I was going to get a load of my Red Kite images processed to share with you for Monday but after a wonderful walk out in my local patch this morning (I wrote this on Sunday) I wanted to share that experience while it was fresh in my memory.
After a very busy Saturday, a late night with lots of fine food and wine, I missed the first light slot so went out after the sun was well up.
It was cold and crisp after the first frost of the year. The sky was sparkling blue and I was in two minds as to whether to take the 7D, 300f4 and 1.4 as my wildlife walkabout combo. In the end, I just opted for binoculars and decided to just enjoy whatever we saw.
First up was a large flock 50+ of House Sparrows, followed by a couple of flocks of close by Long Tailed Tits. We watched these for ages and had some fabulous views. Away to one side, we could hear a Green Woodpecker taunting us with its calls.
It was a popular time for the dogwalkers to be out. One guy and his two little poodles managed to flush out a Sparrowhawk up ahead of us. He probably never even saw it, but it flew right by us - beautiful
A little further on, we saw a few Common Darters - one of them ironically landing on one of the reserves storyboard signs, right next a picture of.....? Yes - A Common Darter - it was quite funny.
Overhead, a few Redwings, the odd Songthrush, Linnets, Goldfinches and Greenfinches flew by. Tits foraged the hedgerows and Blackbirds sprung out in cacophony of alarm calling.
In the distance, a Buzzard soared lazily, Woodpigeons clattered in and out of the trees and a solitary Cormorant crossed the azure skies.
Working back on a long open ride in prime Green Woodpecker territory, we checked the grasses and fencepost's. We were not disappointed - there it was about 100 metres ahead of us. Using the hedgerows to avoid breaking the silhouette - we slowly worked to within 50 metres. It was grubbing around for food in the wet grass, before it hopped up onto the posts for a better lookout.
We watched it for a while, edging ever closer before we were sprung and it cleared off ahead of us. Towards the top of the ride, in much longer grass that seemed out of character we got within 5 metres, until it burst away, yaffling loudly. I am not sure who was more surprised - us or the Woodpecker.
The final wonderful sight of the day was a small flock of Starlings on top of a heavily berry laden Hawthorn bush. With strong sunlight on them, they looked wonderful through the binoculars with their iridescent greens, purples and spots.
It was a wonderful walk, and totally invigorated me for the morning. I was not upset that I didn't take the camera, I don't think there were any particularly show stopping images that I would have got, and was just thrilled to watch it all through the binoculars.
OK next post will be the Red Kites - I promise