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, 29 November 2009

Fairytales and nightmares

Mushrooms. I don’t like eating them; to me it’s like eating a slug, with that rubbery texture. But I do like to photograph them. So many different species, and even with my new ID book, I’m still struggling to put names to them. One I do recognise though, is this one.

Fly Agaric. Countless fairytales feature this one, usually with a fairy sitting on top. Not to be eaten though, or you might just start seeing the fairies.
Something I didn’t know; heavy rain can sometimes wash off the little white bits, (velum), and make it easily confused with similar looking, edible mushrooms.

Fly Agaric, again. You’ll find these growing under spruces and birches, on acidic soil.

This next one is a ‘bracket fungus’.

Not sure of its name, but it looks like someone has launched a burger into the tree.

And these little things. I must read this book properly!

As I found it; and there it stayed. Unknown; for now.

All these were found on a visit to RSPB Sandy, at the weekend. Walking across one of the heaths, I found a large area of these.

Again, no idea what they are. Very spongy to the touch, and reminded me visually of coral.

Closer view. May or may not be a fungi; but I liked it.

Definitely not a fungus, I’ll finish with this little chap.

A Blue Tit. I liked this, so it’s the new header picture, for now.
If I’ve done it properly.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Looking back

I had a wander through some of this years archive pictures the other night, and found a few to post. Nearly 10,000 to choose from, so hopefully these ones from January and February, I’ve not posted before. Apologies if I have.
I’ll post them in chronological order.

A Song Thrush, from 5th January, at the local lake, Caldecote. We’d had a light overnight fall of snow, and it was a very cold morning. The birds were out in force, searching for food, and trying to keep warm. I was lucky, I had a big coat on; they just had feathers.

17th January, and a Redshank from the other local, Willen Lake. A wet morning, followed by some sunshine. It was good to get out and feel the sun. The evening turned very windy though, and finally my garden fence succumbed to its force, and two panels finished up flapping from a broken post. I’ll fix it one day.

My very first sighting of a Bittern; and the very first record of one at Caldecote Lake. (26th January enters local history). He was pursued by a gang of 20 plus Black-headed Gulls, before finally seeking refuge in some reeds; but not before I managed a few pictures. The local bird club were pleased too when I reported the sighting, along with some pictures. He only stayed a couple of weeks. I guess he got fed up with the gulls bullying.

The last day of January, sunny, and as warm as a sunny January can get. And a surprise garden visit from this beautiful female Blackcap. Her old man popped by later, but didn’t pose so well.

Onto February, and another surprise. Snow. The amount that came down seemed to surprise everyone, including the birds.

This Dunnock was looking very miserable, trying to find some shelter. The second day of February, and the snow had come with a vengeance. What a way to start the week.

Fifth day, and still snow. Unheard of here. This Pied Wagtail in the garden was searching out food, and trying to keep warm. I kept clearing large areas of snow from the grass with a broom to make it easier for the birds to move around, and did my best to keep some of the pond from freezing over with frequent hot saucepans of water, balancing on the ice. These acts of kindness must have finally convinced the neighbours I had finally lost the plot.

A pair of Mute Swans treating me to a fly past at Willen Lake. Saturday, 21st February, crocuses are flowering in the garden, and the snow is now just a fading memory.

And to end on,

A Robin hiding in the branches at Summer Leys Nature Reserve. My first time there, Sunday, 22nd. It was a dull, cloudy morning, but this little chap made my visit brighter.

Hope you all have a good weekend.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Catching up

I’m still trying to catch up with all the blogs I’ve missed recently, so between the catching up, I thought I’d throw a few pictures up. They’re from the weekend just gone, when I should have stayed in nursing my cold, but I just had to get out, despite the changeable weather. One minute sun, then rain.

Anyway, enough waffle………..

My first Fieldfare of the winter, and first time I’ve managed pictures. I took loads, until he spotted me.

And where there’s Fieldfare, there’s usually Redwings.

Next up is a very heavy crop of a Kestrel.

I only usually get these hovering, so it made a change to get one sitting still for a while.

And complete madness going out in the rain, but

Whooper Swans.

And a very wet Pochard.

There were two, but his mate had just dived under; probably to keep dry.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Man flu

That’s the reason I’ve not been on much the last few days. I’ll catch up with everyone’s post I’ve missed eventually, but it’s been a regime of medicine and early nights the last few days.
There was a brief bit of sunshine this afternoon, so on with the big coat, and a halfhearted walk round a bit of the lake for some fresh air. Not sure it did me any good, but it was good to get away from these four walls for a while.
So a few pictures. First one from last Sunday morning, and the other three, in today’s sunshine.

Mrs Bullfinch

Mr. Bullfinch

Mrs Blackbird, eating berries

Mr. Mallard

Right, medicine and sleep I think. Have a good weekend.

Monday, 16 November 2009

I’m smiling

Saturday’s weather was pretty dire here, like most of the country. Not very good for being out with a camera, but I had a busy weekend with family commitments, so I grabbed a couple of hours down at one of the local lakes. The sun shone briefly at first, but soon turned to heavy rain along with the strong winds. I managed a few pictures though.

A small group of Tufted Duck slowly swam past, and the Cormorants were busily flying backwards and forewords, going about their morning business.
A group of Cygnets made a brief fly past, and one broke off from the main group, and decided to make a landing amongst a group of Pochard and Tufted Duck.
The Pochard ignored all this flying around, and were more content to just sit with their heads tucked under a wing, or engage in a spot of preening.

But what was that sitting in the middle of them?

A Red Crested Pochard. The first one I’ve seen here at Willen, and scanning the rest of them, I picked out his other half, bobbing around with the rest of the flotilla.

The Black-headed Gulls were up to the usual; harass anything that seemed to move, or each other, mainly led by this character.

Having a brief rest, and showing off his new head feathers. He’ll soon have a lovely chocolate brown head, just like his parents before him.

But all too soon the weather quickly clouded over again, bringing short bursts of rain, before the heavy deluge. Before I left for home, a small group of Gadwall flew in, and began performing a game of chase.
Maybe they thought it was spring, as they noisily chased a couple of females around. Their antics certainly made me smile.

But the other reason I’m smiling?

I’ve just received a prize through the post. A competition I entered in the October edition of Birdwatch magazine. It involved identifying a wader; of all things. Something I’m hopeless at.
And the prize?
A year’s family membership to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.
I should be an expert at wader ID by this time next year!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Summer Leys again

A busy week with work, lousy weather most of the time, so not much chance to get out with the camera. A rare, for me anyway, weekend off, and the weather forecast is pretty dire. Howling winds outside as I type this, so I hope those poor birds find somewhere sheltered to hang on tight for the night.

The following selection is from last Sundays trip to Summer Leys, thank goodness for the archives.

Great Tit

Reed Bunting

Blue Tit

Little Grebe

Blue Tit


Have a great, safe weekend everyone.

Monday, 9 November 2009

A day out

Sunday morning I took a trip to Summer Leys, in Northamptonshire. A dull, cloudy morning, but the first time for a while I’ve been able to get out somewhere, and not worry about the car breaking down. I’ve got a new one. Big smile!

Anyway, as I got half way there, the heavens opened. The clouds were moving across the sky faster than I was travelling down the road, and throwing some fierce rain my way. Undeterred, I carried on, and as I neared my turning, the rain slowed to a light drizzle. The old saying, ‘rain before seven, fine by eleven’ was going to be put to the test here.
I parked up, grabbed my camera, and stood in an empty car park. The rain stopped, and I listened to a few birds singing in the trees. I could hear the gulls screeching from the lake, but the sound of a Song Thrush, singing his lovely repetitious song held my attention.
I wandered over to the tree, to try and find him. Usually perched high; but nothing. I stood, listening as he sang his notes for all he was worth. Finally I spotted him. Not at the top, but somewhere down amongst the few leaves left, and hidden by branches.

A well-hidden singer, and difficult to capture, but I was determined to find him. Not the best shot I know, but I was pleased to finally locate him. The day could only get better. I wandered down to the first hide, and began ticking off the birds I could see.
Cormorant, Mute Swan, Coots, Moorhen. A couple of Snipe probing the mud, but not cooperating very much for pictures, Tufted Duck, and then……..
Another Scaup? I took a few shots, so I could have a better look when I got home.
Nah! I decided my ‘Scaup’, was a female Tufted, after seeing the ‘tufts’ on the head. Never mind. I strolled along to the next hide, and sat down.
Lapwing, Shoveler, Teal; and in the distance, Pintail.
Just making it as a record shot. A heavy crop, in lousy weather, but recognisable. I was hoping this wasn’t going to be a day of dodgy record shots.
An enormous flock of birds suddenly took to the air. A lot of Lapwings, but, steadily rising up, and turning like a flock of Starlings going to roost, were Golden Plover! Hundreds!
I saw some of these a few weeks ago at Tring, and it was reported there were in excess of 160. Now I’m no good at counting large flocks of birds, and I sometimes wonder how some people confidently state, ‘367 ‘whatevers’ flying over……
I just know there were probably 5 times as many, if not more, than I saw at Tring.
Hundreds of the buggers!
Now, you’re probably expecting pictures. Good pictures. Hmmmm, so was I.
More record shots I’m afraid.

Heavily cropped too. But one day……..

I sauntered off down the footpath that circles the lake. Trees either side, and bushes. Maybe better luck with the songbirds. Smaller, but a little more approachable.
Up ahead, Teasels were standing proud, growing at the side of the path. I could hear birds. Goldfinches. I stopped, and waited. Pretty soon, a dozen or more descended upon them, searching out the seed from within.

That’s better, I thought, as I took a ridiculous amount of shots.
And a Great Tit, in the distant shrubs.

Not a grand close up, all feather detail and stuff. I fancied a shot showing his environment, for a change.

I carried on to where the bird feeders are. Some closer shots should present itself here. They’re far too busy feeding, than to worry about some old bloke with a camera.

Reed Bunting, waiting his turn for the seed table.

Blue Tit, doing the same.

His bigger cousin, the Great Tit, doing his impression of a Woodpecker,

and a male Chaffinch, patiently waiting for his spot at the table.

I had a really good day, despite the efforts of the weather, clocking up 40 different bird species. Summer Leys usually turns out to be a good visit, and I even managed to find a friendly birder to talk to, later in the day.

One last shot of a Great Tit, before I go.