Monday, October 31, 2005

Long weekend dabblings

I had Friday 28.10.05 off and dabbled about a bit in the dreadful morning rain, looking for birds at Holme Fen and Woodwalton Fen and Prior's Fen and Eldernell in the afternoon after it had cleared a bit. Prior's Fen was riddled with vehicles and people building a giant bonfire, so I gave up and hit Eldernell (where the best bird was a Water Pipit over). So, on Sunday I went back to Prior's and dibbled. Here I found a late Wheatear, seven Scaup (lingering from the previous weekend with an additional flock member), Peregrine and Marsh Harrier as the best birds. Enough of this idle chit-chat and gossip, here are some shots.

Little Grebe, Holme Fen, 28.10.05 [not bad for 1/25 and 1/40 in appalling light in the rain]

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Eldernell, 28.10.05

Wheatear, Prior's Fen, 30.10.05 (Equal latest record for Huntingdonshire)

Some of seven Scaup, Prior's Fen, 30.10.05
Canon Powershot A95 through Kowa TSN-823 + 32xWLER

Monday, October 24, 2005

Marsh Tit on burdock

Marsh Tit, Woodwalton Fen, 23.10.05
Canon Powershot A95 through Kowa TSN-821 +32xWLER

I would rather have been watching (or even hearing) the Cetti's Warbler that has been there the last few days, but Kev DR and I didn't know quite where to search for it, and the site is large!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Prior's and beyond

Sunday 16.10.05 started incredibly foggy, but I still trudged off to Prior's Fen. Later, it was very sunny and mild and I spent a while enjoying the sun at tanholt before dashing to the Dog in a Doublet for a quick search for Rock Pipits, which proved successful. Here are some summary shots...
Prior's Fen

Dandelion chandelier

Group of Snipe

Then there was one

Shaggy Inkcap, Tanholt

Common Darter, Tanholt

Rock Pipit, Dog in a Doublet
All with Canon Powershot A95 apart from birds which were with the same camera plus Kowa TSN 821 +32xWLER

Thursday, October 13, 2005

An unexpected guest

It was about 11 o'clock last night and the rest of the Weedons were asleep. The weather changed yesterday from fine and warm to wet and windy and there is a promise of great birding weather at the weekend. I was quietly reading in our green sitting room at the front of the house, when I heard a rustling among some papers in the corner. I seem to remember how Hardy's Gabriel Oak noticed creeping creatures, slugs and spiders and so on, moving in odd ways when the weather was on the change, using small beasts to predict the weather. But surely this was not the sound of a large spider: this was a mouse.

A couple of years ago we had a mouse problem. They were in the house, eating the carpets, making holes in the skirting boards and generally pooing and peeing their way to total domination. After months of trying to catch them humanely, I caught two, one night, in live traps and released them in some woodland. Miraculously, that was it: we never saw or heard one again.

But here, last night, was the unmistakable sound of one nibbling at paper, probably trying to make a nice shredded-paper nest for itself next to my record collection. I crept as softly as I could toward the corner, to see if it I could see the irritating little nibbler and work out where it had come from and how I could catch it. The room didn't have that nauseating pungent mouse-pee smell yet, so he must be a new arrival.

I stood still and the rustling continued just near my feet, followed after a minute or so by a sound like a big bit of paper sliding down another.

Then I saw it, a little dark nose just moving at a seemingly-casual pace for a mouse, poking out from a bit of paper and crawling into the open. My first thought was that it was quite small even for a mouse. My second was the realisation that it wasn't a mouse at all, but an inch-long toad, an animal I'd never even seen in the garden, let alone the house. Maybe, there is something in this beast-watching weather folklore after all.

Monday, October 10, 2005

More fun with the A95

I had a right marriage-threatening marathon of birding this weekend (8-9.10.95), with Saturday spent scouring Skegness with Kevin DuRose and Sunday in north Norfolk with Brian Stone and Tony Parker. It was great on both days to simply get away from PBC birding and see stuff you just don't get around here. The highlights for me were Yellow-browed Warblers seen well at Titchwell (where the World and his wife were) and Hokham (where the rest of the World were).
I also had a chance to take a very few snaps with my new Silver Dream Machine, as follows, firstly digiscoped:
Little Egret and Curlew at Holme dunes (9.10.05) and Long-tailed Tit at Holkham.

Canon Powershot A95 through Kowa TSN 821 +32xWLER

...then in macro mode:
Migrant Hawker at Holkham and Common Darter at Titchwell.

Canon Powershot A95

Friday, October 07, 2005

New toy

I've got yet another new digital camera (bought for digiscoping – I think my trusty Nikon Coolpix 4500 will reign on as my macro camera of choice as well as all-rounder), and this morning tried it out in 'orrible, murky conditions in the garden. And I'm quite pleased with the initial results, featuring a Collared Dove in one of our apple trees.

Canon Powershot A95 through Kowa TSN 821 +32xWLER

Thursday, October 06, 2005


On Sunday (1.10.05), I hid in the shed like a weirdo, using it as a hide to get a closer view of birds feeding in the garden so I could sketch them (see earlier post). I took my digiscoping gear in, too, to take a few snaps to help understand finer details of bird structure as an aid to my artistic endeavours. This male Greenfinch was snapped in the process.

Nikon Coolpix 880, Kowa TSN-821 + 32xWLER

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Common Wasp

We have one fence covered in Ivy and the insects absolutely love the flowers at the moment. Especially Common Wasps.
Check out those jaws! Also I had no idea how hairy they are until I looked a these pics.

Nikon Coolpix 4500 (2.10.05)

Life sketch 2

This week's sketches are of waders at Prior's Fen (including a jumping Snipe) and Collared Doves and Starlings in our garden.

Pencil + paper

More Prior's fen action

Prior's Fen is one of my favourite weekend destinations. It takes ages to plod along through the unmaitained footpath, and by the time you get to the pits, you're soaked from the knee down. But you know that something may be lurking out there, and it has a pretty good track record for bringing in decent birds [Dotterel, Temminck's and Little Stints in the last few weeks], so there are finds to be had. So, I like to spend an hour or two fooling myself that I will find something each weekend...
This weekend, the most notable trend was the huge increase in Golden Plover numbers (up to more than 1,000) and also in Wigeon (more than 250 flying overhead). I also bumped into another obliging Wheatear – with much more extensively golden-rufous underparts than last week's bird (?Greenland race).



Juvenile Black-tailed Godwit plus two Juvenile Greenshanks (of four in this group)

Grey Wagtail

Nikon Coolpix 880, Kowa TSN-821 + 32xWLER