My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, all growing things and anything else that comes to mind.
To view pictures in larger format, just click on any picture for the picture gallery....

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

A Scattering of Birds

I was having a cuppa at about 17.30 (ish) today when suddenly a large flock of about 30 Ring-necked Parakeets flew up in all directions; finches, tits and other small birds also scattered as did the 10 or so feral pigeons.

"Sparrowhawk?", thought I. But no, it wasn't a Sparrowhawk but a......

Grey Heron which landed on the roof of a row of maisonettes that back onto my garden. It is not unusual for Grey Heron's to be seen so close (there are three rivers and some reservoirs not far from me) and one had already flown through the garden early this morning; although it flew at a height of about 5 feet, it didn't land in the garden on this occasion.

About 10 minutes later, there was even more drama. The Heron returned but was not to stay long. A crow took umbrage and started dive-bombing the Heron. About 10 Parakeets then circled around the Heron and a few feral Pigeons did the same.

The crow dive-bombed again and this time made contact with the Heron's head; the Heron (quite sensibly I thought) decided enough was enough and flew off through, then over, the garden, hotly pursued by Parakeets, Feral Pigeons and the Crow.

Each time the Heron landed, the noise from the Parakeets was deafening. They certainly made their screeching alarm calls heard.

High drama for a very wet dull afternoon and even more dramatic as this all took place against a backdrop of a very black rain-filled sky.

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

An impromptu wander along the Thames in London

I've been having problems with my Canon 100-400 IS lens in that it won't always focus immediately, so today I bit the bullet and took it upto Fixation in Vauxhall for a diagnosis and estimate for repair. I now await their phone call...... I really don't like being parted from this lens!

Having left about lunchtime in pouring rain I'd anticipated getting the next train back. But as I emerged the sun was shining and it felt - warm! So I decided to walk along the Thames path and catch the train back from Waterloo.

Going in this direction I was approaching the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye and, Hungerford Bridge with the two new walk-ways known as the Golden Jubilee Bridges. These are three bridges: the original railway steel bridge (designed by Brunel and opened on 1845) and which is now flanked on either side by two modern pedestrian walk-ways. There had been one walkway for many years which was very narrow and not at all pleasing on the eye. These are now known as the Golden Jubilee Bridges. Both were opened by HRH Princess Alexandra in July 2003. The first footbridge having been completed in May 2002 with the second in September of the same year.

I crossed over the Thames via new bridge and returned along the other side; then arriving at the National Theatre on London's South Bank where I had a welcome cuppa and a chocolate brownie (which wasn't very good!)

Time to go home as the rain clouds were gathering and en route passed the Nelson Mandela bust. Arrived at the rather ornate entrance to Waterloo station just as the clouds released a heavy shower of rain.

It was fun to be a tourist today and more so because it was unplanned.

A pictorial records of my wanderings.

St. Georges' Wharf - a very modern "housing" developement
at the foot of Vauxhall Bridge on the riverside.

Distant views of Houses of Parliament and the London Eye

Two exhibits from the Salvador Dahli exhibition
currently being staged at County Hall.

London Eye

View from Golden Jubilee Bridge looking
towards St. Paul's Cathedral

The Golden Jubilee Bridge

London skyline

Nelson Mandela bust outside the Royal Festival Hall

Waterloo Station entrance.

Monday, 28 April 2008

A great day at RSPB Minsmere - the full story.

As I mentioned yesterday, had a wonderful weekend with a trip to Minsmere on the Sunday (see also yesterday's brief post).

Lots of birds that I'd not seen before: Bearded Tit, Grasshopper Warbler and Whitethroat amongst them.

Whilst I'd seen Marsh Harriers before, here they were in abundance flying in groups - wow! Artic terns were very in evidence as were Avocets - one of my favourites.

The star of the show had to be a Bittern who was about 15 feet away from the hide and showed really well for the budding photographer.

Black-headed gulls predominated many of which were nesting.

Swallows were swooping over the sluice gates.

Bird song everywhere and none so charming as a soaring Skylark. On the way back to the visitor centre for a cuppa (none available - they were shut by the time we got there), we were serenaded by the wonderful song of a Nightingale - amazing sound. I managed to see movement in the tree but didn't actually spot it or though others did.

So here are the pics:
Lont-tailed tit coming in to land.

Many, many Black-headed gulls nesting


Greylag Goose

...just landed

and the star... shy at first..

...sussing us all out no doubt...

.. deciding that we weren't worth being worried about

.. and stretching that very long neck..

.. and finally coming into full view.

and a Muntjac - first I've seen.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

A great day in RSPB Minsmere

Had a really great day today. I went with Pete to RSPB Minsmere and also met Digi-birder and her OH.

This is only a short account of the day's outing and I will post more tomorrow, including more pictures.

Here's just a flavour to be going on with

"Stand by below - coming in to land"

.. and probably my favourite capture of the day

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Poor Penguin

This poor penguin has lost some of his feathers and is feeling the cold. Consequently he didn't want to go in the water.

He is now the proud owner of a tailor-made wetsuit to keep him warm.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

London Wetland Centre

I met Hugh (a friend of mine) today at the LWC. As I arrived the sky was amazingly black so we decided to have a cuppa. Just as well as the heavens opened and the rain fell!

It eased off gradually so we decided to venture forth. Not that many birds about and, of course, neither the Water Vole or the Bittern were anywhere to be seen.

However, there were large numbers of Martins about and I'm pretty sure they were Sand Martins. However, no signs yet of Sand Martins nesting in the Sand Martin bank. Perhaps a bit too early.

Hugh spotted a Kestrel; but unfortunately it decided to hover the "wrong" side of a tall tree.

However, there were some birds that justified a picture or two and many youngsters to be seen.

By 1.00 p.m. the sky turned very black again so we headed off for some lunch. Just as well as we had another torrential downpour with thunder and lightening this time.

A good morning though and very good company. Thanks Hugh :)

Before you reach the Visitor's Centre there is a sculpture
of Sir Peter Scott with two swans looking up at him.
Very appropriately a swan had made her nest at his feet.
A fitting tribute to a great man.

A young Coot...

and another a little older.

Great-crested Grebes were much in evidence

A flotilla of Mallard ducklings..

and one came to check us out.

A Moorhen was having a bath. The following is
a sequence of pictures as s/he ducked and came
up again...

Snakeshead Fritillaries were bobbing their heads

..and at this point, we retreated for lunch.
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