Waters Edge CP 31-8-11

A quick visit there today for a spot of fresh air and a check on the Little Grebes. On my way there I bumped into a couple I know who told me that there was only 1 chick there today. With a sinking feeling I made my way straight to their pool and was relieved to see all 3 chicks with their parents :) Phew! What a relief. It seems as though the biggest chick stays with one parent and its two smaller siblings stays with the other, and I have noted the parent with the 2 small ones spends a lot of time tucked in the edges of the reedbed.
Otherwise it was extremely quiet in the park with a few Swallows and House Martins about plus a vocal Great Spotted Woodpecker. A couple of Magpie were about too and a Grey Heron flew over.

I came across a couple of Grey Squirrels, including one that came down for a drink, only seen from a distance so not a very good photo obtained!!

Little Grebe Update

I was thrilled to see that the 3 new Little Grebe young at present are alive and kicking and growing stronger by the day :) I spent a few hours observing this little family. From a photography point of view it presented many challenges. The light was terrible mostly, there was a constant stream of people with children and dogs so it was a case of patience! In between distractions I laid down on my tummy amongst the duck droppings and nettles to watch and photograph the grebes at low level. I got really engrossed in the behaviours, the parents were diving every 20 seconds or so and the little ones were calling like crazy each time the adult bobbed back up to the surface with a fish, all fighting to be the one to eat. I also noticed that the adults narrow their bodies a milli-second before diving, making themselves, no doubt, into mini torpedos!! Further interest was provided by the presence of a presumably male Little Grebe intruder on the territory - he was constantly given the elbow should he stray nearer. I witnessed also the interaction of both parents with each other. At one time the mother, along with her chicks, swam over to the father, spoke to him in grebe speak, and went off by herself for a while leaving him with the babies. I reckoned she had said, "Hey I need some "me" time, you are on babysitting duty!!"
I had the family down to about 8 feet in front of me, they came regularly into the shallower areas unless disturbed by other people etc.
One the subject of other people, what struck me most about them, and there were lots on occasions, was that not one of them noticed the Little Grebe family, despite them being close by and so vocal. Their main focus was feeding the Mallards and Mute Swans. It saddens me somewhat that so many people are out of tune with nature, their eyes and ears seem closed to it all, how can they not notice all the little natural miracles surrounding them? Im so pleased Im not one of them! Im sure they all thought I had lost the plot lying in the mud with my camo hoodie on, little did they realise the joy and wonder I had lost myself in!!

Anyway, rant over, here are a few shots I managed, like I said, shame about the light but there are one or two better shots on my photo website  http://mandywest.zenfolio.com/

A Quick Dash to Alkborough Flats 27-8-11

An hours visit there today with Rich and Andy Sharp, with torrential rain and bad light. Still a productive hour though. Within 5 minutes of leaving the car we watched a Hobby chasing a Martin for a good 5 mins - not something you see every day- always great to see nature in the raw! With the rain pounding down we made for the hide and sat scanning the area. Lots of Avocet, Black Tailed and Bar Tailed Godwits and Shelduck. Ringed Plover, Knot, Greenshank etc were noted then Andy spotted an approaching Spoonbill (our target bird for today). I only managed distant record shots, the light was atrocious throughout our visit, but enjoyed watching it feed using Andys  'scope. It was a pleasure to hear the melodies of all the different bird calls surrounding us :)

Black Tailed Godwit

Greylag Geese


Here are a few record shots from the visit there.

Far Ings NNR 25-8-11

A day spent there, just to relax around Ness Area, the Kingfisher showed briefly a couple of times without perching and it returned at last light and perched briefly. Otherwise it was pretty quiet, only the usual birds around. We had both male and female Sparrowhawk fly-bys and a couple of Magpies terrorising the froglets/toadlets.
Andy Sharp informed me of a sighting of Ruff on Pursuit Pit so we went to have a look. There were 2 Ruff there with the Lapwings and I managed a record shot before they all flew off to another area of the pit.
A quiet but enjoyable day out. The weather was ok, some sunshine but also cloudy.

Kingfisher at Sunset

Grey Heron



Birdfair Weekend 19-20-21 August 2011

Early Friday morning saw us setting off on the train down to Rich's hometown of Nuneaton in preparation for our annual visit to the Rutland Birdfair. We stayed with his parents on Friday/Sat night. Friday night was spent sitting outside a pub for a few beers with Dave Hutton.
Saturday morning dawned with the promise of nice weather, Dave picked us up and we headed up to Rutland.  A great day as always, plenty of banter and it was great to meet up with old and new friends. The weather was kind apart from a few minutes downpour of rain later in the day, otherwise very warm and sunny :)
I recently had a photograph published (a Med Gull) in David Lindo's debut book "The Urban Birder" and I met up with David for a chat and to receive my signed copy of the said book. Pleased as punch as it is my first book publication :)
I also met up with Jith from "Walk with Jith" who specialise in holidays in Sri Lanka. I travelled with him on a birding trip in April 2010 and got nice photos of a Sri Lankan Blue Magpie which Jith is using on his stall banner.

Black Darter (female)

Common Darter

Common Darter

Emerald Damselfly

Common Lizard

Migrant Hawker


Southern Hawker
We headed back to Nuneaton late afternoon then Dave picked us up Sunday morning to come back up to Lincs and to have a return visit to Crowle Moor. Lovely sunny day and yet again the Horseflies were a pain! Still we saw some nice dragons etc. The target species were Black Darters, this proved difficult with the males, they just wouldnt keep still for long! The females were a little more obliging. A great weekend and huge thanks to Dave for running us about :)

Far Ings NNR 17-8-11


Sand Martin

Sand Martin

Willow Tit

Willow Warbler
Didnt quite get out as early as we had planned! Went to bed at midnight, set the alarm for 3am, but the snooze button was not applied properly so we slept a bit late! Up at 6.30am though and after a cuppa and a bite to eat we headed off for an early morning walk up to Far Ings via the Humber Bank. A ten minute stop off at Chowder Ness only produced a few Black Headed Gull , 5 Shelduck and a couple of Linnet- the tide was right in. All was quiet really apart from a gathering of Swallow and Sand Martin near to the tile works. We had a hour or so at the Ness Farm end of the reserve but the Wednesday work party were busy strimming and raking the causeway so obviously no birds around! We decided on a walk back to the new Visitor Centre for a coffee etc. There were 5 Grey Heron - all seen together - on Pursuit Pit. We walked on through Barton Reed Bed where we watched a party of Long Tailed Tit, a couple of Willow Tit, a family of Willow Warbler and a couple of Chiffchaff. There were also a few Migrant Hawkers on the wing too.

Operation Little Grebe Part Deux 15-8-11

With a pleasant evening in store (weather wise) we headed back to see the Little Grebe family. For the next couple of hours or so I enjoyed an intimate observation of their parental duties, such a privilege! I spent most of the time lying low on my tummy in the mud, getting nettled and scraped rather a lot. I managed at one time to get even closer by patiently waiting for both adults to dive at which time I had about 3 seconds to inch closer dragging myself and my camera/lens along - not an easy task! A small price to pay though for the pleasure of watching their busy little lives at close hand. Photography wise it was somewhat difficult mainly because of the position of the Grebes and the light at the time. Mostly they were either side lit or I was shooting into the sun - so didnt really achieve the shots I would have liked but just observing them was a pleasure in itself. Here are a few shots I obtained, there are one or two more on my Zenfolio site http://mandywest.zenfolio.com/