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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Saturday, 6 June 2009

Walking with Swifts

That’s just what it felt like, as I walked the edge of Willen Lake, one of the locals, on Friday morning.

A light drizzle in the dull cloudy sky as I trod my well worn path through the wet grass. I wanted to check on the Black/White Swan family; but for now, the Swifts held my attention.
Screaming overhead like banshees; no idea how many; let’s just say, lots. I stopped to watch, as they swooped over the lake, soared over the reeds, and whistled past my head by inches. Mouth open, I was mesmerised by their aerobatic skill, and thankful they didn’t crash into me.

Imagine that down the A&E, ‘oh yea, he was hit by a flying bird.’

Nah, these were not ordinary aviators. These were ‘Top Gun’, masters of the high speed flight, and as I slowly walked on, they seemed to follow me along the path, over my shoulder, bank in front, then swoop down for a second pass.

I was walking with Swifts, and it was breathtaking!

As I navigated the well trodden path further, they gradually left, and returned to the feeding area behind me. Sedge Warblers were singing their frantic song from beside the lake, and proving even more difficult to photograph in the lousy light.

It was like shooting through treacle!

I stopped off at the hide for a quick look; Canada Geese over on the island, with some Coot, a Shoveler, and a Little Egret perched up in a tree. And on the spit, a hapless young Heron, being dive bombed by a Common Tern.

Not sure what he’d done to provoke this attack, but he certainly didn’t look too happy, ducking and diving, to avoid the angry Tern. It entertained me though, for a while.

Making my way to where the Swans hang out, I came across a small group of Greylag Goslings.

It just begs for a caption, I think, so feel free to leave one if you choose to.

Well, I found the Swans, and cygnets, and they all seemed happy and healthy,

and looking like regular Mute Swan cygnets to me.

The drizzly rain had stopped now, and the clouds seemed to be getting brighter; well, sort of. I took a few shots of a couple of this strange avian ménage à trois for the ‘family album’,

and one of the kids.

As it got a bit brighter, and the sun desperatley trying to poke through the cloud, I began to make my way back, turning my interest to some of the Damsels that had felt the welcome warmth, and had come out from hiding.

A male Red-eyed Damselfly,

and his partner

and some lovely Common Melilot, beginning to make a show.

As I reached the hide on my return journey, the clouds began to gather in strengh again. More rain looked threatening.
A young Heron sat quietly in the reeds, contemplating life and the universe,

or maybe he was watching his brother being chased by an angry Tern.

A Wren was singing his powerful song from the bushes beside the hide, and the Cetti’s Warbler was mocking from his usual spot. I didn’t care right now, as I raised my camera, to catch another passing Heron.

Satisfied with a good morning, despite the weathers efforts, I made my way home.


  1. A wonderful narrative and a thoroughly fun read Keith. The photos do it justice , especially the last shot of the Heron, which I think is a definite ' wallhanger '. Bravo mate.

  2. Another great illustrated read Keith. I agree with Nick about the last photo - what a really spectacular one that is.

    Watching Swallows can be exhausting. Last year Bobby and I sat on the cricket field watching a group in their never ending swooping as they caught the various flies which were only inches above the ground.

    Love the swan family portraits - beautiful close ups.

  3. It's a long time since I've seem melilot. I always liked this plant - if you crush the leaves they have a really intense scent of new-mown hay....

  4. Another lovely read and more wonderful photos Keith. Well, you have your perfect first book title there,'Walking with Swifts'.

    I think the Greylag goslings caption is, 'Don't look round! He's behind us, that strange bloke Mum told us about!' ;)

    I loved the Sedge Warbler Photo, the Heron being divebombed and the masterly Heron in flight!

  5. First of all love your new header.Really enjoyed the fight between the Heron and the Common Tern.You captured it nicely.And the last shot is amazing!!!

  6. Cheers Nick, glad you enjoyed it. I must admit I rather like that last shot myself. I think I might get that one printed up.

    John, thank you for your comment. Glad you enjoyed it; and the last one. :)

    Phil, thanks. There was quite a bit of Melilot growing there. I never knew that about the scent from the crushed leaves, thanks for that info. I’ll give that a try next time I’m there.

    Thank you ShySongbird. Hmmm, 'Walking with Swifts' does have a ring to it.
    Like your caption; I’m sure that’s what they think sometimes. :)

    NatureStop, thank you. Glad you like the header, and the rest. I’m my own worst critic, and never know which to post, or leave out. lol

  7. "Walking with Swifts" - sounds idyllic with them all around you Keith. Another great walk in your local patch as I wandered with you.

    The cygnets are definitely growing up now and looking less "fluffy"!

    And yes - that final picture of the Heron is wonderful! :D

  8. I love the last shot of the Heron 'flying into the light' perhaps!

  9. Tricia, thank you. It was a great experience having them fly so close like that.
    Those cygnets are coming along really well.

    JPT, thank you. Pleased with that one myself. :)

  10. Wonderful stuff Keith - I like the variety of wildlife you show in your posts.

  11. Red-eyed Damselfly is an interesting find - I haven't seen one of those yet. Wonderful variety as always.

  12. Keith, the photos are especially wonderful today!..Loving the heron in flight, and having witnessed the anger of terns I had to laugh at the heron's "attitude" as he squawked back.

  13. ...first...I love your new banner. What a spectacular flight shot, especially with the fish in his bill--gorgeous (did you add the Wildlife Gunslinger? I missed it before....love it!)

    Back to the post. I really like your narration of walking with the swifts. I could totally imagine what it felt like, as it brought back the memory of a similar occurrence I had this spring. It was lovely. Love all the photographs...the herons are always special (the last shot is beautiful).

  14. Thank you Matt, appreciate your comment.
    I've had a good week while I've been off work this week; but all back to normal now.

    Rob, thank you. It was the first one I've ever knowingly seen too. A bonus getting the pair.

    Dixxie, thanks. Yea those Terns can be quite aggresive at times.

    Kelly, glad you like the banner, and I couldn't resist adding 'Wildlife Gunslinger' lol
    It was a great experience to be amongst those Swifts while they hunted for insects, and they came so close at times. Glad you enjoyed the pictures. Thank you.

  15. Wow....your photographs are fantastic!! Love the Herons. I will be spending a lot of time looking/following your pictures.

  16. Thank you Lenora, and thanks for following.
    Glad you enjoyed the pictures.