I went for a walk in the woods today and, as you can see from the header picture, I managed to get a photograph of a Nuthatch. It took some doing, I’ve discarded around 20 blurred images and another 20 photos of an empty table. They really are flighty birds.
The morning looked hopeful, with sunlight and a number of great lighting effects behind the clouds. By the time I reached Rufford Abbey the light had, of course gone. It did reappear a couple of times, mainly at the wrong time and in the wrong place.
Black Headed Gull at Rufford Abbey
Robin at Rufford Abbey
Chaffinch at Rufford Abbey
Wood Pigeon at Rufford Abbey
Black Headed Gulls at Rufford Abbey
Robin at Rufford Abbey
There were a few other birds about but I failed in my attempts to photograph a variety of tits and waterfowl. I had been hoping to get some shots of swans, with reflections, but that was doomed by a lack of swans. There were a few of this year’s cygnets about but they didn’t come close enough for an attempt.
One of the few subjects that did benefit from the lighting was the bed of teasels. They also have the advantage of not moving much.
The foot still hurts, but I’m feeling a lot more cheerful and I’m actually starting to think again, even though it’s only a couple of hours from my last post. Julia says I’m also looking pink again after several days of looking grey.
While I was in the surgery this afternoon, despite having a book in my pocket, I just didn’t have the energy to read it. This is much more of an indicator of my wellbeing than a temperature measurement, because, as we saw earlier, I didn’t actually notice I had a temperature.
I’ve been missing my photography recently so I’ve decided to post a few of my favourite photos.
The featured image is one of the mice off a wheatsheaf loaf. I always liked making them, both the loaves and the mice. It’s actually very simple, though I never did get the knack of drying them out properly, so they had a tendency to curl up and go mouldy.
Little and Large!
I couldn’t do without a picture of the Odd Couple. I haven’t been able to visit for a few weeks now, but I’ll be going as soon as I can walk.
Nuthatch at Rufford Abbey
I like Nuthatches, and we had a good day at Rufford on this particular day. In fact we’ve never had a better day photographing birds in the woods at Rufford. However, I live in hope.
Julia at Clumber Park
There are other subjects for photography apart from birds, wives for instance. This is a particularly fine example, and I would probably have starved to death if she hadn’t been here to look after me over the last few weeks.
I forget the name of this one, but it’s quite impressive.
I’m going to miss the garden this year, it was so easy to pop out when the sun shone. Our own garden needs a bit of work after being ignored for years.
Right place, right time
I may have to enhance the rainbow, but it’s still a favourite shot of mine.
Life can’t be all nature reserves and rarities, so yesterday saw us back at Rufford Abbey. There was, as usual, nothing rare, but there’s always something worth seeing.
The Robins were in good voice.
Singing Robin – Rufford Abbey
We spent a while watching two Magpies building a nest in the tree tops (without being able to get a clear shot) and a pair of Nuthatches popped out of the woods to have a look at us. They are always a challenging subject as they tend to flit about without regard to the needs of photography. This was the best photo, despite only showing one of the pair.
Nuthatch in an Elder tree
We saw two Wrens and managed to get a couple of shots (they are worse than Nuthatches for flitting about), checked out the Great Crested Greebes (now in full breeding plumage) and watched a Grey Heron drop in to fish. Great Tits and Dunnocks also cooperated by posing.
Grey Heron at Rufford Abbey
Great Crested Grebe in breeding finery
Wren at Rufford Abbey
Great Tit with fat ball
Despite the fact we walk here most weeks, there’s always something new to see and always something new to learn. I never knew, for instance, that magpies build nests using branches that are nearly as long as they are.
These are the bird photos from the trip to photograph the oaks in Sherwood Forest. It was a bit dull and the birds were quick (unlike the oaks) so they aren’t quite as sharp as I’d like. I missed a couple of Coal Tits that came down to feed, plus Blackbirds, Chaffinches and Dunnocks that lurked in the undergrowth. There were two pigeons too, but I ignored them as I don’t want to encourage them to steal food from small, cute birds.
Nuthatch – Sherwood Forest
Long Tailed Tit – Sherwood Forest
Blue Tit on feeder – Sherwood Forest
Nuthatch – Sherwood Forest
Great Tit on feeder – Sherwood Forest
It’s a lot better than Rufford from that point of virw, as there are more pigeons there, plus a lot of gulls which can polish off a handful of sunflower hearts like magic.
I filled three feeders in the car park and heard a clattering behind me, as birds started feeding before I’d got out of the way.
I need to work out a better way of doing this. Do I just fill one so I can stay focussed on it all the time, or do I fill six so they don’t chase each other away all the time? Even with six there were probably enough Great Tits to chase everything else off.
They were changing places so fast that once I pressed the button to take a Great Tit and ended up with a picture of a Nuthatch! OK, my frozen fingers were moving quite slowly, which would have helped.
Robin of Sherwood
Marsh Tit in Sherwood Forest
Squirrel stealing bird food
I presume the cold was one of the reasons they were feeding so eagerly.
If, like me, you’ve ever thought that ducks aren’t the brightest of birds, think again. Instead of dabbling and chasing children with bread these Mallards are standing in the mill race at Rufford Abbey waiting for it to bring food to them.
Spotted the Grey Wagtail and Goldcrest whilst standing here – both off like a shot as soon as I raised the camera!
Ducks in the Mill Race
This Song Thrush, after allowing us time for one shot, decided to hide in an outcrop of twiggy growth.
Song Thrush at Rufford Abbey
Same bird, playing hard to get
Here is a selection of shots from the bird table in the woods, it feels a bit like cheating when I should be stalking them through the woods. Even so, I still missed a Coal Tit and a Marsh Tit that dropped in but shot off too quickly for me to focus.
Three Long Tailed Tits also dropped in but for some reason the autofocus couldn’t lock on. I had three shots of blurred round bodies and long tails. Oh, the trials of bird photography!
Squirrel looting bird table at Rufford Abbey
Great Tit at Rufford Abbey
Blue Tit at Rufford Abbet
Blackbird on picnic table – Rufford Abbey
Chaffinch at Rufford Abbey
Robin at Ruffird Abbey
Finally I managed some more half-decent Nuthatch photos, including one on a tree. However, to put it into perspective, I missed shots of three different Treecreepers in the woods (ending up with several shots of tree trunks).
I also had several Siskin shots – blurred bodies shielded by alder twigs. Lots of work to do!
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.
Nuthatce at Rufford Abbey
Nuthatches at Rufford Abbey
Nuthatcs at Rufford Abbey
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!
Squirrel on bird table (and fly on squirrel)
Pheasant on bird table
Moorhen on bird table
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.
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.
Here are photographs of more birds from last Wednesday, following up on the previous bird post and the Friday post.
The Goldfinches are acting like a bunch of thugs, quarrelling amongst themselves and driving other birds away. You wouldn’t think it to look at them, but they really can be very aggressive.
We had a flock of Long-tailed tits look in, but they perched in the surrounding trees calling to each other before deciding not to contest the feeders with the Goldfinches. We really need fat balls to tempt them, but after the Jackdaw [roblems earlier in the year I don’t really want to use fat balls again. I may try coconut halves filled with fat as they seemed to work well when we saw them at Sherwood Forest last Friday.
We have moved the second feeder from the back garden to see if we can ease the thuggery by spreading the birds out more. It has never been well used, even though it is situated close to a belt of trees that attracts quite a lot of birds. The ones that use the feeders tend to fly out of the trees and pass it on the way to the other feeder.
Birds can be very strange.
Male Chaffinch at Screveton
Greenfinch at the feeder
Goldfinch at Sreveton
Heron stalking the field margin
So far, after one day, very few birds have chosen to use the new feeding station, despite it only being five yards from the other.
It’s a tricky situation because we will have to stop feeding the birds at the end of the month when we leave the centre. We haven’t really started feeding properly since we let it tail off in late summer. They have had plenty of food in the fields and some of the food in the feeders had actually gone off because birds had stopped visiting.
I rushed into it last week, cleaning the feeders with a piece of stick and using food that had been stored in a bin for the last few months. The bin had been chewed by mice and I had to evict several before I could get the food, which smelt very mousy. I’m not sure if this has a bearing on the lack of enthusiasm for some of the feeders.
We will wash the feeders on Monday and refill everything with freshly purchased food. I know I found the smell off-putting and I wouldn’t blame the birds for feeling the same way.
We will feed until we leave and will leave the remains of the food and ask the farm to feed after we have gone. It’s not ideal but it’s the best we can do. Meanwhile the group can continue to watch birds until we finish.
Practical note here – cheap plastic feeders buckle when subjected to boiling water. It may seem hygenic, but it’s annoying to hqve to buy new feeders so be careful. I’m going to use Milton. It works for babies, lambs and apple pressing so it whould work for bird feeders.
The following photographs were some we took in Sherwood Forest on Friday. I’m quite pleased with the shot of the acrobatic Robin eating from the coconut shell and the Nuthatch. I’d hoped we would see a Nuthatch and we did see several in the end, though they are difficult to photograph. Julia managed to get the best shots, much to my frustration. Most of mine looked like blue blurs.