Sunday, 18 December 2016

Short Eared Owls

The light was shit and the visibility was dire but the short eared owls were out and about over Burwell Fen.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016


These three seemed to be having a bit of a difference of opinion over Stockers Lake on Sunday.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Kingfisher family

Well this was interesting! An adult kingfisher, with a fish in its mouth, and a pair of plump juveniles. The adult flew off moments later (didn't see if it gave one of the juveniles the fish or if it ate it) but the young 'uns stayed on the branch posturing for several minutes, until we left them to their own devices.

Monday, 23 May 2016


Sedge warbler
We often hear the warblers but don't often see them - but yesterday we saw both the reed and sedge warblers. There were a couple of pairs of the reed warblers, all very busy, darting around a patch of reeds and into the trees and back. Very fast moving and hard to get a proper lock on with the camera!
Reed warbler

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Tern feeding

Target spotted
Stockers Lake is very well supplied with bugs at the moment. Mayflies, dragonflies, who knows what else. It's making the bug eating birds very happy. The terns were being particularly acrobatic in pursuit of them today.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Grebe v Crayfish

This one is from last weekend. It took a while, but the great crested grebe won. The other grebe tried to help but this one was not interested in sharing.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Hybrid mallard

Now this is really interesting to me - I saw this fella today while walking around Stockers Lake and was totally confused. Mallard drake head and tail, and chestnut feathers in between? Not at all familiar. So when I got home I did some reading and discovered that mallards hybridise quite freely. So I am assuming that one of his parents was a mallard and one was something else. Or he's from an escaped domesticated strain, bred to have different plumage. Either way, he's very striking looking.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Red Kite

I'd been watching this kite circling around the garden, at high altitude, for a couple of minutes, then suddenly plummet down a couple of streets away. It took me by surprise when it came over from behind me, really low and with something clutched in its talons. The lowest, closest pictures didn't come out but it got into some good light and I got focus for a couple.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Buzzard and crow

They were too far away for good pictures, but this was a pretty epic aerial battle in the sky to the west of Stocker's Lake today. As well as the two main antagonists, there were a couple of kites buzzing around. It was hard to tell if they were involved or just opportunistically having a look to see what they were fighting over.

Sunday, 3 April 2016


We had three buzzards circling over the house today. Only one came down low enough to have a good look at him though.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Coal tit

We were in the garden today, as was the cat, so there wasn't a whole lot of birdlife to be seen. This coal tit was undeterred though. It flew straight over Paul's head and into a shrub just a couple of feet away from the cat.
Not the greatest picture, but you can see its tongue as it feeds

Monday, 14 March 2016

Spring battles

One of the things I have particularly noticed this spring is how aggressive everything gets. It's not just sweetly pretty nest building and egg-laying. There is also fierce competition for food, mates and nesting materials.

Last weekend we went to Amwell, and watched this cormorant undertake repeated raids on a coots nest, ripping it apart and taking the materials back to the island where the cormorants were nesting. The coots weren't too happy about it, but there wasn't a huge amount they could do about it.

Yesterday we stayed close to home and just walked around Stockers Lake, but there was plenty of avian drama.

We haven't seen buzzards in months, but this handsome one flew quite low over head. It was promptly met and chased off by a red tailed kite.

The coots were being particularly argumentative. This battle started with one squabbling pair, and more and more joined in until there were seven or eight birds in the ruckus.

Unfortunately I didn't get a better picture of these two grebes - one had its beak clamped around the other's neck. All very dramatic.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Weston Turville and Wilstone Reservoirs

Yesterday the sky was a bit brighter than it has been, so we decided to go for a drive. Paul pays close attention to the various local groups on Flickr, and there have been some interesting bird sightings coming out of the Tring reservoirs.

We started at Weston Turville, where there was not a bird to be seen. Definitely no sign of the osprey who was spotted there! And there was a howling wind and I'd left my hat in the car, so we moved on pretty quickly.

The Wilstone reservoir was much more profitable. And if there had been a bit more sun would have produced a really memorable day of photography. As it was we got a couple of bursts, enough to illuminate the teal flashes on the sides of the teals, but not for long enough to get a really good lapwing in flight.

You can see from this lapwing how much difference a bit of sun makes
Yellow legged gull
Grey wagtail

There was a steady stream of cormorants carrying nesting materials to this island in the middle
Great spot for lapwings

This pied wagtail wasn't keen on having his picture taken



Sunday, 14 February 2016


 We had a pair of goldfinches squabbling in the garden this morning. At one point one of them lost sight of the other and perched on the fence for a couple of minutes. It wasn't too bothered by me or the cat, but busily scanned the skies for the other. As soon as the other one turned up again, they were off in a flurry of wings.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Small birds

It was cold and clear today, and the small birds were out in force. They weren't all keen on posing nicely though.


Blue tits


Long tailed tit

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Redwing & the Big Garden Birdwatch

These are from Tuesday. It was too grey to photograph on Saturday morning
We've done a count in the Big Garden Birdwatch for the last few years. And it's been the general rule that for the hour of the count there has been hardly a bird to be seen. This year was very different. The redwings made their first appearance of the year, to eat the holly and cotoneaster berries. There were birds everywhere.

We counted:

  • 6 redwing
  • 2 wood pigeons
  • 2 collared doves
  • 2 blackbirds (both male)
  • 4 blue tits
  • 3 great tits
  • 1 black cap
  • 1 coal tit
  • 4 sparrows
  • 1 robin
  • 6 long tail tits
  • 1 jay

You don't count overflying in the birdwatch, but the skies were pretty busy too:

  • 4 magpies
  • 1 little egret
  • 1 black headed gull
  • 4 crows
  • 1 heron
The heron looked like it was about to land on our roof, but it veered off when it saw me.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Wigeon, gadwall, pochard and shoveler

We're getting much better at identifying ducks! As well as the mallards and tufted ducks, we identified some other species today.
male & female gadwall
There were a couple of pairs of gadwall, and some males that seemed to be on their own.
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At a distance I thought this was a red-crested pochard, but realised he didn't have the right colouring. It is, in fact, a wigeon.
Wigeon (male)
I thought this was quite a nice picture of red-crested pochards in flight.
red-crested pochards
And we saw a few shovelers in flight - such strange-looking birds. But just the one male on the lake.
Shovelers in flight

Shoveler male coming in to land