Thursday, 30 April 2015

Drake Gadwall ..... Classic.

Petite, but with great presence and subtlety of plumage ..... a real winner on any inland water  ..... no more to be said really.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015


I don't recall as many Chiffchaffs on the reserve as we have this year, they seem to be everywhere.

Similarly we seem to have attracted more Nightingales than usual.

The corner of the reserve where they are traditionally found  I call '' Nightingale corner '' - ( see map of the reserve in the '' pages '' section of the blog ) which has two or three birds this year however another bird is to be found near the Kirby hide opposite the Elinor fishery and a further bird near the bench overlooking Aldwincle lake.

( It still doesn't make Nightingales any easier to see or photograph ! ).

No shortage of drumming Peckers.

There seem to be goodly numbers of Great Spotted Wodpeckers around this year.

Drumming was a bit slow to get going this year on the reserve despite the relatively mild Spring, but now it's echoing  to the sound of these colourful birds.

In addition, Titchmarsh LNR has always done well for Green Woodpeckers, sadly they are very flighty birds and to date I have never been quick enough to capture any really decent images.

Unlike Great Spotted, Green Woodpeckers do not drum ..... well, that's not strictly true, they do drum but it is a very feeble hardly audible effort.

An interesting thing about Green Woodpeckers is that if they are disturbed and do not immediately take flight they will  freeze and adopt a '' bill up '' posture somewhat like a Bittern.  I attach a '' record shot '' of this posture.

                                      Green Woodpecker - beak up posture


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Variations on a theme ......

A couple of days ago I posted an image of a rather drab grey image featuring a Grey Heron on an equally grey day.

Several viewers of the blog suggested that it would be interesting to see the image presented with different tints.

A friend of mine Graham Barker, a locally based and very keen wildlife videographer -

Graham Barker Wildlife Videographer -

Very kindly helped me out by converting the images into  B & W Vignette and Sepia alternatives as my software does not have that facility.

Well, its different and not natural, but if you want to get ''Arty '', sepia gets my vote.


Monday, 27 April 2015

One for sorrow .......

Several weeks ago I '' fessed up '' to a friend that I did not have a single image of a Magpie in my archives, what an admission to make, we do tend to overlook our common birds in pursuit of the more rare species..

So this image puts things to right ... they really are quite magnificent looking birds.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Where there are food sources there are predators ...... Titchmarsh LNR.

From the Peter Scott hide at TLNR.

In recent times there has been a visible increase in Swan and  Duck carcasses around the reserve, this fellow and his piers are certain to be responsible for  a great proportion of them ...

So what is the Wild Life Trusts policy ? ...... I don't know ..... but the reality is that nature balances availability and demand in many environments ..... personally, for me, I accept this status quo.

Friday, 24 April 2015

A Grey Heron against an equally grey sky.

This guy was virtually full frame, sadly the light was drab but technically I like this image as an in flight shot.

Eyes, wing tips and claws are the three main features that I look closely at to assess focus quality and despite the gloom I was pleased with this result.

I wonder what it would look like in black and white ?.

Hawks are impressive and aerobatic birds ....

..... but the Common Tern has to be up there with most high speed raptors for their flying style and ability as they bounce around in the air over water and meadows.

They hover, they dive, they can turn direction on a sixpence, they '' hawk '' insects and Dragonflies in mid-air like Hobby's and in the case of this image they are so confident that they can '' take their eyes off the road '' and look skywar!s without bumping into anything.

I wish I could do the latter !  .... as an amateur bird and wildlife photographer I spend a lot of time looking up into the sky and woodland canopy whilst walking along .... resulting in the occasional trip up on uneven ground ....  can you identify with me on this or is it just me ?

Thursday, 23 April 2015

This Sedge has the edge.

One of my favourite summer migrants, the Sedge Warbler is a very dapper little bird with a very attractive and complex song.

And when you pass a bramble patch or heavy vegetation and hear their alarm call '' chirring '' its very unlikely that you will get the opportunity to see them, they do not show themselves lightly, but when they do ...... magical.

This guy did me a real favour and displayed in very good light, letting the world know that he is very much present and correct.     


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

A most under rated bird .....

The Cormorant can be found on most inland water body's, it's not a bird that gets a good press from fisherman.

Nevertheless it is a pretty impressive bird and and in the right light shows more colour variation than you generally see.

I am pleased with this image taken with a reed bed as the background, a nice contrast in colours and textures.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Pristine ......

These little birds don't seem to have a care in the world as they go about their business, seemingly oblivious to what is going on around them.

And very confiding they are, allowing you to approach quite close to them. 

Long Tailed Tits certainly brighten up the day as their family groups flit through the woodland fringes and scrub making their high pitched contact calls.

Sadly, hard winters have a severe effect on their numbers, happily they seem to be able to recover their numbers quickly.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Welcome back old friends ........

What a delight to have these Reed Warblers back in the reed beds, already busy collecting nesting material this guy must be a right Casanova as he seems to be well ahead of his siblings in the breeding cycle.

These high energy birds really do bring life, sound, song and soul to the reed beds with their comings and goings and constant chattering.

Amazing intercontinental travelers. 

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Its not all about birds ......

The meadows on the Elinor Fishery side at TLNR are providing a feast of Cowslips at the moment, their deep rich yellow colour is quite spectacular, I don't remember seeing so many in recent years.                                                                     

I'm not sure but I think the blossom is Blackthorn, either way this Peacock looked stunning against the white bloom.

Oh dear, again, I'm not very good at identifying coarse fish such as this that I photographed in Harper's Brook on the perimeter of the reserve.
This time I can say with confidence that this is a tractor, actually a Massey Ferguson, drilling seed in the field on the Aldwincle side of the reserve.

I believe that farmers leave ploughed fields over winter to allow the frosts to break down the soil structure to assist harrowing in spring, few heavy frosts were really recorded this winter but I am sure sufficient to do the job.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

What a difference a week makes ......

At Titchmarsh LNR most of our regular migrant summer warblers have now returned .... Nightingales yet to pitch up.

A friend and reserve regular, Rod,  advises me that he heard a Cuckoo at the reserve last Tuesday, its unclear whether it was on passage or taking up residence. 

This Sedge Warbler displayed nicely for me in good light.

Friday, 17 April 2015

New kid on the block ......

This Willow Warbler was shouting the odds and letting everyone know that he was back at the reserve in rude health for the breeding season.

I'm not very good at differentiating between Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, in the absence of song and as a rule of thumb I take leg colour as the determining factor, black for Chiffchaff and pink for Willow Warbler, not very scientific I know ........ please do let me know if I have got it wrong this time and I will amend the post, many thanks in advance!.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Avocet at Frampton Marsh .......

What a success story the re-introduction of this elegant bird has been since it became extinct as a breeding bird in the UK around 1840.

In the the mid 1940's flooding of East Anglian coastal marshes created ideal habitat and nesting conditions that hosted the return of the Avocet since when numbers have grown year on year.

Nowadays the Avocet has dispersed and can increasingly be found at a number of inland colonies.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

A rather rough Ruff at Frampton Marsh ..... not the most consistent of plumage .......

And not the prettiest of waders. The first image taken from the 360 deg. hide gives you an idea of how windy it was during the visit.

No sign of a neck Ruff on any of the few birds that I saw.

Frampton Marsh Redshank .....

Its a bit of a toss up, but these are arguably the best images of a Redshank that I have achieved to date.

Time of year ?, Light quality and direction ?, plumage ?, I'm really not quite sure other than to say that this bird was in stunning condition.
A quick visit today to TLNR, Chiffchaff, Sedge Warblers, Willow Warblers, Reed warblers and Blackcap are all now arriving back on the reserve ....  Nightingales and Cuckoo this week ?.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

These birds cover the ground like Linford Christie ......

Little Ringed Plovers at Frampton Marshes, Lincolnshire.

For me personally, the major distinguishing feature apart from size for identification purposes compared to Ringed Plovers is the yellow eye ring.

And what high energy little birds they are whether sprinting across the ground or speeding through the air calling on the wing.


Monday, 13 April 2015

Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire ...... a very blustery day.

Yesterday, Sunday, an opportunity presented itself at short notice to visit this coastal reserve and what a rewarding morning it was.

The mudflats were nicely exposed and provided good if somewhat distant opportunities for my 300 mm  + 1.4 T.c. lens combination..

A good mix of birds was present but star prize in my opinion must go to the Black Tailed Godwits and the males in particular in their stunning rusty coloured breeding plumage.

What cracking birds. 

Graham Barker captures this busy day perfectly with his video of the day's visit, link below.

                                                            The Male

                                                                The female

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Down to earth Chiffchaff at Titchmarsh LNR.

It's very satisfying to photograph a Chiffchaff down at ground level, in this case in the rough at the side of the reed beds from the South hide at TLNR, normally they are distantly seen fluttering around in the canopy.

And what a tidy little bird this is giving good eye contact whilst bathed in late afternoon sunlight.

Summer migrants are now returning to the reserve in some numbers with Sedge warblers and Blackcaps heard and seen today ....... bring on the Reed Warblers.

What a stunning couple ......

Common as they are around the reed beds Reed Buntings are always worthy of a close look.

Both of these birds are in pristine breeding plumage and busy nest building, one feature of this winter and spring is that insect life has been present on the wing most days through the colder periods and is currently prolific so this year should be a great success providing the weather holds up.

Friday, 10 April 2015

On top of his game .........

This cock Blackbird was belting his song out with great conviction, it's nice to photograph more exotic birds but equally rewarding to pay some attention to a mainstay of our avian population.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

There are quite a few of these around at the moment .....

A handsome duck the Drake Shoveler.

With a specialist serrated bill designed for filter feeding surface water these ducks also spend a lot of time up-ending.

With a pair seemingly defending a territory on the reserve at the moment lets see how things develop, it would be nice in due course to be able to post an image of a Shoveler family.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Busy busy times .......

I don't think that I can add anything to this post that the images don't already say.

( for viewers from the USA this is our Robin in the UK and Europe ).

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Five into one won't go ...

From the Peter Scott hide at TLNR.

One Shoveler Duck and up to five Drakes on occasions is a recipe for a lot of squabbles, chasing around, aggressive charges ...... classic territorial cock of the walk stuff.

However, this activity also gave plenty of opportunity for some in-flight shots .....

Monday, 6 April 2015

By Jove, I think I've got it !

Contrary to the weather forecast the light was generally good throughout today, but the most illuminating part of the day was this Cettis Warbler that decided to show having spent a considerable amount of time calling from numerous positions in the reed beds surrounding the South Hide at Titchmarsh LNR, heard but rarely seen.

After hours of observation I think I have a good understanding of the range of this birds territory and also the positions from which it calls, I also recognise its individual call.

Sure enough, whilst in the reed beds it called and moved, called and moved, called and moved  ( am I boring you ? ) and at last perched in a bramble patch that is a favourite display site.

What a treat, there can't be many better experiences. 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

First images of the year .....

There is something about Titchmarsh LNR that Cettis Warblers seem to like, we have at least twelve territories around the reserve with about six birds overwintering last year.

Walking around you are never far from these birds as they '' shout '' at you, I have reached the stage where I can identify individual birds by their call which differs subtly from bird to bird.

These images,  were taken from the Peter Scott hide where the bird is mobile, vocal and as always with Cettis, secretive. Lighting conditions were grey and overcast. 

This is however probably the best time of year to see Cettis, foliage is still emerging and the birds are busy re-establishing their territories and displaying to attract a mate. 

The area of this birds territory is pretty large, there is a theory that they move around their territory calling from various positions to make other males think that there are multiple birds on site already and dissuade them from stopping. 

I don't know how they manage it but they always seem to perch with some foliage, a twig or a leaf in front of them.

A common Continental European Warbler, Cettis first colonised the UK in Kent in 1961 and subsequently bred for the first time in 1973.

Today there are approximately 2000 male territories in the UK and rising.

A real favourite of mine.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Last Sunday .....

I posted an image of a upwardly mobile Moorhen high up in a  shrub at the edge of a reed bed, it was there again yesterday, the light was overcast and gloomily grey.

The thing that struck me was how the blooms had advanced into emerging foliage in the space of just six days .... nature and the season advances at a pace.