Friday, 30 January 2015

January comes to a close

Well I thought December went quickly!  Whatever happened to January?  Is it just a symptom of getting older I wonder.

Previous blogs this month have set the scene for the final week or so and I'll try not to go over the same ground, certainly won't add the same photos because I can't find them!

My last couple of outings have both been to Amwell on 28th & 29th, the first in the afternoon in search of the elusive "half decent" Barn Owl photo, the second on the morning of 29th to catch up with an old work colleague who has just returned from a few days in Wales with Red Kites and a day at Slimbridge on the way home.  Some of his photos, and those of "Seymour Birdies", are super and have made me determined to grab a few days away if the chance arises.  A change is as good as a rest they say, hopefully I'll see soon.

Back to Amwell, 28th main quarry was the Barn Owl, which, as it happened, didn't put in an appearance by the time I decided I was cold enough and went home (that was about 5.15 so I'd given it a fair chance!).   I'd checked in at the Bittern Pool on the way down but no luck there, but I did witness a male Tufftie struggling to swallow a large Roach or Rudd, he made it in the end but it was a struggle. At the White Hide photo opportunities that came my way included those below, which aren't too bad but not what I was hoping for.  Strange the way the picture in your minds eye differs from what the camera sees - and the camera never lies!

Grey Herons around the roost

Little Egret


Male Shoveler 

Group of Lapwings bracing themselves against the cold wind.

The morning of the 29th was cold and breezy especially on the hardstanding area in Hollycross Road where it was blowin' a hooley - and a cold one at that! Thankfully the wind quietened somewhat by the time I reached the river.  Another check of the Bittern Pool - zilch, so on to the James Hide.  My mate was already there, ground level and set up with a lens that could probably see the Smew at the other end of the lake! (only joking Pete!).  After a chat and a clearly quiet pool, I decided a meander to the Gladwin Hide was in order to see if the Smew were being a bit more accommodating to the camera men among us.  All I can say is "at least I managed some good views through binoculars", pictures were a bit of a challenge.  Thankfully the Goldeneye were a bit more cooperative but only a bit as you can see.  The Great Crested Grebe tried to show how it should be done!

 A  walk back to the viewpoint and up through the woods - which were all but deserted and back to the James Hide.  Pete had settled in for the long haul and was chatting to a gent who, despite visiting Amwell for many years, had never seen a Kingfisher from this hide - amazing!  He did admit to not having any patience which undoubtedly contributed to his predicament!  Having engaged him in conversation for a while, our patience was rewarded and the resident Kingfisher arrived in the bushes to the left of the hide and the gent finally got his view and some pictures of the James Hide Kingfisher!  A good deed done!  I took a couple of shots but I've got loads so am becoming a bit more selective in what I take, I know the shots I want and I wasn't going to get them in a frozen pool.
A brisk walk round to the White Hide and a quick look around.  The wind was blowing hard straight down the lake and all activity from the hide had more or less ceased.  A few hardy Coots determined, to have a fight,  were protecting their individual patches of scrape from each other, and a large-ish group of Widgeon and Teal were sheltering in the lee of the island.  Had some good views of Herons & Cormorants trying to land in the trees in the face of a force 9 gale, some with nesting material - in January?  Why do these birds think it's appropriate for them to roost and nest in trees for heaven sake? 
(What's going on with the formatting?)
Enough now, nothing doing here so I'm off home. 
At the Dragonfly trail there were small birds, tit, Goldfinches, Chaffinches making use of the feeders, plus  a Greater Spotted Woodpecker.  A kestrel hovered around but out of range, the skies darkened noticeably and I went home for soup & crusty bread.
See you in February when hopefully the formatting will behave itself!

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