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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Thursday, 4 June 2009

Paxton Pits

Wednesday I took a trip to Paxton Pits, a new place for me, and one I’ve wanted to explore for a while now.
The Reserve was officially opened on 18th June 1989, and comprises of a number of old gravel pits, split mainly in two halves. Four main lakes to the north, and four smaller lakes to the south, with an active quarry through the middle, and one to the north. To the west, lies the village of Little Paxton, and the south and east is bordered by the River great Ouse. A little piece of heaven.
I stepped from the car, gathering my camera and binoculars, and made my way to the Heron Trail, which covers the north part. Before I’d even left the car park, I’d clocked up Blackbird, Wood Pigeon, Greenfinch, Long Tailed Tit, Bullfinch, and flying overhead, Little Egret, Carrion Crow, Black-headed Gull, Cormorant and a Heron. I was tingling with excitement already, despite the black clouds in the sky!

I’d downloaded a map from the website, with various trails marked, and numbered with corresponding text of what you are likely to see. The trail had various numbered posts along the way, which matched perfectly with my map. No chance off getting lost, even me, and top marks to the reserve for this.

Birdsong filled the air, and I was quickly ticking off plenty of sightings. And plenty I didn’t recognise; my minimal ID skills quickly became evident, as lots completely escaped me; something I need to brush up on I think!
One I did recognise, and got a few shots of though, was a Chiffchaff.

Unmistakeable when they start to call.
I also managed to see a Cetti’s Warbler, and got good views through the binoculars of him foraging amongst the bushes. Too dull for pictures, but great to be able to see such an elusive chap going about his business.
More songs, and birds I didn’t recognise, and then one I did.
A Robin. He popped down to have a look at the intruder. Such inquisitive little birds; and after satisfying himself I posed no threat, he was on his way.

More sounds I didn’t know, as I carried on, and then one I hoped I might. This reserve is famous for one bird in particular that nests here. The Nightingale. And just ahead, in the bushes, one was singing. He was proving difficult to locate, but with a bit of patience I spotted him, in full pelt.

Not a great shot, but given the poor light, I was determined to get something. After all, this was a first for me. My memory card was at risk of going into overload, but I fired away.

Eventually he flew off, so I carried on my way, very pleased. I visited a couple of the hides along the route, and was amazed at the number of Cormorants nesting on one of the islands. A few Swans, Mallard and Tufted Duck swimming around, and a distant Cuckoo uttering his namesake call.
Another songster, giving his all further along the track, was a Sedge Warbler,

singing long enough for a couple of shots.

Circuit almost done, I made my way back to the car park. High in a tree, someone else was singing his own name,

the Chiffchaff; whilst down below, a Song Thrush was gathering some food. Probably for some hungry babies.

I’d reached the car after a three hour stroll round. The leaflet I’d downloaded suggested it was a one and a half hour walk. Probably is, if your name is not Keith.

A quick bite to eat, and then I tackled the lakes to the south. A shorter walk, mainly meadows and a couple of the lakes.

First to greet me, nestling amongst the grass, were Orchids.

Common Spotted Orchid. And they looked beautiful.

A kestrel flew overhead, as I made my way along the track. I stopped at one of the lakes to get some pictures of the Water Lilies, which seemed all along the edge.

White ones, and some Yellow ones, further along.
Not so many birds along this route, but worth the walk nonetheless.

As I neared the end of my journey, a bee was busily doing what bees do, on the flowers of a bramble bush, ensuring that they turn into those delicious Blackberries I love so much.

And then the car, sat waiting ahead.

It had been a good day, and one I want to repeat again soon.


  1. Now that was an excellent visit & cracking pics but I think next time your personal "song ID" trainer will have to come along and refresh his knowledge of this 'fab' reserve.
    Well done my friend.

  2. You capture such beauty. I could look at the water lilies for hours.

  3. What fun to find a new place with so much to see!..Love all the bird shots congrats on the Nightingale~ great shot of it!
    I love the little orchids, wonderful macro on that!..Thanks for taking us along!

  4. A whole set of lovely pictures! Birds are usually out of my reach,lens wise, but I must try harder to get closer. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. Marvellous variety, Keith.
    It's good to see wildlife colonising former industrial workings. There were working gravel pits behind my Gran's house 40 years ago; I can picture and hear the endless dredging, conveyor belts, lorries loading..

  6. this is the kind of walk i enjoy, unfortunately I can not carry my big camera in Rio de Janeiro so I can only get snap with my 3x zoom. yours are really excellent - the one showing the bird singing with his beak open is really enjoyable.

  7. Your Robins are so much more colorful than our! Wonderful photos today!

  8. Cheers Frank. The ‘master’ can come along anytime.

    Jen, thank you for your kind compliment.

    Dixxie, glad you enjoyed it. It was such a great place, and worth another visit very soon. Thank you.

    Les, thank you, appreciate your comment.

    Rob, thanks. There are future plans over the next decade to extend the reserve when the gravel extraction has finished, from its current 190 acres, to 691. That’ll be some place!

    Ginger, glad you enjoyed the walk. Thank you.

    Shelley, thank you. The Robins are such bold little characters.

  9. your pictures of your favorite subjects always amazes me Keith, thanks so much,great to see when you are a bit down.

  10. Well done on the Nightingale Keith, a great catch. Nice Sedge considering the poor light. Looks a nice place to visit.

  11. It's like a visual Percy Edwards!
    Excellent stuff, keep it up.

  12. Thanks for walking us around Paxton Pits.As usual loved all your shots and specially liked the Nightingale.The water lilies look beautiful.

  13. lolit, thank you. Glad you enjoyed them, and I hope they gave you a lift.

    Roy, thanks. It really was a gem of a place. So good to see that Nightingale, and get a picture or two.

    JPT, thank you. 'Percy Edwards', I like that. If I only had half the skills that man had.

    NatureStop, thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. Can't wait to get back there.

  14. Looks like a wonderful place, great images.

  15. Cheers Paul, certainly is a great place.
    Thank you.