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, 29 September 2009

Mixed bag and looking for the Deer Rut!

My blogs are a bit like buses at the moment. Nothing for ages and then several come along together - note to self "must be more organised!!!"

Yesterday evening there was a sunset - haven't had one for quite a while. These pictures were taken from the garden looking West (West? - now there's a surprise!!)

This morning was a good day for garden birds.

A male Blackcap had a visit to the bird bath and was joined by a Nuthatch! I was delighted!! (Considers moving bird bath nearer to house!)
Other visitors today were:
Blackbirds (missing during the summer and now returned) Blue Tits, Great Tits, Dunnock, Ring-necked Parakeets and Feral Pigeons (when do they NOT visit!!) Golfinches, Greenfinches and Chaffinches. I think Autumn's started!

I'm assuming that it's the very dry spell of weather that has caused several birds to visit the pond for a drink and/or bath! This Black bird was no exception and looked balder with each dip in the water!

I'd decided to visit both Richmond and Bushy Parks to check up on the deer rut. In Richmond Park there were very few Red Deer visible although I did hear one "roar" on one occasion.- so generally very quiet. I drove around near the Rugby pitches as this is the area I photographed them last October; it seems to be quite a major rut "stand".

In October last year, I took pictures of the males clashing and herding the females in earnest. I have pictures dated 6 and 8 October when there was considerable activity. But I note that on the 17 October that, whilst the stags were still with their hareem, most activity had died down.

There was activity on Pen Ponds with several Canada Geese flying about. Regretably most of their activity was avoiding dogs dashing into the water; this, despite the notices requesting dog owners to keep dogs on leads in this area, so not to disturb the wildlife.

A lone female Pochard was out on the pond also..

A Small Copper presented itself but mostly all else was heard not seen. I did observe the usual undulating flight of a Green Woodpecker as it flew amongst the trees though.

After a cheese and tomato roll from the kiosk in Richmond Park I continued my search for a rut update in Bushy Park.

On the pond, a Moorhen posed enjoying the afternoon sun.

and a Grey Heron, scratched an itch high up in a tree.

By now I'd heard three separate "roars" from stags and followed one of them. They were in the same place as last year and this stag already had his females gathered around him. Mostly the other stags that were "roaring" were doing so lying down and not really taking matters that seriously yet!

A jackdaw chose a comfy perch on one of the hinds

whilst the Stag was kicking up dust before lying down.

Later on, with much roaring he wandered off to..

a stream nearby. Here he had a roll in the mud then proceeded to drink,

before thrashing his antlers in the grass at the edge of the stream

With suitable head-gear..

he had a final drink

before clambering out of the water and walking back to his females.

I suspect that sometime in the next 10 days or so, activity will increase. I shall be back to both Richmond and Bushy in a few days to check on progress and activity.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Norfolk again.....

I braved the M25 again this week but this time left much earlier (as instructed....:D )and popped into RSPB Rye Meads en route. Nothing much about but I rather liked this Teal perched on the branch.

I was treated to a very tasty meal at Chez Pete's again - yummy - and we set off the following morning, in the Autumnal early morning temperature; even had to demist the car and have the heater on!! Dawn broke as we drove.
After about an hour we stopped at the breakfast spot and had - bacon rolls and bacon, sausage and egg rolls with a welcome cuppa. Loverly!! And feeling human again, we continued.

After driving for a while we came into Brandon. It had been a long straight road through open countryside and then.....flash!!! I had totally missed the 30 sign!! And "bother" I exclaimed (well - slight exaggeration) as I noticed the speed camera. I await the dreaded buff-coloured envelope dropping through the letter box. (Think it will be a while before I'm allowed to forget this). From that point forward, every speed limit was considerately pointed out to me by Pete (just in case I'd missed another one!). It was a salutary lesson in observation!

Our first destination was Holkam Woods. We were hoping for migrants and certainly weren't disappointed as we walked down the lane. Hundreds of Pink-foot Geese were flying in to land on the fields. And of course it was one of the fields furthest away. It was an overcast morning and the sun was only glimpsed now and then.

It is an awe-inspiring sight to see, and hear, so many birds flying the sky at the same time.

Something I will never get tired of.

Joined now by Joy and Dave we headed off through Holkham Woods. We were hoping for Firecrests and Joy and I both have these on our "much wanted" lists. Sadly none were about but there were plenty of Goldcrests flitting about and calling and we managed to watch three at one time in the trees. Long-tailed tits also evident as we walked on to the hide.

Here we sat and watched yet more Geese coming and going - awesome! Another huge flock of hundreds were coming into land and, although photographically, this is a dreadful picture, it does illustrate just a few of the geese coming in to land in the fields!

We were further entertained by Marsh Harriers, Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and a hovering Kestrel - 4 different raptors in about half an hour - not bad going.

Joy and I then counted 10 Curlew - but Pete counted 11. After several recounts Pete then asked if we were all looking at the same group of birds - we weren't - so there were 21 Curlew in total - lovely!

We then walked back to the cars where we had a drink before Dave and Joy had to head off home to be chauffeurs to their offspring!

Pete and I then headed off in search of something to eat and stopped at Morston Harbour. Having had a "comfort" break we bought crab sandwiches and crayfish tails from the kiosk and sat in the sunshine eating. Oh I could really get used to this and will be back for more at some stage :D

We decided it would be unlikely that we'd find anywhere to park at Blakeney so we walked along the coastal path in the afternoon sunshine. Very little breeze and watched Little Egrets, various Gulls, Redshank as we walked.

In the hedgerow, were several House Sparrows and a Reed Bunting.

the views walking towards Blakeney.

I wonder who this is disappearing along the path.....

Further along, we passed a small field with three Wheatear - great to see them.

As we neared our destination the harbour came into sight.

Blakeney is a lovely village and on the harbour wall several children accompanied by adults, were fishing for crabs. Plastic buckets contained very many of them (crabs that is - not children :) ).

This is a good spot for gulls and Black-headed gulls were presenting some good photo opportunities.

I just lined up the camera for this shot, when a stranger walked into the picture. has a certain comedy about it.

Walking back to Morston, a flock of about 50 Black-tailed Godwits were grazing. Needless to say we were looking straight into the sun, now getting lower in the sky. So this is the best I could manage - if only it hadn't been such a steep bank down from the path into the field of stubble....

And finally back at Morston, after about a three mile walk, to find the tide had gone out whilst we'd been walking.

Then time to leave Norfolk (which I'm becoming seriously addicted to) and think about shopping for a meal. We were going to bring back some seafood but.......forgot to buy it!!

Beautiful scenery, some great birds, blue skies, warm sunshine and good company.

Another great weekend; thanks Pete!

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Using nature or defying the elements!

I was visiting Mum down in West Sussex today. Little did I know that my daughter and Boo the dog were on the beach at the same time. Apparently Boo wouldn't move forward at one time, and kept looking back - not behaving normally. Having spoken recently to my daughter, she was convinced that it was because Boo knew I was there. Isn't that amazing!! (I got it wrong because I thought my daughter was working today!!)

We had lunch at our favourite cafe, The Sea Lane cafe - Crab Sandwich and Apple Juice for Mum and a Jacket Potato with Brie and Bacon and a coffee for me. Gosh - it was good - very good!!!!

The sun was shining; it was beautifully warm; a significant south westerly breeze and clear blue skies - the kite surfers were taking full advantage of the elements. It was spectacular to watch the sheer athleticism of the young surfers.

(If anyone recognises themselves in these pictures, I hope you don't mind my reproducing them here - I admire your skills and grace in riding the elements).
(I was also experimenting (in some pics) with manual settings...)

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