Wednesday, 30 December 2009


On Boxing Day I had a much better view of the flock of 'finch-like' birds (around 50 birds) and the majority seemed to be Siskins- no Redpolls identified that day.

A pair of teals are spending a fair amount of time on the reserve- I have mainly seen them on the smaller water areas away from the mere. They soon fly away once they know you are there.

On the 23rd of Decemeber whilst the snow was still around I had a couple of visits to my garden (near to the reserve) of a single Brambling. It was amongst a small group of chaffinches. So it is worth looking very closely at Chaffinches on the reserve at the moment.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Winter birds

Over the last two or three weeks I have noticed fairly large (20-50) close-knit flocks of small 'finch-like' birds moving from place to place rapidly on the reserve. Last weekend I was able to get a reasonable view of them. At least some of them (mabe all) are redpolls. Streaky body, black bib and always on the move. Some seem to keep the red forehead at this time of year too- but I wasn't close enough to tell. My guide book says that some winters we get 'invasions' of faily large numbers of redpols.

Last weekend was the first time I have seen the cock pheasant under the feeder near the hide. Maybe it is because some of the cover has died back or maybe it is desperation with all the snow hanging around. Other birds that seem to be using 'local facilities' include blue tits taking refuge in holes in the mortar in the house nearest the reserve gate. I have seen collared doves seemingly trying (and failing) to land in the middle of the mere to get a drink whilst the snow has been around. I have seen as many as 12 collared doves at a time recently clustering on the bird feeder near to the hide. I'm sure they help to empty it quickly.

Earlier in the week I saw three male bullfinches together on the feeder- it was nice to see variations in the redness/pinkness between the individuals- maybe age related?

I'm hoping to have regular visits to the hide over the Christmas break.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Distant views

of birds from distant places

A flock of 20 or so redwing popped up today.
They come from Scandinavia to the U.K. every year, often with fieldfare present.
Redwing are timid, fieldfare can be more tolerant if you are careful in your approach.

A slightly improved, but still distant view of a redwing.

Another distant view -this blackcap should have gone to Europe somewhere, but has remained here, so far.
Several birders have, unusually for the time of year, seen blackcaps at garden feeders.
Usually, blackcap sightings are a sign of spring.

Still here, the two little grebes, catching fish with every dive.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

At last the leaves are falling

and we can see all the things we missed in summertime.
Those things that sit on branches at least.
I prefer winter to summer for clear, sunny days like these.

what you get when you point the lens skyward.
A blue tit, busy with a seed by the look of it.
In the scented sanctuary area by the river.

one of a busy group of long tailed tits, same place as the blue tits.
Blue tits & long tailed tits are often found together, on a good day, goldcrest may be present too.
Keep looking.

A fleeting view of the sparrowhawk, hunting hard all the time I was on site.
One of a pair seen at distance.

Returning (we assume) for another winter, the little grebes.

There is a third little grebe present. he may be one this year's chicks.
He seems to stay on his own.

Friday, 9 October 2009

rubber duck?

a sunny but cold day, the light barely falling on half the reserve by midday.

this male mallard had me looking twice: he's become entwined with a postman's elastic band.
As far as I could see, he was still feeding ok and untroubled by his new headgear.
Hopefully, it will wear away safely in a few days.

white bryony is the creeper, I think. It's durable and still going strong.
We are nearly in mid October and the plant is still flowering and attracting bees.

a dunnock attempts to sneak past me, serving to illustrate the furtive nature of these birds.

still present are young moorhen.
They have bred well this year and are still pestering the parent birds for food.

another young moorhen catches the warming sun on the bridge.

still the star of the show, a male kingfisher.
Anyone seen a female recently?

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Sightings for August

Here are David's sightings for August. 'I have recorded how many times I've seen each species. e.g. 5/5 means I saw a particular species five times in each of my five visits. In brackets I put down the maximum number of a species I saw together at once'.

Little grebe 5/5 (2+3j)
Grey heron 2/5 (1)
Mute swan 3/5 (1)
Canada goose 2/5 (12 o/h)
Mallard 5/5 (6)
Gadwall 1/5 (1)
Buzzard 1/5 (1)
Sparrow hawk 1/5 (1f)
Hobby 1/5 (o/h)
Moorhen 5/5 (3)
Coot 5/5 (5)
Gull 2/5 (1)
Stock dove 4/5 (2)
Woodpigeon 5/5 (3)
Collared dove 4/5 (2)
Kingfisher 2/5 (1)
Green woodpecker 2/5 (h)
Woodpecker 1/5 (1)
Wren 5/5 (1)
Dunnock 3/5 (2)
Robin 5/5 (2)
Song thrush 3/5 (1)
Blackbird 4/5 (3)
Blackcap 2/5 (1)
Chiffchaff 1/5 (3)
Great tit 5/5 (3)
Blue tit 5/5 (2)
Magpie 5/5 (3)
Jackdaw 5/5 (~50)
Carrion crow 3/5 (1 h)
Starling 2/5 (8)
House sparrow 2/5 (4)
Chaffinch 4/5 (4)
Greenfinch 3/5 (2)
Bullfinch 3/5 (1+2j)

Month total species 35

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Here are David's sightings for July. 'I have recorded how many times I've seen each species. So in July e.g. 6/6 means I saw a particular species six times in each of my six visits. In brackets I put down the maximum number of a species I saw together at once'.

Little grebe 1/6 (1)
Grey heron 1/6 (1)
Mute swan 2/6 (8)
Canada goose 1/6 (10) o/h
Mallard 2/6 (8)
Gadwall 1/6 (1)
Tufted duck 2/6 (1)
Kestrel 1/6 (1)
Moorhen 6/6 (6)
Coot 6/6 (7)
Black headed gull 2/6 (1)
Common tern 1/6 (1) Ang. Cl.
Stock dove 5/6 (2)
Wood pigeon 6/6 (3)
Collared dove 5/6 (4)
Swift 3/6 (7)
Kingfisher 4/6 (2)
Green woodpecker 1/6 (1)
Great spotted Woodpecker 3/6 (1)
Wren 2/6 (1) h
Dunnock 5/6 (2)
Robin 6/6 (4)
Song thrush 1/6 (1) h
Blackbird 6/6 (3)
Chiffchaff 2/6 (1)
Great tit 6/6 (2)
Blue tit 5/6 (2)
Magpie 4/6 (3)
Jay 5/6 (3)
Jackdaw 6/6 (~100)
Carrion crow 1/6 (1) h
Starling 3/6 (3)
House sparrow 5/6 (5)
Chaffinch 5/6 (4)
Greenfinch 5/6 (5)
Bullfinch 3/6 (2)

Month total species 36

'There was a brief visit of a swan family for a while (6 big chicks). Now (August) there is a nice family of Little Grebes (5 chicks)- hope they survive. Also a Mallard with 2 chicks. Kingfishers seem to be around regularly again.'

Saturday, 22 August 2009

a hot day

up to 30 degrees during the afternoon.

up above the Mere, on the railway embankment, a young robin takes a breather.

a blackbird had similar problems last week in the heat, same place.

a young heron was on the site, poking about in the bog area, catching tiny fish and worrying the moorhen parents.

to my surprise, the heron stopped to take a prolonged drink, before continuing his hunt.

one of precious few painted lady butterflies about, despite reports of many nationwide.
On the ground of the butterfly meadow, despite all of the attractive flowers above.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

some sightings

a few snippets from today

the adult little grebes seem to be feeding only some of their young.
Those that can dive and feed are chased away, much like a coot would do.

There's regular fish for those still in favour

a fleeting attack over the Mere from the sparrowhawk.
I was watching the grebes, when everything on the water scuttled away in a panic.
Then along came the predator. He failed to catch anything this time.
Record shot.

a distant view of a red kite. Others have been seen near Verulamium Park,
Gorhambury residents we believe. Record shot.

here, I have broken my own rule for photos. on the Mere.
I only post what I capture on site, but to do justice to red kites
have included a 'real' image taken by myself in Wales,
just to show what is circling above our heads!
Always look up when you are meandering about, don't tread on anything nasty. . . .

two shots of a gatekeeper butterfly

what I first took to be a muntjac in the Pyghtle area.
My reference book informs me it is a female roe deer, which does not have antlers.
Both sexes of muntjac are horned to a greater or lesser extent.

Friday, 31 July 2009

a little grebe success


just popped in as I was passing.
To my surprise spotted two adult little grebes, plus their 5 chicks.
(my best estimate)
There have been adults here for the last two winters, first a solitary grebe, last winter two grebes, now chicks.

Also present, 2 mute swan, plus 6 cygnets.

a chiffchaff, fleetingly captured amongst the leaves, hence the green hue to the picture.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Here are David's sightings for June.

'I have recorded how many times I've seen each species. So in e.g. 6/6 means I saw a particular species six times in each of my six visits. In brackets I put down the maximum number of a species I saw together at once'.

Little grebe 4/4 (2)
Grey heron 2/4 (2)
Mallard 3/4
Moorhen 3/4 (2)
Coot 4/4 (9)
Stock dove 1/4 (1)
Woodpigeon 4/4 (4)
Collared dove 4/4 (2)
Swift 3/4 (6)
Kingfisher 1/4 (1)
Great spotted Woodpecker 4/4 (2)
Wren 3/4 (1)
Dunnock 1/4 (1)
Robin 3/4 (2)
Song thrush 3/4 (1)
Blackbird 4/4(3)
Chiffchaff 4/4 (1)
Great tit 4/4 (2)
Blue tit 4/4(3)
Magpie 3/4 (12)
Jay 1/4/(1)
Jackdaw 4/4 (13)
Starling 4/4 (16)
House sparrow 4/4 (5)
Chaffinch 4/4 (3)
Goldfinch 3/4 (2)
Greenfinch 3/4 (5)
Bullfinch 3/4 (2)
Month total species

He saw a female Tufted Duck on the mere on Saturday 18th July morning (about 8 am). Though not a rarity, he had not seen one down here before

Saturday, 4 July 2009


lovely butterflies these.

I really like the fact that commas are so well adapted for camouflage,
yet are such a dazzling insect when they spread their wings.

01.07.09 - 02.07.09

a speckled wood.

a young dunnock seems overcome by the heat.
I know how it feels.
A similar pose that adopted when "anting", but aimed at getting ventilation.

this coot, though a parent to 8 chicks, still collecting nest material.

blue green algal blooms


sounds pleasant, but is a foul smelling algae.

We seem to get it every year, but this year it is turning nasty.
What else can you expect when temperatures reach the thirties?

I was prompted to include this as there was a BBC report on it's dangers just today.
Basically, don't go near it.
Jack and myself were wondering if some sort of analysis could be done, good old BBC.

It starts off green, then turns black and nasty (and smelly), the flies love it.
Also there seem to be purple bits too.

Friday, 26 June 2009

catching up a bit

it's been a while since I posted anything, so,
spread across the last month or so, here goes.
Newest stuff first, backwards in time as we move down the page.

Summer, while popular with most people, does not afford much in the way of photo opportunities bird-wise -too many leaves!

Hence some of the other creatures included here.

a nuthatch popped up for just a brief appearance in front of the hide.
So brief, that this was my one and only shot, as he left.

a heron flies in for a bit of easy poaching, moorhen and coot chicks in mind, no doubt.
Instead however, he flew into a territorial fight with another heron.
Lots of squawking ensued.
Hard to photograph in the trees.

the ever cheerful coot.
Just after a huge territorial bust up with a moorhen, he/ she started gathering nest material.
Odd, considering the 2 adults on the Mere have 8 chicks of all sizes at present.
Here is a youngster helping mum, or dad.

just managed to catch this shy great spotted woodpecker.
Hard to get a clear shot amongst the ropes and pulleys.
Think it's a female.

a broad bodied chaser.
Handsome isn't she?
I think its a female, males are blue according to the reference books.

one of those tiny blue things we see zooming about all of the time,
a blue tailed damselfly.
Still for just one moment here.

on a day devoid of birds, I found this fellow.
Call him Clint, as I don't know his name!

a nice view of a dunnock's tongue.

lovely colours on a male gadwall, he didn't stay long I gather.

a large white butterfly, nice background, cannot remember exactly what it was.

a lovely orange tip, they rarely settle it seems to me.
Try to photograph one and you'll see!
If only the sun was out along with the insects