Wednesday, 21 December 2011


 A 60th surprise birthday in neighbouring Staffordshire took me to Dove dale little did I know we
were staying at the Izaak Walton hotel or I would have took my fishing rod.
I decided to take a walk along the Dove river just below the hotel as the rain turned to snow.
I followed the river noting mallard and merganser and winter thrushes at the stepping stones.
From the stepping stones on walked on to Lovers Leap here I noted Common Buzzard and Redpoll.
On my way back I noted Dipper although a poor photo ,moving back to the hotel.
Finally chatting to Bernie Maher fishing on the river then a pot of tea at the hotel,
the girls returned from Ashbourne and told me we were going for a drive.
It was more like a sleigh ride as we tried to get to Buxton the weather got worse,so we returned
to the hotel.

That evening a taxi to Waterhouse on icy roads for our friends Carol Crilly's 60th,
Anice meal with friends before leaving early due to the taxi and adverse weather.
The following morning we left Dovedale a frosty morning before returning to Herts.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Weekend in Boston 10th 12th Dec 2011

Not much birding but I managed one day in the backwoods park in Central Boston.I was looking for
Black Duck but only managed Mallard ,saw a pair of Downy Woodpeckers and two Blue jays.
However I was rewarded with a couple of Hoode Mergansers.
Here in the river I first located them before better views further on.
Moving on through the park I saw a few more species as well as a good conservation message from
our friends across the pond,take note local park lovers.
You now have been advised,impressed I walked on noting American Robin and Black capped
Boston is noted for its historical links with Britain it was discovered in 1630 and a plaque in Boston
Common celebrates the fact.
Here above you can see the Pilgrim fathers,the main reason for visiting Boston was my sons birthday,
hence visiting a number of bars including Mr Dooleys and the Guinness.
It was here and at Smith and Wolenskys,we celebrated in style ,with fine dining and traditional
Irish music.It was all over too soon and we flew home courtesy of good old BA.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Stockers lake and Woodoaks farm

Walked Ted to Mill End passing Woodoaks along the main road of interest a party of
20c Rooks were feeding on the field ,it was nice to see the return of this under recorded corvid.
Also 2 Egyptian geese have set up territory probably fed up with being shot at over neighbouring
Lynsters.However I was after a reported smew on Stockers which failed to materialize.
So I contented my self with views of up to15 Goldeneye,the light was poor for photography and
there were a few west london birders trying to photograph them ,also some Potters bar rspb people
but generally quiet.
I managed a few shots of Shoveler ironically from the Shoveler hide before returning via the River
Colne,on neighbouring Inns and Springwell, Wigeon numbers are increasing along with a single
Red crested Pochard.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Birding in Kenya

This post was requested by my mate Paul Lewis ,so to cheer him up after sleeplesss days due to contractors digging the road up outside his house,this morning I went to the lodge and left the card for
my camera at home,so here are some African birds to delight.First Black bellied bustard in breeding
plumage seen here on the plains of the Mara also in Tsavo. Next a Brown crowned Tchagra singing
near our tent,was known as a bush shrike.Also around tents commonly in the Mara is White browed
Robin chat.Of course what would Kenya be without it's raptors ,one of the most impressive must
be the Martial Eagle.The habitat changes from savannah bisected by rivers and scrub adding to the
diversity of mammals and birds.A common sandpiper sits on a hippo's ear 50 yards below our tent.
Stay tuned for more birds with Colne valley birder on tour.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Last days of Autumn

It's the return of Lewis and Carter joined by Geoff Laptop and Tony Hulls but alas no Emu.
Over the last few days we have had between 8-11 common snipe.Also 2 regular Little Egrets although
flighty have been giving good views at rest and hunting for the small number of fish due to low water levels.The autumnal colours are glorious in the sunshine,but best at the moment is the trio of
confiding Green sandpipers.Passerines of note are a few Redwing,goldcrests have been obliging
and Common Teal numbers increasing see next blog for more details. the above view from the sluice
shows the water levels,well thats all for now.
Autumn crest takes gold in the bird olympics.

Friday, 25 November 2011

The Big Five

Well we have just returned from Kenya again and it was awesome I am sure it just gets better,I am
at home with African birds and mammals,possibly somewhere different next time as the icing on the cake is over running.
We stayed in Mombasa along Diani beach far from Somalia and its problems ,the hotel was good even a couple of good bird sightings,of note Crowned Hornbill and Lizard Buzzard.
a We had arranged to fly into the Mara from nearby Ukunda,and to stay at a different camp called
Mara Intrepids ,we had done our homework on Leopards and this seemed right according to the Big Cat Diary. Our guide was John Parmasau probably the best guide in the Mara ,a local Masai John
and I became good friends plus Aatish Patel and his brother we soon got some good birds and mammals.
Bahati the Leopard showed soon as did Rhino, Cheetah with cubs and all the regular big 5.
On the first game drive the heavens opened but it did not stop me photographing Bahati.
On the second day we were late for lunch as we got Rhinoceros a lot closer than last year.Finally
just before leaving John located Cheetah with very young cubs ,Masai hunter at his best ,perception
of the animals in his territory without him we would have not been so fortunate.Well thats all for now
next some birds of the Mara?.

Monday, 24 October 2011


Next stop and our final destination was the Mara.The Mara game reserve as it was originally known
is an area of 700 square miles was established in 1961, its southern border is contiguous with
Tanzania's Serengeti.The mara country is world famous for it's vast assemblages of plains game.
We stayed at Keekorok Lodge,I set up my tent and once again baboons were a nuisance,a few well
placed rocks sent them on their way.When all the tents were up we went on a late afternoon game
drive. Once in the grassland we saw Topi , Wildebeeste  and Thomson's gazelle.Then we found
some Lion cubs.The following day after breakfast I photographed a Purple Grenadier outside the
Our early morning game run produced a Serval loping across the plain,other cats to mention
were a pair of Cheetahs they had not long fed,their bellys full and blood on their jowels they
sprawled in front of us.A cheeky a bat eared fox put its head above ground while skulking hyaenas
watched us from their communal den.
Saturday the 7th of January was our final day in the Mara after breakfast I photographed Ruppell's
Long tailed Starling.We left the camp site for our last game run,a male Lion was in the grass and
just across the river a pride of Lions sat on lava strewn rocks,the female of the pride approached
a dead hyaena but turned her nose up and walked away.
The vultures soon gathered mostly White backed,but a large Lappet faced was top of the pecking order
and soon was pulling entrails across the plain.
We left Africa today, a gruesome reminder to how life in the Mara with nature's dustmen disposing
of another corpse.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Maple Lodge 3rd visit in a week

Around 05.30 hrs  I heard screaming in Denham Way it turned out to be two Foxes fighting on the grass in front of my house.Hence I was a little late making the reserve today.
Made my way to the Teal hide where Geoff Laptop was feeling cold he pointed out a Green Sandpiper
at close quarters.It was bright and sunny and cold and the high pitched call of the Kingfisher brought me to it's notice on some sticks in the water.Making it a first photogenic kingfisher for some time.
Only disturbed by a Grey Heron I had unsurpassed views for 10 minutes.Unusual
was 2 Egyptian Geese on the reserve and 2 more on Lynsters farm there usual port of call.
Time was ticking away but on leaving  I noticed a Fox  on the boundary of the  reserve,
possibly oneof this mornings noisy neighbours.
Back to the Sluice where close views of Little Grebe was nice,
Back at the Club house I met the bee keeper she said it was her last inspection of the year.
Finally Great Spotted woodpecker obliged as did Sparrowhawk.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Another Autumn Morning

There was a keen edge to the NW wind as I walked through the reserve in bright sunshine
passing through the Alders I noticed a mixed flock of passerines containing a number of Siskins.
They were avidly feeding and would not keep still,from the Teal hide a single Snipe obliged.
So I walked to Long Hedge where higher numbers of Redwings fed with Blackbirds in the scrub
near or on the ground.
From the hide I viewed 6 Common Snipe and 2 Green Sandpiper,Black headed gulls and Jays in
flight.Finally a male Great Spotted Woodpecker on a dead tree against an azure sky.