Saturday, 23 October 2010

Great Crested Grebe.

Despite the dull overcast sky a short detour along the River Thames towpath recently provided a very brief opportunity for me to watch a Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) at reasonably close quarters for once.
This is the largest of our Grebes with its distinctive long low body, long slender neck and the long slim bill that is extensively pinkish and paler than our other species.
In full breeding plumage the rusty orange-red head ear tufts are very distinctive and during courtship the dark head plumes are raised and vigorously shaken.
Its typical relaxed pose is with the head and bill pointed downwards. (Reminded me of of someone peering over their spectacles perched on the end their nose!)  The Great Crested Grebe is common sight on inland lakes, reservoirs and rivers plus large numbers congregate along our coasts in winter.
This individual is slowly changing into its winter garb when the colourful ear tufts will completely disappear and its head, foreneck and flanks will become more extensively white.
All too soon it was time for it to head to the other side of the river and for me to move on after another brief but enjoyable wildlife encounter.   

Whilst not a particularly notable milestone the statistics indicate that this is my 400th post. I had no idea when I started blogging on 3rd Jan 2009 that it would become so addictive but it has definitely helped me to adapt to the various changes in my lifestyle over the past year. More importantly I wish to thank all my regular readers and blogging friends for continuing to leave their very supportive comments. To all those who may casually drop by I also appreciate you taking the time to visit.   FAB.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Barnes WWT.

On Wednesday I visited Barnes WWT around midday. The bright blue sky reflected in the colour of the water but out of the sun the cold northerly breeze quickly chilled the fingers. The buildings in the background are on the other side of the River Thames which forms part of the boundary to this urban wetland reserve acknowledged to be the best in Europe. So here are a few images of some of the species that were around.
 A Little Grebe continually pointed its behind towards the sun
 Only spotted a few Common Pochard but I guess more will appear as winter approaches.
 A female Tufted Duck taking a midday nap.   
 A male Northern Shoveller with its distinctive spatulate bill and puffed out white breast. 
 Time to tidy up those feathers.
 Mrs. Shoveller floats by totally unimpressed by the males.

Shortly after entering the Dulverton Hide I surveyed the distant reeds on the northern side of the main lake through the bins and eventually locked onto a brown shape ... one of the two Bitterns that arrived, probably from Norther Europe, about a week ago. Sorry, no photos as it was far too far away!  Other sightings included Mallard, Teal, Gadwall, Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Common, Black-headed and Great Black-backed Gulls, Starling, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Cetti's Warbler (heard only), Great Crested Grebe, Lapwing, Jackdaw, Crow and Parakeet.
After some patient waiting a couple of Common Snipe appeared from the vegetation on a nearby island and spent a short time feeding before disappearing again, probably for their afternoon snooze. (Not the sharpest of shots as these guys were really too far away for the lens so original cropped.)
Finally from the first floor in the Peacock Hide I watched these Highland Cattle, which are being used to graze the grassland, slowly move to a fresh feeding location. Certainly no indication that they were feeling any effect from the biting wind!   FAB. 

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Lakeside Colours.

Earlier this week I paid a visit to Wraysbury Gravel Pits which comprises a mosaic of open water, islands, grassland scrub and woodland within an area of former gravel extraction.
This was my initial view over Hythe Lagoon. Initially very little to be seen on the water but as I know from previous visits first impressions can always be deceptive. As I slowly walked along the pathway some wildlife came into view using the bins. Cormorants resting in the distant trees, a Grey Heron hidden in the reeds plus at least 50 Tufted Ducks, a few Mallard, Coot, Pochard and Shovellers resting way over on the far side. 
A little closer were Mute Swan, Black-headed Gulls and numerous Great Crested Grebes but contantly swimming well away from my side of the lagoon so distant shots only on this occasion.
When the sun broke through the waterside foliage showed its true colours by spreading its tints across the still waters.
There were plenty of autumnal colours lining my route to provide some interest plus sightings of Wren, Blue and Great Tits, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Blackbird, Jay, Magpie, the usual noisy Parakeets, Jackdaw, Crows, Dunnock and Kestrel.
In any event I will probably return later this year as this location regularly supports good numbers of Wigeon, Pochard, Goldeneye plus a few Goosanders and the Smew, one of my favorite wintering ducks.    FAB.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Just Floating.

Black-headed Gull enjoying the calm waters.

For more Watery Wednesday images, click this link.   FAB.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Odds and Ends.

The 'watcher' has been very lazy during the past few days so here are a few odds and ends to keep things ticking over while I decide where I might go this week in between various family commitments. 
Comma waiting to take off .... where to next I wonder.
Small White taking a sip or two.
 Spider ... just hanging about .... a bit like me!
 A Wasp ... climbing up the wall (actually a wooden post).
Ladybird ... looking for a meal maybe or just somewhere to hide.

Enjoy your wildlife watching, wherever you are.  FAB.

Camera Critters

Friday, 15 October 2010


Have a wonderful wildlife watching weekend wherever you are.  FAB.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Protecting Your Harem.

Continuation from earlier post 'Relationships'
When I returned to the group of Red Deer the 'master' was fully awake and checking around to see that all his ladies were close at hand.
 Hearing a distant roar he decided to respond, first in one direction ....  
 ..... and then in the other.
 His constant barking was heard by a Doe that had become seperated from his harem.
She very quickly responded ......
by returning to her rightful place and then peace ensued until the next time.   FAB.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Seaside Walk.

Yesterday (Monday) Anita expressed a desire to take a walk at the coast so with a blue sky we drove southwards to West Wittering and took a leisurely stroll from East Head towards Ella Nore. With a very strong wind there was the constant noise from the rigging on the boats twanging against the empty masts. The tide was rushing in but we did manage to spot a few species; Little Egrets, Grey Plover, Oystercatcher, Curlew and Dunlin before they headed further up the harbour. We also counted 200 Brent Geese on the water plus 4 Red-breasted Mergansers.   
 At a number of places there were good numbers of Red Admirals flitting around.
A chance sweep overhead with the bins and we spotted an Osprey (first sighting this year) heading away from us so just a fleeting opportunity to bang off a distant shot. (Original cropped).
 This Herring Gull had clearly marked its domain!
 Rusted links.
On our return to the car we we fortunate to get another chance to watch the Osprey again. It flew in high with the sun behind it and in the blustery conditions I struggled to maintain a decent focus but I'm happy to have got a few record shots.
As it dived lower it was mobbed by Crows and Lapwings but still managed to grab a meal and once again disappear way over the other side of the harbour. Unfortunately my view of the capture was blocked by shrubbery so I didn't witness the event!   FAB.

Monday, 11 October 2010


A week ago during a visit to Richmond Park I came across a group of 24 Red Deer and the  Does were peacefully resting together with their sleepy guardian until I turned towards them.
As this is the rutting season it is important to keep ones distance so I carefully approached to about 80 yards away using the nearby tree trunks as partial cover. Not unexpectedly the Does immediately pricked up their ears but as I was downwind they stayed very calm but very watchful.  
However what did interest me was the direct association with a group of Jackdaws who were busily undertaking a clean up by removing insects from the coats of the Does.

When I returned to this group later in the day the scene was not so peaceful and I'll share this in a later post. In the meantime have a good wildlife watching week wherever you are.  FAB.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


A few images from the recent archives when the sun was high in the sky which doesn't make photography easy but does sometimes produces some interesting reflections.
Young Dabchick.

Great Crested Grebe
Interesting watercolours produced by the sun filtering through the waterside vegetation.
Marbled Teal (Collection species at Barnes WWT)
Terrapin sunbathing.


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