So, very much in 'catch up' mode and starting with a couple of recent visits to the Lower Derwent Valley, here's the first of a few quick posts with mainly pics and less narrative.
Day 1 (Feb 15th)
As I was watching the geese and hoping to catch a glimpse of the Bean Geese that have been around I clocked a Common Buzzard flying low over the flood water .... it scared and scattered all the geese and ducks but that solitary Lapwing (on 2nd pic) was no scaredy cat and saw it off down the valley!
A bit further along the valley at Bubwith the flood waters were still high but there is now enough dry land for waders to peck around on and along with the usual mass flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover there were smaller groups of Dunlin and Ruff being put up constantly by these microlights that seem to be more common these days .. easier to photograph (if I was into them) than roaming Peregrine Falcons .... also getting more numerous and also responsible for putting up the waders on a regular basis, but I don't mind that, I could watch Peregrines all day!
I did manage to take some reasonable shots of a couple of Black Tailed Godwits that went up amongst all the rest of the waders .... a good record for here and and another symbol of the approaching Spring because I'd like to think this was a pair looking for a prospective nesting site. The first pic is best, the second is cropped and over sharpened too much but evocative all the same and the 3rd, whilst not a great pic for all sorts of reasons I had to include because of the setting with Drax power station in the background!
Day 2 (Feb20th)
The fickle trickery of the British climate and how it can change so quickly should not really be a surprise to us anymore of course, but after that brief promise of Spring, we're once again thrust back into chilliness and as a bitterly cold wind blows in from Scandinavia we're reminded in no uncertain terms that Winter still has a firm grasp. I can only wonder in a hopeful way that those beautiful Crocuses (or is it Crocii?) I snapped last week are bearing up!
Northern Swans meanwhile are still grazing the fields and yesterday, wrapped up warm, I was determined to get a closer look at a herd of Whooper Swans I spotted from a distance last week. Driving around where I thought they should be I finally located them in a field nr the hamlet of Menthorpe. There were exactly 70 in total and here's 4 that were in range of my lens ...
..... a couple of bonus Berwick's Swans in amongst this lot too. They're slightly smaller and have a rounded rather than pointed yellow markings on their bills (extreme right on the pic below)
To save you enlarging and getting freaked out by the 2 blurry Whoopers in the foreground, here's one I cropped earlier of the 2 Berwicks ..... not pin sharp by any means but hey they were still 150 metres away and that's a damn good manual focus that that range!
The flooded area nr Bubwith was once again bursting with ducks and waders and here's a pretty decent shot of some Golden Plover that were swirling around over my head at one point.
..... bit dour this next pic but it's the only time I've ever managed to capture Ruff in flight. Never appreciated that wing shape before -almost beeater like ... minus the colour, light and lovely hot weather you usually see 'em in of course!
Other notable sightings from last week and what was a very cold day's birding yesterday included a flock of about 50 Dunlin, Curlew (heard), 2 Snipe, a couple of Sparrowhawks, 4 Common Buzzards, a Peregrine Falcon, Tawny Owl (heard), a flock of about 60 Tree Sparrows and plenty of wildfowl with maybe 60 Shelduck and some lovely Pintail that I so must get some pics of before they depart.
I leave you for now with one for the mammal lovers, a cheeky Brown Hare that ran along the bank and posed for me as I was watching a wader flock
Roll on Spring!!