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, 12 July 2009


Saturday was a day off for me, so I was going out whatever the weather. Friday night I spent some time and made a short list of places to visit; I didn’t want to go local, I fancied somewhere different.

Saturday morning Jims inbuilt alarm had me up early, so I dutifully took him for his run, fed him, the cat and the birds, and set off under grey skies and light rain. So much for the short list; I went to Summer Leys. Not local, not different, but not too far either. The light rain became a steady drizzle, as the clouds were determined to wring out every drop of moisture.

Only one car as I pulled into the car park, and he was just going.

‘Great,’ I thought, ‘no yob birders yet.’

As I stepped from the car the steady drizzle turned to rain. Proper rain. Heavy rain.
There are five hides on the reserve, so it made sense to make my way to the nearest one.

A short path through some long grass leads from the car park to the first, and as I squelched my way there I could hear a Sedge Warbler defiantly singing in the rain.

He wasn’t letting a heavy downpour spoil his day; why should it spoil mine.

Picture opportunities were going to be limited in this poor light.

Once inside the hide, I quickly scanned the water and island in front, to see what was around. Black-headed Gulls and Common Terns noisily dodging raindrops in the sky, a few Mallard swimming with some Greylag Geese, couple of Lapwing on the island, and Mute Swans gathering on the far shore. And the rain was easing off. Things were looking up.

I sat for a while, as the rain stopped, and watched a Ringed Plover, investigating a Coots nest on some rocks by the island.

I decided to make my way to the next hide, whilst the rain was planning its next move. The Sedge Warbler was still singing his merry song behind me as I opened the door to an empty hide.

More Swans, more Coots, Canada Geese swimming in a loose formation, and a Grey Heron gliding in.

More ‘ticks’ for the day.

On to the next hide a bit further along a tree lined path that eventually opens on one side to a field of crops. Growing along the edge was a beautiful blue flower,

Chicory, I think. And slowly the rain came again, as dark clouds passed under the already dark clouds hanging above me. A Pheasant shouted his disgust at the weather; and I mumbled in agreement as I reached the sanctuary of the next hide.

A two-tier affair, empty like the others. I chose the lower deck.

A bedraggled looking Lapwing was foraging amongst the glistening white flowers and mud just in front,

and seemed to have the area all to himself. I think the flowers could be Scentless Mayweed?

I waited for the rain to stop, but the rain had other ideas. It wasn’t stopping till it was ready, so I ventured on to the next hide. Not so much a hide, as a fence with a roof that overlooks another part of the lake, with a small island in the distance. In all my previous visits I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone else stood behind the ‘fence’.

I’m glad I did today though.

Standing amongst the Black-headed Gulls and Lapwing, five stunning Black-tailed Godwits. What a shame they were so far away, and in lousy lighting, but seeing them was like a ray of sunshine on a dull day.

My finger was working overtime on the shutter, and I tried all combinations of settings to see if I could get something worth keeping. Click, click, click; and then an Oystercatcher strolled into the scene.

Not the best of shots, but they made me happy. And just along from the little group, hopping on one leg, a young Redshank. No idea what happened to his other leg, but he seemed to be coping quite well.

I stayed there for ages, the rain stopped and started again, but I didn’t care. There was just so much to see, as Gulls, Terns and Lapwings took it in turns to land on this strip of land with the Godwits. Like they were saying ‘hello.’

I did leave eventually, and made my way to the last hide. A couple of feeders are at this one to attract Finches and the Tree Sparrows; and anything else that stops off for a bite to eat. Some big trees all around, so plenty of cover; but not much light on a day like this.

I messed around with various settings, but failed miserably to get anything that was sharp or in focus. Oh well, not to worry. I had fun trying.

A decision now. Make my way back, or carry on round the lake. No more shelter, apart from under big trees.

I carried on. So did the rain.

As I turned the top end of the lake to make my way down the far side, yellow jewels were carpeting the ground.

Ok, not really jewels, but that’s what they looked like covered in raindrops. Creeping Cinquefoil, and it was everywhere. A couple of people hunched up from the rain, walked past with a dog, and must have thought I was mad, stood there soaking wet, pointing a camera at the ground, going ‘oooooo.’

My madness led me onwards, to some brambles scrambling over some hedges; and scrambling with the brambles,

A female Blackcap. A couple of other birds were scrambling too, and one stopped to give me a quick look.

I think a juvenile Blackcap, but I’m not 100% sure.

Almost at the end now, and as I turned for the final path back to the car, this was growing right in the middle.

Nope, don’t know what it is, but very nice.
(update......Thanks to Phil for the ID; it's Weld)

At the side of the path masses of Ragwort covered in the caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth

Hundreds of them, all different sizes.

Should ensure the next generation at least.

I’d reached the car park, and thought one last look in the first hide before I go, but no change from when I was there a few hours earlier.

A Black-headed Gull gave me a look that said, ‘you again?’

And a few were flying by.

And as I went to leave, this one shouted out something about the weather,

I couldn’t possibly repeat what he said, but just nodded in agreement.


  1. What a lovely walk in the rain.Here we get about 6-7 days of rain in a year.It's been so long since we saw the rains.I really miss it.Anyway I enjoy it through your posts.The Black-tailed Godwits look interesting.I can hear the click,click,click...:)I like the way the Black-headed Gull looked at you.Nice shots of them in flight.

  2. Morning Keith, some very good shots today, the weather has been grim, more for it's unpredictability. So a hide and no dog are the secret, must try it and take loads of frames of I don't know what it ises. Thanks for the post, A.

  3. I particularly like the sedge warbler picture - beautifully composed. Your mystery plant might be dyer's rocket (aka weld) Reseda luteola, whose roots were once a source of yellow dye used by the wool industry.

  4. Ah! Keith. You have such wonderful days out. You delightful picture of the sedge warbler has the distinct feel of a Chinese painting about it and your Chicory and your Lapwing in the Mayweed are beautiful also. Congratulations on the whole piece.

  5. The Sedge Warbler and Creeping Cinquefoil with Raindrops are my favorites of your excellent rainy day portfolio.

  6. Sounds and looks like a great day out even though you may be suffering from rust by now!

    Great pics despite the dull conditions and those BT Godwits are fantastic. It's a pity they're so far away because their plumage colours at this time of the year are wonderful!

    I haven't seen Cinnabar moth caterpillars yet despite looking - so I hope to see some soon!

  7. What a shame it couldn't have been dry for you, we were lucky here but spent most of the weekend loading up the new shed with rusty (due to being stored so long outside) tools! Yes I know it's been a long time coming but things didn't go to plan, don't ask!!!

    Anyway I admire you for pressing on despite the rain and you did get some lovely photos. I loved the Sedge Warbler, the Lapwing and the Blackcap and will remember to look out for Cinnabar Moth caterpillars we have a lot of Ragwort around here.

  8. Thanks NatureStop. Only 6-7 days of rain in a year? That’s more like the amount of sunshine we get in a year. lol
    A week of sun, and they declare a drought usually.
    The Black-tailed Godwits certainly had my shutter going; only the second time I’ve ever seen them.

    Adrian, thanks. I gave up taking Jim with me a while ago. I was missing too many shots lol

    Phil thanks for your comment, and the ID. Looking through my couple of books again, I reckon you’re right. Thanks for that.

    Emma, thank you. Yea, despite the efforts of the weather, I had a great time. I wasn’t too sure about posting the Sedge Warbler picture, but it kind of set the feel of the day :)

    Thanks Wilma. Glad you enjoyed the Sedge Warbler too, and the Creeping Cinquefoil. It looked lovely in the rain.

    Tricia, those Godwits are stunners with that plumage, I’d love to see some a bit closer one-day. The caterpillars seemed to be everywhere once I’d noticed one.
    Suffering from rust would be a fair description lol

  9. Thanks for your comment ShySongbird.
    I'd waited all week to get out, so the rain wasn't going to spoil it. lol
    If I remember it rained last time I went there.

    Glad you've finally got the shed sorted. Something I must do before mine falls down.

  10. A nice group of birds, so many to talk about.

  11. I must say this is one of the finest posts I have seen today. Nice work. Great photography. Under the circumstances, ideal.

    Thank you very much for visiting my birds blog and for the comment you left me there.
    My Birds Blog

  12. For a rainy day you saw some amazing birds! How do you keep your camera dry on a rainy day like that? I really like the shot with 4 different species in ONE frame...incredible!

  13. Thanks for your comment Bob. There was quite a variety to see there for such a lousy day.

    Abe, thank you. Very nice of you to say that, appreciate it.

    Dixxe, thank you.
    I always leave the lens hood on; keeps the rain off, and hopefully any damage to the front element. I also have the camera slung over my shoulder, under my coat, so it all keeps fairly dry.
    So far, so good lol

  14. Keith great job done in poor conditions, love the Juv Blackcap.
    Well done.

  15. Thanks John. It's always good to see the juvenille birds about; they never seem to be as shy as the adults. They soon learn differently though.

  16. I like most the picture of the Blackcap sitting on the brambles, although the bird looks a bit broody. Maybe it was disappoinded by the rainy weather too...

    I have to add that your description of the outing is very gripping and amusing. I love the passage saying: "A Pheasant shouted his disgust at the weather; and I mumbled in agreement as I reached the sanctuary of the next hide." :-)

  17. Beautiful photo's, all of them!!
    Take care

  18. That was most enjoyable. I admit looking at pictures while it's torrential rain outside was quite rewarding. You remind me, I haven't seen our blackcaps this year.

  19. Thanks for your comment Petra.

    Sara, thanks for stopping by, and taking the time to comment. Appreciate it.

    Thanks Valerie. Maybe your Blackcaps will turn up when the weather turns colder? That's the only time I've seen them in my garden.
    When their natural food is in short supply they come and raid my feeders. :)

  20. just perfect!! I really like how you tell us along the way the names of every bird or plant. Do you have books on this?

  21. Thanks Doreen. I do have some good books for ID purposes, which are very useful after a trip somewhere to fathom out the names of whatever has me stumped.
    Birds I'm usually ok with, unless it's totally new to me; plants, I'm very slowly getting there lol

  22. Yes Summer, great isnt it Keith.
    Anyway it was good to see the Blackwits and the female Blackcap was a nice shot under the circumstances.

  23. Cheers Roy. Summers can be so unpredictable can't they :)