Sunday, 31 May 2015

Paxton Pits

I enjoy visiting Paxton Pits Nature Reserve, but the place seems to suffer from a strange physical phenomenon.  It seems that, wherever you stand around the lake, the wildlife is always at the opposite side.  Spooky...

The closest bird we saw was a Chaffinch on one of the feeders.

As normal, the lake was full of Cormorants, which spent their time diving and then drying out.

There were also the "usual suspects" in the form of a Canada Goose and a Mallard.

Nothing very exciting, in other words, so I was forced to photograph the flowers instead.  One of last year's bullrushes, speedwell and some (rather abundant) wild strawberries.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Lakenheath Fen on a cold and wet Sunday

So much for May being early Summer - or even late Spring, come to that.  I went to Lakenheath Fen last Sunday in the hope that I might have a peaceful day out, and maybe even see something interesting.  When I arrived the main car park was full and I was directed into the overflow area: not a good sign when wanting to avoid crowds.  Talking to the rangers it soon became clear why there were so many people at the reserve: a Little Bittern had taken up residence, and the place was full of twitchers keen to add the bird to their "collection".

No sooner had I arrived than it started to rain, so I set up in one of the hides watching a pair of coots feed their (very hungry) offspring.

Occasionally we photographers set ourselves pointless challenges, and I decided to attempt a picture of a coot in mid-dive - poised about to enter the water.  After countless failures (dozens of pictures of coot bums and water swirls) I came to the conclusion that coots must dunk their heads before diving - hence the desired image wasn't actually possible.  Until proved otherwise I'll stick to this story, but I'll post a couple of "near misses" to show that I was trying.

Apart from the coots, there was a Little Grebe (in the far distance) and a family of mute swans.

It stopped raining eventually, so I left the hide and headed further into the reserve.  Reed Buntings were everywhere, but never quite got close enough for a decent picture.

I then came across the crowd of twitchers (not quite sure what the collective noun is).  We all heard the elusive Little Bittern, but only a couple of people managed to see it during the day.

Other Bitterns were booming - amazing to hear - but, again, none were to be seen.  There were dozens of Hobbies around, but way too far away for photography.  A couple of Marsh Harriers came a lot closer (relatively speaking!) and I was able to watch as one attempted to steal what looked like a rat from another.  Not great pictures, but an amazing spectacle.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Norfolk Bird Fair

A couple of weekends ago Harriet and I headed up to the Norfolk Bird Fair at Mannington Hall.  It was a low key affair which turned out to be pleasantly uncrowded.  There were also interesting (and dangerous!) exhibits from the likes of WEX and EOS Magazine, and it was great to be able to chat to the people there without having to fight for attention.  There was also the obligatory display of owls and raptors, including a rather engaging Little Owl and a magnificent Harris Hawk.

Mannington Hall itself is privately owned and not normally open to the public.  It's a beautiful 15th century moated manor house made of flint and brick, and the building has an amazing collection of gargoyles and other carved heads.

Meanwhile, back at the WEX tent, a Canada Goose was patrolling the moat and acting as a target for those contemplating the purchase of a new pair of binoculars (no names, no pack drill, Harriet!).

A thoroughly enjoyable day out - if a little expensive...

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Wicken Fen

It's been a bit of a lean time recently, photographically speaking, with lots of time spent on RPS and Cambridge Camera Club duties.  Harriet and I managed to get out to Wicken Fen this afternoon, though, for a guided "Cuckoo" walk by Nick Davies to coincide with the launch of his new book.  Also there was Richard Nicoll from CCC, who had provided some of the pictures for Nick's book.  We heard several cuckoos, and saw one - expertly summoned by Nick doing a very accurate bird impression!  It was moving too fast to get a picture, though, so you'll have to make do with some Konik horses and a few sparrows which were flying around the visitors' centre.