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Monday, 14 November 2016

Not a Bad Day At All !! - on 13th November, 2016

We've had some very disappointing weather for the past few weeks, with wind and rain making the suddenly cold temperatures seem even colder. I was, therefore, delighted when Sunday dawned sunny and bright, with just a gentle hint of a breeze. Although I had a whole raft of problems and chores to sort out, these were abandoned and, having made myself up a picnic, I set off into the big outside.

There'd been a report of three Waxwings in Loughborough, a town only about 15 miles (25 km) from my home, but as these were in the middle of the shopping area, and with parking charges to pay, I decided against this. Instead, I elected to go to the picturesque village of Lyddington, about 50 miles (80 km) from my home, where six or more Waxwings had been reported.

Whilst these birds were high on my list of 'wanteds', my priorities lay with the Little Owls and so several LO sites would be visited on the way to Lyddington. This, as you will see later, was nearly a bigger mistake than it turned out to be!

The first site that I saw an owl at, was my LO site No.41.  This was particularly pleasing as I'd not seen an owl here since 19th August, and I believe John last saw one sometime before that! I spotted the owl from over 100 metres away but, as I drove down the road, I realised that it was well tucked into a Hawthorn bush and I wasn't going to be able to photograph it from the road. Fortunately I was in my 4x4 and so drove into the field (I have the farmer's blessing to do this, but rarely do so). I banged off a few shots and then retreated, leaving the owl undisturbed (the owls are used to the farmers rounding up the sheep with their 4x4).

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my LO Site No.41
A little further on, at my LO Site No.23, an owl was out on its favourite RSJ. I'd only just started photographing this when the farmer arrived with his tractor to collect some bales, and sent the owl scampering up the RSJ to behind the cladding.

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my LO Site No.23
The next sighting was at my LO Site No.34. Although we'd seen a bird here on 28th October, we'd been getting worried that these owls might have been evicted yet again, as we'd seen that the nest opening had suddenly been filled with sticks when we visited here on 10th November.

I was delighted to see a bird in the nest entrance as I arrived, and even more delighted to see that its mate was lurking in the shadows behind - you can probably just see the second bird in the image below.

Little Owls (Athene noctua) - my LO Site No.34
No further owl sightings were made on my way to Lyddington. I arrived, and parked on the main road and, as I got out of my car, two ladies with binoculars got out of the car in front of mine. They turned out to be novice birders who lived in the village, and were not sure of what they were looking for. I quickly picked up six Waxwings about 90 metres away (thank you, Google Earth!) in the top of a tall tree behind a bungalow, and pointed them out to the ladies. I hurriedly tried to find closer access but only could cut the distance down to about 70 metres. The birds were looking restless and indeed, only four minutes after my arrival, they flew up high and headed south at 12h41.

Here's a few from those few minutes.



Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) - Lyddington
I went off to see if I could find where they might have gone, although it did look as if they were completely leaving the area. This thought was reinforced by a person arriving and telling me that, earlier in the day, the birds had been roosting in a tree opposite where my car was parked, and feeding in a Yew tree about 5 metres from where my car was parked! He was surprised to hear that they'd been in the distant tree, which suggests that the birds had gathered there with departure in mind.

I didn't give up until an hour after the birds' departure, and I was pleased to see a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly flying around high up against the church walls. Eventually it settled and I managed a long distance shot. Although, at a glance, it looks as if this was in tatty condition, it was, in fact, in almost perfect condition - it was the church walls that were in rather poor condition, with protrusions covering the butterfly's wings!

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - Lyddington
From Lyddington, I went on to Eyebrook Reservoir. I stayed a while at the inflow, hoping for a sighting of Kingfisher, but my luck was not in, so I started back homeward after about an hour.

Near Allexton I spotted a Buzzard up in a tree and, surprisingly, it didn't take off the instant that I stopped the car. Sadly it had its back to me, but I did get some reasonably close shots.


Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) - near Allexton
Both owls were in the nest opening of Little Owl Site No.34 again, when I passed at 15h11. Here's a shot from a different angle to that taken in the morning. Depending on your screen, you might just be able to detect the eyebrows of the second bird, to the right of the first bird!

Little Owls (Athene noctua) - my LO Site No.34
The owl was also out on his RSJ again at Site No.23. 

After I'd set out that morning, I'd found John's notebook on the floor in my car, so I headed home via John's place to give it back to him. As I departed from John's, I had the idea to try and push the numbers of owls sighted to five (it's been a long while since I had a five-owl day!), by calling in at my local patch to see if, by any remote chance, I could detect the silhouette of an owl on the roof at my LO Site No.02. 

I didn't have any luck in this respect but, just a few hundred metres further along the road, a ghostly white apparition crossed the road ahead of me. I stopped the car and got out to search the adjacent field through the bins. I'd just about given up when a Barn Owl flew up from the corner of the field beside the road behind me, and continued down the road. Fabulous !!! I'd had a five-owl day, and my first sighting of a Barn Owl in far too many months.

It might not have been the best of days photographically, but I'd had an extremely enjoyable day out in beautiful sunny weather - and had my first Waxwing sighting of the year. Brilliant!

31 comments:

  1. Another excellent account of your day, with Waxwing, a Buzzard rear views or not, a late mid-November butterfly, and a five owl day....Great stuff Richard.

    By the way, I saw the report of a Robin on six eggs a few days ago near my area.

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    1. Thank you, Pete, it certainly was a most enjoyable day.

      I hope that Robin has the support of garden bird feeders to maximise the chances of a successful breeding!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  2. Great to see Little Owls back on the Menu Richard,your Waxwing Images are superb,but,the Common Buzzard is exquisite,and deserves it's place of honour,as your Header.
    John.

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    1. Thank you, John. I'm definitely getting more motivated on the owl front lately - I just wish the weather would cooperate more! We're getting far too many damp, dull, and windy days at the moment - even if it isn't as cold as it could be.

      Best wishes to you and Sue - - - Richard

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  3. The Waxwings, you have got them. I have where on my site http://bobswildlife.co.uk/sightings/WinterWaxwingWatch.php
    Beautiful sighting of the Little Owls and Buzzard.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. I don't usually publish comments with links to other sites, but I'm happy to do so on this occasion. I see your Waxwing images are of birds feeding on Sorbus 'Pink Pagoda'. For some reason these pink berries are a particular favourite with Waxwings.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  4. Seems like your November weather has been the exact opposite of ours, Richard. The early part of the month actually delivered temperatures in the mid twenties and even today it is predicted to get into the teens. Normal high at this time of the year is 6°. Congratulations on discovering the Bohemian Waxwings. Great sighting. Cedar Waxwings are common here, as you know, but Bohemians are sporadic at best and only in some winters. When I lived farther north before I met Miriam I saw them most winters but I have only ever seen them once in Waterloo Region.

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    1. I'd seen that you were getting warm weather, David. Our weather hasn't been cold for the time of year. In fact we had a particularly warm spell, which spoiled us for when the temeratures returned to normal. The problem has been the almost endless exceedingly damp grey weather and strong winds.

      I take absolutely no credit for the Waxwings - they were well-published on the LROS web site. I was lucky, however, to get there just a few minutes before they departed. Cedar Waxwings are a great rarity over here, and even the Bohemians cause a great deal of excitement!

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  5. Looks like a great session Richard. Cracking shots,love the Buzzard shots.

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    1. Thank you, Marc. It was a most enjoyable day out.

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  6. Oh that you had a totally awesome day! And these excellent findings! Greetings

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    1. Thank you, Anne. I had a great time, even if it was quite a short day.

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  7. Wow those Waxwings. I keep offering to go to the supermarket with my mum and dad at the weekends at the moment for obvious reasons!

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    1. I know these birds, for good reason, have a reputation as 'supermarket birds', Fin, but I was still quite surprised that a small group of them (peaked at 4) have been hanging around a tiny Iceland car park right in the centre of a local town since Friday at least.

      If you do go to the supermarket with your mum and dad, don't forget to tell them that you need to keep an eye on the car, otherwise you might get roped in to to accompany them inside the shop!

      Best wishes to you all - - - Richard

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  8. Hi Richard and well done to get up to the magic FIVE owl day. Great images of the Buzzard, and for saying how far away the Waxwings were, great images and great to see. See you soon. --- John

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    1. Thanks, John. It was great to have a five owl day - it's been a while! I don't feel that 'the job's been done' with the Waxwings. I'll be out there if any more show up, but the centre of Loughborough is a step too far for me.

      See you tomorrow!

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  9. Love the shots of the buzzard, and yes I can see the second Little Owl in both shots. The Small Tortoiseshell butterfly looks in perfect condition wow.

    It is grey and dismal here and I have not seen an insect for days and the lizards have also vanished.

    Have a great week Diane

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    1. Thank you, Diane. It's back to grey and damp, with a stiff breeze again here too. We just had that one splendid day. I'd rather have a cold crisp sunny day than the rubbush we're getting at the moment.

      Take good care - - - Richard

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  10. Really like the Buzzard images Richard, great eye contact.
    The Little Owl and his RSJ resting hole is such an ingenious location, you really have to appreciate their resourcefulness.
    The Waxwings seem a bit flighty this year, I stumbled across a small flock of 6 but couldn't get a close enough for a decent image. :-(

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    1. Thanks, Doug. I'm not sure that the Waxwings in Leicestershire have been flighty. The ones in Iceland car park in Loughborough are in a very busy area, and it's a small car park. Those that I saw had, apparently, been feeding in a Yew only a few metres from onlookers. I was just a bit too late to see this!

      Still waiting for another blog post from you!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  11. Lucky you seeing the Waxwings! I have yet to see these birds, I am hoping for a really cold winter because there are more chances of seeing these beautiful birds. My Partner, Malcolm, saw about 40 Waxwings on our Crab apple tree for a brief moment about six years ago, they flew off when they saw Malcolm. ME, I did not see them because I was busy doing housework :-(

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    1. You'll have to get Malcolm to do more of the housework, Lin! Everyone seems to think it's going to be a great year for Waxwings. However, although there have been a few about in these parts, it's not got exceptional yet. I hope you get some down your way.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  12. WOW great post Richard!
    This LO in red berries is gorgeous, how lucky it's used to the farmer rounding the sheep with his 4X4... But I agree, a few pics are enough, I too hate to disturb the birds!
    The buzzard up close is fantastic too, they usually take off before one gets a chance at the first click!
    It was sunny here on the 12th!
    Keep well and enjoy your WE :)

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    1. Thank you, Noushka. The only sunshine we've had since 13th, was about half an hour on the afternoon of 17th and then a couple of hours yesterday (19th). Fortunately, I've been able to get some results from both periods. It's now set to be very wet and windy for the rest of the week!

      I hope that your weeks is going to be a lot better than ours looks like it's going to be. With my very best wishes - - - Richard

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    2. Well even if the weather is luminous here, the birds are not around anymore so I am a bit at a loss. I wish there could be 4 days in a row so I could go to the Atlantic ocean but even there the birds are scarce.
      About your D7200, don't be sorry... yes the D500 is a fantastic camera but first it is twice the price and second it is very good although one must under-expose a lot more with white subjects in the distance. It gave very pleasing shots and I will bring along when I travel as a backup, just in case!
      Also, the 16-80 lens is brilliant and very sharp, perfect for landscapes and good value for the price.
      Keep well Richard, and I hope you get good light in the coming days :)

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  13. Hi Richard,
    here too the pest birds are perched in the Netherlands. Unfortunately I could not take pictures yet myself but many others did.
    I find pictures of owls so beautiful. I love owls and these pictures are great, the waxwings and buzzard you have beautifully photographed but I love owls :-)

    Greetings, Helma

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    1. Thank you, Helma. I hope that you get your Waxwings, and the weather is good to photograph them in!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

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  14. Hello Richard, Good to read you managed to see the LO and even after a long time a Barnowl. Like me and lots of other birders, you also succeededd in finding the Waxwings. This year is spectacular with the amounth of birds that are searching for food and better conditions. Even here where I live I could spot them. They are so special and your captures are great!
    Regards and all the best,
    Roos

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    1. Thank you, Roos. I didn't do as well with the Waxwings as you did. I hope I get a better chance this winter.

      With my very best wishes to you and your husband - - - Richard

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  15. oh my, such wonderful photos and sightings! A joy to see.

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