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Friday, 11 September 2015

A Visit To Croxall Lakes - on 10th September, 2015

Yesterday, I went over to Kings Bromley in Staffordshire to get some sunflower hearts and Hedgehog food. It's a journey I make pretty-much on a monthly basis, and my route takes me past the entrance to Croxall Lakes nature reserve. Occasionally I call in and make a visit.

The reserve is managed by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, and has been developed from old gravel workings at the confluence of the Tame and Trent rivers. The reserve really comes into its own in the winter months, and when I took a group from my local naturalists club here at the end of June, it was very quiet from a wildlife point of view.

Nevertheless, as Lindsay (my wife) wasn't going to be home for lunch, I thought that I'd enjoy a picnic here after collecting the bird food. Having finished the picnic, I took a wander, not expecting to see much in the way of birds, but hoping for some dragonflies. I saw little other than a Migrant Hawker dragonfly as I wandered down to the first hide, and there was little to be seen from the first hide, so I set off under the railway and across the fields to the second hide.

There was even less to see from the second hide, and I made up my mind that if nothing showed in fifteen minutes I'd wander back and set off home where there were plenty of chores awaiting me! 

I won't say that I was bored - more contemplative - but I did start taking photos of the passing trains as there was not much else to point the camera at!


There was some interest when a hunting Kestrel started coming towards the hide, but I think it saw something off to its right and veered away, to the railway, approximately 250 metres away. 

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) (female) - Croxall Lakes
The Kestrel disappeared and I set off back towards the car, trying (totally unsuccessfully!) to get photos of some Migrant Hawkers, and a Brown Hawker, that I encountered on the way.

Suddenly a Kestrel appeared above the railway which was running on an embankment, only 30 metres to my left. Sadly, I was still set up for dragonflies, but kept banging away taking photos for the fourteen seconds it was around.




Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) (female) - Croxall Lakes
Now it's confession time! When I first looked at my somewhat under-exposed images on my camera and saw the bold longitudinal stripes on the dark underside, I thought I'd been mistaken in my first assessment, and that I'd been photographing a Hobby. In fact, I even told my pal John on the phone that I'd photographed a young Hobby! It's only when I came to work on the photos that I realised that I'd got a female Kestrel with very bold markings on the underside! I'm really disappointed!

After this, I did manage to find a settled Common Darter and got a few photos of that too. If you're looking at the second image on a high-resolution screen you should be able to see the individual elements in the eyes.


Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) (female) - Croxall Lakes
So there we are! I'd got really excited and, on the way home, had planned to write this post, which would feature my best-ever photos of a Hobby, and all I end up with is a post which shows me up as a real chump! 

Thank you for dropping by. I'm off to find a real Hobby - or perhaps a change of hobby!

22 comments:

  1. I think I have memories of elusive hobbies......................Great shots of the kestrel though!

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    1. Hi David. This is one of the places that I was going to take you after we'd been to see the Red-footed Falcon and the Black Redstart, but diverted to Willington Gravel Pits because of the heavy traffic. At first I was dreading telling you that, having missed out on Hobby while you were here, I'd seen my first two for the year on two consecutive days!

      Will be in touch - probably later today.

      Bst wishes - - - - - Richard

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  2. The first picture of the Kestrel is excellent. I enjoy seeing a bit of background in the shot.

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    1. I agree with your thoughts about a bit of background, Adrian. You've set my little grey cells (not sure that should be plural!) working!

      Best wishes - - - - - Richard

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  3. Ditto on the first Kestrel shot I too like the background and is also different as it shows an industrial backdrop rather them the norm'. The other closer Kes' shots are crackers too. And the head shot of the darter is full of detail.

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    1. I have to agree,Doug, that having a background certainly helps put the bird into its environment. Portraits with no background have their place, but only tell half the story.

      My best wishes - - - Richard

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  4. Superb image of the Hob no I mean Kestrel, nothing to be ashamed about, we basically did the same well I did on Thursday but the other way round saying it was a Kestrel when it turned out to be a Hobby, at least you got some really good images of the the Kestrel, mine of the Hobby????
    See you tomorrow evening for the meeting

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    1. Thanks, John. See you later for fish and chips!

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  5. Lovely close up image of your common darter, yes I can see the individual elements of the eyes. The first image of your Kestrel is brilliant with the background. If you want Hobby, Morden Bog is the place to find one, although now they have probably gone on their migration.

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    1. Thank you, Linda. Have checked out Morden Bog on t'interweb and reckon I should schedule a visit there next year!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  6. No need to disappointment - I had a 15 second view of a hobby in Norfolk when I was back in the UK. I got very excited, but it never showed up again.

    cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. In my experience, they don't tend to hang around too long when they do appear, Stewart. At least I had seen a proper Hobby the day before this, although I messed up with the photography!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  7. Hello Richard, I can imagen your disapointment but never the less you managed to take some great captures of the Kestrel. The eyes of the common darter are fantastic.
    Thank you for your respons on my latest blog. Glad you enjoyed it.
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Thank you, Roos. At least I got a story out of the experience!

      My best wishes - - - - Richard

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  8. Great catches, Richard!
    for me it is unusual to see a female fluttering like this. first and last pics are killers!
    I also like you dragon, Common darters will be the last ones you will see on wing!
    I hope you got my email from yesterday.
    3 weeks to go!!!!
    Hugs to share with Lindsay, enjoy your evening :)

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    1. Actually, Noushka, this bird only fluttered for a couple of seconds, and then seemed to do a series of short swoops, which is one of the reasons why I was quick to think it was a Hobby!

      With the terrible weather we've had today very wet and cold), I'm beginning to wonder if I've seen my last dragonfly for the year!

      See you very soon now! Best wishes - - - - Richard

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  9. I am sure that we have all had one of those days when nothing much is either seen or heard, let alone photograph? Having said that, you did OK with the Hobby, ooops sorry the Kestrel, the Darter (great close up) and the passing trains!! I am very confident you will come up with some more goodies to share very soon Richard, in fact I'd put money on it!!!

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    1. Thank you, Paul. With the weather the way it is at the moment, I'm not sure I share your confidence!

      Best wishes - - Richard

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  10. NO NO!!!! Sticky with your hobby. That first Kestrel shot is a winner!!! You don't know how many times I've tried to capture one kiting like that and only find out that the shot itself is blurry! Hope you are having a fun week!

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    1. Don't worry, Chris - I was only joking about giving up the hobby!

      Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. The week's not been too bad so far and, hopefully, is about to get better as the sun is shining and I'm off out with John for the afternoon and early evening.

      Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

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  11. Superb images there, I love the Common Darter, it is fantastic Richard.

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

      My very best wishes to you - - - Richard

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