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Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Kelham Bridge - on 17th December, 2018

I seem to have spent most of my birding outings this month visiting the local site which has been hosting Short-eared Owls. On Monday I was in two minds as to whether to make another visit there, or try somewhere different for a change. The fact that I was feeling physically rather battered influenced my decision and resulted in me taking the option that involved a little less walking - I set off to Kelham Bridge. It's about twice the distance by car, but only about half the distance on foot once parked.

I entered the site and, as I turned the corner, I noticed a Kestrel fly into a tree in the hedgeline over on the far side of the field.

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) (female) - Kelham Bridge
I looked in at the first hide, but there was little to see other than the tits on the feeders.

Walking along the path to the second hide, a confiding Robin posed for me, although it didn't position itself well for the light conditions!

Robin (Erithacus rubecula) - Kelham Bridge
On arrival at the second hide, I found four people there (three of whom I knew), and was told that a Kingfisher had been present but had just gone out of sight at the end of the lake. There was nothing else visible at that time, so we chatted amongst ourselves. 

We didn't have to wait too long before the Kingfisher showed again at the far end of the lake. It was distant and quite mobile, and tended to land in places for which we didn't have a good viewpoint. The consensus, at the time, was that it was a male bird, but having looked at my images there is a definite reddish colouration to the base of the lower mandible, so I think it was a female.


Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) (female) - Kelham Bridge
Bit by bit, it made its way towards us, but again often contriving to land in places with intervening foliage.


Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) (female) - Kelham Bridge
Eventually, it broke cover and came a little closer. 


Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) (female) - Kelham Bridge
From this rock, it flew up into an adjacent willow tree and I accidentally got a (rather poor) flight shot. This was, however, enough to show me that, although quite bright for the time of year, the light levels were low enough that trying for further flight shots that day would probably be a waste of time - it was only about an hour before sunset.

Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) (female) - Kelham Bridge
The bird continued to come nearer.


Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) (female) - Kelham Bridge
Then, Bingo! It landed on a stick in front of the hide, probably less than 8 metres away!



Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) (female) - Kelham Bridge
From this position, it flew to a different stick.


Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) (female) - Kelham Bridge
It then went back in the direction it had come from.

Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) (female) - Kelham Bridge
Another birder arrived and, after chatting for a while (mainly about sources of garden bird food) the original group departed. My companion, Bas, alerted me to a Water Rail lurking in the reeds. By now the light had almost gone which, in some ways, was fortunate in that I'd have been shooting straight into the sun a little earlier in the afternoon.

It took a little while to spot it at first, although it wasn't far away - the red bill was the give-away!

Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) - Kelham Bridge
Eventually it came out of the reeds for a brief while, and I got some slightly better shots. I must return in the hope of getting some shots of this species in better light.




Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) - Kelham Bridge
It was now getting dark, and Bas and I set off back towards the reserve entrance. The Robin was in a similar place to where it was on my inward journey, and I couldn't resit another shot. Given that it is that time of year I decided to give him a festive hat, for which he seemed grateful!

Robin (Erithacus rubecula - f. santa) - Kelham Bridge
I take this opportunity to wish you all a peaceful and very Happy Christmas, and a healthy and prosperous New Year, filled with wonderful wildlife experiences.

Thank you for dropping by - - - Richard


15 comments:

  1. Hi Richard,
    the photo of the kestrel I really very beautiful! You could also photograph the redbreast underneath, but ... the kingfisher serei is absolutely stunning. From afar and up close and wonderfully warm colors. As icing on the cake also a waterrail :-)

    Thank you for your Christmas wish.
    Also for you and all your loved ones a few beautiful days and all the geods and a lot of photo fun in 2019.

    Kind regards, Helma

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    1. Thank you for those very kind words, Helma. I hope you find peace and happiness, and many woderful photographic opportunities, in 2019 - - - - Richard

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  2. What a dream, the Kingfisher, it's beautiful Richard.

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    1. Thank you, Bob. My best wishes to you and the family for 2019 - - - Richard

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  3. This set is stunning. Well worth waiting for. I don't know what happened but I got unavailable whenever I checked for content.
    Thank you it was great in the end.

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    1. I'd started to get a bit paranoid when no one seemed to see this post, Adrian, but then realised what I'd done. When I first started to write the post, immediately after publishing the previous post, I had a bit of finger trouble after writing the title of the post, and must have hit the 'publish' button. When I realised my mistake and did a 'revert to draft' it still left a notification on peoples' blogs that I'd published the post. It was nearly a week later that I did actually publish the post. Sorry for any confusion, and thank you for your patience and kind words.

      My very best wishes to you and the dogs for 2019 - - - Richard

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  4. How did I miss this post? First of all sorry to hear you have been feeling “battered physically” and I hope that you are back to your normal vigour. What a stunning encounter with a cooperative Kingfisher, and the Water Rail was the icing on the cake. I have to say that, in my limited experience, Water Rail is one of the more easily visible rails and will sometimes come into the open and wander around for a while. It is by any account an interesting bird. 2019 is almost upon us, Richard, so time to plan your trip to Corsica!

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    1. You missed it because (to use the vernacular) I made a cock-up when I started writing the post, David. I must have hit the publish button by mistake when all that was there was the title of the post. I then 'reverted to draft' and then, when I did eventually publish it (nearly a week later) the system read it as published on the first date and it was way down on peoples blog lists.

      Corsica will have to wait a while as I've already got Speyside, Scillies, and the Outer Hebrides planned for the first half of 2019 (getting to be a creature of habit!). I need to see how certain things (daughter/granddaughter) pan out before committing to Corsica - things are still 'up in the air'.

      Looking forward to hearing of your travel plans for 2019. I live in hope that one day our paths will cross again. Love and best wishes to you and Miriam for 2019 - - - Richard

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  5. Some how I also missed this post, so David and I are in the same boat!. We must have been travelling to the UK when this was posted so maybe I have a good excuse. Those kingfisher shota are amazing, a bird I just never seem to see except in Africa. Love the Rail as well. Happu New Year Diane

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    1. Oops so about the typo errors. I was in a hurry as some of FIL's relations arrived just as I started typing!! D

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    2. You don't need an excuse, Diane! I've explained in my reply to David, above. I was starting to get a little paranoid when, four days after posting, I still hadn't heard from anybody!

      My typos are getting worse these days. I live in fear of writing something offensive through a genuine slip, and in hope of writing something amusing (and hoping people think it was intentional!).

      Have a wonderful 2019 - - - Richard

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  6. Now you've gone and done it.

    It's nearly the end of the year and you have posted simply stunning photographs. We shall all be expecting this professional-level work throughout the coming year! (Okay, so we already know that our "stunning" is merely your "average". I'm just jealous and had to harass you a bit.)

    The Kingfisher cooperated nicely and is so much more colorful than our North American Belted Kingfisher. The Robin was our first "official" bird sighting when we lived in Europe (about a thousand years ago) and is one of our absolute favorites.

    For me, ANY image of a rail is quite special! They are so secretive and blend so well with their environment that it's a challenge to even spot one, much less produce great photographs such as yours!

    Gini and I truly hope you and Lindsay have a New Year filled with Peace, Love and Birds!

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    1. At this point in time I feel like the worst photographer in the world, Wally. I ventured to a place around 50 miles from my home yesterday to photograph a rather special bird - a Snow Bunting. I got there and set up my camera for the prevailing light conditions. However, before I found the bird, I stopped to get some shots of a nicely displaying Cormorant and adjusted for it being in water and straight into the sun. When I eventually found my target bird I was so excited that I forgot to check my settings, which I'd forgotten to reset after the Cormorant. I was kneeling on the ground and the Snow Bunting walked right up to me, only 2 or 3 feet away! I took just over 400 shots in 20 minutes and when I got home discovered my mistake - I've only managed to salvage a risky 18 shots. If this is a prelude to my efforts in 2019 I'm in big trouble!

      I hope that you and Gini had a great Christmas, and that 2019 will be filled with delightful wonderment for you. If ever you're heading this direction, do get in touch. Take good care - - - Richard

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  7. Nice shots of the Water Rail! Wishing you a happy and wonderful New Year over there!

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    1. Thank you, Chris. My very best wishes for 2019 to you and Micheal too - - - - Richard

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