21 February 2005

Patch birding - some photos

These are a few of the birds I saw on my local patch over the weekend. Not the actual birds I should stress, because I didn't have a camera with me. But rather photos of the same species I have taken over the previous few weeks.

Clockwise from top left are a female Sparrowhawk, a Long-tailed Tit, and three Goosander (although these are 'redheads', females or juveniles, as opposed to the adult male I found on the River Leam on Sunday). Posted by Hello

20 February 2005

Great patch birding

Although I do a lot of my birding by travelling to well-known nature reserves, I spend more and more time these days exploring my local patch - the area of land to the East of Leamington Spa in which I happen to live. It's a good patch with a nice mix of habitats - the River Leam, some flood meadows, woods (although not much mature woodland), mixed farmland, a canal, open parkland and some other open areas.

By focusing on watching my own county, and my own patch in particular, I have a much better chance of finding 'my own' birds, as opposed to joining many other birdwatchers seeing the same birds at a small number of very well watched reserves. I find that prospect quite exciting.

By staying away from local reserves and focusing my efforts elsewhere, in the last week I have seen 56 species in all, including the following: Pintail, a Peregine Falcon, Jack Snipe and Common Snipe, Red-Legged Partridge, Goosander (on the River Leam!), Green Sandpiper, Yellowhammer, Sky Lark, Willow Tit, Nuthatch and Kingfisher. Not all of these arerare by any means, but they were all a joy because it was me who found them (albeit with a very experienced companion on one trip - thanks Jon), and no one already knew they were there.

And that's what patch birding is all about for me.

8 February 2005

Chaffinch - February at Draycote

This is a Chaffinch, a photograph I took last weekend at my local reservoir Draycote.

Sometimes I post because I have something to say. Sometimes I do it because the bird in question might be a little unusual. In this case it's a very common bird indeed - along with the Wren it is almost certainly our most common resident. I posted this simply because I love the photo - and I'm sure it doesn't do any harm to be proud once in a while. Does it?
Posted by Hello

Slimbridge - One man's vision

Slimbridge is owned and managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the creation of Sir Peter Scott. Sir Peter, the son of 'Scott of the Antarctic', was a visionary naturalist and conservationist who devoted his whole life to the cause. Slimbridge in winter stand testimony to that cause.

It is a wonderful place, full of waders, raptors, wild geese and swans, raptors and wildfowl - such as this Pintail, captured in all its glory with a Pochard (itself quite beautiful) in the foreground. I commend Slimbridge to anyone with an interest in nature - armed with a pair of binoculars I defy anyone not to love it.
Posted by Hello

Not always finding what you're looking for

One of the joys of birdwatching is that although you don't always find what you might have been looking for, you nearly always find something else wonderful. This day at nearby Draycote Reservoir was a case in point.

There had been all kind of rare(ish) birds reported - divers, Smew, Scaup and Scoter to name just a few. I went in search of them, but of course found none. But while sitting there in silence at the water's edge, this Wren popped up on the rocks, allowing me the few minutes required to sort out my camera gear and get an all too rare snap of this common, but elusive, little bird. Brilliant. Oh, and I found the drake Smew shortly afterwards - even better. Sadly, too far away for a decent photo, but take it from me - absolutely exquisite. Posted by Hello