Garth Peacock
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Another lockdown!!!!

Monday 9th November 2020

What a week - NOT!!!

Thursday 29th October 2020

A couple of weeks to catch up on

Monday 26th October 2020

Mixed fortunes

Saturday 26th September 2020

A week in pictures

Tuesday 8th September 2020

The last few days of August

Thursday 3rd September 2020

Recognition at last!!!

Wednesday 19th August 2020

A couple of trips worth commenting on

Tuesday 18th August 2020

The last couple of weeks

Monday 27th July 2020

A disappointing day.

Monday 6th July 2020

Another week goes by!!!

Monday 1st June 2020

Just one visit during this week

Sunday 24th May 2020

Lockdown continues.

Saturday 16th May 2020

April lockdown

Thursday 30th April 2020

Local bird photography

Monday 20th April 2020

House-bound!!!

Friday 3rd April 2020

Could be the last one for a while.

Wednesday 18th March 2020

View Blog Archive >>
Monday 9th November 2020

Another lockdown!!!!

My first blog for November and not too much to report on for the month so far.

First trip out was Wednesday 4th, starting out at Grafham Water. Four great Northern Divers had been reported but non showed for me and nothing of interest on or near the dam either.

At times like these, I try to photograph something different, whether the bird if rare or common. So, from the fishing lodge, I turned my lens on a Tufted Duck that decided to walk over the boom.

Adjourning to the hide to eat my lunch, the only birds within range were the usual Cormorants drying their feathers on the adjacent fence - nothing of interest there until another one wanted to get on the fence. First shot, I thought, was quite colourful with the reflection of the fence in the water

and then it climbed up to it's chosen part of the fence.

That's exciting, I hear you say - well if that was the highlight of the morning, imagine what it was like the rest of the time.

So after lunch, I made my way home, passing Fen Drayton village where some Cattle Egrets were in a field with the cattle, of course. Having found them, it was not easy to get clear shots but one in typical pose near a large bull

and then one decided to have a fly-around.

By then, the light was going so I made my way home.

On friday, I drove to Burwell Fen as a couple of Short-eared Owls had been reported. They normally start to hunt mid/late afternoon but not this time - nothing. I took a few other photos but not worth keeping so nothing to show for the afternoon visit.

 

Thursday 29th October 2020

What a week - NOT!!!

I have decided to post thsi at lunchtime Thursday 29th october. I would usually post after the weekend to report on the weeks activities - or not as the case may be. Well - nothing for this week. It is half term so everywehere would be busy with families making the most of the last warm holiday - well that is certainly true, even if it has not been so warm but what a poor week for weather - mostly raining and windy. So I went no-where and looking forward to next week when it should be much quieter out there and the weather forecast is currently good.

So, why the blog. Well the Thursday before (22nd), I went on a couple of twitches. I do not so twitches as a rule - usually too many people to get decent photos so I wait for few days for things to quieten down. So, last Thursday saw me making the trip to Kelling, Norfolk for a real rarity, a Rufus Tailed Bush Robin. It had been there for a few days including the evening before. Arriving, there must have been 50 or 60 birders there - amazing - but no bird. Only bird worth turning on the camera for was a Little Egret, feeding in the marsh suede close to the car park.

Moving on to Holme golf course for another rarity - a Red-flanked Bluetail. Still loads of birders hanging around but no show again even though it was there and seen earlier and the next day too. Not my day!!!

So I went to nearby RSPB Titchwell where the water levels on the scrapes were too high due to the recent rainfall so any birds were too distant. So to the beach where the tide was going out, concentrating on flight shots with the 2x converter as I was pleased with the results from my earlier visit to Welney.

A Common Gull sat on the beach allowing a close approach.

A small flock of Dunlin flew in.

The usual Curlew

Several shots of a Grey Plover in winter plumage,  this was the best.

with one feeding on a small crab

and finally a fly-by Oystercatcher.

Once again, I was pleased with the performance of the gear.

Finally, on Saturday, I dabbled with the birds coming in to my garden feeders.

Looking forward to next week, hoping for some action.

Monday 26th October 2020

A couple of weeks to catch up on

I have been busy during the past couple of weeks so this blog will be a catch-up.

First trip out was to Grafham Water on 7th October. A near summer plumaged Great Northern Diver had been reported off the dam and that was worth going for. Walking up the dam early morning (well 8.30 which is early for me), first sighting was a Wheatear - rather late for one of those migrants.

and onm the outflow, a Yellow-legged Gull showed nicely.

Al;ways nice to get one of those in good light.

The subject of my visit showed briefly

and disappeared very quickly to surface well over 100 metres away.

With the Diver staying out on the reservoir, the only other bird of interest was a Grey Wagtail.

Beautiful bird but nothing else turned up. A mixed day but at least I got what I went for.

My next trip out was 14th October, really to relieve Covid boredom. I went to Welney WT, not expecting much. On arrival in the observatory hide, I was surprised to see the washes full and not much in front of the hide. I had only intended to spend the morning there but needs must so I experimented with the 500 lens on the 1DX MK2 camera with a 2x converter to see how effective the combo was on flight shots. Nice and sunny so plenty of light.

First was the usual Mallards

then a nice close drake Teal

drake Wigeon.

and a rather distant female Pintail.

I must confess I was pleasantly surprised.

The next day, a friend and I had arrnged to travel to Bradgate Park, Leicestershire to try to photograph the deer rut. To be honest, it was a rather disappointing day. The usual herds of deer were not to be found. I met Danny Green there on one of his trips. He was a co-leader on the trip I took to Iceland three years ago and lives nearby. Apparently with the Covid restrictions, the park has many more visitors that usual so the deer are staying in the Sanctuary, well away from the hoards of people..

We found a couple of male Fallow Deer doing - well - not much!!!

and then after a lengthy walk to the far side of the park, we found a small group of Red Deer doing - well not very much.

The stag appeared from among the bracken.

He was continually testing the air to see if one of his four females had come into season. He had as much luck as we had.

Later on, another small group approached, The two stags seemed to be evenly matched, looked each other up and down from a distance and decided not to bother.

On the long walk back to the car, we came across a couple of Fallow Deer stags really having a go. Light not ideal but at least some action.

It was a couple of years since we last visited Bradgate Park and had a really good day. This day was certainly disappointing.

Saturday 3rd October 2020

A mixed week that turned out better than expected

Monday 28th September saw a friend and I heading back towards north Norfolk. First point of call was Wells Woods where migrants had been reported, in particular a Red-breasted Flycatcher that would be a first for me.

A couple of locals kindly pointed us in the right direction after after a while, one showed but deep in undergrowth. Patience would be the keyword here and after an hour or more, we finally got a clear shot.

Despite waiting some more, we did not manage anything better so, after lunch, off to Holkham Pines for another first for me, Yellow-browed Warbler. A long walk and a lot more patience finally paid off with some long-range shots.

Not ideal and not the best shots I have ever taken but at least two new species to add to my photographic list.

By Thursday, with the weather poor, I was chomping at the bit for some more action. Still changeable weather so I stayed local for me and returned to Welney WT, not expecting much.

I arrived mid-morning, occupied a place in the hide tagged on to the Observatory and waited. Interesting the family of Whooper Swans were there with two maturing Cygnets. This must be the same pair that oversummer at Welney as the female cannot fly. I photographed them last year with two newly hatched cygnets.

A male Mallard was very busy chasing the females, with considerable success as I managed shots of the mating act on four separate occasions.

And then, at last, a shot worth turning out for. 6 Common Cranes were circling over the Observatory, showing well in the short patch of sunny weather.

Early afternoon, with the weather turning cloudy, I returned home. So, a mixed week.

Saturday 26th September 2020

Mixed fortunes

It has been two weeks since my last blog update so what has been happening?

Well three of my trips out produced no photos at all that were worth keeping. So that is the frustrating news. I am sure that many photographers would be sympathetic. Desperate measures so another session with my garden feeders on 11th September. Long-tailed Tits and Collared Doves.

Nothing to get excited about so on 17th, I drove to nearby Welney WWT where I am a member as some Cattle Egrets had been reported there. They were with the cattle near Nelson-Lyle Hide - not exactly close but we have to make do.

Back to the hide near the observatory for lunch. Mute Swan is a species that is so common that I rarely bother but there were several on the mere giving clear views without the winter flock of Whooper Swans around as their migration has not yet started. With nothing else to occupy me, it was the Mute Swans that I concentrated on.

A juvenile trying to be adult

and even a pair going through their mating procedure out of season.

18th September and I went to North Norfolk. North-easterly winds should bring in some interesting migrants. It was sunny but a gale was blowing on the beaches that maintained all day.

First call was the Norfolk Wildlife Trust reserve at Holme Dunes. Surprisingly not much in the woods but we went to the beach to see if high tide had brought anything in.

An Oystercatcher was flying into the wind

and a juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit came close, accompanied by a Knot.

And then the surprise. Coming out of the surf was a Common Seal.

I have not photographed this species since 2009 in Shetland so this made the trip worthwhile. It pulled itself up the beach to a sandbank and proceeded to sun itself, totally oblivious to me or any other people around.

Next call after lunch was the RSPB reserve at nearby Titchwell, hoping for some wader shots from Island Hide but the wind was too strong and had raised the water levels too high near the hide. So on to the beach, braving the gales as it was low tide by now and the mussel beds were uncovered.

Another Bar-tailed Godwit.

A few Black-tailed Godwits

several Turnstones

and the bird photo of the day for me, a fly-by Ruff.

That's it for now - lets see what weather next week brings.