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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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Paxton Pits

Tuesday morning, bright and early, I met Trevor, and we set off on our quest.

We pulled into the car park at Paxton Pits, just after 5:30 a.m.
Not another car there; we had the place to ourselves, to begin with.
As we left the car park, the sun was beginning its climb up the sky, and promising to be a good day. We hoped the birds were going to be promising too.

We'd come to look for Nightingales, amongst others, and the sound in the distance confirmed they were there. Some Common Terns and Black-headed Gulls screamed overhead, and as we got to the waters edge, we watched for a while, as they performed their aerial antics.

 Black-headed Gull

They were not the only ones flying around the lake. Cormorants were busily backwards and forwards,

 and seemed to be nesting in every tree.

A distant Cuckoo could be heard; and a Nightingale.

We walked on, following the long path that circles the lake, stopping off at the various hides, and searching the bushes for that elusive bird.

We heard it everywhere, but it remained tantalisingly invisible.

More Cuckoo calling, but no sign; and the sound of Blackcap, or Garden Warbler.
They sound so similar. Eventually we found one.

 Garden Warbler.

We later found out from the warden, there were more Garden Warblers than Blackcap. Plenty of Whitethroat too.

Not just birds flying around either.

 A stunning immature male, Scarce Chaser dragonfly. A first for me.

And this unusual looking chap, like an elongated Ladybird

 A Froghopper; Cercopis vulnerata. Thanks to Trevor's in the field ID.

Finally, after much searching, we found our Nightingale. A devil of a job to track down.

Not the best of pictures; they just were not being showy at all.
We stood in front of this huge bush/tree for ages scanning with our eyes, searching for the elusive bird. I was a few feet away, being deafened by the song, and Trevor had stood back a bit.
Finally he whispered, "There!"

Well, again, not the best footage, but at least we eventually saw him.

On we went, along the path that eventually runs beside the quarry, and beyond.
We heard them as we walked, as though they were teasing with their calls. Suddenly two flew low overhead, and through the gap in the trees, against a clear blue sky, we were treated to fantastic views as they flew by, calling.
Pictures? Don't be silly. We were too busy watching, and it happened too quickly to get a shot; but what a sight. The sun shone through the wings and tail, and highlighted the markings better than any text book. Superb!

Eventually, back at the car, the car park had filled considerably.
A coffee in the visitor centre, and then we set off round the smaller area, across the road.

Willow Warblers singing everywhere,

and a Cetti's Warbler calling from deep within some scrub.
We finally caught sight of it, as it flew from one bush to another.

Cuckoo's calling all the time, as we walked the path through the meadow.
A Kestrel hovered overhead, a Buzzard was escorted from the area by a couple of Crows, and then,

Cuckoo. They drove us cuckoo too. Up to three were flying around, calling, and chasing each other; and at times, looking like they were locked in combat. 
A nightmare to get pictures off, but amazing to watch.

As we stood at the waters edge, of one of the small ponds, we watched a Reed Bunting, a few feet away, hopping through the reeds. Suddenly he flew towards us, and landed briefly in the bush next to me. As quickly as he landed, he was back to the safety of the reeds; with lunch.

A dragonfly, or damselfly? We were amazed at the speed, and accuracy of this bird. And his eyesight, to see the 'fly' in the bush, at that distance, and ignore us, and snatch his quarry, like some expert member of the SAS. Stunning.

As we walked back towards the car park, we stopped off by the river, to take in the last of what the reserve had to offer that day.
Cuckoos still calling, warblers still warbling, and the sun shining on a Swan, that was just doing what swans do.

A fantastic day, in excellent company.

Thanks Trevor; we must do it again. 


  1. A superb post.........good to see you found what you were after with the bonus of a Scarce Chaser. I've yet to find a dragonfly so keep posting them.

  2. The swan photograph is magnificent, no ugly duckling. I also like the dragonfly.

  3. A great day's birding by the sounds of it and .... you got your bird!! Well done the pair of you... :D

  4. Thanks Adrian. We began to think we'd never see the Nightingale at one stage. Plenty about, but so hard to see. The dragons were out in force too.

    Thanks David. we had some lovely light at times.

    Thanks Tricia. It was an excellent day out.

  5. oooops and mean to say what a beauty your Scare Chaser is - both subject and picture :D

  6. Thanks Tricia. Had no idea what it was until I got home and looked it up.. Very happy to see it.

  7. Keith, an excellent post and record of a very much enjoyed days birding.
    Wonderful birds, weather, location and good company made the day.
    Looking forward to next time.

  8. The Scarce Chaser was the highlight of your journey, I too have never seen one, well done.

  9. You had a brilliant day out Keith. Better than any bottled tonic.

  10. Very interesting post. My favourite photo is the last one.

  11. Cheers Trevor. Yea, a great day out.

    Thanks Bob. A great find.

    Thank you Omi :)

    John, it certainly was. :)

    Thank you Kozma. :)

  12. Amazing variety of subjects and I think all of your photos were top-notch. Thank you for sharing these. :)

  13. Thanks Nancy. There's certainly a lot to see there.

  14. That was a great day Keith, actually photographing the Nightingale, that was pretty special.

  15. Wow! What a fantastic post Keith and what a great day you both had!!!

    Well done with the Nightingale. Your persistence was definitely rewarded.

    All the photos are superb. I have never seen a Scarce Chaser either. I am curious (just in case I see one) as to how you identified it as an immature male rather than a female?

    I haven't even heard a Cuckoo so far this time!

  16. Thanks for sharing your fantastic videos of the birds, first time ever hearing a Nightengale. The stills are fantastic as well.

  17. A great post and what an excellent days birding. A tremendous and diverse variety of birdlife to see on one outing and some good pictures too. Thanks for sharing you day with us.

  18. Hi Keith...Wow now you had quite a day.
    It is nice to go along with someone else and be able to share what you see now and then...so glad you did that!!
    Your photos are superb, and so wonderful you got to see the Nightingale!!
    Love the Swan photo!!
    Hugs for you!!

  19. Thanks Roy. Yea, got the bird in the end ;)

    Thanks Jan. The male dragon is usually blue grey, but the immature ones are orange-brown, and the spot on the wing tips, (pterostigma), is much darker. I'm hoping I've got the ID right. :)

    Thanks Horst. The Nightingale is a powerful singer.

    Thanks woodpecker. It is a great reserve to visit, especially this time of year.

    Thanks grammie. Yea, we had a great day. An extra pair of eyes is always good ;)

  20. Looks like you had a good day Keith ore great pictures :) , great stuff might see you over the weekend .

  21. Thanks Scott. yea, I'll be round the lake at the weekend :)

  22. I can tell by all these awesome photos and vids that the two of you had an awesome trip!! SO Glad you got your nightingale--and that super dragon...and the swan...Just so many super bits of natue you shared today!

  23. Fun post, but I think you saved the best photo for last. Glad you found your nightengale.

  24. Excellent photography and I loved the easy flow of your prose describing your walk.
    Great choice to end with the stunning shot of the swan!

    Have a great week!

  25. Thanks Sondra. Yea, a special day indeed. We were beginning to think we wouldn't see this Nightingale, but eventually Trevor spotted it high in a tree.

    Thanks JoLynne. The swan is my favourite too. I loved the light on it.

    Carletta, thank you. Glad you enjoyed the swan.
    Have a great week too.

  26. A brilliant day Keith. All you set out to see and more.
    Great images as usual were these taken with the fuji?
    I have to smile though...all that effort, a lovely Nightingale and a massive Swan gets all the plaudits...take care mate.

  27. Thanks Andrew.
    The stills were with the Canon 50D, and the video with the Fuji.

  28. you never disappoint Keith!! wonderful post and images. what more can I say?

  29. What a post...lots of interesting content here! Love your dragonfly and ladybug! Unfortunatelly i cant watch our video from my old laptop...but something tells me i will like them!

  30. This series of photos is just amazing.
    Your view is fantastic. I have a few favs thats for sure but wow. What a wonderful day out.

  31. These last two and the ladybug are just beautiful. I love your focus on the second last. Brilliant.

  32. Thank you for your kind words Doreen :)

    Thanks Dominic. We had an excellent day out.

    Lisa, thank you :)

  33. Such a mixed bag of lovely birds and other critters,super!

  34. Outstanding shots of the flying birds! All the other photos and videos are great too. The swan looks amazing, great timing!

  35. Keith what a lovely adventure. Stunning images, I am always fascinated with birds flying. The other day for the first time in my life, I looked up and a saw a swan flying. I still cannot believe how big bird like that can fly. He was moving much slower than the cormorants, or Canada geese or herons. Thanks for sharing, stunning images again. Anna :)

  36. Thanks Anna. We had a great day.

  37. Keith, your trip sounds like it was a great adventure and the pictures are wonderful, I like many of them!

  38. Thanks Petra. Perfect weather too. :-)