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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Monday, 13 July 2009

Quick visit to Willen

As I walked Jim in the downpour early Sunday morning, I thought, ‘here we go again, more rain.’ But by the time we both got home, looking like two drowned rats, it stopped. And was that a bit of blue sky up there, peering through the cloud?

YES!! Willen Lake here I come!

One of the locals, and usually good on most days. Regular nesting House Martins, plenty of Warblers, and the Black Swan(s).

Joggers and dog walkers too; but ya can’t have everything I guess. Early visits are always best, so I went early.

Empty car park, so a good start. The long grass was a trifle damp, if not soggy, so I walked the path to the hide. Up in the trees a Song Thrush was singing in the day, while Blackbirds busily collected breakfast on the ground below. An invisible Chiffchaff was calling from somewhere, and Reed and Sedge Warblers were dueting from the edge of the lake; and every so often a Sedge Warbler would briefly take to the air, still singing, and then drop back down again, as though he’d changed his mind.

Gazing out from the hide across the lake, the few birds that were about were still busily sleeping, or just rising from dreamland. A group of Herons were busy chasing a couple of Little Egrets on the island, and half a dozen Common Terns were watching from the sky.

I carried on to see how the House Martins were doing up at the fitness centre. They often use their old nests, assuming someone hasn’t destroyed them whilst they’ve spent the winter in Africa. If they build a new one it can take up to 10 days to build, and over 1,000 beak sized pellets of mud. Most of these nests are thankfully left alone.

All was well, and the youngsters were coming along just fine.

One of the Black Swans was socialising with a large group of Mute Swans at the edge of the lake, all, no doubt, waiting for the first human visitors with bags of bread.

I slowly made my way back towards the hide, as the sun began to force its way through the cloud. And with the sun, came the Damsels.

A Common Blue with some breakfast.

A few bees were buzzing around the Common Knapweed, and among them this one,

with a bright orange bum.

I hadn’t taken as many pictures as I usually do, but as I passed a large bush, some noisy activity caught my attention; and my shutter finger.

Some young Willow Warblers darting around. This one was the boldest, and probably the oldest, the others preferring to keep fairly well hidden. Then mum, turned up with food.

She sat on the branches for a while, as I took a few quick shots. The hard work of raising kids was showing.

Another of our summer visitors that would soon be packing their bags to spend the winter in sub-Saharan Africa, and as far south as South Africa. That’s one heck of a journey, and with an average lifespan of just two years, these little birds have a tough time in their short lives.

A quick shake of her feathers,

and she was off; into the cover of the bush, to feed her hungry family.

I left her to it, wishing her and her family a safe journey when they make their long migration.

and, I'd like to say a thank you to Dixxe, for making the button for me; over on the right ------> Thanks Dixxe :)


  1. Keith,The button looks great!You got some great shots of the Warblers. It's so difficult to capture them,they are small and so swift...Oh my!they really do a lot of flying:)

  2. Really look forward to your blog, pictures are great and it helps that you know what you are looking at, all the best.

  3. Love the photos of the Willow Warblers. Great picture of the Common Blue. Haven't seen many damsels and no dragons at all yet this year.

  4. 'Over 1,000 beak sized pellets of mud'!! Wow! No wonder they are happy to use old nests, but I do think birds and animals show us humans up sometimes, if a job needs doing they just get on and do it, none of our putting it off until tomorrow or 'can't be bothered'! They really are a lesson to us.

    I love the photos of the Willow Warblers and, there again, such a lot of hard work and travelling for such delicate little creatures.

  5. beautiful images - thanks so much for bringing to each of us all the splendor of the natural world - jenean

  6. I couldn't possibly pick a favorite from these - but maybe the baby.....

  7. You make it look so easy! How long do you spend at the hide? I run out of patience and get restless. You must be the most patient person I have come across in a long time. Thanks for the visits and comments on my bolg. I look forward to more pictures and stories.

  8. IM really happy you liked the button, its fun to have your Very own ICON!..WOW the birds you put up today are fabulous...I love the martin feeding that super and the little Willow Warbler shots are GREAT!..keep up the great work my friend.

  9. Another top post, Keith. I'm useless at identifying birds but through your photography I'm getting to know them better - thanks. Amazing to think of the journey the Willow Warblers will be making.

  10. Thanks NatureStop. Yea, Dixxe did a good job on the button. :)
    I was lucky with the Warblers; they were only a few feet in front of me in the bush, and didn’t seem very bothered about me being there.

    Adrian thanks for your comment. I still get stuck on some of the birds, especially Gulls. They all look the same to me lol

    Thanks John. I’ve only recently started seeing a few more Dragons about; the Damsels seem to be everywhere though.

    ShySongbird couldn’t agree more about the animals and birds. They really do ‘just get on with it’, or perish. Certainly a tough life.

    Jenean, thanks for your visit and comment. Appreciate it. I just wish I could spend a lot more time with the wildlife. One day :)

    Helen, thank you. The youngsters are very photogenic. I think it’s the sheer innocence, and the vulnerability of them that make them so attractive to us.

    Thanks David. Pictures from hides can need a lot of patience at times; something I don’t usually have much of, but when I’m out with the camera, time just stands still.
    I think the bigger challenge comes out in the field, and slowly stalking your subject.
    Much more rewarding when you get the ‘shot.’

    Thanks for your comment Dixxe, and the ‘button.’
    I’m hoping to get to the coast Monday, and try my luck at some waders. Should be interesting, ‘cause I’m hopeless at their ID’s lol

    Rob, thanks for that. Good to know my pictures are a help, and enjoyment.
    It is amazing to think such small birds like the Warblers and other small birds make such journeys. It must be so tough for them, and so many dangers along the way.
    And I moan sometimes when I have to walk up the shop lol

  11. Your pictures are stunners Keith as always. Love Lady Willow Warbler going about her daily business - well captured and that bumble isn't bad either ;)

    Those House Martins definitely get the AW prize on today's post though :D

    It's amazing the journeys small birds undergo...and without a map too!!!

  12. Wonderful collection of photographs, you're very talented with the camera. I like the button too.

  13. Incredible series of shots of the warbler.
    Oh! I read chapter 2...I print it. Can't wait for the tale to unfold.

  14. crisp and clear photos. love the story of the birds and info along with the pics. great job!!

  15. Thanks Tricia. The Willow Warblers were great to be able to watch so close; just a few feet of air between us.
    The same with the House Martins, they nest every year at that spot, have become very used to people being around.

    Valerie, thank you for your compliment. Appreciate it.
    Dixxe did a great job with the button for me.

    Thanks Andrea.
    Chapter three tomorrow; hope you enjoy it as much.

    Doreen, thanks. Glad you enjoy it all.

  16. These are all do wonderful...I like them all! Thanks for sharing.

  17. ...the Willow Warblers are always so cute. Love your series, and what a cool button!! I love it!

  18. That's a lovely set of W Warblers images Keith and that Bumble Bee shot is really great.

  19. Thanks for your comment Lenora.

    Thanks Kelly, glad you enjoyed it.
    The button’s great :)

    Bhavesh, thank you for stopping by, following and commenting. Appreciate it.

    Thanks Roy. The Warblers were perfect posers. :)