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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Thursday, 17 December 2009

Draycote Water

ShySongbird has mentioned a couple times over on her excellent blog, some visits to Draycote Water. It sounded a great place to visit, (just over an hours steady drive from me according to my map), so Monday, up with the singing Robin in the garden, I set off; early. A cold morning, and still dark; I wanted to avoid the morning rush hour traffic if I could.

Light drizzle quickly turned to heavier rain, and I kept wondering if I should turn back; go another day. Nah! Sod it, I’m up now………..I carried on.

I pulled into the car park, just as daylight struggled its way through the rain. I had the place to myself, not so surprising, given the weather. A couple of Fieldfare were gorging on berries, hanging from the bushes, and a Blackbird noisily flew across the empty parking area.
And the rain stopped.

I walked up towards the large lake; about a 5-mile circuit I think. By the new visitor centre, (closed), are lots of sailing boats.

Water sports is quite a feature of this place,

but what I’d come to see, were the birds.

This is only a part of the lake, but it gives an idea of what sort of day it was. Dull and misty.
And then it started raining again.
I turned, and began to walk round the lake, anticlockwise. I don’t know why, but I prefer it that way. In the short distance from the car to the edge of the bank surrounding this lake, I’d counted off 15 different birds already. Nothing rare or exotic, no birds I’d never seen before anywhere else; even at my local, just up the road from me, but I had an air of………excitement. The unknown. I didn’t know what I might see.
I’d read on their website, a Green-winged Teal was loitering at one end of the lake. That would be new to me. Would I see it? I didn’t know. But it didn’t matter, I’d already seen more Little Grebes and pairs of Goldeneye than I’d ever seen in one place before. Coots bobbed in the water with Mallards and Tufted Ducks, Pied Wagtails searched the shoreline with Grey Wagtails, and in a distant field a large flock of gulls. Big, black and white ones. Lesser, or Greater-black Backed ones.
Remember, I’m no Gull expert, but they were there. And there, in the tree tops, sat a Kestrel,

looking mighty fed up with the weather. The rain was coming down hard now, as I carried on. I stopped to scan the lake with the binoculars. Great Crested Grebe were diving for fish, along with the Cormorants, and an Oystercatcher flew up, and crossed to the other side. He must have been on the shore, just in front of me; and I missed him.
And just in front of me, an elderly Chinese woman, briskly walking along in the rain, wearing a splendid blue hat. I smiled, and nodded, as she passed.
I’m not the only daft bugger walking around in this rain’, I thought.
I stopped to scan the trees and bushes on my right. Chaffinch, Blue Tit, and a small party of Long Tailed Tits, noisily flitting from branch to branch. Rain wasn’t stopping their fun; and it wasn’t stopping mine either. Just making it difficult to take pictures.
I watched them for a while, and then slowly made my way up towards the top end of the lake.

Teal were noisily dabbling in the shallow edges, and Lapwing noisily took to the air, announcing my arrival. I watched as they swirled around, and eventually came back down, settling where they were originally. And just up ahead, a bird hide. Somewhere to sit for a while. I looked back the way I’d come, and it seemed a long way off. I still had a long way to go yet, but the rain had slowed, and eventually stopped. For a while.
I carried on towards the hide. On my right were some trees, so I wandered through them, to see if any birds were hiding in there. The ground was muddy, the bare branches dripping raindrops, but no birds. I came out, and walked to the boardwalk that led to the hide. Coming round the corner was Chinese lady, still briskly walking, as though on a mission of great importance.
Excuse me.’ I said. ‘Does the path go right round the lake?
Yes, all tarmac road.’ she answered, as she faded into the distance. Bloody hell, that woman could walk fast. She’d done a circuit already, and I had barely done a quarter.
She must be fit. I lit a cigarette.
I raised the bins, and scanned the shoreline. The dark blobs suddenly turned into Teal. Green-winged Teal in there? I chucked the smoke, and walked down the boards to the hide door. I carefully opened it, and stepped inside.
Empty. Of course. There’s only me and Chinese woman here today; and she’s on a different mission to me. I gazed out across the water. Lots of Teal and Black-headed Gulls bobbing, more on the far side, and Lapwings. I carefully opened a window. To the right, a feeder with Tits and Finches taking advantage of the free food, and below,

three Mallard, gazing upwards, waiting for any dropped seed. They looked comical, standing there, waiting for the leftovers. And when the little birds flew to the bushes, they dropped their heads in disappointment.

Some distance from the hide, were some branches, near the waters edge. Why is it that most hides are so bloody far away from the water? Because sitting on a branch, was a Kingfisher. Now I’ve yet to get a decent shot of one of these. I set myself a personal target this year, to capture one on camera. I fired off some shots, but even cropped, with the poor light, my efforts came to nothing. He flew from branch to branch; posed, then flew back again. I tried. I really did.

I gave up, and just watched instead. Fascinating to watch him going backwards and forewords.

Yea.........I know! The best I could manage. Still have a few days left though till the New Year.

I sat in the hide for ages, just watching. Wet and cold, but very happy.

to be continued………….


  1. Like this post Keith, an accurate depiction of our current weather. At least you got a Kingfisher.

  2. Great post Keith. I have got the same problem with the Kingfisher on the Baywatch site. He is either too fast , too far away or not around so like yourself I am still waiting for a reasonable shot.

  3. simply beautifully captured shots...lovely!

  4. I see you've been a busy boy recently and adding mileage to the new motor!
    Great feeling to be exploring a new location when there is nobody else around (except you know who) and soaking up whatever nature has to offer. Cheers FAB.

  5. nice entry, I don't know about the cold and wet but the just sitting and watching part I can relate to - being happy that is.
    and your new header is beautiful

  6. Hi Keith,
    Wow the weather also looks terrible in your area. Euh just one question, did you forget to mention the moorhen on the mallard pictures of you did not see it ;-) I'll give anything to get your shot of kingfisher. I've seen it thousands time in France but never got any pictures!!! I've to go for it next year specifically!!! You still got a beautiful message with nice pictures despite the weather!

  7. Well how could I not comment on this post!! Well done Keith, I'm so glad you got there and hope you didn't find it an anticlimax after all my enthusiasm. What a shame the weather wasn't kinder to you! Thank you so much for the kind mention :)

    This is a beautifully written post and I loved seeing the Kestrel and the Kingfisher, I too was desperate to get a photo of one this year but didn't even see one anywhere. I do agree about the hide and also think the place would benefit from more than one. I hope you weren't too bothered by the less than pleasant aroma from the sewage works, it is worse sometimes than others! The Mallards are always there looking longingly at those feeders and they do look comical. I noticed you mentioned Goldeneye, they weren't there when I went last but I have been keeping an eye on their website to see what I am missing :(

    I'm sorry not to have commented on your last two excellent posts, I am rather under the weather at the moment and struggling to keep up with blogging. However I have read and enjoyed them, it was nice to see the Mandarins, I have never seen one apart from photos, they are so exotic looking!

    Great stuff Keith, I'm really looking forward to the next installment. By the way the Chinese lady with the blue hat sounded like something from a ghost story are you sure she was real....

  8. Thanks Adrian. Weather is turning slightly now; snow flurries lol
    Still after a decent Kingfisher close-up though.

    Trevor, thank you. They are tricky birds to get close to. All I’ve managed so far is little blue dots. One day I’ll get him ;)

    Thank you for your comment flyingstars.

    Cheers Frank. Had a few days off recently, so tried to get out somewhere when I can. I need a dog sitter to go further a field though lol
    It’s definitely worth more visits there though.

    Ginger, thank you. Watching it all happen around you is a great way to spend time.
    Glad you like the new header too, thank you.

    Chris, thank you. Yea, did notice the Moorhen, but he’d had his fill, and was leaving the party lol
    I’ve had so many missed opportunities with the Kingfisher; even again, today. I know of one place, with a hide close to where some are, on a nature reserve; but I’d really like to get a natural shot out in the open, if you know what I mean.

  9. Nice shots, especially the Kingfisher.

  10. Thanks Bob. I'm still trying with him though lol

  11. ShySongbird, thank you for your comments. It’s thanks to you that I visited and had such a great time. Definitely be going back.
    I do hope you feel better soon.
    I think the rain helped in keeping the sewage works smell at bay; didn’t notice it lol
    I agree about the hides, could do with more, but not sure where they’d put them. Be great if they could have one on a pier, out towards the centre.
    And the Chinese lady?
    Hmmmmm………cue Twilight Zone music lol

  12. Great set of pictures Keith I have enjoyed catching up with your photos.

  13. Thanks Keith, appreciate your comment

  14. Wow it was worth the tromp in the wet to see these birds...I hope you get a close up of that kingfisher...I love to watch them dive its better than any drama from hollywood! Excellent shot of the Kestrel you got--and I love the amusing shot of the ducks looking up so eagerly for a scrap to fall!! Cant wait for part II.

  15. Thanks Dixxe. Those ducks certainly brightened the morning the way they stood gazing upwards.

  16. Beautiful,lovely and fantastic shots !! Description makes it more easy to be clear.

  17. Hi Keith,

    I do like the way you write; the details that make it so vivid, like the blue hat worn by the other crazy person waling around in the rain ;-), and the first photo of the ducks looking upward in happy anticipation followed by the second photo of disappointment. We have all felt what those ducks felt, haven't we? And of course your audience is just like those ducks -- looking forward in happy anticipation for your next post. The only difference being that we are pretty sure we won't be disappointed.

    looking expectedly upward,

  18. Thanks for your comment Bharat.

    Wilma, thank you for your kind words.
    Those ducks were quite funny to watch, with their synchronised head raising.

  19. Oh Keith..I am thinking I would have enjoyed that too..just sitting there in the quiet. Even without anything to shoot! I don't get much quiet!! Sounds heavenly!
    Uhmmmm..Fox beat me at PS2..well..maybe..I am not so bad..ok yeah..he will...sigh..but I will give it a good go!!
    Hugs to you, Sarah

  20. Thanks for your comment Sarah.
    I guess it will be pretty lively, and maybe noisy, over the christmas holiday too lol