May 2008.

Wet weather kept me from going out a lot along with work but on a couple of occasions that i was able to venture out i stayed local to home, entering cambridgeshire, hertfordshire and bedfordshire. A visit to Knapwell woods provided very little except for 2 foxes hunting along the field edges.
The local dumps had a few yellow wagtails about gving some good close views. A group of 4 linnets were ever present but far too wary to provide a chance of photographing. Also very noticeable this year were the number of hares present in the adjoining fields. The swallow and house martin numbers seemed low and on only 1 occasion did a pair of swallows come down.

At a local site in bedfordshire the wet weather had proved a problem for the plovers. Only 1 little ringed plover was seen and just 1 pair of ringed plover. The reed buntings were very active gathering insects and posing very well when searching the vegetation.

But not many damselflies or dragonflies were observed due to the weather, instead remaining hidden, no doubt along with the butterflies, with only 1 common blue seen on one day. But an added bonus on the last trip out was a solitary grey partridge at one of the dumps, which didnt seem to be in a hurry to leave before id grabbed some shots.

Fen drayton Cambridgeshire. May 2008

After photographing the 1s male red footed falcon in bedfordshire i wanted to try to get some shots of a female red footed'. With so many in the country i headed off to Fen Drayton in Cambridgeshire to try my luck there. On arrival another birder said he had not seen the bird this morning in its usual perching spot. But it was still early and whilst looking i tried to get some shots of swifts flying overhead.
This proved no easy task so after what appeared to be a few half decent images on the camera i gave up and headed to where the red footed had been frequenting. As i approached this certain dead tree there perched up near the top was a stunning female red footed falcon. I couldn't believe my luck and so i set up and took some images. The weather wasn't too bad first off but then the clouds drew overhead and put a damper on the colours of this bird.
But i kept firing away in between breaks in the sky and the falcon only twice moved to catch what appeared to be a damselfly before returning to the tree. As the temperature rose the bird then flew off and hunted insects over the lakes adjacent. After a while it returned only to resume hunting a short time later. It then stayed over elney lake happily feeding for some time, my last views were of it flying overhead towards another lake.
What an stunning bird and a total contrast to the male, and along with the accompaniment of the sedge warbler next to me and other birds it turned out a cracking day and well worth the headache of sorting through 13GB of images.

Paxton pits Cambridgeshire. May 2008

I visited paxton with sarah for a walk around, it was fairly quiet and although the nightingale i was trying to photograph was singing well trying to see it was another matter.
I ended up just photographing the cormorant colony and the damselflies sunning themselves.

Common Blue Damselflies

Spent a few hours at a local water hole but it turned out to be fairly quiet, just a pair of yellow wags, a group of typically jittery linnets and pied wag. A pair of swallows made a quick mud gathering stop but never returned.
But as was the norm when a bird did come down you inevitably had the territorial pied wag see them off. When i focused on the yellow wags you hoped the pied was off out of sight. To finish the stint a hare came close feeding and i grabbed a shot of it sat up in the crop field.

Red Footed Falcon. Bedfordshire. 2008

I went back to see the red footed' again only the weather wasnt great and the wind had gotten up, so after just a quick flyby of the falcon on arrival and no more sign for over an hour i decided to head off and look for dragonflies. And luckily for me i did, i caught a glimpse of a hobby flying into a wooded area and decided to scan the trees. it was then i spotted the red footed' perched up looking around. I managed to get closer and began taking some shots, the view was restricted at times with the wind blowing the leaves and branches, but it was seen well enough and preening too. I did not see it again once it flew off or mixed in with the 7+ hobbies but it was reported later on. A cracking bird and nicer to see perched up rather than with a suns glare upon it.

Sandy RSPB. Bedfordshire May 2008.

After a great morning with the Red footed falcon at Stewartby, i was getting ready to visit the site later in the day when news of a Hoopoe at Sandy RSPB broke through, being ready and about to leave the house i wasted no time in driving the short distance there.

On arrival i joined the small group of staff watching the bird and cracked off a few shots for my records. It was viewed at a distance but kept disappearing behind ground cover. It then after a short while took flight and appeared to land further over on the heath, so i went searching.

Unfortunately it went to ground and was not seen for a short period then i saw it fly from the heath upto the top of some silver birch trees whereby i informed birders adjacent to it, it then flew over towards the paddocks/common area but could not be relocated again.

Coronation Pit, Stewartby. Bedfordshire. May 2008.

Sarah and i went to Stewartby to connect with the 1s male Red footed falcon, and once the heat had risen enough to lift the insects in the air the hobbies started to come alive. And then the Red footed' put in an appearance and directly overhead as well, we had great views despite the harsh light but i was happy to get some record shots.

The falcons then drifted high and far at times but kept to a circuit and showed continuously and a count of 14 hobbies was made by steve blain, along with 2 kestrels, 1 sparrowhawk and 5 buzzards it was definately a raptor day.

Bird Ringing. Bedfordshire May 2008.

I joined up with the bird ringing team again and first on the agenda were the moths caught in the trap from the night before, i had done the same for a couple of hours at home and got a few, and it proved fruitfull this morning with quite a varied list of species.

There were a few common species of bird being ringed and a few re-traps. But the stage definately went to the warblers and notably the last two before i left. They were a female common whitethroat and a female lesser whitethroat. These two made a good session finish even better.

May 2008. Local birding.

After all the birding for the rare 'uns' i kept local, visiting sites in Cambs',Herts',Beds'. My local farm and dung heaps were now being checked for yellow wags' and wheatear, both though were low in number. I visited willington, beds, for the stilts but both departed before i arrived.

At the farm a pair of mistle thrushes were showing well on a dew laden lawn freshly cut and rolled, giving me the opportunity to photograph this bird for the first time.