Monday, August 29, 2005

Birds of the day...

... were undoubtedly the two juvenile Dotterel at RSPB Snettisham. As well as having huge Bambi-style eyes, elegant looks and the good sense to pose nicely among the ox-eye daisies, they endeared themselves to assembled birders even more by being very tame indeed.

Hurrah for Dotterel!

The resident female Scaup on the pit nearby had less appeal, somehow.

Curlew Sandpipers were present in good numbers (c30) at RSPB Titchwell Marsh.

I really should get off my backside and get up to Norfolk more often. Thanks to Darren, Dave, Joy, Pete and Corinna for a grand day out!

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x eyepiece

Sunday, August 28, 2005

River Nene

The reflections of vegetation at the edge of the river caught my eye. I was watching some Common Darters perching on some debris which looked like a cross between some white plastic sheeting and a lump of loft insulation, when it suddenly dawned on me that it was a sheep at an advanced stage of decomposition...

Moving on...

Banded Demoiselles have got to be the most gorgeous insects going.

Female munching on a small insect

All these photos digiscoped along the River Nene just west of Ferry Meadows. For reference, the pronunciation of the river name is as follows:

If you're downstream of Oundle, it's Neene
If you're upstream of Oundle, it's Nenn

Incidentally, when I visited Slimbridge as a youngster, I wondered what the connection with Hawaii's state bird, Branta sandvicensis, the Nene Goose, was...

I have to be a bit careful when I go home to Northants, because I live in Peterborough now I tend to say Neene, which probably reveals me to be a traitor. I grew up in the Nene valley; I still haven't escaped it and I can trace ancestors who lived in the valley (at Little Addington) back to at least 1680...

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x eyepiece

Ferry Meadows birds

Swallows being fed
Feeding time for baby Swallows! It was all a bit fast for me



Swallow That's some primary projection...

Grey Heron Grey Heron on Gunwade Lake

Coot Coot on a backwater

Ferry Meadows on a sunny bank holiday weekend is a busy place to be, but there were a few birds around nevertheless. I decided to seek out somewhere more peaceful...

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x eyepiece

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Saturday morning

You can't tell from this rubbish photo, but that's a Wood Sandpiper on the gravel next to the two Little Egrets.

Wow. It's not often that there are two Little Egrets in the PBC area at the same time, let alone two at the same site together. And standing next to a Wood Sand... amazing stuff.

I went to Prior's Fen this morning. It's not something I do very often, but it's been good there for the past week or so. Looking at the weather forecast last night, I decided an early visit would be in order, since a band of rain was due to arrive mid-morning.

I saw one Wood Sandpiper (Brian had two yesterday!), three Greenshanks, one Common and two Green Sandpipers, two Marsh Harriers (one juvenile, one moulting sub-adult male), two Little Egrets, heard a Curlew calling and got some more shots of Common Darters...

After that, I decided that, since I was out and about already, and I was sort of in the general vicinity, I might as well go to Woodwalton Fen before it started raining. So I did.

Common Darter (it's that time of year)

It has to be said that WWF is rubbish for birds at the moment. The place was as quiet as I've ever heard it. Good job there were some nice insects about to make up for lack of bird action.

"...and then I'm going to eat you..."

Female damselfly, Common Blue, I think.

Large Skipper

Like it often seems to when I'm there, the weather took a turn for the worse. Cloud billowed across the sky, the sun went into hiding, it got windier and started raining.

Female Southern Hawker - the Chocolate Lime of the dragonfly world, I think...

I finally got some better pics of Southern Hawker just as it started raining. It, or rather, she, was looking for somewhere to perch. By crawling across the path I managed to get close enough for a few photos.

Ruddy Darter

Spider crocheting a new web

Speckled Wood on a heap of vegetation - perhaps some warmth from the decomposing matter?

*really bad digiscoped photo taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 20-60x eyepiece. The rest just with the mighty Coolpix

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Comma on verbena [you can click on this one for a big 'un]

Small Coppers
These two were engaged in some kind of interaction. I think it was probably courtship rather than a territorial dispute, as there wasn't much violence, just some flirtatious shimmying from the insect on the right.


Holly Blue

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Monday, August 08, 2005


It's not very clear, but there is a dozy, pollen-dusted bee snuggled up in the middle of this flower.

Gardens at The Lodge, early morning, with a fresh breeze throwing the water from the fountain about.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995

Sunday, August 07, 2005

In the hide at Titchwell

Click for bigger version (it's almost like being there, but less windy)

This was a view from Island Hide at RSPB Titchwell Marsh this afternoon, where I spent most of the day, it seems. Hordes of Black-tailed Godwits, in a variety of adult summer, winter and juvenile plumages, showing splendidly. It's a shame that the sun felt unable to show itself at the same time, but that's the British weather for you.

[There is a bit of writing at the bottom of this post, if you're getting bored of waiting for the photos]

Warning: you are now entering the Wader Zone

[Don't click on the rest, they won't get any bigger]

Avocets, in various poses. Though some people whinge about their habits of chasing other birds away, you can't beat Avocets for striking good poses.

"It's too windy here; I want to go somewhere else"

Lapwing. Truly gorgeous, especially when the sun was out.

Ruff. A motley assortment of different plumages, some neater than others.

Black-tailed Godwit. On reflection, I think this is probably my favourite wading bird. Hard to digiscope today because of the rapid feeding action.

Bar-tailed Godwit. Spot the difference.

Juvenile Redshank.

Not waders:

Sedge Warbler, just outside the hide, but swaying around wildly in the wind.

Juvenile Shelduck. Not quite as attractive as the adult birds.

Titchwell is always an interesting place to visit. I think it's the most popular reserve in the country, and is usually full of visitors - birdwatchers, photographers, walkers, aimless wanderers, Sunday drivers and children. Some birders sneer at it, but Titchwell is just a great place.

Some observations:

It seems that everybody has got a digital SLR these days. There was an astounding array of photographic gear on show at the reserve today. Almost as astounding was a telescope which seemed to be held together from gaffer tape.

I had a chat with a Small Boy (around eight years of age). No, make that an interrogation. He hit me with a barrage of questions, some of which included:
  • What's the biggest bird you've seen today?
  • What's the smallest bird you've seen today?
  • Is the Dunlin the smallest British wader?
  • Is the Island Hide a good hide?
  • Is the other hide any good?
  • What kinds of ducks have you seen today?
  • What kinds of gulls have you seen today?
  • Which kinds can I see flying around now?
  • What are those birds? [Ruff]
  • Where did you see the Little Egret?
  • Why did all the birds fly off? [Sparrowhawk]
It must be great to have such an inquisitive mind. I always enjoy encouraging the young birdwatchers of tomorrow. It's very refreshing.

One of the best things about Titchwell - certainly from a digiscoper's point of view - is that the birds there are so used to people walking about on the raised footpath and clanking about in the hides that they pay very little attention. So there's very little call for fieldcraft, because they've seen it all before.

It makes a pleasant change from watching waders at many other sites, where they're skittish and fly off at the first sign of 'trouble'.

I took just over 250 pictures in total today, and have deleted 50% of them after closer inspection on the computer. Most of the remainder are 'mystery bird photo competition' fodder, but some were OK.

digiscoped photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x eyepiece