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Tuesday, 29 November 2022

A Rather Good Day! - on 18th November, 2022

I have lately been putting more effort into trying to get out with my camera to view and photograph nature. On this particular day, there was a bit of a break from windy rainy days, with a day that was relatively calm with sunny spells. My chosen destination this day was Calke Park, where there are two hides and some fine habitat.

The morning started well with the Grey Wagtail that had been visiting us for the past three days (and probably still is as I write this) arriving in the garden when there was a reasonable amount of light available. You can see, however, that it had recently been raining.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - garden on 18th November, 2022
Because there was still a threat of rain, I thought it prudent to concentrate on the two hides, rather than set off  for a long walk which might find me in a deluge a long way from shelter. I didn't get out until after a relatively early lunch, but was established in the first hide shortly after 1 p.m. and was, initially, the only occupant.

I was a bit disappointed that the arrangements in front of the hide had changed a little, and the set-up was not nearly so photogenic. There were, nevertheless, good numbers of birds visiting the feeders. These were primarily Great Tits, Blue Tits, and Coal Tits.

Great Tit (Parus major) - Calke Park
Blue Tit  (Cyanistes caeruleus) - Calke Park

Coal Tit (Periparus ater) - Calke Park
That last image is there to show the broad white stripe at the back of the head which helps to identify this species.
In the background, Dunnocks were showing occasionally.
Dunnock (Prunella modularis) - Calke Park
Nuthatches were flashing in, grabbing seed, and flashing out again, and it was difficult to catch one on camera that was not on a feeder. This is about the best I could manage, and it didn't help that it was in the shade - much adjustment had to be made to this shot!
Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) - Calke Park
This location used to be good for Reed Bunting, but only two were seen during this visit and neither of them were very cooperative. My shots of the female were not worth showing and this one of the male is not much better.
Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus) - Calke Park
While in the hide, I was joined by a gentleman that I'd previously met at another location and who I'd mentioned a couple of blog posts ago as the person who'd missed getting a shot of the Water Rail as he was at the wrong position to see it when I had, and had only glimpsed it when it flew. It was then, a delight for both of us when a Water Rail came into view here!
Unfortunately, the rail spent most of the short time that it was present picking seed from a mass of seed on the ground - which didn't make for very pleasing photos. The shadows from the low sun didn't help either. Here are some of the more acceptable results.

Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus) - Calke Parke
We both hung around for a while after the rail had departed and then, simultaneously, decided it was time to move on. I headed for the hide by the main car park and my companion went I know not where.
The area in front of this second hide was also less photographically arranged than it had been on previous visits. Again, the three species of tit seen at the first hide were present, but here there were numerous Goldfinch, Greenfinch, and Chaffinch also.
Blue Tit  (Cyanistes caeruleus) - Calke Park
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - Calke Park
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) - Calke Park
 The supporting cast was also rather different.

Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - Calke Park
Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) - Calke Park
Common Pheasant ((Phasianus colchicus) (male) - Calke Park
It was getting late, the birds were thinning out, and the light was fading fast. I decided to give myself another minute and if nothing appeared I'd depart. I had just counted up to sixty seconds when a woodpecker showed up. At first, it was in a not too photographable position as shown in the first image below, but it did fly off and then fly back again stopping in a more useful position.

Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) (male) - Calke Park
The woodpecker departed, and I left the hide. Outside, in the distance, were a number of  Fallow Deer. Typically, this species is a gingery-brown and attractively spotted on the back, but it is not uncommon for colour variations to occur, ranging from quite dark brown and unspotted to almost white ones. Some examples are shown in the next group of images - sadly, all taken at a distance, with two of them partly behind a rise in the ground.

Fallow Deer (Dama dama) - Calke Park
Thus ended a rather splendid time out with my camera.
I'm hoping that I'll be able to offer another blog post in about a week's time which will probably feature other visits and garden observations. In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves and Nature.
Thank you for dropping by  - - - Richard


  1. Nice day at Calke Park Richard. The Water Rail gave you a rare opportunity out in the open, and the 'white' Fallow Deer was a scarce opportunity.

    Kind Regards....Pete.

    1. I seem to be seeing more than my fair share of Water Rail lately, Pete. This was my third sighting (three different locations) in less than two months! However, the previous two were not so obliging.

      There's a decent-sized herd of Fallow Deer at Calke, and there are usually one or two of the near-white ones with them.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  2. Maravillosa sesión fotográfica, me han gustado mucho todas las fotos. Enhorabuena Richard, un fuerte abrazo desde el norte de España, donde están pegando fuerte los temporales marinos llegados de UK, jejeje. Todo lo mejor!!!!

    1. Hola Germán. Gracias por sus amables palabras. Sé que el Reino Unido es responsable de muchos problemas en este momento, pero no me di cuenta de que estábamos dando un clima tormentoso en el norte de España. ¡Lo siento!

  3. Hello Richard
    It's nice that you have such hiding places, I don't have anything of the kind here, there are several huts about 400 km away from me.. but €200 a day that's very expensive, but back to your pictures, that Pheasant is a very beautiful bird, great colors, I also like the other pictures very much
    Greetings Frank

    1. Hi Frank. Many of the larger nature reserves in UK have hides in them at key locations. Sometimes you have to pay for entry into the nature reserve, or be a member of the society that the reserve is managed by, but entry fees are not high. There are, however, some very specialised hides set up by individual persons to enable photography of specific species and these can be very expensive, like the ones you mention.

      The Pheasant has a dubious 'wild bird' status as they are bred in their thousands for the benefit of people with guns that want to shoot them for pleasure - something that I am totally opposed to.

      Best wishes from UK - - - Richard

  4. A cracking day indeed. Looks like the shutter button finger got a good workout. Some lovely photos and a good variety seen making for good day. Take care.


    1. Yes, the forefinger was kept very busy, Marc, and the resulting shots kept me busy for quite some time afterwards too - my rule of thumb for sessions like these is processing time = 3 x shooting time.

      Best wishes - stay safe - - - Richard

  5. That's a great shot of a Dunnock, Richard. It reminds me that it is a very handsome little bird if you take time to examine its subtleties. It is great that you have such a variety of tits, all very colourful and appealing, and so common. The Water Rail was a very pleasant discovery I am sure, and I hope the other chap managed a few shots this time. The Fallow Deer did nothing to spoil the success of the day. Best wishes to you and Lindsay - David

    1. I do love a good Dunnock, David. Although the colours are quite subdued, the markings on the head are quite exquisite. I note that you have not lost your penchant for tits - they may be common but I fully appreciate their attraction. Yes, I think my companion got some fine shots of the Water Rail - he was probably in a better position than me on this occasion.

      With my best wishes to you both - - - Richard

  6. Hi Richard! Absolutely wonderful observations!

  7. A master of understatement: "A rather good day."

    You really must have a chat with that Water Rail to explain when he needs to appear, where he needs to stand, which way to turn for the best profile. I love the rich plumage of these birds and the unique markings which help them hide in the reeds.

    The bright yellow on the Greenfinch are really appealing. Your total collection of splendid images is impressive! And a woodpecker for dessert!

    Gini and I managed to pick up a flu bug of some sort last week. I'm about done with it and feel good today. Gini may have a couple more days of misery. Just another of life's little speed bumps.

    All the best as Lindsay approaches her day.
    Take good care!

    1. It was just wonderful to be back with the birds again, Wally. It seems that my summer has been more focussed on insects than birds. However, the insects are mostly tucked away for the winter and I'm looking forward to spending more time with the birds.

      I'm sorry to hear of your ills, and hope that Gini is back to normality soon. Those speed bumps do seem to have a habit of damaging one's suspension!

      Lindsay's doing well as the day gets nearer.

      Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

  8. Hello Richard, super that you have seen so many birds in your garden. The Gray wagtail is most wonderful. Funny it is stil in these region. The Waterrail is my favorite. A bird you hear more than that you can see it. You managed to take some great photos of it. The weather is cold and wet. And not that much sunshine. They say that we are heading for a cold spell. We will see.
    Take care,

    1. We were very lucky with that Grey Wagtail, Roos, but it now seems to have departed. However, I have just, a minute ago, photographed a Pied Wagtail in the garden which, although a very common bird, is rarer in our garden than the Grey!

      Yes, the 'injured pig' noises of the Water Rail are much more often heard than the bird is sighted.

      We too are expecting very cold weather next week and possibly even snow, which is a little worrying as I have to take Lindsay to have her knee replaced next week at a place that is an hour and a half away by car.

      Take good care. Best wishes - - - - Richard

    2. Do Wish Lindsay all the best with the operation. I hope all goes well and that the snow will stay away.
      Take care!

    3. Thank you, Roos - message passed on to Lindsay.

  9. Wow Richard, a stunning set of photos. I love the Water Rail, sure I have never seen one before. I wish we had a hide somewhere nearby, but the closet one I know is a 3 hour drive and not very practical unless you stay overnight.
    Best wishes to you both, Happy December, Diane

    1. We are very lucky in having several places with hides round about our home Diane - which is very useful, as the rest of the countryside in these parts seems to be very depleted in wildlife. I get the impression that all the wildlife is getting sucked into the nature reserves, which is a sad reflection on the state of nature.

      Best wishes to you and Nigel - - - Richard

  10. Hi Richard
    I love the Water Rail, you have his favourite place, reeds and water. I also love the Blue Tit, excellent.

    1. I have been very lucky with Water Rail lately, Bob. I suspect it might be a long while before I have another encounter like that. My very best wishes - stay safe - - - Richard


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