certainly gave me the run around for a while.
    The Pagoda is a very interesting building. Some Buddhist monks live nearby, and most mornings at sunrise, one of them performs a ritual of chanting and drum banging around the Pagoda, and the lake edge in front of it.
    I really should make the effort to find out more about it.

  4. Thank you Dixxie, glad you enjoyed the pictures. It was a perfect day for me; mission successful on all counts. :)
    Never seen a Yellow Billed Cuckoo, look foreward to seeing pictures if you post them.
    Monday, hmmm, off to work very soon :(

  5. Only just caught up with your last three posts after a hectic weekend and so sorry to miss your big day, Very, Very Happy (belated) Birthday Wishes to you Keith.

    I loved the garden bird photos, a nice variety, and the butterfly photos on the next post were beautiful.

    The sunrise pictures are really stunning, prizewinners in my opinion, and I do admire your self discipline in getting yourself there at that time!

    The Chaffinch was definitely telling you where to go! The House Martins made me laugh too I think they were wondering why anyone would want to be out of their nest so early!

    Good news about the Black Swan, please keep us updated.

    Beautiful photos throughout.

  6. What a great morning you had there, and brilliant results. Those house martins look so cheeky!

  7. Worth the early start just to see that sun rising. Excellent series Keith.

  8. Oh, what a wonderful trip you've taken me on. Birds I could only dream to have seen. And you made them up close and personal. Thank you for this moment of escape from my desk.

  9. Thank you ShySongbird, appreciate your comments.
    I'm going to follow that Black Swan with interest, any developments in his fortunes will certainly be noted.

  10. Thanks Rob. I don't know who was more surprised when the Martins peeped out; me or them. :)

  11. Thanks Frank, it certainly was a stunning sunrise.

  12. Thank you Andrea for dropping by. Glad you enjoyed your 'escape' for a while.

  13. I bet the inside of that Pagoda is as beautiful as the outside that you captured! And I loved seeing those house martins peeking at you! Simply beautiful!

  14. An absorbing read Keith with stunning photos all round.
    I have found in the past that sunrise pictures can have richer reds than sunsets but they are not easy to capture - yours are really great.

  15. Thanks Shellmo. The Pagoda is a remarkable structure, but doesn't appear to have an inside to it as such. Maybe only to the Monks that tend it?
    The House Martins were very endearing. :)

  16. Cheers John, appreciate your kind words.
    I set the white balance on the camera to 'cloudy', to get the colours as they were, and it did a very good job of capturing it.

  17. 4-30am.!! You are mad Keith, but you got some fantastic sunrise images though.

  18. Cheers Roy, yea certainly mad, but it was worth it, I think. lol

  19. Happy belated birthday too mate !
    Love those sunrise pics and the singing Chaffinch.

  20. love the sun rises.

    although I'd wait to winter and get the sunsets and a reasonable time in the afternoon :D

  21. Thanks Nick. Yea, another year under my belt. lol

  22. Cheers Pete. Probably a good idea ;)