I've just realised that it's a week and a half since my last post on this blog, and I've virtually neglected my blog friends and their posts too. I blame it on the Christmas rush, and barely being near my computer. Today I shall try and put it right!
It had been some time since I'd been to Calke because the area that I usually visit had been off limits due to major works to create a huge permanent car park. These were, thankfully, all but finished at the end of November, and it was possible to visit again.
I arrived to find the park's land manager just leaving the hide. He'd spent an hour in the hide hoping to see the two Brambling that someone had reported seeing the previous day (this was news to me!), but had had no luck. He also told me that the two Little Owl sites that I'd been monitoring since the back end of 2012 had now been abandoned, although he'd heard a Little Owl for the first time in a few months, just a few days previously.
Having scanned around for a Little Owl, unsurprisingly with no luck, I went into the hide. There was only one other person in there. He'd been there for an hour, but could only report seeing a woodpecker three times.
Most of the usual suspects were around, but nothing too exciting in the way of birds. This used to be a good place for Marsh Tits, but I understand that they've not been seen for quite a long time.
First to be photographed was a Jackdaw.
|Jackdaw - Calke Park|
Before I knew what, a Brambling had arrived! I tried to point it out to the other guy who was keen to get a shot of it, but I don't think he even managed to find it!
|Brambling (female) - Calke Park|
The bird didn't stay long, so I settled down to try and get some images, mainly concentrating (with not too much success!) on the remarkably large numbers of Greenfinch here. Most of my Greenfinch images to date seem to have been of brightly coloured males, so I was trying to focus on the females on this occasion. I failed again!
|Greenfinch (male) - Calke Park|
|Greenfinch (juvenile female?) - Calke Park|
The woodpeckers had obviously already had plenty to eat and didn't return in the hour that I was there. The Nuthatches were, unusually, very thin on the ground, and I managed very few usable shots.
|Nuthatch - Calke Park|
The Goldfinches were also there in profusion, and I was pleased to be able to get images under varying light conditions. It's good to see the iridescent red on the head in bright sunshine, but I rather like the effect of the subdued lighting in the third image.
|Goldfinch - Calke Park|
The three common tit species were also there. I didn't bother with them much and didn't even try for a Great Tit image, but I did take a couple of shots of Coal Tit and Blue Tit.
|Coal Tit - Calke Park|
|Blue Tit - Calke Park|
Once in a while it's great to go to a place like this, even if there aren't any rarities around. With so many birds to go at, it provides a great way to brush up on one's photographic techniques.
I was there again five days later, but it was a rather dull day, weatherwise, and so my efforts were less successful, although I did manage a reasonable female Greenfinch!