Header image - while this post is current - White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) in our garden on 2nd December, 2022.
I'm going to try and get back into blogging again as things are easing a little at home, with Lindsay making progress, following her knee replacement on 9th December. This blog post will mainly feature observations of wildlife in our garden, but I did have one afternoon out birding during this period.
Thursday, 24th November our garden
We had visits from Sparrowhawk and Stock Dove (2) this day, although neither were photographed. Of the other twelve species of bird that visited the garden - a relatively average number for this time of year - I only photographed a Magpie. Although the shot doesn't show the wonderful irridescent colours that appear in a Magpie's plumage, I rather like the setting of the shot.
Friday, 25th November Thornton Reservoir
|Magpie (Pica pica) - garden on 24th November, 2022|
There had been reports of a female Common Scoter at Thornton Reservoir. I'd not been to Thornton Reservoir for probably a couple of years or more, and as it is quite close to home, that is where I set off to in the afternoon.
As I got out of my car in the car park, which is close to the water's edge, it was obvious that the birds here had been well fed by visitors, as they crowded round me when I went to see what was around. Many of these birds seemed to be ducks and geese of dubious providence.
It was sunny, and the light was strong, but quite low, making photography a little difficult for much of the time. I had decided on a walk round the whole of the perimeter of the reservoir, and gave some thought as to which direction I should take in order to minimise adverse light. I decided on a clockwise direction, but suspect that this might have been the wrong decision.
By the car park, a Black-headed Gull - extremely common on our inland lakes and reservoirs - looked splendid in the sunlight.
|Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) - Thornton Reservoir|
A little further on, through the trees, I started seeing Little Grebes. The light was a little more difficult here with the dappled shade from the trees.
|Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - Thornton Reservoir|
Moorhens presented themselves in somewhat better light.
|Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) - Thornton Reservoir|
Other birds were seen, but not adquately photographed, and I had got three quarters of the way round the reservoir when I met a gentleman who was also there to photograph the birds. We got into conversation, and he told me of a dark bird he'd seen on the water near the southern end of the dam, shortly after his arrival. It dived before he could raise his camera and he didn't see it surface again. He was also a dragonfly enthusiast. Time for me to return home was approaching and my new aquaintance asked if he could accompany me back to the southern end of the reservoir - a request that I was delighted to accept. Views to the water were into the sun, but I did manage a few shots.
|Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) - Thornton Reservoir|
|Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) - Thornton Reservoir|
Having parted company on reaching the dam, I headed north across the dam to my car, checking over the dam wall from time to time, but seeing nothing of interest. I got to my car and noticed Andy Smith ('Mr. Thornton Reservoir') scanning for birds, and went over to say hello and ask after the Common Scoter. Andy kindly pointed out that the scoter was over near the far side of the reservoir, pretty-much where my earlier companion had seen his diving bird. Andy also said that he had been timing its dives and it was usually down for around a minute each time! It seems likely, then, that this had been the bird that my companion had seen earlier and I was pleased to be able to communicate this information to him at a later date. Here's my very heavily cropped record shot of the scoter.
|Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra) (female) - Thornton Reservoir|
It had been a useful and enjoyable afternoon out, but I was not aware that this would be my last photographic outing for well over a month!
Saturday, 26th November our garden
The Grey Wagtail that had been giving us so much pleasure was still with us.
|Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - garden on 26th November, 2022|
Sunday, 27th November to Rutland Water
This was not a photographic outing, although I did take my camera, but a meet up with my brother who lives in Cambridge for a chat and exchange of Christmas presents. I did take my usual owling route to get to Rutland Water, but no owls were seen.
At Rutland Water, while waiting for my brother to arrive, I was intrigued by a clump of rather large (maybe 15cm across) fungi at the edge of the car park. I'm unable to come up with a specific identity for these but believe them to be an Agaricus species.
|fungi (Agaricus sp.?) - Rutland Egleton car park|
On the way back I took my owling route once more for the first part of my journey. Again, no owls were seen, but a Great Spotted Woopecker was in the tree at my Little Owl Site No.34.
Monday, 28 November our garden
|Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) (male) - my Little Owl Site No.34|
I'd recently rebuilt, and slightly repositioned, one of our bird feeding stations as the previous incarnation was not getting as much use as I would have liked. This seems to have worked as it is now being used quite regularly and is only about 4 metres from my study window. It has not yet attracted any rarities, but has given me a few shots of common birds.
|Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) (female) - garden on 28th November, 2022|
|Great Tit (Parus major) - garden on 28th November, 2022|
|Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) - garden on 28th November, 2022|
We don't often see Wren in the garden these days, so it was good to get a record shot of a visit this day.
|Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) - garden on 28th November, 2022|
Thursday, 1st December garden
My redesigned feeder station has proven to be attractive to squirrels too.
Friday, 2nd December garden
|Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - garden on 1st December, 2022|
I have, in previous posts, stated that the more common Pied Wagtail is rarely seen in our garden and we have had more sightings of Grey Wagtail than Pied. For the first time ever, on this day we had a visit by what I believe is a White Wagtail, although it does look a little dark in this light - my header image, while this post is current, shows the same bird on the same day. These are winter visitors from the continent. This bird has now been a regular visitor over the Christmas period.
Wednesday, 7th December garden
|White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) - garden on 2nd December, 2022|
Every winter, I keep my eyes open for the arrival of winter thrushes to the garden. If we are lucky, we get an occasional visit from Redwing, Fieldfare and Mistle Thrush and, if we are very lucky, we might have a Song Thrush visit us too. On this day, we had our first visit of the winter by Redwing.
Thursday, 6th December garden
|Redwing (Turdus iliacus) - garden on 7th December, 2022|
Frustratingly, we had an unusually high tally of birds visiting the garden this day as cold weather set in. The frustration was because I was going to be away from home for a day or two as Lindsay had to check in at the hospital the next day at 07.00 and, as it was some distance from home, with a dire weather forecast, we felt the need to stay overnight closer to the hospital.
In spite of making preparations for the above event, I managed to record 20 species of bird setting foot in our garden, and was also able to photograph a few of them.
|Robin (Erithacus rubecula) - garden on 8th December, 2022|
|Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) - garden on 8th December, 2022|
|Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) - garden on 8th December, 2022|
|Stock Dove (Columba oenas) - garden on 8th December, 2022|
|Redwing (Turdus iliacus) - garden on 8th December, 2022|
|Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) - garden on 8th December, 2022|
|Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla) (male) - garden on 8th December, 2022|
|Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) (female) - garden on 8th December, 2022|
After our evening meal we set off in the car for a night in Rhodesia - no, not THAT Rhodesia, but a place in the north of Nottinghamshire, just west of Worksop. The brand-new Premier Inn there had only opened three weeks previously and was more 'hi-tech' than any hotel I've been in before. This was to be my base for the next 48 hours as I awaited a call to collect Lindsay from the hospital after her operation.
This brings me to the end of this account. My time is still rather limited at present and it will be some time before Lindsay is not dependent on my services, so please excuse late visits and responses. However, things are progressing nicely now, and the future looks bright.
I suspect that it will be a week or two before my next blog post, but there's already a stack of material from my garden observations awaiting sorting.
In the meantime, please take good care of yourselves and Nature. Thank you for dropping by.
I WISH YOU A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR
P.S. - Blogger now seems to be playing silly devils with photo captions. For most of the later captions in this blog post it would only give me much small or larger fonts than my usual font size.