With Summer fast drawing to an end, it will soon be time to say goodbye to some of my favourite migrants. The young should have now fledged and be getting themselves fed up to make their incredibly long journeys to other continents.
I long for the returning Redstarts each Spring, so it will be sad to see them head off.
I've always found it hard to love gulls. Initially because they seemed to be a pest when I was young. Always trying to steal your food on the beach, or waking you up early with a raucous call outside the window. Then, as a birder, finding it difficult to distinguish certain types due to the many different plumage the same species can have.
On lovely sunny days though I can't stop pointing the camera at them. They make it a little easier for you by sitting on the water. Then when you think you know which gull it is, doubts creep in and the books come out again. I'll love them one day. I think.
My head is telling me this is a Lesser black-backed Gull, but that dark bit on the bill throws in a small doubt.
I'm quite sure it is just the last features of a juvenile bird. 4th calendar year bird. (I think)
At this time of year, when things become a little quiet on the birding front, I turn my attention to the other things that may be flying around close by. Usually butterflies or dragonflies. Just recently the butterflies have been out in great numbers and I've had great enjoyment trying to find new ones and identifying them as they've fluttered by. Here are some of the more common ones on my local patch.
This is a Large Skipper. This is the first year I've ever seen one.
Small Tortoiseshells seem to be in there hundreds on my patch.
Wow!! What a night I just had. I went out locally on a stunning night. It was warm and sunny and very peaceful. I was really just happy to be out and wasn't looking for anything in particular. It has been pretty quiet recently on the bird front, so I went a little further afield into Derbyshire. I came across lots of Kestrel and I was hoping for a Hobby, but had no joy. Instead, while waiting for a Hobby, I got a better treat, in the form of two Short Eared Owls, hunting across the moors. The light was magnificent. For some time I was a bit mesmerised, standing motionless while staring through the bins. I thought I'd get the camera out and see if I could get any half decent shots.
For quite a while they stayed at some distance. I wasn't going to go chasing them. No way did I want to disturb them. So I kept my patience and hoped they'd come closer. I got a real treat.
Busted! Finally spotted me after nearly an hour of watching from afar. It came with 20 metres of me. Nearly too close for my camera lens.
One last look in fading light, as it moved away to hunt in a new area.
A lazy Sunday afternoon, and I wasn't feeling too well. I thought I'd try and cheer myself up and go for a stroll with the camera. I headed to Redesmere, just a few miles from home. It's a pretty vast lake and I didn't really know what to expect, as I'd only ever been here in the winter when it is good for geese among other things.
There were lots of the usual gulls being fed by families enjoying the warm sunshine, but it was a small family of Tufted Ducks that caught my eye. There were only three juveniles but they all looked in good condition. No sign of the male though. I guess he was busy down the pub with his mates taking a well earned rest.
Mum, on high alert with the young ones around.
One of the little fluff balls.
One day, when those wings have grown a little more, you'll be able to fly.
In Norfolk a few weeks ago there were plenty of Shoveler on show. Their over sized bills are very fitting to it's name, as I'm sure you can see.
There were quite a few aggressive males around, that seemed intent on chasing each other away in all directions. It then became quite apparent that there were some young around, and I felt more comfortable that this was not just blatant thuggery. They were being the dutiful parent that they should be.
Still, it gave me the opportunity to grab some great action shots.
The male in all his splendour.
Something was brewing between these guys.
You can just see the serrated teeth on this individual, along with his tongue.
An these were what it was all about. Some adorable Shoveler ducklings.
The beach in Llandudno had many Jackdaws scurrying around looking for scraps to feed on. Some were really quite cheeky, hopping onto the railings to see if you'll kindly drop any ice cream for them. Still, they are my favourite corvid and they're pretty clever guys too. Plus they have that piercing blue eye. So handsome.
I had a fantastic day last Saturday which started off at RSPB Conwy and then on to Llandudno for some much needed rest and relaxation on the beach. The weather was awesome. Wall to wall sunshine and it was pretty warm too.
At, RSPB Conwy I had lots of the usual birds around the reserve, with Oystercatchers, Common Sandpipers, Little Egrets, Sedge Warblers plus many more. I didn't use the camera an awful lot, as I was enjoying relaxing. I did take a few though.....
Having never seen a Spoonbill until last September. I have seen at least one on each of my visits to Norfolk since. I wasn't necessarily looking for one this time, but always had my fingers crossed that one might turn up somewhere nearby. As luck would have it, I was in the right place at the right time when I went to Titchwell RSPB reserve, as one dropped in while I was there. Such a bizarre looking bird with its huge bill (it's perfectly named), but I think that's what adds to it's wonder for me.
It was, unfortunately, some distance away for the camera, but looked awesome through the binoculars.
One Swallow doesn't make a Summer, but this guy got mine off to a great start back in May. I've always found it difficult to photograph these birds. They're either sat up on an unsightly wire high up, or swooping across the sky making it difficult to follow and capture them. This one however at Titchwell beach, kindly sat on a fence post at a much more dignified height and allowed me to get set up to take some decent shots. I was also lucky enough to have some decent sunlight to show off that wonderful blue, something that is difficult to see when the bird is in flight.