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Saturday 25 November 2023

The First Half of November, 2023

This post, covering the first half of the Month of November will bring me as far up-to-date as I am ever likely to get - unless I start mending my ways! It covers three short trips out, and garden observations - a few of which were cause for excitement.

Friday, 3rd November          Garden  :  Saltersford Valley Country Park  :  Thortit Lake

A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly graced us with a visit this day - not a rare butterfly, but a rather late one. It seemed to be in fine condition.

Small Tortoiseshell (Aglais urticae) - our garden
After lunch, I had a short trip out to Saltersford Valley, in the hope of finding some late dragonflies or damselflies. I had no such luck as, after the heavy rains, the boardwalk was closed due to it being under water. Other parts of the area were only just passable too without the benefit of wellington boots. The only photos I took were of a Coot, and a Black-headed Gull with Tufted Duck and Moorhen in the background.

Coot (Fulica atra) - Saltersford Valley CP
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) - Saltersford Valley CP

Being somewhat disgruntled by the lack of wildlife on show at Saltersford Valley, I called in at Thortit Lake on my way home. Here again, I was thwarted by flooded paths, the only bird even vaguely photographable being a distant and noisy Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) (male) - by Thortit Lake
Sunday, 5th November          Garden  :  Old Parks Farm

The weather was relatively dry this day and, having finished lunch (always taken in the conservatory), I photographed a few of the birds in the garden. These ranged from the very common Great Tit, the slightly less common Greenfinch, and the extremely infrequent, and delightful, visitors in the form of Long-tailed Tits.

Great Tit (Parus major) - our garden

Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) (female) - our garden

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) - our garden

I had seen a report of a Short-eared Owl being seen from the Ashby de la Zouch bypass the previous day and, as the weather was reasonably favourable this day, I determined to go and look for it in the area that it had disappeared into. I spent about an hour and a half until dusk approached and saw nothing more interesting than some brown sheep, which I found amusing, and some fungi, the identity of which I have no idea.

Sheep - Old Parks Farm, Ashby de la Zouch
Fungi - Old Parks Farm, Ashby de la Zouch
Monday, 6th November          Garden

Carrion Crow are now daily visitors to the garden, frequently coming as a pair. This was one of our better weather days.

Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) - our Garden
Tuesday, 7th November          Garden

Our male Robin is getting to be rather territorial. We are quite used to seeing Robin getting aggressive towards Dunnock and other Robins, but lately he has been seeing off Chaffinches and House Sparrows too.

Robin (Erithacus rubecula) - our garden
Wednesday, 8th November          Garden

The Long-tailed Tits were back again on this day.

Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) - our garden
Friday, 10th November          Longmoor Lake, Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Woodland

It had been a long while since I last visited this place, which is only about ten minutes by car from our home.

I was a little surprised as to how much the trees had grown since I last visited, and a little disappointed at how few birds were in the area whan I visited in the late afternoon. 

A visit to the shelter, not far from the entrance, showed a lack of pellets on the floor, indicating that birds of prey, especially Barn Owl, were probably not roosting there .

Little was seen on my way down to the lake, and I only spotted common fare on the lake. Most obvious were the Canada Geese.

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) - Longmoor Lake

Mute Swan were there - as always.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) (immature) - Longmoor Lake

There were plenty of Black-headed Gulls on the water at the far side of the lake and, occasionally, one would take to the air and fly by.

Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) - Longmoor Lake
I spent most time, however, trying for shots of Wigeon. These are quite nervous birds and, even at a respectable distance, tend to swim away from any moving person. Here are some of the results.

Wigeon (Mareca penelope) (male) - Longmoor Lake

Wigeon (Mareca penelope) (male + female) - Longmoor Lake

I had been hoping to see an owl, but no such luck came my way.

Sunday, 12th November          Garden

This was an exciting day in the garden as we saw our first visit by a Pied Wagtail since February - a very smart male bird.

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) (male) - our garden

Almost as exciting was the return of a Bullfinch for the first time since early September, when a juvenile had visited us.

Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) (male) - our garden

Tuesday, 14th November          Garden

A visit from a Blackcap this day was our first observed since mid-March. It was a dull day, and photography was difficult.

Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (female) - our garden

Wednesday, 15th November          Garden

The Sparrowhawk was, and still is, making things difficult for the other birds visitng our garden. Here it is on one of its visits this day.

Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (male) - our garden
Carrion Crow is not bothered by the Sparrowhawk, and affords some protection to the smaller birds. I think its intelligence shines through in this shot.

Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) - our garden

I expect that my next post, in about a week's time will cover the second half of November, and will feature some more recent visitors to the garden as well as some old friends, and maybe a visit out.

In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves and Nature. Thank you for dropping by - - - Richard