Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Black Cap

Shy little thing. Not at all keen to have his photo taken.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Red tailed kite

A couple of months ago we went to Aston Rowant, the nature reserve where red tailed kites were reintroduced to England. The weather was shit. At one point we had to take shelter under a stand of trees when an unexpected shower hit. And because the weather was so shit we got no good pictures, although we identified four different species of raptors (kite, peregrine, kestrel and buzzard) and witnessed a pretty amazing dogfight between a peregrine and a crow.

We went back yesterday morning to take advantage of clear sky and sunshine. But the birds were unaccountably shy. We saw half a dozen kites, a flock of goldfinches and a very shy nuthatch.

Monday, 21 September 2015


This jay was very coyly eating an acorn. They have such beautiful feathers but it's hard to get a close look.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015


We watched this buzzard circling from miles away - gradually it came close enough to get a reasonable look at it. Paul and I have recently succumbed and bought camouflage jackets. I feel faintly ridiculous, and a beret and cigar away from Che Guevara cosplay, but it genuinely seems to make a difference. Birds are flying much lower, and holding still much longer, than when we are wearing other colours of clothing.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Green sandpiper and lapwing

Yesterday we went to Panshanger Park, after seeing on twitter that an Osprey had been making regular visits. We didn't see it, and it didn't seem to be particularly likely that we would. So we decided to cut our losses and head over to Rye Meads to take advantage of the first good light in two weeks.

It was a good decision! Snipe, sandpipers, lots of sweet little birds and something we think was a peregrine. More pictures to come.
Green sandpipers look a bit like sepia-toned kingfishers in flight. Fast little buggers.

Saturday, 22 August 2015


We'd thought about going into London for a movie and dinner, but the day dawned bright and the forecast was hot & clear. So we hopped in the car and headed for Rye Meads. Definitely worthwhile. For one thing they have a proper visitor centre so clean loos are readily accessible - and seriously, if you can't appreciate a clean loo you have no soul.

And I happened to be looking up at the right time and got a few pictures of this beastie. Initially I assumed it was a hobby, but then I realised the tail had regular bars and it didn't have the red knickers of a hobby. And getting home and seeing the bright yellow eye, it's a female sparrowhawk.

Blue tits


 We had some nice bright sun yesterday, but there wasn't a lot going on other than blue tits buzzing about.

Sunday, 16 August 2015


Not a great day at Stockers Lake - lots of noisy people with dogs (and the people mostly weren't picking up after the dogs...) but I did get this Blackcap. I heard him, and waited until he decided I wasn't a threat and came out of the undergrowth. And then a large and exuberant family came through and scared him off.

Monday, 10 August 2015


We took a drive to The Lodge, RSPB Sandy, yesterday. Fantastic location but a bit of a dud on the bird front. We saw a green woodpecker in the distance and heard a second one, and saw a very high-flying buzzard, but when you get excited about a magpie hassling tits around a feeder you know things haven't been great.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Kingfisher parenting

It's hard work being a kingfisher parent. It looks as though the breeding pair we've been visiting are having another clutch, so while the female is on the nest the male is being run slightly ragged bringing food back. Both on Saturday and Sunday we watched him bring three fish to the nest in less than an hour. These pictures were from Sunday - the light was nicer.
One fish

A little dip

Second fish

Another little dip

A third fish

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Peekaboo wren

Such tiny little birds - we hear them much more often than we see them. But they are sweet little creatures.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Domestic Drama

While we were waiting for the kingfishers to appear, a domestic drama of the feathered variety unfolded in front of us.
A grebe was nesting

A heron was fishing

The heron got a bit closer than the grebe was comfortable with, so she gave a bit of a warning, which the heron completely ignored. The coot didn't get involved.

The heron was acting completely oblivious to the grebe.

Then things got more intense.

... he's bigger than I thought
The heron climbed onto the nest and poked around.

... a little help?
The grebe had finally convinced the heron that its presence was unwanted...

... when its mate arrived to give back up.

A few repairs to the nest where the heron had stomped all over it,

a change of shift,

and the disgruntled grebe was able to get off the nest and have a bath.

Saturday, 11 July 2015


Last week Paul went for a walk without me, and got a really great picture of a kingfisher from the aptly-named kingfisher hide in the Aquadrome. Today he told me to be patient. And we were definitely rewarded. The kingfisher on the left has a fish in its mouth, which it kept for ages before flying towards their nest. The one on the right plunged off the branch a couple of times, obviously still fishing.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015


The patterning on the cormorant's feathers is much more detailed than I had realised.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Turtle dove

This pretty little creature is now on the RSPB's red list for conservation concern. We saw another bird watcher getting very excited to see one in a tree at Otmoor, but couldn't get a clear shot of it hiding in the branches. Fortunately this one held still in a less photogenic setting, but for a better picture.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Common Buzzard

Another one for identification only - this is a common buzzard. Apparently it's the most common bird of prey in Britain, but we see a lot more kites. This one was making itself quite unpopular.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Eurasian Hobby

Not a great picture but identifiable as a hobby by the shape of the wings, striped waistcoat and red knickers. Probably the last place in the world that the term "Eurasian" is still acceptable. This is another one from yesterday's Otmoor jaunt.

Saturday, 6 June 2015


We took a drive out to Otmoor today. I have to say, if you are going to put a nature reserve in the middle of nowhere, some sort of ablutions block would be very welcome. I took loads of pictures, some of which were nice, but my favourite was this extremely determined looking greenfinch.

Monday, 1 June 2015

Starling fly-by

I was trying to get a picture of the magpie (one of my husband's holy grail shots is to get a magpie with its tail extended and well-lit to show the colours) when these starlings hurtled through the frame.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Fighting kites

I was outside this afternoon, playing with a new lens, when this took place overhead.

Lesser Whitethroat

One of the things about spending a lot of time out and about with a camera, is that you start to realise how many species of birds are around. The differences between little brown birds start to emerge.

Saturday, 30 May 2015


We took a drive into the Chilterns, mostly to try and get some good kite pictures. We saw a lot but the light was variable. This jackdaw was happy to hang around though.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Black-headed gull

The slower-moving and less-agile black-headed gulls seem irritated by the amount of attention the terns are getting.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015


On Monday there was a huge hatch of mayflies in the Aquadrome, and an equally huge cloud of starlings descended to feast. The noise was deafening, and they all had their beaks full of tasty fat bugs.

Saturday, 16 May 2015


The terns are back for the summer. Lovely birds - incredibly fast moving and agile.

Saturday, 11 April 2015