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Monday, 21 November 2022

A Slow-ish Two Weeks (almost) - 5th to 17th November, 2022

My resolution to get out more didn't materialise as hoped for, with only one excursion in this period and, when I did get out, it was a rather unproductive visit. The period was not without its excitement, however. Nevertheless, this will be an unusually short blog post from me.

Wednesday, 9th November                  Saltersford Valley Nature Reserve

Nothing much had been seen and recorded for this period up until this day. Determined to get out, I set off for Saltersford Vally NR. With autumn now firmly established, I arrived to find much of the car park covered in fallen leaves. What I didn't realise until it was too late was that the leaves hid the boundary between the edge of the car park and mud that was extremely soft after an extended period of heavy rain. I spent some time trying to extricate the car before phoning for Lindsay to come out with a tow-rope and carpet scraps from the garage.

There was just one other vehicle in the car park at this time and, before Lindsay arrived, the owner of this car, a lady with her dog, came onto the scene. I told her of my predicament and, between us, we managed to get the car out. A quick call to Lindsay got her stood-down before she set off. I then moved to a different area of the car park!

Undaunted by this experience, I started out round the reserve. I was disappointed to find the boardwalk closed, so set off on the western side of the water. From the first stockaded platform I photographed a Coot, but won't bother you with the results. From the second platform, two Moorhen were visible on the far side of the lake. Here's one of them:-

Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) - Saltersford Valley NR

Heading round to the second lake, the only bird visible was a very distant gull at the far end of the lake, nearly 200 metres away and unidentifiable through my binoculars.

There is a wooded area in the reserve where, in the winter months, feeders are put out for the birds. I stopped near here for a while, noting that the feeders were full - but nothing was visiting them!

On my way back, I stopped at the second platform once more and observed a Coot that was diving on the far side of the lake. I am not sure what it was doing, but think it was probably uprooting rushes of some sort to get at the tuber-like base. 

Coot (Fulica atra) - Saltersford Valley CP
Wanting to get home to hose the mud off the car before it dried hard, I made an early departure. 

It had not been a very satisfactory excursion, but at least I had been out.

Tuesday, 15th November             Garden

The weather had been none too pleasant for the past few days, but this one was a particularly wet day. It did, however, have a plus side, in that it brought a Grey Wagtail to our garden. We get a short visit by this species most years, but it is always a cause for excitement when it happens. Grey Wagtail is not a rare bird, but is Amber Listed and it would be reasonable to class it as 'uncommon'. It stayed for a good length of time, allowing for photography, but the light was grim and I was having to shoot at very high ISO and slow shutter speeds.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - garden on 15th November, 2022
Wednesday, 16th November              Garden

To our delight, the Grey Wagtail was back, in slightly better weather and light - in fact, it has been with us daily since then as I write this on 21st November.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - garden on 16th November, 2022

That's all for this time round. I expect my next post to be in about a week's time, and will probably feature a rather productive visit I made a few days ago.

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


  1. Hi Richard! Motacilla cinerea It is an incredibly gorgeous bird! We rarely see that. Usually in lapland.

    1. They are rather handsome, Anne. I wonder where this one has come from - it has just walked past my window as I write this! Best wishes - - - Richard

  2. It's good to hear you were able to get out and about for a bit. Now, let's talk about selecting a proper parking spot! (I am not the right person to discuss that subject as I have been accused of parking in quicksand on purpose.)

    Coots and Moorhens may be common but they are still entertaining to watch and, in my opinion, offer wonderful opportunities for the photographer.

    We are never satisfied with the weather. As a birder and photographer, the slightest hint of rain elicits woeful moans and groans. In actual fact, I think I've seen more unusual birds in inclement weather than fair. Your Grey Wagtail is a case in point. The fact it decided to stay with you during better weather is icing on the birder's cake!

    Gini and I are preparing for a holiday (Thanksgiving) feast at the daughter's house later this week. The kitchen smells delightful. The only bad news is I am forbidden from "sampling" the preparations. Even my creative offer of providing "quality control" has fallen on deaf ears. (She has to leave the kitchen at some point. Patience is a virtue.)

    Take good care you two.

    1. I was in our Smart car, Wally, which has rather small diameter wheels - definitely not suitable for mud!

      It's a fact that birds are far more resilient to rain than us soft humans. Strong wind is, in my experience, far more detrimental to successful birding. Yes, I avoid going birding in the rain, but mainly for the sake of my camera and binoculars, and I could not bear the frustration of a good sighting without having my camera to hand!.

      I hope that all those goodies that Gini is conjuring up make it to Thanksgiving at your daughter's place. You will get no sympathy from me if you jeopardise the pleasure of sharing such delights with family!

      All good here - just two and a half weeks to 'knee day' if all goes according to plan.

      Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

  3. Some gorgeous Grey Wagtail shots. Glad you got out of your spot of bother with the car. Not what you wanted. Take care.


    1. It was quite worrying for a while, Marc, as few people visit this place (one of the reasons why I go there!). Best wishes - - - Richard

  4. Hi Richard, sorry about the car getting stuck. I did that with a horse box on behind in South Africa, not much fun. Luckily I had unloaded the horses!!!

    I like 'your' Grey Wagtail it is gorgeous. I saw one here in the garden several years back but only the once. I have seen them out and about though. Excellent photos and I love your header

    Very best wishes to you both. Hope all plans remain for Lindsay. Cheers Diane

    1. Now if I'd had a horse to hand, Diane, I could probably have found a way of getting it to assist me get my tiny 'Smart' car out of my predicament!

      Grey Wagtails seem to be very fond of water - particularly at the top of water flowing over weirs. Other than in my garden, most of my sightings of them have been in that sort of environment.

      Things are still looking good for Lindsay getting her new knee in just over two weeks time. Fingers are crossed that nothing occurs to jeopardise the situation.

      My very best wishes to you and Nigel - stay safe - - - Richard

  5. Hello Richard, that was so sad to read of your outing ending up in the mud and than no succes with birds that do not even show up for food in feeders. But the Grey Wagtail in your garden is great.
    Hope things will get better on your next outing.
    Take care,

    1. Some you win and some you lose, Roos, and on my subsequent excursion I definitely won!

      The Grey Wagtail was still with us five minutes ago. We call him 'the Voggster' - there's a story behind that which involves a Dutch lady!

      Hoping that all is good with you these days. Stay safe - - - Richard

  6. Hi Richard, beautiful photos. The grey Wagtail is beautiful. Here we have rain too the last days.

    1. Recently. we seem to be getting rain every day, Caroline - and sometimes all day. It is so very different from the drought situation this last summer!

      The Grey Wagtail is continuing to delight us. I hope it stays for a long while and maybe even find a partner?!

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  7. Sorry to hear of your predicament in the car park at Saltersford Valley NR. It's a different slant on the saying 'an old stick in the mud' the origins of which are of a horse drawn cart that got stuck in the mud in the 17th century. I have a feeling you didn't really want to know that useless piece of info Richard. The Grey Wagtail is a truly beautiful bird.


    1. Thank you, Pete, for making me smile. Yes, the Grey Wagtail is continuing to brighten dull wet days in the garden.

      My very best wishes to you and KT - - - Richard

  8. The Yellow Wagtail shots are delightful, Richard. It is such an attractive bird! I have always found wagtails especially appealing, and it is a source of regret that we don't have a single representative of the family here. I saw above that Lindsay is getting ever closer to the day for her knee replacement. Finger and toes crossed that all goes well and there are no further delays - for any reason. Best wishes from a sunny Ontario where we had great birding this morning - David

    1. I may have recounted this tale before, David, but in UK Motacilla cinerea is called Grey Wagtail, with M. flava being named Yellow Wagtail. Once, when staying at the Grant Arms, I pointed out a Grey Wagtail to a Dutch couple, and the lady scoldingly told me "No - it's a Yellow Voggtail". It wasn't until a year later, when talking to a Dutch birder (again at the Grant Arms) that I discovered that M. cinerea is known as Yellow Wagtail elsewhere. It is for this reason that any Grey Wagtail visiting our garden is known as "the Voggster"! I'm sorry that the family is not represented in Canada, but at least it saves you any confusion!

      Thank you for your kind wishes for Lindsay's op. So far, all is going well.

      After a nine hour power cut yesterday evening and last night, we woke to torrential rain , but the sun is now shining brightly. Looks as if I will not be able to make it out, however, as the power company is digging up the road just down the way from us and told us that power will be going off again soon - and I feel that I need to be here for that.

      My very best wishes to you and Miriam - - - Richard

  9. The Motacilla cinerea is very beautiful! I have the same in my garden in Provence, it's the right season to observe them! unfortunately I don't have the right zoom to see them as well! They are so vivid so how do you capture them so fantastically? Nice evening. Philfff

    1. I hope that you get as much enjoyment as I do from visits by Motacilla cinerea, Philfff. I use a Sigma 50-500 zoom lens and most of these photos were taken with the zoom at 500 on my cropped sensor Nikon D7200 camera body. Most of these shots were taken in poor light, and the majority of the shots I took had to be thrown away because of movement or soft focus. These shown here are the lucky ones!

      Thank you for your visit, Best wishes - - - Richard

  10. Hi Richard
    One of beautiful, it's the Grey Wagtail , they are tail wagging, love it.

    1. Yes, Bob, their bouncy tail wagging is an absolute delight to watch. I'm pleased to say that it is still visiting us. I just hope the Sparrowhawk doesn't get it as it does not seem to be afraid of much.

      Best wishes to you and the family - - - Richard


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