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Sunday, 19 October 2014

It's Roundup Time Again! - September, 2014

It's been a long while since I last posted on this blog, and with good reason! Just three days after getting back from a holiday in Dorset, we had an invitation from friends to join them on the Scilly Isles for a week, and so, initially, I was preoccupied with preparation for that, and now I'm back I've got around 2,500 photos to try and make some sense of. But more of that in a future post. Just to keep the ball rolling, here's a roundup of some of the things that kept me occupied in September.

Thursday 4th September

This was a day for an afternoon out owling with my pal, Titus. We decided to incorporate a short visit to Rutland Water to bid a fond farewell to the Ospreys which would be on their way to West Africa at any time. On my way to Titus's place, I photographed a Little Owl at my Site No.02, but a better image with exactly the same composition was obtained two weeks later.

Owls were seen at my Sites Nos. 48, 34, 36, and 42 en-route to Rutland Water, but only record shots obtained. However, there's nothing like starting with an owl so here's one of the 'record shots'.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.42
At Rutland Water, both the Manton Bay Ospreys (Maya & 33(11) were still in residence. They have, of course, long since departed, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that they've had a safe migration, enjoy a sunny and relaxed 'winter', and come back to us safely, hopefully for a successful breeding season in 2015. Next year promises to be interesting, as we will be observing them from a (controversial) new hide with all mod-cons including (we are told) the ability to make ourselves hot drinks to sup whilst we watch television! I suspect that there will be some adverse reactions to the expenditure on this new hide, particularly if the birds don't return to Manton Bay!

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) (female - Maya) - Rutland Lyndon Reserve
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) (male & female) - Rutland Lyndon Reserve
Pied and Yellow Wagtails were boldly mixing with the cattle in front of Shallow Water Hide.

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba) - Rutland Lyndon Reserve
Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) - Rutland Lyndon Reserve
On the way home we found another Little Owl, at my Site No.41, bringing my total for the afternoon to just seven.

Our Garden

On 1st September, I photographed this bug on a black-leaved plant in or garden (no photoshop trickery employed - exactly as photographed!). I've no idea what the bug is - nor the plant for that matter!

unidentified bug - our garden
Our garden Hedgehogs were seen on a fairly regular basis during the month.

Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) - our garden
We've had an absolutely massive crop of nuts on our Cob Nut tree this year (I'd guess at four times that of any previous year!). We'd not seen a squirrel in the garden all year - until the nuts were ready! We get the impression that the whole lot have now been cleared by just two Grey Squirrels!

Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - our garden
Coincidentally, Nuthatch, which was also absent from our garden for the first seven months of the year, is now putting in a an appearance several times a day. This next image was taken on the same day as the above squirrel image.

Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) - our garden
Thursday 18th September

Another afternoon out with Titus, and another visit to Rutland Water. On the way to Titus's place I photographed a Little Owl in the barn at my Site No.02. I'm now totally convinced that, sadly, there's only been one owl here for the past four months or so.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.02
Only four owls were seen that day, but here's one from my Site No.48.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.48
Our focus at Rutland Water was, primarily, on dragonflies. There were plenty around, but nothing out of the ordinary was seen. Here's a few from that afternoon.

Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) (male) - Rutland Egleton Reserve
The next image was extremely difficult to take as the pair were high up in a tree and only just visible. It's a pity that the female has damaged wings.

Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) (mating couple) - Rutland Egleton Reserve
Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (male) - Rutland Egleton Reserve

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (female) - Rutland Egleton Reserve

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) (male) - Rutland Egleton Reserve
Titus spotted this splendid shieldbug whilst we were looking for dragons.

Hawthorn Shieldbug (Acanthosoma haemorhoidale) - Rutland Egleton Reserve
On the way home, near to one of my Little Owl sites, there was a small flock of Goldfinch. Technically, this is a rubbish photo, but I like the way that the birds peeling off looks a little like a multiple exposure (it isn't).

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - near Somerby
A little further on, a Wheatear was on the fence, backlit by the low evening sun.

Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) (male) - near Somerby
Close to my Little Owl site No.48, the Jackdaws were searching for morsels on the sheep. Was this one looking for earwigs? ;-}

Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) - near my LO Site No.48
Thursday 25th September

Thursday afternoon, and I was out with Titus again. On my way to pick up Titus, as usual, I called in at my LO Site No.02. For one week only each year, the foliage on the virginia creeper (which now covers the east side of the barn) turns bright red. The following week, all the leaves have dropped. I've never managed a shot of an owl under these circumstances that I'm satisfied with, and I didn't do any better this year. Here's the best that I could come up with.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.02
Again, we called at Rutland Water. Soon after our arrival a historic 'warbird' roared into view. Avro Vulcan XH558 is the last of its type still airworthy, and was on a 'Cold War' commemoration tour. It was a magnificent sight. Sadly, it didn't perform manoeuvres until it was at a great distance from us.

Avro Vulcan XH558 - from Rutland Water
The dragonflies were still around in good numbers, and so the Hobbies were still there too. However, I only managed distant record shots.

Hobby (Falco subbuteo) (juvenile) - Rutland Egleton Reserve
Most of our time was spent at Shoveler hide, overlooking Lagoon 3. I photographed Green Sandpiper and Little Egret, but it was the Snipe which kept us exercised. At first it was on an island at some distance, but then it crossed over to a position only about 10 metres in front of us - however, it just wouldn't come out into the open!

Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus) - Lagoon 3, Rutland Egleton Reserve
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) - Lagoon 3, Rutland Egleton Reserve

Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) - Lagoon 3, Rutland Egleton Reserve
On the way home, near my LO Site No.48, a male Wheatear was beside the road. The light was bad, so the images were nothing like as pleasing as those from a week earlier, but I'm still pleased to have got them.

Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) (male) - near my LO Site No.48
That just about wraps up my September mop-up post! Thank you for dropping by. I've now got two major tasks to get on with; the first is to catch up with all the posts in bloggerland that I've missed over the last couple of weeks, and the second is to process all those photos ready for my next post!


  1. Welcome back Richard! Miriam is happy to see the picture of the Hedgehog. It seems to me that the birds are getting a little closer to the cattle than you seem to prefer to! Great shots all and a wonderful summary of what was obviously a great month's birding and other pleasures. Now as for having hot soup and hot drinks while watching Ospreys, this should obviously be banned. What is bird watching after all without a little personal discomfort? I suspect that next you'll be having a manicure!

    1. Sorry I had to break the news to you about the Hedgehogs, David. Please assure Miriam that I'll be doing my utmost to get them back.

      I too would be relaxed about close proximity to cattle if I could move quickly in a vertical direction!

      I'm sure that there will be times when I will appreciate the comforts of the new hide. I'm thinking early in the season, when there's been a strong north wind (the hide faces north) blowing in over the water and through the open shutters at near-zero temperatures! Quite often, under these conditions, it's been considerably warmer outside the hide than inside!

      Best wishes - - Richard

  2. Great to have you back Richard,love this post,packed with brilliant images.
    Love the Jackdaw whispering in the sheep ear,your wheatear on the post looks like it's ready to take flight,superb captures.
    Love your Macro images,and finally those Nuthatch shot,for steals the show.

    1. Thank you, John, for your kind words. I suspect that my next post, on the Scillies, might be a little tame for you as it might well feature birds that are more commonplace to you!

  3. Wow the Wheatear on the post is gorgeous as us the Nuthatch. I was reading the live Twitter feed for the Vulcan and read with interest "passing over Rutland on way to Cottesmore" and was wondering if you got to see it. It's not as noisy as I thought it be.
    I don't get why the new hide is controversial? Well done on the Snipe.

    1. Thank you, Doug.

      I believe that my sighting of the Vulcan was the day after you saw it. I'd seen you post featuring it, in the morning that I saw it in the afternoon. I agree, it's not as noisy as one might expect.

      The hide controversy - I think that many people would rather the money was spent on other things rather than an all-comforts hide. Admittedly the hide needed work on the shutters, but otherwise it seemed to be serving its purpose well.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  4. I enjoyed your pictures Richard :-) I like the picture of the Goldfinches. Beautiful images of the Wheatear on the fence post.

  5. Thank you Richard for this wonderful and full post. Your photographs are fantastic . It was wonderful to see all the Little Owls again especially the one with the fall colours around it. Beautiful shots of birds and all critters, too many to mention individually

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Margaret.

  6. Another super post Richard, loads of quality images, especially the first two Wheatear ones. But for me, the best of the bunch is the LO in the barn and the flock of Goldfinch's flying off.

    1. Thank you, Paul. I'm glad it's not just me that likes the Goldfinch image!

  7. Hello dear friend!
    I am back too from a few days at the sea-side!
    (I shot my back in the hides, and I can hardly walk! Grrrr!!)
    What an interesting post and great photos!
    Let's hope the Ospreys both return safely in 2015 and breed successfully.
    You managed fantastic snipe and wheatear pictures and I had a laugh at the jackdaw rummaging in the sheep's ear!
    I can't wait to see what you've come back with!!
    I have something new for your other blog........ But this is another story!! ;-)
    Keep well Richard!!

    1. Sorry to hear about your back, Noushka. I only usually get a bad back when I'm walking too far with my camera gear. If you're wrecking you back in a hide, you're probably doing it wrong!!! ;-} I hope it's better soon!

      Thank you for your very kind comments.

      I'm now all excited about what you have up your sleeve for 'the other blog'!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  8. Some amazing photos here, difficult to choose between them but I do love the pied wagtail with the monster :-) I also have a masses of photos to go through, I think next holiday I will leave my camera behind!! It will never happen though I am sure. Keep well Diane

    1. Thank you, Diane. I sometimes think of all the time it would save if I didn't take a camera with me everywhere I go, but I know I couldn't cope with the frustration of missing a photo opportunity.

      Have a great weekend - - - Richard

  9. I'll bet you had a sensational walk down to yours sights, lovely. My fave is a Snipe, but everything are my favourite, well done Richard for taking excellent photographs.

    1. Thank you, Bob, for your very kind words. Have a great weekend!


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