Tag Archives: marsh tit

Another day at Rufford Abbey

We had a disappointing day at Attenborough Nature Reserve yesterday so we decided another trip to Rufford was in order. (I’ll write about it in a day or two when my good humour has re-established itself).

As usual, we have enough for two posts, so I’ll do the birds first. I started off with a sore knee after yesterday’s walk so we weren’t quite as ambitious as last time. We concentrated on the bridges by the lake and then looped back through the woods. There are bird tables at various points in the woods and we spent some time sitting quietly and watching.

I’m gaining in confidence after a decent flying Greenfinch photograph earlier in the week, so I was hoping to carry on the good work today.

The sitting quietly approach has worked wonders in the past when watching birds, but it can be difficult on a busy day.

It amazes me how many people think it’s appropriate to talk like a bugle whilst walking in the countryside. If I can hear them 25 yards away I don’t know what it must be like when you are walking next to them. It also amazes me the details people are prepared to broadcast about their lives, relationships and health.

Whatever happened to reticence?

As you can see from the Featured Image I found a Marsh Tit again. It’s tricky watching a bird table and snapping a shy bird when you only have a screen to work from. I ended up with a selection of shots featuring either blurs or emptiness. It all fell into place nicely when the Nuthatches arrived, but even then it wasn’t plain sailing as I managed several blurred shots and several with them facing away . Julia was away at the time so she missed them, though she did get back in time to see one pecking at a nut it had wedged in a crevice in a yew tree. Unfortunately it was too dark to get a shot.

As you can see from the other shots we got two unusual birds on bird tables. Moorhens can be quite adventurous when feeding (as I found when they used to rob my bait box when I used to fish) but I’ve never seen them on a table before. Note that the squirrel has a fly on its back – what a photobomb!

Final shot is a Coal Tit – the best shot from about 20 I took of Coal Tits. You can’t see the distinctive white nape in this shot but in the ones where you can see all lack something else.

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Coal Tit at Rufford Abbey

Julia got some good shots  today too so I may use some of them later on.

We also saw Goosanders, Siskins and a (very distant) Kingfisher plus the usual suspects we saw on the last visit. The Goosander and Siskin pictures are poor and the Kingfisher was too far away.

Goodbye to Connie the Cow

A sad morning today (though a less foggy day, as you can see from the photo), as we said goodbye to Connie the Cow. I know she’s going to a better place, where she’s going to star in panto and feature in educational units about fairy tales, but it’s the end of an era.

She’s been a group effort over the years. Julia drew her, John the Builder cut her out of ply, Dave made the udders, we all painted her (several times) and today we dismantled her and put her in the back of the car.

It was a mixed morning, as we were given a book of drawings and letters of thanks from the kids who came out on the last school trip (which just goes to show we’ve chosen a good home for Connie).

On a brighter note, the teacher who collected her showed us pictures of a Kingfisher on her phone. She’d been up to Rufford Park and on a bridge within yards of where I took the Marsh tit photo she saw a Kingfisher.

It’s slightly annoying that we missed the Kingfisher, but I’m looking forwards to looking for it on the return trip.

There’s always something good around the corner.

 

 

Birds at Rufford Abbey

The walk started with me scanning the treetops for greenfinches, which were calling loudly, though they were quickly chased away by Fieldfares. I couldn’t get a decent photo because the twigs prevented the autofocus from working. That was followed by a photo of a blurred dot over the abbey as I failed to get a good shot of a circling buzzard. Bird photography is a bit trickier than buildings.

We decided to walk round the lake, a route which includes walking through woodland. The first birds we saw on the walk  were eating food someone had put out for them on a picnic table.  We saw blue tits, Great tits, chaffinches and (something I’d hoped to see) a Marsh Tit. I’m sure it was a Marsh Tit, though Willow Tits are very similar in appearance. In fact, Victorian ornithologists didn’t even know they were two species until 1897. The glossy cap and white stripe on the beak (which you can’t see on this photo) are good pointers to it being a Marsh Tit.

 

Further round, we crossed several bridges and took pictures of Tufted Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Mallard and Black Headed Gulls, though the light wasn’t very good and they were mostly blurred. many of the gulls were in their 1st winter, as shown by the brown feathers amongst the grey and white. I find I have difficulty with autofocus on subjects with white bits – the Coots  all came out looking like the heads were blurred. I also had trouble with a Magpie and the heads of the Great Crested Grebes.

 

On the main lake we saw Great-Crested Grebes in winter plumage and Greylag geese, finally walking round to the shop and tea room (where you can buy duck and goose food). We bought Bakewell tarts and tea, crumbling the pastry from the edge to feed the birds and provoking a minor riot.

 

When the boys were small (oh, how easily I fall into nostalgia mode) the Canada Geese were both numerous and aggressive, but these days there are only a few about, though they were quite aggressive in the pursuit of food from small children. There was also a small group of Egyptian Geese, which I always thought must have escaped from a collection somewhere. When I was searching for information for the link I found out they’ve been breeding in England for around 300 years, so it’s possible they might have been proper residents.

There also used to be a lot of rats around because people were over-feeding the birds. At one point the water by the tearoom used to be full of floating bread and the surroundings full of notices about not over-feeding. The current lack of notices suggests that people have become more sensible, as does the lack of rats.

You can currently buy duck and goose food from the shop for £3.50 a bag. Let’s say that at that price I’d rather be a seller than a buyer, as the bags don’t look very big. Next time I go I will take some of my own bird food. Once the cold weather takes hold the smaller birds will appreciate it, and are happy to comedown and feed. I may take a little bread too, but there really isn’t much danger of the ducks and geese going hungry.

The featured image is a Tufted duck – the white bits on his back are the water droplets from his recent dive.