My blog is mostly about wildlife, particularly birds, walking, days out, all growing things and anything else that comes to mind.
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Sunday, 30 August 2009

I started out...and went the other way!

I'd intended going to Bookham and Effingham Commons today - not visited either before but was in search of flutters as well as birds and, although the sun shone initally, it then clouded a bit. So, the car decided it wanted to go to the London Wetland Centre and save itself for Bookham et al on a sunnier day - and who am I to argue!! :D

Met the usual crew of acquaintances there and we were all fascinated by the group of 5 magpies who were feeding of carrion!

Several Teal about and a few Gadwall. All the usual suspects but nothing moving around much.

But before that, I'd stopped at the usual "Lizard" spot. It was just warming up and the sun was in and out; therefore the lizards were out sunning themselves and warming up for the day ahead.

A group of 5 magpies were feasting and arguing!

Out on the water, Mum and child Little Grebes were much more in harmony!

Whilst another bird decided to take off for pastures new...

A Kestrel hovered overhead - by now the sky was grey and overcast!

On my way back to the visitor centre, some considerate birders pointed out three
Wasp Spiders! Apparently the numbers are vastly reduced this year (at least at the LWC)

The underside of the spider

And, after very carefully parting some of the grasses - the right side...
(I'd been there for a bit before I was, very politely, reminded by one of the WWT volunteers that I had transgressed by straying off the path. Duly chastised, I move on!

Flutters and bees seemed to be in abundance..
Painted lady


And, although the sky was dull and grey for most of the remaining time, this was a cheery note to leave on!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Painshill - an afternoon visit

This week I've had several appointments - all on different days and all seem to be roundabout late morning or early afternoon. As a result this has prevented a "day" out anywhere so I've had to stay local (or be domestic - painful!!)

This afternoon I managed to make Painshill Park - not been there for a while and wasn't expecting to see much at this time of the year.

Before I left I realised I'd lost my membership card. A phone call elicted the information that the receptionist could check I was a member and give me entrance to the garden. The cost of a replacement card - £5!!!!!

As I started taking pictures, my memory card became full; two pictures later the battery ran out so I then replaced that. I'd left my binoculars and "photography" glasses in the car!! Not the best of starts.

I heard Buzzards calling as I entered the park - but couldn't spot them. I walked along and on the lake were about 40 - 50 Canada Geese. I suspect some of these were this year's young. They were travelling up the lake and had decided that flying was quicker than swimming so had a game of leap frog - small groups flying up and overtaking the previous group.

Needless to say, I was on the "wrong" side of the lake and facing straight into the sun!

I then went over the Chinese Bridge which is normally where I first see the Great Crested Grebes and yay - there was one and it is definitely a young one.

A little further along I met Tim (a member of staff how was working on the restoration of the Grotto). He was able to confirm that it was a young one but the adults had left some time ago.

We got talking birds as usual. Tim has been around Painshill for nigh on 30 years (in one capacity or another) and was able to show me the trees where I would see Treecreepers and Nuthatches. In fact, a Nuthatch called just to confirm its presence. I now also know the two places where I'm most likely to see the "grumpy old man" which is the Terrapin and, ideally early in the morning, to see a juvenile Buzzard being fed by its parents.

I then met another volunteer I've come to know and he was, as usual, working on the reconstruction of the Grotto with Tim. As he walked towards me to have a chat, "his" robin flew down onto the table. The volunteer had been finding worms for the robin who came to see if any more were on the menu.

I walked up through the Alpine Valley and around by the Hermitage. On the way, I went through the Confier woods - I heard some high-pitched birdsong and, on looking up to the canopy way above me was rewarded with the sight of Goldcrests darting from one tree to another.

I walked on and finally came through the more formal gardens. Here, I managed to watch a male Common Darter who posed for me on a fence and post!

I bumped into Tim again on the way back and he pointed out where I was most likely to see Kingfishers. Whilst I didn't spot any today, I was delighted to see this male Banded Demoisell - quite late in the season I think?

Nearing my journey's end I came across this "hybrid" mallard - she was rather pretty...

and finally - this male Banded Demoiselle - wonderful way to finish my walk.

I followed Tim's directions and found the river where I'm to find Kingfishers; but not today it seems - I just found two fishermen. Hopefully next time........

But I then heard and got to see - a buzzard flying over between the trees.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Bushy Park in the late afternoon

After a dental checkup and some grocery shopping (I don't know how I contain myself with all this excitement!) which was a fairly rude awakening to normality again, I escaped into Bushy for a walk towards the end of the afternoon. That way the light was better, the car park less full, and the noise from children on holiday, somewhat less!

The family of Mum, Dad and seven cygnets are still very much evident and doing well.

The cynets are now stretching their wings and practising wing flapping, moving a few feet at a time. I suppose it won't be long now before they are off.

Dad was demonstrating and offering flying lessons..

An inactive Black-headed Gull was contemplating life, water and beyond..

And this young Red-crested Pochard was busily following..


and a possible Dad was around and about..

Further along, these thistle-like flowers were the attractant for flutters

Many Small Coppers were finding the plants attractive.

On the way back to the car, a maturing young Fawn was around; keeping close to Mum still.

Just a short walk, but enough to stretch the legs!

Sunday, 23 August 2009


Addendum: Just following up from my post on Saturday (I'm now back at my PC)... after having arrived very late and equally red faced at Pete's on the Friday, not only was I greeted with a glass of the red stuff, but with the information that dinner would be about half an hour :D Pete had cooked - Thai Fish Cakes with breaded Prawns - a sweet chilli dip, mozzarella and tomato salad and chunky chips. And to round off the meal? A very indulgent, yummy and moor-ish Belgian Choccie Cheesecake. Oooh it was lovely and to be waited on hand and foot........ (I could get used to this!)

So back to home and normality...... The M25 was sweetness and light today, with just a little traffic. I sailed along with the radio on (not cricket or football this time :) ) whilst the sun had its hat on.

Right, thought I, I haven't been to Barnes (London Wetland Centre) for two or three weeks and felt it was due a visit. I wasn't expecting much in the way of birds, which was just as well really. But nonetheless apart from the year-round regulars, a Common Snipe and Black-tailed Godwit (flew in whilst I was there) entertained but wouldn't respond of my pleas "to come nearer, pretty please!)

On arriving this darter was dashing back and forth. I believe this picture would feature in any self-respecting school report as "could do a lot better" but, on the basis of practice makes perfect, one day... (and today, I even experimented with manual settings.....gosh my bravery sometimes amazes even me....)

A family of mute swans were having a brush up

The Common Snipe was having a meal..

whilst the Black-tailed Godwit was..... eating too!

except for the very occasional interval for a preen

Close by the hide, a Wood Pigeon posed in the afternoon sun..

and so did this young Tufted Duck

Mallards were.... well... being Mallards and just hanging about..

Around on the Wildside, four Migrant Hawkers were chasing about and not settling. However, given that, sometimes, everything comes to s/he who waits, one or two of them did settle..

It was very hot today (I even put the air con on on the way home!!!....) but despite this the signs of Autumn were about.

Sloe berries?

Erm erm - Elder berries?

and Blackberries

A pleasant end to a great weekend!
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