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, 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.


  1. Good picture of the Great Tit such clarity in this photo, brilliant.

  2. Lovely collection Keith. The Pintail was a lucky break and yes I know what you mean about some of these expert bird counters.??
    Its alway worth scanning the Golden Plover flock as they do have something different amongst them often. The last Great Tit is very special.

  3. Glad to hear you got a new car...thats good news!! Your rainy day was very fruitful with all those birds and some in huge numbers by the look of it!..The close up of the Green Tit is really fabulous! Enjoy your week.

  4. Question is 'who is going to challenge the count, after the flock have flown over'! Reminds me of a Bulgarian guide who said there were 3586 Pelicans and then added 'plus one' so how could I argue.
    Nice outing in the new motor and some excellent pics, especially the last Great Tit.

  5. A great day out Keith and fantastic photos!! Most of which would grace any calendar, magazine etc.

    There is something very special about the song of the Song Thrush I think. I still mourn the one which serenaded me for weeks in the Spring and then was killed by the neighbour's damned cat!

    I laughed out loud about counting the birds. I have seen so many blogs where someone says they have counted 153 somethings flying over...how on earth do they manage that...hmm!!

    So glad you have your new car sorted out. It makes you much more confident not to have to wonder whether you will reach your destination without breaking down :)

    The last photo, WOW!!

  6. The second closeup of the goldie on the teasel is, well, I'm at a loss for words. Perhaps quietly spectacular? Anyway, it seems you had a wonderful day, Keith.


  7. hi Keith, how are you? it seems winter is fast approaching, better get ready and take all the chances to catch up all your masterpieces.take care!

  8. Thanks Keith. I usually have trouble getting decent shots of these; the black and white face plays havoc with the camera meter.

    Thanks for your comments Roy. Had a good look through the Plovers, but couldn’t find anything mixed with them, apart from Lapwing. I’ve never seen so many in one place.
    These ‘bird counters’ do make me wonder at times lol

    Dixxe, thanks for your comment. It was an excellent day for birds. A good start to the week, which is getting better ;)

    Cheers Frank. Regarding the Bulgarian guide, I think I’d have been tempted to say, ‘I made it more’. lol
    The world is my oyster, now I’ve got the car; well, this part of the world :)

    ShySongbird, thanks for your comments. The singing Song Thrush did stop me in my tracks when I heard him. Like you say, very special to hear in full song.
    Bird counters do amaze me at times, with their accuracy lol
    Now I’ve got the car, no excuse not to visit Draycote soon. You’ve really whetted my appetite, after seeing your posts from there.

    Wilma, thank you. I was very pleased with the way the Goldfinches came out. Fascinating to watch them as they got the seeds.

    Thank you for your comment lolit.
    Good to see you back. I hope things are starting to get back to some normality now where you are.
    I’m hoping the winter months will bring some exciting opportunities here for pictures.
    All the best to you. :)

  9. Lovely shots of the Goldies on the Teasels. I have just got hold of some seed so I hope to see this activity in the garden in the not too distant future.

  10. Hi Keith.
    A brilliant day out by the look of things. I can only endorse what others have said about the last Great Tit...absolutely first class. What camera and lens do you use ? By looking at your picture I think it would be a Canon.

  11. Great to hear you've got reliable wheels to go trekking about. That last shot is amazing!

  12. Hi Keith,
    Wow man, that was a day! You got plenty of nice shots whatever you say!! The last shot is terrific and all the tits and common goldfinch shots are really beautiful.. I would love to get the pintail in the box... I've been trying here but they are quite rare!!

  13. Thanks John. They were really enjoying those teasels. Well worth planting some in the garden.

    Thanks for your comment Trevor.
    Yea, a Canon 50D, with a 100-400mmL lens. Very pleased with the results from it.

    Andrea, thank you for your comment. That last shot seems popular. :)

    Thanks Chris. I've not seen many Pintail around here; and they're usually some way off in the water. Be nice to get some closer shots one day.

  14. Oh my goodness! You got some great ones...those plover images are amazing. The goldfinches are gorgeous - very different from ours...and the last photograph is stunning!

  15. Helen, thank you for your comments.

  16. Superb Keith, there are a couple in the middle of this post that almost look as if I took them, hope it's not catching.

  17. Cheers Adrian. I reckon you'd have done them better ;)

  18. Another great post with lovely pictures. Well done on getting the Plovers however far away they were :) And the Goldie on the thistle head is sooooo good!!

    Isn't it great to be able to get shots of the little birds NOT on feeders for a change!

  19. Your "well-hidden singer" looks much like our Wood Thrush--the bird that eluded me for an entire summer, while singing lovely melodies from within a dark, wooded lot.

  20. Thanks for your comments Tricia.
    The Goldfinches were entertaining to watch, as they dug deep for the seeds on the teasels. Got more pictures of them than I know what to do with lol

    Nina, thank you for stopping by and commenting.
    Your Wood Thrush sounds like the Cetti's Warbler here, that tormented me all year. I finally got pictures, (although not perfect), a little while ago. A great feeling :)

  21. Superb shots you captured. The Goldfinches are splendid little birds.