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Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Home, and a Visit to Melbourne (no, not THAT Melbourne!) - 19th to 23rd November, 2022

(header while this post is current :- view over Melbourne Pool)

Herewith, a short account of a few days in the second half of November. The weather was not so good during this period, but I did manage one short excursion.

Saturday, 19th November                  Garden

This day was quite remarkable, in that we had a visit to the garden by a Pied Wagtail. In UK, Pied Wagtail is far more common than Grey Wagtail. However, although we get sightings of Grey Wagtail in the garden most years, Pied Wagtail has not been seen on an annual basis. Grey Wagtail was here that day also, but not photographed

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) (female) - garden on 19th November, 2022
On the other hand, Robin is a relatively constant visitor, and we currently have one male holding territory which seems to have found a mate. She will usually disappear over the depth of winter, but will reappear during the spring.
Robin (Erithacus rubecula) - garden on 19th November, 2022
Sunday, 20th November                  Garden

An embarassing situation unfolded this day. I was sitting in my study when a dark shape passing overhead momentarily blotted out the daylight A Grey Heron had flown over and landed on the apex of the roof of the bungalow behind our back garden. The view from my study was partially obscured by the Sambucus on our boundary, so I grabbed the camera and rushed upstairs to our bedroom for a better view, calling to Lindsay as I did so as I knew she'd want to see the bird.

I was busy taking photos when Lindsay alerted me to the lady in the bungalow on whose roof the heron was perched. She was looking very concerned at me with my big lens, and pointedly pulled across the blinds to her window. I ended up going round to the bungalow to apologise for any concerns and took a photo of the heron to leave with them and assure them that I was not spying on them. I shall be more careful in future!

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - from our bedroom window on 20th November, 2022
Tuesday, 22nd November                      Garden

Another dull day, but we were visited by Grey Wagtail once more.

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - garden on 22nd November, 2022
Without a shadow of doubt, at this time of year, the most numerous birds visiting our garden are the Goldfinches, the Starlings having departed to form into much larger groups elsewhere. With them being so common, it is easy to overlook just how spectacular these little birds are. OK, so this next image doesn't really do them justice, but you get the picture.

Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - garden on 22nd November, 2022
Wednesday, 23rd November            Garden ; Melbourne Pool ; Staunton Harold Reservoir

I was determined to go out this day, and settled on an afternoon visit to Melbourne Pool, in the south of Derbyshire. Although my home county is Leicestershire, Melbourne (with its attractive pool) is closer to my home than most of Leicestershire's avian hotspots. 

I have recently installed a new bird feeder, close to the kitchen window, as Lindsay had been saying for a while that she'd like somewhere close to hand where she could put bird-friendly food scraps, rather than put them in the refuse bin. This has been a great success, primarily in attracting Magpies and is tending to take them away from the other garden feeders where they disturb the smaller birds. Here's one of the Magpies, just arriving in the Rowan, prior to coming down for its breakfast.

Magpie (Pica pica) - garden on 23rd November, 2022
I set off for Melbourne after an early lunch. Sadly, soon after my arrival, the weather started falling short of the relatively bright forecast. Melbourne Pool is not a particularly 'birdy' place, but is a rather attractive one, and not very busy with people mid-week. Those people that are there seem to be dog owners and with a more responsible attitude to the handling of their dogs than is the norm in other 'doggy' places that I am familiar with. I was last here in February, when I had the pleasure of watching and photographing Red-crested Pochards.

Nothing was interesting enough to make me raise my camera until I had passed by the outlet weir and started out on the grass path round the pool. Here I found a drake Pochard (sadly, not Red-crested!).

Pochard (Aythya ferina) (male) - Melbourne Pool
There were plenty of Mallards around, including a few that showed signs of being domestic hybrids to varying degrees. This one looked as if it might be pure.
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) (male) - Melbourne Pool
Close by were three immature Mute Swans, one of which was doing what swans do when looking for food.

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) (immature) - Melbourne Pool
At the end of the grassed section, the path round the pool enters a wooded section. I was not prepared for the stream running down the path, caused by continual torrential rain in the preceeding days, and I got wet feet. I persevered, however, and was rewarded with sightings of a few distant Grey Heron and Cormorants.

Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) - Melbourne Pool

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - Melbourne Pool
On my way back, along the grassy section, I took some shots of Tufted Duck. The light was getting a bit low by now and creating what I find to be quite attractive effects on the water. I sometimes find myself getting more excited by the water than the subject matter in the water!
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) (female) - Melbourne Pool
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula) (male) - Melbourne Pool
From the edge of the private road that runs along the edge of the pool, between the pool and Melbourne Hall, I took a few more photos, including one of a very distant grebe that seemed to have already turned in for the night.

Coot (Fulica atra) - Melbourne Pool
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) - Melbourne Pool
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) - Melbourne Pool
I had not visited Staunton Harold Reservoir since May this year, so decided to call in there briefly on my way home. I parked just outside the round car park, being unsure of my membership status with regard to the car park charges.
On reaching the reservoir, I was astounded at how low the water level was. I know that it would have been low because of the drought in the summer, but thought that, with all the rain we have had (it has been the wettest November on record in some areas of UK!) and the huge amount of water coming over the weir at the inflow, the water would be much higher. In the image, below, the water level would normally have been right up to the tree-line.
Staunton Harold Reservoir - on 23rd November, 2022
At the point from where I accessed the reservoir, I found three people admiring the scene. They asked what was on the log at the far side of the reservoir. It tiurned out that they were looking at Cormorants and a Grey Heron on a nesting platform (probably designed for terns to breed on).
Platform with Cormorants ((Phalacrocorax carbo) and Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) - Staunton Harold Reservoir
These people told me that, a month ago, it had been possible to jump from one side of the reservoir to the other at this point on the inlet arm - that's across the water from the furthest spit of land on the right of the above image of the reservoir to a point on the left.
Out of curiosity, I decided to walk to the inlet on the dry reservoir bed and found my feet crunching on thousands of freshwater mussel shells.
Painter's Mussel (Unio pictorum) - Staunton Harold Reservoir
It was now getting dark and time to go home. It had been an interesting afternoon out, although nothing unusual in the way of birds had been seen.
Footnote:  There is a very positive connection between Melbourne in Derbyshire, and Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne Hall in Melbourne, Derbyshire, was home to William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, British Prime Minister from 1834 to 1841. Melbourne, Australia was founded in 1835 and incorported and named (after the then Prime Minister) as a Crown settlement in 1837.

Lindsay and I are headed into uncharted seas later this week as Lindsay goes into hospital to have a total knee replacement. If all goes according to plan she will only be in hospital for the day (amazing, isn't it!), but is going to be heavily dependent on me for weeks - maybe months - so I am going to be busy. I'm going to try and get another blog post prepared before this event, but I suspect that I may be a little short of time to keep up with Blogger, so please excuse me if I am tardy in visiting your blogs or replying to comments.

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



  1. These scenes with low water have been replicated here, Richard, in several locations. Things are looking somewhat better now. Early snow has melted and with unseasonably warm temperatures we have had some rain. So lakes, ponds and reservoirs are holding more water. One day out is better than no days out and it looks like it was a success. Our thoughts will be with Lindsay as she undergoes her surgery. Incredible that she will be back at home the same day. I assume that you now have a nurse's outfit, a maid's dress and a chef's hat. You are going to need them all! Best wishes to you both - David

    1. You're getting warmer temperatures, and ours are staying sub-zero for a week or so according to the forecast, but no snow for this region - yet!

      Lindsay has now been told that they might keep her in overnight tomorrow. We're heading north in a few hours to be closer to the hospital that wants her checked in at 07.00 tomorrow morning. Add to that list of roles a gym instructor's bark. I have to make sure she does the required exercises afterwards.

      Best wishes - - - Richard

  2. Beautiful birds of the lakes. Greetings Caroline

  3. Another fabulous post with great photos. The swan bottoms-up made me smile. Tha Robin is a very special little bird and this is a wonderful shot of it. I have been in touch with you so you know I wish you both all the best. Cheers Diane

    1. I too find a bottoms-up swan amusing, Diane. Just sorting out before tea, and then we're off straight after tea. Thank you, from both of us, for your much-appreciated kind words which have been passed on to Lindsay. My very best wishes to you and Nigel - - - Richard

  4. Lovely set of shots. How good to have a Grey Wagtail visiting the garden. It would be a mega to see a Pochard or Great crested Grebe at Nethergong. Take care.

    1. The Grey Wagtail is only visiting occasionally now - not seen it today - but we've had two Pied Wagtail visiting for the past two days, which is even more unusual for our garden. Stay safe - - - Richard

  5. Hello Richard
    your neighbor thought the worst, but in the end it was cleared up, nice excursion pictures, I like it very much, all the best for Linsay for the surgery. it takes a while but then it gets better, my wife had the same operation, this was three years ago but without pain and everything is fine...
    Greetings Frank

    1. Thank you for your words of encouragement, Frank. I got her home just yesterday, and she is barely mobile and in rather a lot of pain. However, I have seen some improvement in just over 24 hours so I am hopeful that things will be better soon. My very best wishes - - - Richard

  6. Gini and I have both you and Lindsay in our thoughts as she prepares for her procedure. We have no doubt you will take excellent care of her during her recovery.

    Simply lovely collection of photographs, again! Wagtails in the garden would be incredibly delightful!

    All your thoughts and energies are now focused right where they need to be. On Lindsay.

    We'll be here when you return.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Wally. Lindsay had the op on Friday morning and, contrary to initial suggestions, she didn't get discharged the same day, and I only picked her up late on Sunday afternoon. She's keeping me very busy and I only wish I could do more for her.

      We now have three wagtails visiting - the Grey is a bit of an intermittent visitor, but we have two Pieds which have been constantly in the garden for the past two days, and there's a little tension between them!

      Must go now and check on her ladyship. My very best wishes to you and Gini - - - Richard

  7. Absolutely stunning Richard, your photographs are excellent. I love every birds.

    1. Your kind words are much-appreciated, Bob. Thank you! My very best wishes - - - Richard

  8. Hello Richard, some great photos you show here. That Grey Wagtail is stunning. I hope all went well with the operation Lindsay. I am a bit late with my reaction and question on how she is doing. I wish her a speady recovery with no complications so that on your next trips walking will go better than ever.
    Warm regards, for you and Lindsay and have a great and wonderful Christmas time and all the best for the new year 2023

    1. Hello, Roos. Lindsay has had difficult time as there were irregularities with the operation, and then she had to go back into hospital on Sunday because of complications. I have her back at home now, but it looks as if Christmas will not be much fun this year! Thank you for asking.

      My very best wishes to you for Christmas and 2023 - let us hope that there will be peace in the world - - - Richard

    2. Hello Richard, so sorry to read that the operation did not go that well. On top of that complications. But good Lindsay is now back home. I do hope recovery will now only go up. It needs time but I can inmagen Christmas celebrations will be different this year. Wish her all the best and you take care.
      Warm regards,

    3. Thank you, Roos. I'm pleased to say that our son and daughter made sure that Christmas Day was still a special day. With my very best wishes - - - Richard

  9. Very nice set of pictures - if you came to the other Melbourne you could still see two of these species! Hope all is well. SM

    1. Thank you, Stewart - now you have me wondering what two species they would be? We're getting there, but it has been a difficult Christmas - hence this very late reply, for which I apologise. My very best wishes to you and yours for 2023 - - - Richard

  10. Richard te deseo unas felices fiestas navideñas y todo lo mejor para el Año Nuevo, que podamos seguir disfrutando de este hermoso planeta lleno de vida. Feliz Navidad!!!!

    1. Gracias por tus visitas y amables palabras en 2022, Germán. Les deseo salud y felicidad en 2023, y espero con ansias las publicaciones de su blog en el nuevo año que se avecina. Richard


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