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Friday, 2 August 2013

July Incidentals - 2013

If I'm going out 'birdwatching' it's usually either specifically to see, and hopefully photograph, owls, or it's when I go to do a turn of duty on the Osprey Watch at Rutland Water. I rarely go out to do any general birdwatching. However, whilst out looking for the owls, or when I am at Rutland Water, my camera sometimes gets used on other subjects. These are the 'incidentals' to my main interest.

Although this post is headed "July Incidentals", I'm going to start with an image from 20th June while Titus and I were on duty at Rutland Water, late in the evening. Titus called out for me to come to the door of the hide, and this is what I saw! It's a terrible picture (a scurrying creature shot in the pouring rain and terrible light - lens at 500mm with ISO set at 2,000 and an exposure of 1/40 second - I didn't stand a chance!) but, nevertheless,  a remarkable subject - a Mole out above ground in the daylight! I've never seen one before!

Mole - Rutland Water (Lyndon Reserve)
Two weeks later, on 4th July, were at Rutland Water again. We monitor the Ospreys from over the other side of the water, so usually only get distant views. This first image shows the adult female Osprey on the perch above the nest, and the three juveniles on the nest. That evening we actually saw one of the juveniles 'lift off' for the first time, albeit only by a few inches (not more than half a metre).

Osprey (adult plus 3 juveniles) - Rutland Lyndon
Later that evening things went a little crazy as, suddenly, three adult Ospreys appeared. We weren't sure which birds they were but, unusually, there didn't seem to be any antagonism between the birds. In fact, two of them seemed to be together, and flying in formation, and the third came to join them briefly. Rutland Water's John Wright would be able to tell me which birds these were - if I'd managed better photos!

Osprey - Rutland Lyndon
I'm particularly fond of the evening shifts as it gives a nice balance of being able to talk to visitors during the early part of the evening, and then being able to enjoy the tranquillity and magnificence of the scene later in the evening. The reeds in front of Waderscrape Hide, from which we do the monitoring, are the regular haunt of Reed Bunting, Reed Warbler, and Sedge Warbler.  These birds tend to come out and sing later in the evening if the weather is fine. The Sedge Warblers are my favourites.

Sedge Warbler - Rutland Lyndon
On the way home that evening, near to my Little Owl Site No.23, there was a Brown Hare in a roadside field. I do like Hares!

Brown Hare - near Marefield
Four days later, on 8th July, I was owling (unsuccessfully - it happens!) on my local patch. I couldn't resist trying for an image of this male Banded Demoiselle.

Banded Demoiselle (male)
Two days later (10th July), shortly after discovering a juvenile Little Owl at my Site No.02, whilst checking out my (now believed abandoned) LO Site No.28 this Pied Wagtail was bumbling about on a rock.

Pied Wagtail (male)
I've done very little photography in my garden lately as most of the birds seem to be at their natural feeding grounds. However, on 12th July, I couldn't resist photographing this Comma which settled on a wall.

Comma - our garden
The following day (13th July) I was down on my local patch again, in my hide photographing a juvenile Little Owl (see previous post). Whilst sitting there, Yellowhammers were all round me, but keeping away from my lens. This is the one that got nearest - I suspect it was gathering food for youngsters.

Yellowhammer (male)
I was out owling again in the evening of that same day. As I passed my LO Site No.21, near Hungarton, three Red Kite were flying around for a short while before disappearing eastwards. I've never seen Red Kite in this area before. I wasn't ready for them and I really fluffed the photography as they kept moving above and below the tree line. These are the best of a bad bunch. I'm pretty sure that at least one of the three was a juvenile.

Red Kite - near Hungarton
It was five days later, on 18th July, whilst on duty at Rutland Water again, that my next 'incidentals' were taken. Arriving a little early for duty, Titus and I went down to Shallow Water Hide beforehand. There was nothing out of the ordinary on view, but I rather liked this shot which has Common Tern, GC Grebe, and Coot in it.

Common Tern, Great Crested Grebe, Coot - Rutland Lyndon
Just outside the door of Waderscrape hide was a large spider, hiding in the deep shade. The arachnophobes amongst you might want to skip this next image!

spider (unidentified) - Rutland Lyndon
 They might have midges in Scotland but we also get them down here - although ours don't bite (as far as I'm aware), but make a nuisance of themselves by tickling as they crawl over you, and get in your hair. I found that the only way I could focus on these was to wait until they were next to something that my autofocus could pick up.

midges - Rutland Lyndon
I don't believe that I've said much about the latest addition to our garden year list, which is also a garden 'lifer'. Nothing very exciting as far as birds are concerned, but a pair of Stock Doves that visit from time to time. I really should do something about trying to get a better photo as the iridescent neck markings are fabulous in the right light. This one was taken on 20th July.

Stock Dove - our garden
We jump right forward to 26th July for the next images, and we're back on my local patch again (and again the owling was 'fruitless'). Close to where I found the Banded Demoiselle shown near the beginning of this post, a very yellow Willow Warbler briefly showed.

Willow Warbler - my local patch
Very close by (20 metres?) is a cattle drinking pond. There were a couple of dragonflies in attendance. The first is a male Common Darter.

Common Darter - my local patch
The second was a very obliging, but rather tatty, male Broad-bodied Chaser. I'm pretty sure that this was quite an old specimen, not just because of three torn wings, but also because of the very dark inner wing markings, and the total lack of antehumeral stripes

Broad-bodied Chaser (male) - my local patch
That just about sums up the 'incidentals' for July - except, unusually for me, I did a twitch on 31st July. A Night Heron was reported about 5 miles (8km) from my home - the first for Leicestershire since 1988. I had to go, but I only got very distant record shots, so I won't bother publishing here as I got marginally better shots the next day (into August already), and I'm hoping for an early visit on Saturday before I head north!

It will probably be a while before I post on this blog again as I'm off on holiday on 3rd August for a week. I'm going on my own and I'm hoping for some decent weather so that I can do some birding on the North Yorkshire coast, and maybe collect some fossils too!


  1. Outstanding set of Images Richard,love the Stock Dove,your Sedge Warbler is fantastic.
    The Banded Demoiselle is my favourite,followed by the Mole.
    The spider is a Garden Cross spider.

    1. Thank you John. You always surprise me with your choice of 'favourites'.

      Will update the blog with the spider info when I get back - thanks for the ID.

  2. I've never seen a mole and I'm betting not many others have either, fascinating. I like the Red Kites too but my favourite image, because it's different is the midges, a brilliant shot and one I would've never have thought of trying.
    Have a great holiday Richard

    1. Thanks Doug. I was rather pleased with the midges - they really stood out in the low sunlight.

      I hope that you are able to get the best out of the rest of your holiday too!

  3. An enjoyable and comprehensive illustrated account Richard. Difficult to choose a favourite image, but the Brown Hare is brilliant.

    By the way, your comment re using 'Registered Users' is the perfect solution for getting rid of the spam problem which I myself was cursed with and rid Birds2blog of it the same as you did.

    1. Thanks Pete.

      Strangely, I've now had a couple of spammers slip through the net. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this isn't the start of another flood of rubbish.

  4. Some lovely images Richard, I have seen a mole digging its way up, creating this lovely mound of earth on a pristine lawn:)

    1. Thanks Linda

      It's quite fascinating watching the earth move as a mole does its thing just below the surface, but I'd be amazed if I ever saw one out in the open like this again!

  5. It must have been fun amongst all those midges. Quite a spectacular shot of them too. The mole above ground is so out of character and for the conditions, you should be congratulated that you reacted quickly enough to get the shot at all.I love all the natural wonders you show us on your blog.

    1. Thank you for your very kind words, Arija.

      I have to confess that the midge situation wasn't as bad as it appears from the image. This was a relatively small cloud of them that was moving around outside the hide, and I just had to wait until they got into the right position for the sun and a focus object. In the hide they didn't give us any trouble at all. If you stood outside there'd be a cloud of them descend on you within a couple of minutes.

  6. Hi Richard

    First of all; the midges image is superb. Lovely lighting. The mole is a tremendous find and like you, I have never seen that before! Additionally, the comma in the garden is a real treat, which I hope to have one day.

    1. Thank you Christian. I wish you all the best with a Comma. We're very lucky in that they seem to be quite numerous here this year.

  7. Incidentals you say, well I think you have done yourself an injustice there mate, cracking post and images.

    1. Thanks Paul. Have a great time on Mull. I'm now in Scarborough.

  8. I have always thought I would love to come out with you 'owling' but wow you still manage something special even when there are no owls around. Well done. have a good Sunday Diane

    1. Thank you Diane. Have a great one yourself !!

  9. Good grief!
    That is another heck of post!
    You've been busy, my friend!
    Some of the pics are really gorgeous!
    I have often seem moles out in day light but... when I was a kid!
    I remember catching a few and desperately trying to feed them worms I had been digging up for a couple of hours... They never survived!!! :(
    The dragon photos are superb!
    Keep well, Richard!

    1. Thanks Noushka. I really must save up my pennies and get myself a macro lens sometime. I'm finding myself getting more interested in insect photography!


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