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
No Google Adds here.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Draycote Water, part two

I eventually left the spartan comfort of the hide, and continued round the top end of the lake, and the walk back to my starting point. The rain came again, a light misty rain.
Onward, along the tarmac road. Not a soul to be seen. I can imagine on a warm sunny day, the place heaving with people, but today, just me and the birds. A large Gull sat by the edge of the water.

Herring Gull? Dunno. But he was big and mean looking.
No sign of Green-winged Teal anywhere. Maybe he’d flown away, or I just couldn’t see him for looking. I did see a Sparrowhawk though, swoop low across the waters edge, sending what birds were there scurrying for safety. He did his pass, and landed some distance away amongst the trees; quickly followed by a Crow, who sat a few feet away. They sat, I watched. Then the hawk left, pursued by the crow.
These birds of prey get a tough time sometimes, being harassed by other birds.
They’re only looking for a meal after all.
I walked on through the drizzle. I’d no idea how long I’d been out. I don’t own a watch, and my mobile was tucked away in a pocket somewhere. It didn’t really matter what the time was, I had the day to myself, and…………
A blue flash caught my eye. It landed just ahead. I slowly crept along, gathering my camera from the dry under my coat. A Kingfisher. My breathing slowed, as I inched along. I could see him. He could see me. He took off, and flew further along.
I hurried my pace, determined to capture this blue tormentor once and for all.
A Blackbird flew along in front of me, shouting his alarm call. ‘Spoilsport’ I thought to myself. The trees gave way to a clear spot, and there he was. Waiting, or so it seemed. My pace slowed again, camera at the ready. I raised it to my eye. Still too far away. I moved forward again. I could hear voices in the distance behind me, getting closer. I stopped, and could only watch in despair as he took off again, flying ever further away.
I turned, and smiled, as two women rode by on their bikes, discussing women’s talk. They peddled off into the distance, as I cursed a thousand curses in their direction.
Silently, of course.
A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew across the road, and disappeared into the trees. I was nearing my final turn now, but still a way to go yet back to the car park.
And up ahead, briskly walking towards me…………..Chinese woman. Three circuits to my three quarters. Boy, could this woman go.
I turned the final bend, water to my left, and water falling from above. Some rocks were lining the shore now, and down on the mud, Meadow Pipits, prodding and poking.

I watched them for a while, taking a few not very good shots, and then something caught my eye. I swung the camera, and fired, not knowing if I was focused or not.

Was that a………?

A Stoat. He paused, and turned, looking in my direction.

Then disappeared amongst the rocks. I stood, eyes searching the rocks. I couldn’t believe what I’d seen. Then he popped up again, watching from a safe distance.

A ruthless killing machine, certainly; but what a beauty. He popped in and out the rocks, constantly watching me all the time. He glided effortlessly over the stone, as I watched in amazement. This was, after all, his territory. He knew it like the back of his clawed foot. He played his game of hide and seek for ages,

until he was eventually bored with all this rushing around, and finally evaporated into the rocks. I had a grin a mile wide.

I was still grinning as I climbed into the car.


  1. Hey Keith congratulations on the Stoat images. Brilliant.
    You did see a lot that day. The mean looking Gull is an adult Herring in winter plumage. (I think) Shame about the Kingfisher though, but ain't it always.

  2. Hi Keith. I reckon that last photograph is as close as you will ever get to a Stoat.
    You should have asked the Chinese Woman what she had for breakfast and made a mental note.
    Looks like a winning day...shame about the Kingfisher though.

  3. Super shots Keith no wonder you had a grin a mile wide, well done

  4. OH ME FIRST!! This is fabulous Keith..what a wonderful shot of nature incognito!! Awesome right time right place and camera at the ready...what a reward you got for your trouble!! Enjoy the rest of the weekend--here the weather is a bit out of whack..hoping for some sun later.

  5. Thanks Roy. Got to see quite a few birds that day, despite the weather.
    Had a feeling the gull was a Herring; thanks for the confirmation.
    Still trying for the Kingfisher lol

    Thanks Trevor. The Stoat was great to watch, as he popped out of various rocks. At one point he was about 20 feet away, but so quick, I couldn’t get a picture.
    That Chinese woman was amazing; so much energy.

    Keith, thank you. I got to thinking if it’s this good on a bad day; spring and summer can only be better.

    Dixxe, thank you. That Stoat was the ‘icing on the cake’ at the end of the day.
    Our weather is going from one extreme to the other. Snow the last couple of days, and today, blue sky and sunshine. Dam cold though lol

  6. The stoat series is wonderful, a great end to what seems to have been a very full outing. You definitely did not disappoint your expectant readers ...


  7. That's a winner, the Stoat is perfect.

  8. Wilma, thank you. A superb day, despite the efforts of the weather.

    Cheers Bob. He was a good end to a perfect day.

  9. Wow all that effort on your part Keith rewarded in the end with the superb views and pictures of the Stoat. You must be well pleased.

  10. Super shot with the Stoat who definitely played ball with you. As for the other one, well tomorrow is another day.

  11. Thanks Bob. Very pleased. Never expected to see a Stoat so close.

    Cheers Frank. Not many days left if I'm to get the other one this year.

  12. I've seen plenty of stoats but never managed a photo - congratulations. All the right poses, as well.

  13. Whoot Keith..I would have been grinnin'too!! Wonderful fun catch!! I so know how you feel!! I felt like I was there at the lake with you..wonderful words and pictures!
    Hugs, Sarah

  14. How delightful! And - your new header is stunning!

  15. I know the feeling with the Kingfisher near miss. :(

    Great photos of the Stoat, especially the final one.

  16. Wow! Great capture!! I especially love the last photo, such great detail.

  17. Thanks Scriptor. It was a case of right place, right time with the Stoat. Pure luck. I doubt I’ll get that lucky again.

    Sarah, thank you. One of those ‘perfect’ days.

    Helen, thank you for your comment. :)

    Cheers John. I’m still trying with the kingfisher lol

  18. Thank you Ashley. I was very pleased with some of them too. Closest I've ever been to one.

  19. A stoat! what a great find! i can imagine your excitement. Looks like he let you get some great photos of him too, very kind of the little guy. Liked reading your post!

  20. The Stoat was looking at you so seriously and sadly... the last photo is a great portrait, Keith. In spite of that terrible weather there were some interesting moments for you, that's good. We pick them bit by bit, don't we? :-)
    By the way, how do you protect yourself from such a persistent rain? Do you wear any special raincoat?

  21. I have never heard of a stoat. looks like a cross between a cat and a fox to me. very cute little guy! but like you said, I am sure fierce when encountered. I bet you were very pleased that the little guy showed up and sort of played hide and seek with you.

  22. Great stuff Keith ! LOVE that little Stoat !!!! Have a great Christmas matey.

  23. Thanks Jill, glad you enjoyed it. I think the Stoat was definitely the star of the day.

    Petra, thank you for your comment. usually I wouldn’t have gone out on such a wet day, but after driving there I thought I may as well carry on. Glad I did.
    For wintertime and bad weather I’ve got a big waterproof coat, and hat. The camera sits snugly under the coat from my shoulder, so keeps dry. I doubt I’d win any fashion prizes, but it keeps me warm and dry. lol

    Thanks Doreen. About right with your observation. Very similar in size to a Mink, but with a longer tail. They feed on rodents, rabbits and small birds; very wary usually of humans, so we’re quite safe.

    Cheers Nick. That sort of end to the day made it all worthwhile.
    Enjoy your Christmas too.

  24. Congratulations! The stout is very hard to see, not mention to photograph them...

  25. Excellent! I'm so excited for you.
    Looks very much like our ermine; jet black in summer and pure white in winter.

  26. Thank you Marius. I think after all the rain, he took pity on me, and decided to pose for a while.

    Andrea, thank you for your comment. They are very similar aren't they.