Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Flowers and insects

Just working up some posters for our publicity.
Thought it would be nice to remind ourselves how wonderful it is 
during the summer months.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Duelling coots

It's the time of year for the male coots to start their annual punch up. The aim seems to be to slash at your rival with nasty sharp claws and pin them underwater. If they escape you chase them round the pond with puffed-up feathers making as much noise and splashing as possible. It's hard to miss.
Sometimes it becomes a proper brawl with more than two opponents.

They have very large, memorably-shaped feet.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

In praise of Fieldfares

Turdus pilaris

Yesterday I spotted a flock of maybe 50 birds feeding in, yes, a field. The light was poor and annoyingly (because of a fence and a stream in the way) I couldn't get any closer than this: 

I went back today and decided to be patient. I got fairly chilly but the wait was worth it. 
The flock sometimes got nervous and flew up into nearby trees. After any danger passed 
they returned to the field digging for, I assume, worms.

Beautiful birds, like large, grey thrushes. I wish they were more frequent visitors 
than just during the winter.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Bird tracks

Winter gives us a great opportunity to look for bird tracks. 
Here's the brisk, long stride of the pheasant through fresh snow.

And the slow, awkward, waddling walk of huge swan feet across the frozen 
Dew Pond in Home Park.

A Goldcrest

How lucky can you be? This is only the second one I've ever seen. 
It was flying with a flock of long-tailed tits along the river bank. 

Frozen Stonechat

I'd never seen a Stonechat before but I found a pair fluttering at the edge of the pond in the park
in a terrible blizzard. One was trying to dislodge ice which had frozen to it's tail and 
legs as it dipped in the water looking for food. 

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The house in the woods

Such deep snow in Sussex this weekend. I don't remember the last time I saw so much. 
Wonderful to walk in, the lovely crump noise of the snow compacting underfoot. 
The blobs of snow that flick away from the end of your boots as you walk. 
The muffled sounds the world makes when it's blanketed in snow. 
I pitied the poor birds, desperate for any scrap thrown out for them. 

The woods were silent apart from the odd bird calling out.
Excellent weather for spotting animal and bird tracks. I followed the looping trail of a fox, who was chasing rabbits. He managed to catch one too - an upsetting red splash on the snow. All those tales of the wood which are normally invisible become obvious when they have a white background.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Cold duck

With overnight temperatures plunging spare a thought for those poor birds who have to sleep 
with their feet in iced water. 
Try to put some seed out for the small garden birds, they suffer terribly in this weather.

I have discovered a new compulsion to add to my OCD: photographing ice patterns on ponds. 
It is quite wonderful how graphic the shapes are.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Monday, 14 January 2013

Chilled swans

Thrilling to have a smattering of snow this morning. I charged out with the camera to watch it tragically melt around me. There were some cold-looking swans trying to get the circulation back into their wings. What an effort to get airborne, their webbed feet put in a lot of the work. One circuit of the pond seemed enough for most of them. 

Friday, 11 January 2013


I like cormorants. They're a striking shape in flight. I've found them elusive though. I've not really managed to get a good photograph. This one was diving in the Thames on Monday. They swim underwater for quite a distance, this one was moving downstream with the current. 
Compared to other waterbirds they sit very low in the water. Wonderful green eyes

Thursday, 10 January 2013


As the sun was going down it finally cleared the bank of grey cloud which had 
been hanging over us for days.