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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Friday, 1 January 2010

New day………..

New day, new month, new year, new decade. I get the feeling this is going to be a good year. It started good, as I took Jim for his early morning walk. Sensible people were still tucked up in bed, warm; but 5 a.m. isn’t something Jim understands. What he does understand, is the need to go outside, when nature calls.
And a Robin was calling too, the first bird seen this year. Same as last year, although probably not the same bird.
Duties, and needs fulfilled, we headed home. Jim for his breakfast, the cat for hers, and me to get ready and go out for a days birdwatching.

The sun was kissing the morning as I pulled into an empty car park. Summer Leys here I come.

First stop, a very cold hide, overlooking the lake. The usual suspects; Mallard, Coots, Moorhen, and some way off, amongst some Tufted Duck and Wigeon, a male Goldeneye aimlessly floating along, and occasionally diving for some food. A good start. I didn’t linger, the cold air was cutting through the open window like a knife, and not stopping when it reached me. Definitely brass-monkey weather, despite the sun doing its best as it climbed above the trees.

Taking the path, in my usual direction round the lake, I was treated to brief glimpses of a party of Yellowhammer, as they raided the tree tops, searching for food. Pictures were in order, but not these flighty ones. Instead, a posing Reed Bunting.

Through the cold air, I could hear voices in the distance. The distant hide I wanted to visit, to see if the Water Rail was still about. As I walked on, another voice cut through the air. The voice of a Green Woodpecker. He landed in the long grass on my left, and began probing the earth for food.

Occasionally looking up, before more probing.

I need some decent shots of this bird. But not today. These were the best of a poor effort.

I carried on towards the noise from the hide I wanted to visit. Seated inside were a rowdy bunch of pensioners, reminiscing about Christmas. No sign of the Water Rail. No sign of much else either; they must have been bored listening to the noisy chat too.
Why couldn’t they find a nice warm café and discuss things over a cup of tea?
I moved on.

Hanging up in the trees ahead was a large ball of fluff. I stood looking at it for a while, until it suddenly dawned on me what it was……..
A Kestrel. Just sitting. Probably trying to keep warm, as the sunlight bathed him in its weak glow. I slowly inched forward, taking shots as I got closer.
He just sat, staring at me as I tried to look inconspicuous. I wasn’t fooling him though.

Closer, and closer I got, until he tired of humouring me, and slowly glided down, soaring on outstretched wings, passing me and landing just beyond the trees.
By the time I’d got there, he had already expertly caught lunch, and with his back to me, was enjoying the fruits of his labour. He glanced over his shoulder, looked, and then finished off lunch. He was in no hurry; neither was I.

I watched, waited, and finally he took to the air. He was the one controlling that moment, not me. He was the one who allowed me to watch him, on his terms.
You just gotta have respect for that!

I’ve seen a lot of Pied Wagtails; but never seen one in a tree. They usually sit on rooftops, or run about on the ground. If you’ve seen one in a tree before, then this is no great deal then.
I aint, so here he is.

A circuit of the lake almost complete, and a few more people wandering the paths now too. I decided to go back round again, to see if the old yobs had gone for a nice cup of warm tea.
A Bullfinch sat in the trees, helping herself to some buds,

and then a Fieldfare glided into the bushes just ahead of me. I moved closer for a better look. He was well hidden.

Kestrel tactics were called for again; or maybe he would humour me too.
He did.

And after giving a look that said, ‘finished?’ he took off.

I took off too, to the hide. My fingers were in danger of leaving me. They felt so cold. Ok, not exactly frostbite cold, but cold nonetheless.

I was in luck, sort of. The yobs had gone, but more and more people were out in the New Year sunshine. And joggers.
Now I’ve nothing against joggers. I think they’re rather comical as they jog past, with a tortured, pained look on their faces. Gasping for air, as they race towards fitness.
But go run somewhere else, not a nature reserve.

Ok, back to the hide, before I invoke a string of hate mail.

The birds had returned, feasting on the seed provided by whoever looks after the reserve. Thank you to them. The unseen seed topper uppers.
And in the trees, Tree Sparrows.

And down below, yes…….

Awaiting his grand entrance.
And he did. Briefly, but he came.

I left, and briefly forgave the yob pensioners, the joggers, the dog walkers.

Until the next time.


  1. What a great start to the new year for you! The kestrel series is wonderful. And I quite like the greenwoodpecker hiding in the grass.


  2. Great start to the New Year Keith. Green Woodpecker, Water Rail and Tree Sparrow would have been lifers for me. Hope you keep finding and photographing 'em.

  3. You are hardier stock than I Keith. I'll stick to looking out of the window lol.
    When we are out and about at 7am there has been a Robin singing away for the past week.
    You always manage to get great shots on your expeditions. Love the Green Woodpecker on the ground and the very sorry looking Kestrel in the tree.

  4. Well, that was a tremendous show, all of them (birds) were well taken. Especially the female Kestrel. Really good photos. Have a beautiful 2010.

  5. Well Keith if you do as well as this every time you go out in 2010 its going to be a bumper year for your Birdwatching/Photography.
    Talk about "playing a blinder". I would have been very pleased with any one of those species in one day.

  6. Amazing photos! Happy new year to you x

  7. Thanks Wilma. Yea, I was very pleased with today’s outing.
    That Kestrel was very patient with me lol

    Trevor, thank you. I was pleased to see the Water Rail. I’ve only ever seen them twice before; last time at the end of last year at the same place as today.

    John, thank you. I sometimes think I’m mad getting up so early on days off, but it usually pays off one way or the other. The Green Woodpecker is a bird I want to get better pictures of this year; along with the Kingfisher lol

    Cheers Bob. It was a great way to start a new year, and the list.

    Thanks Roy. I think the weather helped a lot. Although it was cold, it was a lovely bright day. And the place usually turns up some good birds.
    Going local tomorrow, but not expecting too much.

    Sara, thank you. I hope your new year is a good one too. All the best.

  8. Brilliant start to 2010 Keith, you did really well today. My favourites today are the Green Woodpecker and Kestrel, superb.

  9. Cheers Bob. Had a great time today, and got the year list off to a good start.

  10. Great photos of the Water Rail! What a way to start a new year!

  11. Happy New Year my friend. Your blog is a wonderful piece of escapism for me and I never cease to enjoy your stories and photos.

  12. hey Keith,

    I am wishing you and yours the very best for this new year...may you always be blessed with golden light, and birds that don't hide too much in the foliage. :)

    I loved this post; what a beautiful way to start the new year!

    Hugs from Texas!

  13. Keith, if it continues in this vein you will need a new drive to store the pictures. Grand shots and a great day out.

  14. Lovely images, the Kestrel shots are my favorite. Happy new year...Thomas

  15. Excellent post - tree sparrows are non-existent down here, and that water rail was fantastic!

  16. What a great start to 2010 Keith, well done. If only I could be an early bird rather than a night owl...sigh!

    Lovely photos again and the Pied Wagtail does look so much better in a tree, as you say, an unusual sight.

    I haven't seen a Tree Sparrow since I was a child, (it is ticked off in my childhood copy of The Observers Book of Birds) maybe this year will be the one! And the last time I saw a Green Woodpecker was on a grass verge as we were in the car going round a roundabout!

  17. Thanks for your comment Dave. Very pleased I got to see the Water Rail again. :)

    Cheers Nick, appreciate that.

    Jennifer, thank you. One of the good things about this time of year; no leaves lol

    Thanks Adrian. I think it’s fast approaching time for another drive now. 1TB should do it; for now ;)

    Thanks Thomas. I was very happy with the Kestrel shots. Made a change for me to get one sitting, instead of hovering. All the best for the New Year.

    Mark, thank you. I have to travel a little now to see the Tree Sparrows. I remember when they seemed to be everywhere. Such a shame. Too many birds slowly disappearing these days.

    ShySongbird, thank you. I have my dog to thank for getting me up early; although sometimes I wish he wouldn’t lol
    Must admit, that Wagtail took me by surprise when he flew to the tree.
    The Observers Book of Birds; great little book. I think that put many young people on the road to birds. I’ve recently replaced a copy I had when I was younger, but lost somehow. (good old fleabay) The one with the Fieldfare on the cover. Aaaaa, memories.

  18. Happy New Year Keith!! I too love to go walking when everyone else is still home having coffee.
    Happy New year to you my friend!! I have so enjoyed getting to know you this last year!! Here is to a wonderful 2010~~ Namaste, Sarah

  19. ...Keith...you had a fantastic bit of birding despite the yobs (which is a new word for me--I looked it up!). I loved your shots of the Kestrel. He is a gorgeous bird...I always love looking at their faces. Getting up early really does help with birding. I wish I were a morning person instead of a night owl. Last night, I didn't get to bed until 4:00 a.m. as I started a project and kept working. That's late for me, but you get the picture. I've seen 5:00 a.m. on the back side once or twice, but never on the front side! Happy birding to you and a great start to 2010!

  20. Hi Keith,
    Wow you got a fairly good numbers of species! Congrats, I'd like to see so many and even if I reached 27 in two days, I have to look for them very hard ;-)

  21. Sarah, thank you. And all the best to you for this year.
    I really think this will be a special year for all of us.

    Kelly, thanks for your comments. The Kestrel was very co-operative for once.
    Another early start for me, at a different place. No ‘yob’ birders here; the opposite in fact, more detached and aloof at times. lol

    Chris, thank you. Had a good start to the year; I hope it continues.
    It’s not always about numbers though; for me it’s just being out there, with them.
    Looks like today could be another good one.
    All the best to you.

  22. What a wonderful walk-about. I had to laugh at your description of the joggers...self inflicted torture? ha Great siting of the kestrel. A~

  23. Thanks Andrea. That Kestrel was so patient just sitting there. Probably too cold to move lol

  24. o sorry I missed this post but glad I found it, scrolling back to take a look at what Ive missed lately and What a great post this was!! SO Glad you got YOUR RAIL...a great photo of him busy looking for his next bit of grub!! Glad you New Yr is off to a great start!!

  25. Thanks Dixxe. Yea, had a good start so far, although the snow has slowed things down a bit, plus being back at work now lol
    The Water Rail was a real bonus.