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, 7 January 2010

Paxton Pits

Monday was a bitterly cold day. The snow hadn’t arrived yet, so I headed off to Paxton Pits. I’ve been twice before, (last year), and enjoyed both times.
75 hectares of lakes, meadow, grassland, scrub and woodland next to the river Great Ouse. Usually plenty to see.

I got there as it got light; the sun rising into a blue sky. Perfect. A Heron flew over the car park as I made my way towards the aptly named Herony Lake. Redwing were sitting in the bushes, eyeing up the berries, as the frost covered path led me to the water.

Frozen. The whole lake, save for one small area, completley frozen. And packed into the small area, Mute Swan, Mallard, Coot, Widgeon, Gadwall, Pochard, Black-headed Gulls, and a Goldeneye.

Very distant, and heavily cropped. And very cold. And crossing the ice, towards one of the islands,

a fox. He slowly made his way across the frozen water, stopping to sniff the ice by the island.

Maybe a breakfast was to be had here?

Maybe this could be it? He watched the Heron for a few moments; the Heron watched the fox. The Heron stood his ground.
The fox decided to move on. Perhaps that large dagger bill put him off?
He ambled on, stopping briefly to look back.

Maybe…………nah. He carried on, and disappeared amongst the trees on the island. Maybe something smaller, less fearsome, may be there.
I carried on too.

A Blue Tit sat huddled in some bushes, trying to conserve some energy,

and at one of the hides, a bird table and some feeders were attracting a few visitors.

A Marsh Tit, grabbing a seed from the well stocked table,

and a Blackbird, trying to prise some of the seed that had fallen to the ground from the frosts icy grip.

I watched the visitors for a while, then made my way to the river. At least that wasn’t frozen. I was hoping to maybe see a Kingfisher, but I had to be content with a lone swan, slowly paddling along. Jackdaws and Crows calling above in the trees, and a party of Long Tailed Tits, just keeping a few steps ahead of me.
I passed through the working quarry, and made my way back towards the car park.Considering the cold morning, I’d managed to see 40 different birds on my visit; more than my last visit back in September. This handsome Kestrel being one of them.

High on his lookout perch, thinking of food no doubt.

I know I was.


  1. A fox walking on water!
    nice pictures.

  2. A nice set of pictures, Keith. You must have been cold!

  3. A great day out Keith. Love the fox shots and I am sure you got it right what he was thinking. The Kestrel is a beauty. Forty is a very good total indeed.

  4. Brilliant series of shots with the fox and the heron. I think the fox would have been chancing its luck there.
    I wonder if the Blackbird with the dark beak and eye ring is one of the Winter visitors.
    A lovely pose with the Kestrel.

  5. Ars Natura thank you for stopping by, and commenting. :)

    Thanks Bob. Yea, it was freezing.

    Trevor, thanks. I was pleased with the day’s total; more than I expected.

    Thanks John. I think the fox made the right decision with the Heron lol
    I think the Blackbird is a first year male. If it is, what a way to be introduced to life; a freeze.

  6. Lovely male Kestrel Keith and some more nice shots of Reynard.
    He probably said to the Heron, "I'll catch you later". {:)

  7. HI Keith,
    Beautiful post despite the conditions! It is the same over here, lakes and even fjord are frozen!!! You can walk on them without any problem!
    And of course birds are then gethering in the only water place they find... Nice shots of the tits, I wish we had them!!

  8. I remember that exact walk, but in August..a totally different scene. Always amazes me that foxes appear to have no fear of walking on ice. Smashing captures. FAB.

  9. Your post reminded me why Paxton Pits is pretty high on my list of places I need to visit! Great images - especially liked the fox series and the kestrel!

  10. Great set of pictures. I can never keep my hands warm enough to operate the camera for very long. Do you have a trick or something special you do to keep your fingers from looking like the lake the fox was crossing? Have you ever noticed or experienced your camera working slower than normal from the cold? Any ideas or suggestion? I am trying not to be a "fair weather" photographer but worry about being out to long and having camera issues.

  11. The lighting really makes good the Kestrel and fox shots, great work.

  12. The Kestrel looks vigilant, Keith, I have never noticed its prominent eyes! As for the fox, you seem lucky to have met this not that common animal repeatedly. I wonder whether it could recognize, whether the ice was strong enough not to be broken by its weight...

  13. Hi Keith, I wish you first all the best for you and your family for 2010. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.
    A fox on the ice ... now that's a nice capture.

  14. I do so love visiting your blog and seeing all the wildlife - each visit is like a walk in the country.

  15. Superb shots of the fox Keith you must have had a great time.

  16. Thanks Roy. The sun shone on that Kestrel just right at that moment.
    It would be interesting to know what goes through animal’s minds at times wouldn’t it.

    Cheers Chris. The weather has been quite harsh the last couple of months. I wouldn’t chance walking on the frozen lakes myself though.

    Frank, it is a great place to visit isn’t it. Usually so much to see.
    The ol’ fox can seem quite fearless at times; but I’m sure they know just what they’re doing :)

    Thanks Mark. It does seem to have everything there through the year. Saw my first Nightingale there.

    Thanks David. The cold does pose a few problems. I always have the camera on my shoulder, under an open coat. Keeps it a bit warmer, and the rain off when it comes. In very cold weather the battery doesn’t seem to last as long, so I always have a couple of spares in a pocket. Got caught out once before with a dying battery, so whatever the weather, always a couple of spares. Hands get cold at first, but after a while you kinda get used to it, and not notice so much. Or fingerless gloves surprisingly do make a difference.

    Cheers Bob. Good winter sunshine; perfect day really, despite the cold.

    Thanks Petra. These fox sightings are becoming a habit lol
    The way he casually strolled across the ice, I’m sure he knew he’d be safe somehow.

    Andor, thank you for your good wishes. And all the very best to you too.
    The fox was certainly a right time, and place moment.

    Scriptor, thank you. Appreciate that. Glad you enjoy visiting.

    Thanks Keith. Had a fantastic day. Was really good to just take it all in at a steady pace.

  17. Thats what I call peas in a pod,...good there was some open ater for all that waterfowl...
    Beautiful shot of the kestrel...and the foxy fellow out hunting for his breakfast...Bundle up...its going to be a cold one tonight!!!

  18. Thanks for your comment Dixxe.
    Yea, pretty cold here last night, average about minus 10, some places colder. I'll be glad when summer comes lol

  19. Some great shots there Keith. Like the kestrel in particular and lovely to see the fox with godlike qualities.... ;)

  20. Thanks Tricia. That fox seemed to instinctively know he'd be safe. And the Kestrel was a real handsome chap. Bet he knew it too lol

  21. another wonderful post Keith!! Isn't it great to know that all the different birds can get along and share a small spot on the lake. love the ones of the fox also. so glad he didn't fall in at some weak spot. have a wonderful weekend!!

  22. Love the Fox and Kestrel Keith. Hope you had a good Christmas and wishing you all the best for the New Year.

  23. Keith you did well with old Reynard, in fact very well. They must be hungry to be out in the day. Has been a touch cool.

  24. Thanks for your comment Doreen.
    It's a good job they do seem to get on, there doesn't seem to be many lakes not frozen over here at the moment.

    Thanks Angie. Had a good start to the year so far. Hope you have too.

    Cheers Adrian. Times are tough at the moment for the animals, so I guess they have to take every opportunity to feed.