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....

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

A post in brief

Hugh, a friend of mine, was keen to catch the Great Crested Grebes in Bushey Park, so this morning we duly set off. Had a very enjoyable day but didn't get back until this afternoon and, as this evening I'm being taken out for a celebratory meal by my Daughter and grandson, I've not a great deal of time to process the pictures.

The day was warm, but cloudy all day with the sun peaking through for about 5 minutes! Just shows you how wrong the forecast can be, especially when planning a photographic day!

Saw a good variety of birds including 2 Grey Wagtails (a first for me in Bushey) and a Reed Bunting singing its heart out at the top of the tree. These in addition to the normal park birds and beasts!

Just a couple of pics to be going on with and a few more to follow another day.

I'm kicking myself for cutting off the tail of this mute swan!

It being a virtually windless day, the birds were well reflected in the water.

more to come.......

Monday, 30 March 2009

A bit of Wisley and ........ Grebes

This was the sky colour on Saturday and

on Sunday morning!

And today? The day dawned cold and frosty but with glorious sunshine. Where to today? I needed to stay within easy reach of home so I looked up a couple of National Trust sites that are close together and not far from me - and guess what? Yes! they were closed on a Monday.

So off I went to RHS Wisley.

Started by going up to Battlestone Hill to see what bird life was about. Around the feeder area were a few Siskins, Great, Blue and Coal Tits; Robin, Chaffinch and a Nuthatch. Wandering around the gardens I heard Great Spotted Woodpecker and saw (down by the River Wey) a Green Woodpecker. In the Pinetum I saw a few Long-tailed Tits dashing through the trees.

Siskins on Battlestone Hill

Male Chaffinch

Wandering along the path at the bottom of the Rockery, other visitor were throwing bread into the ponds - which the fish obviously appreciated!

In the Pinetum, my first Red Admiral of the year - whey hey!

A pink Magnolia had suffered in the morning frost

but this Camelia seemed OK.

A Honey Bee (first one I've seen this year) was enjoying this Rhododendron flower

and buds about to burst!

and in deepest Surrey (and Wisley in particular) we have a Brown Bear!
(No doubt a bit quieter than OC's real life visitors!)

After a chat with Frank I headed off home. I'd had a phone call from my friend Hugh as I arrived at Wisley and, as he's hoping to visit Bushey Park to see the Grebes, I felt I should check to see if they were there and yes - they were.
As was this Mute Swan who was travelling at some speed having taken exception to a group of three Canada Geese who'd obviously wandered into his space. There's a female Swan on the nest nearby so this may be the cob!

And yes - the breeding pair of Great Crested Grebes were there and again their activity ensures the continuation of the species!
When I arrived, the male was down one end of the Boating pond whilst the female was around the nesting area. Her plaintiff calls went unheard for quite some time until finally the male arrived from the other end. After a while they started the courtship ritual with necks being stretched and some head swaying. All this was behind the two lateral branches that appear in the following pictures. A pity really as they looked splendid!
The female was reaching up to the branch above - I'm not sure why but if anyone knows.......

"Dancing" heads!

Just not to disappoint Roy, I shall be returning to Grebe HQ!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

A Wild Day!

I had a plan for today that was thwarted by the weather! Hey ho. This morning was wet, windy and wild.

I wanted to try out my new glasses. My "normal" pair are photochromatic lenses (i.e. self-darkening) which is great for driving and when you need sunglasses. BUT - they are hopeless for photography. The number of over-exposed pictures I've had thinking the subject was in dull light is amazing. So, as by lunchtime things had quietened down a bit, I headed off for the local (cheers!) to put the new specs to the test.

As I started my walk around the main pond, I saw again the four new Egyptian Geese goslings - they are probably about 3-days old now.

New kids on the main pond

It goes without saying that I wanted to check the Great Crested Grebes. They were still there but one of the nests was now occupied by a Coot! They are still gathering nesting material but it looked like they were building a new nest (nest number 3) right at the back of the island. This is ideal and to be recommended for the Grebes but far from ideal from a photographic point of view. Time will tell!!

Deciding to walk around to the opposite bank from the island to try to see what the Grebes were up to, I noticed the Cormorants were back on another of the small islands. There were Cormorants in the same place from Spring of last year. I wonder if they're the same ones?

I then walked over into the Woodland Gardens. As I walked through, Little and Large (the two original Egyptian Geese goslings) walked across the bridge to greet me!

Time for a dip

which turned into a drink!

Wandering further through the gardens and having been spotted by various people wanting info. regarding the Egyptain Geese (it's amazing the number of people who stop to talk - but good though), I came across this little poser!

and despite the park authorities' attempts to keep rabbits out of the Woodland Gardens, some have obviously not got the message that they're not welcome!

"If I stay still and am very quiet, perhaps no-one will notice me?"

Jackdaws were hanging around watching the bread being thrown to the ducks and swans

and just as I was leaving, some Long-tailed Tits arrived. Why do they always pick the most difficult spot to photograph them!

Saw Great Spotted Woodpecker and heard a Green Woodpecker. High up in a tree, a Great Spotted and a couple of Ring-necked Parakeets were having a stand off - very noisily. I can imagine they were fighting over a nest hole!

Decided to start sauntering back and as I did, the clouds became charcoal in colour, a clap of thunder speeded up my pace and, just as I arrived back at the car, the heavens opened and the hail beat a tattoo on the roof of the car. Nice!!

Home for a cuppa seemed the best idea after that!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Finding Grebes!

Garden birds update: The Brambling, I assume. has now moved on as I've not seen him for about 3 days - however, this morning I had a lone male Siskin. This is the second sighting so pleased about that!

Talk about March coming in as a lamb and going out as a lion? Really strong winds, scudding black clouds and torrential rain. So I had a quick dash around my local to look for the Great Crested Grebes. AND...... fanfare.... they are still there. I had time to walk further around the water and found them behind a small island which is where I saw them with their young last year.

Unfortunately, from a photographic point of view, they've chosen a place which is not easy to see, let alone take pictures of. However, I managed to witness yet more evidence ensuring the future of the species!! Not any pictures really of this activity as the light was more like the middle of the night than mid afternoon; added to which the wind was so strong that I was having difficulty holding the camera still!

On the same island was a Coot's nest and a Mute Swan's. The "island" can only be about 10 x 6 feet!

This tuftie, as a result of the high winds, was having a "bad hair day"

The female prostrates herself to the male who

having acknowledged her very clear intentions swims away

They then came around to the side of the island nearest to the bank where I was standing and I managed these shots - the individual shots are all of the male.

Finally they swam around the island with the female settling on the nest again.

I will be returning regularly to check on progress!
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