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Monday, 15 January 2018

Near the Bottom of the Barrel - mid-January, 2018

For the first couple of weeks of this year, it seems that I've either had commitments or the weather has been on the grim side. I have, therefore, managed little in the way of photography. However, I feel I need to keep my hand in with blog posts, so stand by for some less-than-inspiring photography!

Thursday 28th December, 2017 

A visit to Kelham Bridge at the end of last year resulted in great company, but virtually nothing in the way of bird sightings and photography. The water was frozen over, and I'd been hoping for Water Rail to come out onto the ice. The nearest to 'exciting' was a distant Kestrel with a vole!

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) (female) - Kelham Bridge
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) - Kelham Bridge
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) (female) - Kelham Bridge
A visit to Oakthorpe Colliery later that day just resulted in the disturbance beside the car park, caused by four shooters with dogs, upsetting the people in the car park. This was reported to the police who, as soon as they were told that we weren't being threatened, weren't interested, in spite of this being a nature reserve and a police notice in the car park asking for reports of possible poachers with dogs!

Tuesday 2nd January, 2018

We had quite a good day in our garden that day, with 19 species visiting us, including the two Redpoll which featured in my previous post which you can find here. However, on this day, which was very dull and wet, I only photographed our visiting Woody.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) (male) -our garden
Monday 8th January

We were lucky this day to have one of the rare visits to our garden by a Brambling - sadly I didn't manage any decent images. It was dull and extremely cold that day and I was struggling to keep the water from freezing so that the birds could drink - you can see some ice from the drinking station in a couple of the images below.

Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla) (male) - our garden
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - our garden
That evening I went out to see if I could find any owls. I nearly failed, but happened on a Barn Owl after it had already got dark.

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) - Leicestershire
Friday, 12th January

Lindsay and I fancied going out for lunch together, and Lindsay chose Launde Abbey as our lunch venue. This suited me just fine as we'd pass some of my Little Owl sites en-route. Unfortunately we were soon travelling in thick fog! We didn't stand a chance at the first few sites we passed as we'd not have seen a bird if it had sat there and shouted at us! However, we were able to see a bird at my Site No. 23. It was still quite foggy and my images were extremely flat and grey. However, I have found by past experience that images in foggy conditions are relatively easy to enhance, purely by winding up the contrast compensation in post-processing. Although not a good image, the following is considerably better than the original!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.23
Lunch was very enjoyable and the fog lifted as we were eating. This prompted us to take a scenic route home. A little Owl was seen at my Site No.53 - almost 100 metres away!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.53
By the time we got to LO Site No. 37 the light was dreadful and the owl was in a hopeless position for photography. However, it did mean that I'd had my first 3 Little Owl day for many months! - and that is why I'm happy to post these rubbish images!

Little Owl (Athene noctua) - my Site No.37
Saturday, 13th January

I mentioned in my previous post that I was concerned that we'd seen a Hedgehog out at the beginning of the month, and that I'd monitor the situation. The header that is current with this post is a screen grab from one of my trail cameras on 4th January. Until 13th January there was no further sign of a Hedgehog. However, on the night of 13th January, the Hedgehog reappeared. I'm not overly concerned at this stage as Hedgehogs will occasionally awaken in the winter, particularly if they feel the need to change sleeping location. I am continuing to closely monitor the situation. If you are knowledgeable on the subject of Hedgehogs and think, for example, that this one looks underweight and needs help, please let me know.

Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) - our garden on 13th January, 2018
Garden List - Week 02 - 08/01/2018 to 14/01/2018

2018, Week 02 - 8th to 14th January
We had another quite good week in the garden, in spite of the continued building works out back.

It was a different mix than the previous week. Brambling showed for the first time this year - they usually appear a bit later in the winter. However, the real surprise was a couple of corvids. Although they are not rare birds, Carrion Crow and Jackdaw are quite rare in our garden, and we consider ourselves lucky if we get one in the year, so to get both this early in the year, and on the same day, was exciting. Sadly I missed getting any photos.

I am pleased to say that the pair of Redpoll is still visiting the garden.

At the current rate of progress I, once again, have no idea what the subject of my next post will be. Hopefully I will not have to scrape the bottom of the barrel too hard!

Thank you for dropping by.



  1. Hi Richard! Really great sightings. I have not seen any owl for two years. Greetings

    1. Thank you, Anne. I was beginning to worry about my own lack of owl sightings! I hope you see one soon - you have some amazing owls in your country in the winter. Best wishes - - - Richard

  2. You may be a little unhappy with your pictures, but they inspire me. I'd be thrilled to get all of these sightings and as for the photos -- any of them would be a good one for me. I am particularly happy to see the kestrel with prey -- Flight shots are very difficult for me and I love to see good ones (especially including their lunch!)

    1. Thank you for your very kind words of encouragement, Sallie. Yes, it's always a treat to see a bird of prey with its victim, even if I do feel sorry for the victim! Best wishes - - - Richard

  3. Unas fotografías fantásticas desde la primera hasta la última, me han encantado. Todo lo mejor desde España.

    1. Hola Germán. Hay algunas imágenes allí con las que no estoy contento, pero le agradezco sus amables palabras de aliento. Los mejores deseos del Reino Unido - - - Richard

  4. Nice variety of garden birds there Richard and good to see you getting out for some Owls.

    1. Thank you, Marc. It's always heart-lifting to see the owls.

  5. Hello Richard!:) Despite the unfavourable weather conditions you managed to get some great shots of all the birds. Lovely to see the Hedgehog, I haven't seen one in several years, and this year I didn't see the Little Owl in the Algarve, which gave me cause for concern. Nice to see the ones in your photos are still in their usual sites.
    Best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

    1. Hi, Sonjia. I'm sorry to hear you didn't see a Little Owl in the Algarve - I wish you better luck next time. The declining Hedgehog population in UK is giving much concern, and I try to do what I can to help them. However, until the adjacent building work finishes (4 bungalows), I'm not encouraging them, but just trying to look after any that pass our way.

      My best wishes to you too, for 2018 - - - Richard

  6. A good variety of photos but I love the kestrel with the vole. I did not know hedgehogs came out at all in winter but obviously they do. We have had so much rain here that despite being on high ground our garden is waterlogged so I hope if there are any here they have picked a high spot.
    Apart from one sunset, I have not taken a photo in 2018. What with not feeling 100% and continual rain..... Hope that all is well with you, very best wishes Diane

    1. Hi, Diane. It could be that the Hedgehog we've seen lately is trying to hibernate locally and is being disturbed by the noise and vibration from the building site behind us.

      I'm sorry to hear you're still not fully recovered. I hope you get better soon, and that your weather does too! We're OK here - apart from Lindsay having pulled a muscle in her back! We had a bit of snow last night.

      Take good care. With my best wishes - - - Richard

  7. Great to be out doors Richard,the Weather hasn't been good,so I'm surprised you've done so well,love to see an Hedgehog in our Garden,not seen one in years.

    1. I'm not sure we're going to be seeing much of Hedgehogs from now on, John. When the new buildings out back (4 bungalows) are finished and settle down, and if the Council stick to their word and put the Hedgehog holes in the fences that I requested, I'll probably take on some 'rescue' Hedgehogs. I've had to turn down requests to foster rehabilitated hogs since last spring. Best wishes to you and Sue - - - Richard

  8. Hardly the bottom of the barrel, Richard, especially the joy of a Brambling in the garden. And, as others have commented, a raptor with prey is always exciting. I haven't been out much lately. Miriam's brother, Wayne, passed away last Thursday, and we have have just returned from Windsor where the funeral was held today.

    1. I'm so sorry to hear of the passing of Miriam's brother. My condolences to you both, and the family.

      The 'bottom of the barrel' reference was more in connection with the standard of photography, David, rather than the birds seen! However, my 'birding' efforts have been somewhat less than usual lately.

      My love to you both - - - Richard

  9. Superb images, the Brambling is my favourite, special.

    1. Thanks, Bob. A Brambling is always special to me wherever I see one, but particularly exciting if in my garden!

      With my very best wishes - - - Richard

  10. I don't think the Brambling was to impressed with its role in Dancing on Ice I would be happy with them.
    Really like the garden visiting GSW

    1. There was a patch of water in the middle of that bird bath, Doug. I was having to sort it out almost hourly. I'd probably have done better if I'd lifted the frozen bit out, rather than leave it on the edge.

      GSW's, being rather timid birds, are not visiting our garden very often due to the building works going on, but the male bird is starting to get a little bolder. I guess desperation might be setting in! That piece of tree that the bird is on is the top of a 3 metre section of thick branch which weighs a ton and which I dragged home from where the tree had been felled. It's roughly 'L' shaped (inverted, of course!) and after firmly fixing it in the ground I drilled a line of holes, each big enough to take a peanut, along the horizontal section just behind the centre-line. I tend to have to fill it up 3 or 4 times a day when I'm at home!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  11. Hola amigo!!! I am forever fascinated by your patches. Lots of great birds in this post. Weather always continues to challenge us in different ways. Bad weather or a full moon usually equate to good owl success BUT I seem to find more owls in the bad weather. This weekend I finally added a Short-eared Owl onto my AZ list!!! Crazy birds.

    I like how you bird. I don't mind rain, but continual rain is a whole other thing:) Happy New Year!!! Chris

    1. High Chris. Thank you for your visit. Short-eared Owl for AZ sounds quite amazing! I've not seen one over here since June last year, but hope to connect with them again in May.

      With my best wishes to you both - - - Richard

    2. Sorry, that should have been "Hi Chris" !!!!


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