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....

Sunday, 28 February 2010

A visit north of the Thames!

I've just spent a great couple of days up on the northern side of the Dartford Crossing! (For those of you not living in the UK, it's a tunnel (for vehicles) going North and a high bridge when travelling south which get you across the River Thames! Basically I was in Essex and other counties with two friends.

Pete took Diane and I out and about around some spots well known to him. I'm only posting the Friday's activities in this post and the remaining post will follow over the next couple of days.

So we headed off to Lyndford Arboretum. The route took us via Walkers roadside cafe where we stopped for the usual bacon/sausage/egg rolls and a cuppa for a welcome breakfast. We headed off and I drove at 30 mph through the dreaded speed camera which had obligingly taken a photo of my car on a previous occasion. We were hoping for Crossbills and Hawfinches but dipped on the first. Seven Hawfinches occupied the top of a very distant tree and it was thanks to Pete's knowledge of their likely location and the view through his scope that I had a view of them. The weather was dull, cold, wet and windy and birds far to far away for pictures!

From there we headed off to Anglesey Abbey - somewhere I wanted to visit for some while now. The attraction was the huge quantities of snowdrops but I was thrilled with the amount of colour in the plants - some clever winter planting!

We were eating out later that day, so we had a light lunch (well a cream tea is light :D ) which was excellent.

This really is a wonderful garden and well worth another visit.

Back to Pete's to change and head out for our dinner! This we had at the Starr Restaurant which I can highly recommend. Thanks Pete.

Diane had goats cheese whilst scallops were enjoyed by Pete and I. My main course was sea bass, Diane had venison and Pete, rabbit. An amazing cheese board was on offer which we all had. And I wasn't driving which was great :D so

Thursday, 25 February 2010

A tale of some frogs....

Are frogs creatures of habit? I've had a pond in the garden since May of 2006. Obviously that year it was too late for any frogs to have spawned. The following years were successful and the first spawn was produced on 20 February 2007, and the same date 25 February 2008 and 25 February 2009.

And looking back at that post for 2009 the weather was far different on that day than it is today!

I've been out creeping around the pond with torch in hand, during the course of the last few evenings, (and so far no-one's appeared to take me away) peering for activity. Certainly for the last couple of nights there have been frogs in the pond. And, again, tonight (Wednesday 24th) there were 5 frogs and on this occasion there was an obvious pair.

So, I was very keen to see what was going to greet me on the morning of 25 February 2010! And???? Well a couple of frogs startled by my presence dived down to the depths and that was it! No spawn today....

I'm not going to be able to watch over the next couple of mornings but I hope to find some before too long.

And last Saturday the sun shone and the light was excellent. Pity there weren't many birds about at Barnes though... but these showed well

I think this is a Common Gull (the aerial bird that is)..

This starling was singing for joy in the sunshine..
and a Cormorant treated us to a fly pass!
Blue Tit.
and a Lapwing... the sunshine really does bring out their colours.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Third time lucky!!

Yesterday (unlike today!!) - the sun shone and the sky was blue. The temperature rose woo hoo. A beautiful day - out I must go.

I headed off for Painshill Park with the intention of taking pictures of Goosanders in good light for a change. The traffic was unusally heavy as I neared but it seemed to be by-passing the park entrance. I turned in - I turned around - I headed off! A combination of free entry, sunshine and half-term ensured that everyone had arrived. I wasn't queuing for the car park and the peace and quiet I needed was unlikely despite the park's vastness.

So where to? As I was near the main arterial road for Barnes a trip to the Wetland Centre seemed appropriate. 15 minutes later as I sat in solid traffic without moving, I was annoyed to be wasting the day. It transpired that there was a gas leak and subsequently the road repairs meant a contraflow system of north and southbound traffic - normally enjoying two lanes apiece!

Oh well - I headed off for Bushy Park thinking it unlikely I'd get in a car park but there were a few places left.

I had a walk for a couple of hours just enjoying the spring-like conditions.

Nothing new or different in terms of birds but...
this female Mallard obviously thought the day wasn't that bad either :)

and a Coot was experiencing a bit of a "woo hoo" mood too!

The sunlight on this Red-crested Pochard really showed it in its true colours..
and the female Wigeon gazed about her..

They really are such pretty birds.

The TuftyPoch was still around and the colours much more noticeable!
Who said female Mallards were dull?

Coots were starting nest building - quite small creations for the moment.

And!! I was so pleased to see a Great-Crested Grebe back. I wonder if it will have a partner soon?
It went fishing..

And the Rose-ringed Parakeets were investigating holes in the trees as possible nesting holes.

Amazing how a bit of sunshine and warmth will lift the spirits. Pity it couldn't have lasted though :(

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Exercising in Painshill Park.

"Today was tropically warm and the sun hung in a deep blue sky whilst bluebirds sang their songs in the trees above; turtle doves cooed in the afternoon warmth and the sound of the gently lapping waves provided a musical backdrop as I walked feeling the sand between my toes.

The opening buds of Mimosa painted yellow dots on the soft branches of green, and the scent of flowers enveloped me"

Tis good to dream........ :D (just in case you thought I'd lost the plot completely)

The morning started somewhat differently to that as mentioned above, but.... I had another unexpected visitor - this time a female Reed Bunting! Assuming I'm correct with my ID that means I've now had a male and female so........

Records shots only!

I wanted some exercise but the weather was dreadful. It stopped raining so I headed off for Painshill. Much to my surprise the Goosanders were still there. Initially I spotted a male and 4 four females. Whilst I watch they flew up the other end of the lake and I continued my walk.

I counted 24 mute swans which is a huge number for here. There seemed to be two families; one of 7 cygnets and another of 5. I'm surprised they are still together and would have thought the young would have left by now.

And another record shot - I'm getting good at record shots!

I continued walking and was entertained by the pictures that old age had wrought on these splendid trees!

Walking through the woods, a Redwing darted away from me. The Kingfisher remained just a thought today though.

The lake was still today without much wind...hopefully there will be a bit of colour before too long!

The dozens of Canada Geese were so noisy; away over on the middle island of the lake it was obvious they were pairing up with the males noisily defending their partners and territory. Quite a few greylag geese about and numbers will increase. The young Great Crested Grebe from last year was still visible; about 24 Gadwall - not seen that many here before. Loads of Tufties, Coots and Mallards and a solitary Grey Heron. Nuthatches called and robins, blue and great tits dashed about. A woodpecker "bounced" overhead on a mission to somewhere. The birds are getting busier :D

On my last visit I'd heard Buzzards but not today. Last year they nested here so I shall be keeping my eyes open.

Walking up the left hand side of the left-hand side of the lake (it really does make sense as the right-hand land you can see here is a peninsular) is where I saw even more Goosanders on my way back. Having seen the original five in another area, I now counted 5 males and 3 more females - making 12 in total. I do hope for better light so I can get back before they leave!

The snowdrops carpeted many areas now they've really come into flower.

I decided to walk up the hill through the conifer and silver birch woods.

On the way up, I passed some very old tree stumps.... this looks more like a sculpture

"The Hermitage" - another of the follies but fascinating nonetheless. Built on the side of the hill
and when you turn round, this is the view. And this is where to see the buzzards hunting I am told!

At the very top is the Tower. You can climb to the very but although I've done it, I gave it a miss today.

I headed back down and from my lofty perch the "other side" of the lake came into view.

The rain came back again so I stowed away the camera and headed off home. Not bad in terms of birds considering I'd just gone for a walk expecting not to see very much!

And I'd attached the landscape lens before heading out; the numbers of times I changed lens today is crazy!
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