Red necked grebe.Grafham water. Jan 2009.

After trekking from one side of the reservoir to the other i finally saw the red necked grebe. It tended to stay a few hundred yards or further out amongst the great crested grebes. But i was glad to of connected with it anyway.

The rest of my time there was spent watching and waiting for any wildfowl that gave the opportunity to photograph.

Just off the car park i encountered a feeding group of wigeon, and what a lovely colour they give off with the sun on them. A single grey wagtail was feeding on the waters edge with a couple of pied's nearby.

A colourful duck seen fairly close in with the tufted ducks were 9/10 Red crested pochard. How glorious were the males head plumage in the sun, contrasting with that red bill. They seemed to split in two groups and were actively diving for weeds, the females acting quite aggressively at times.

After watching for the red necked grebe i noticed that a male smew had mixed in with tufteds and red crested pochards, it was fairly close giving me the chance of some record shots. It actively dived and fed for some time before moving further out to the middle channel. But always lovely to see these winter visitors.

Rainham Marshes RSPB.Jan 14th 2009.

Penduline Tits.
Sarah and i travelled to Rainham marshes RSPB to try for the Penduline tits there. Despite the bad fog and light we were both given fantastic close views of these little gems. This was a first for both of us, and not through trying either, dipping out on previous occasions. They were actively feeding on the reed mace seeds and after gorging themselves rested up in the reedbed. I was able to grab a few record shots before the fog thickened and they departed to another area of the reserve. After a cuppa in the centre and the fog not lifting we set off both elated at our new addition.

Clifton Bedfordshire. Tues 13th Jan 2009.

I made a trip out to see the flock of Tree sparrows at Clifton. It didnt take long to get there and on arrival the sparrows were showing well. They were quite mobile flitting between one field and another, helped by a local sparrowhawk. But at times would give good views, a stunningly marked bird and one i hadnt seen for a few years now.
Later that day whilst taking my dog out for a walk, just between wrestlingworth and cockayne hatley, i saw a harrier species flying low over the fields, i couldnt tell any plumage traits as the light was bad and i didnt have my bins.

West Hythe. Kent. January 2009.

Black Crowned Night Heron
My dad and i travelled to West Hythe to connect with the Black crowned night heron at the same site as the green heron not so long ago. On arrival it was showing well on the rocks just away from the dam. It was feeding in the small pools amongst the rocks and was seen to catch one fair sized fish.

It gave great views and seemed totally oblivious to us. The plumage had a lovely contrast of dark and light blue and a pale cream colouring on the white parts, and the eye just stood out like a jewel. It was sharing the stretch with a female kingfisher which showed well along with 2 little grebes busily feeding on small fish.

Most unwanted though was the presence of 1 maybe 2 mink, which were using the rocky pools in the same manner as the heron. They were prolific in catching fish and on one occasion came right up infront of the heron causing it to take flight, i suppose the only reason they werent making a play for the heron was because of the abundance of fish there. Still a concern none the less.

It was a delight to photograph this lovely little heron, and try to get some reflection images which took some waiting for, after some time it flew from the rocks to the tree lined river behind us and proceeded to fluff itself up and go to sleep. This was only the second black crowned night heron for me and first for my dad, and the first time to get some photographs too.

Wrestlingworth.Bedfordshire.January 2009.

On the morning of the 5th Jan' we all awoke to a covering of snow and freezing temperatures. The day before Sarah and i had been walking the dog in our village when we encountered 100+ fieldfares feeding in a garden on fallen apples. There was a large amount of fruit on the floor so i knew they'd stay for a while, the owner gave me permission to set up my hide and i aimed to try for some shots over the next day or so.

So of course what with the snow i waited for some brighter skies and set off. The pop up hide and equipment didn't take long to set up and the fieldfares were down soon after, along with 12+blackbirds a few redwings and a lone song thrush. Being in the shade for most of the time the sun didn't glare off the snow so that was a help. After 5 hours and 900+ shots later i called it a day and went home to warm up, only to find out when i turned the heating on for the house the pump went and so no hot water or heat on the coldest night of the year, still i got some shots and you cant beat vodka for warming you up....

Snettisham Norfolk Dec 2008.

My last birding trip of the year and my dad and i went to snettisham. Unfortunately the weather was very cloudy and dull to say the least. On arrival before sunrise we were met by the continuing waves of geese flying overhead from the mudflats. There were thousands moving inland, and what a sight to see. As one wave vanished another would take off and make themselves heard, truly breathtaking.

On the first pit were a pair of Red breasted mergansers showing well, but my images were just record shots because of the dullness, and unfortunately they didnt hang around either, after a couple of minutes they took flight and headed out to sea.

There were good numbers of goldeneye and wigeon present amongst the wildfowl. The weather typically started to brighten as we had to set off, but the geese spectacle first thing as we arrived made for an unforgettable end to the year.