Archive for March, 2008

Siskin in the garden

Monday, March 31st, 2008

(Entry copied from WAB blog) 


Still recovering from a virus. Did some more bird watching in the garden today, and was rewarded with only my second sighting this winter of a Siskin. Got some nice photos of Long-tailed Tits and Greenfinches, too.


Long-tailed Tit


Great Spotted Woodpecker and other garden birds

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

(Entry copied from WAB blog)

Unfortunately I have been ill again, possibly a recurrence of the virus I had about a month ago. I’m more or less OK now (at least I can eat properly again!), but I’m still feeling weak and tired. So I’ve not been out anywhere for over a week.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Today I spent a couple of hours or so bird watching from my ‘hide’ in the summerhouse in the back garden. I got an all too fleeting glimpse of a Brambling, and got my best yet photo of a Great Spotted Woodpecker (it was on a tree rather than a feeder, making it a more natural scene). I also got my best yet photo of a Collared Dove, sitting on the garden fence. The other birds I saw today were Pheasant, Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, Starling, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Wood Pigeon, Wren and Jackdaw.

Collared Dove

Another minor update to web site

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

I have just made a very small update to my “Pete’s Walks” web site. Just a few more photos on the birds and wildflowers pages, plus I’ve corrected a load of typing mistakes throughout the journals.

Unfortunately I’ve had a nasty recurrence of the virus I had about a month ago. So I’ve not been out anywhere for a week now. It’s left me feeling very weak again, so I don’t know when I’ll next be able to go for a long walk – very frustrating!

A short walk and some bird watching

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Yesterday I did a fairly short walk for about 2.5 to 3 hours. Starting from Ivinghoe Beacon I followed the Ridgeway over Pitstone Hill, then made my way to the charming village of Aldbury, before returning through the woods of Ashridge back to my car. I felt quite tired afterwards, so I’m still not entirely over the virus I had. 

Pied Wagtail

I spent a large part of today bird watching. I got up early, and started off by photographing birds from the summerhouse. I just missed a Great Spotted Woodpecker, which I saw from the kitchen but which had gone by the time I got outside. I saw the usual early morning pheasants, plus starling, robin, dunnock and great tit. There wasn’t much about, and I only stayed about 30 minutes because the light was very poor for photography.

Tufted Duck

About mid-morning I went to Wilstone Reservoir, near Tring, and walked round to the hide there. I saw Pied Wagtail, Goldeneye, Shoveller, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Snipe, Grey Heron and a distant Red Kite. I also saw thirteen Ruddy Ducks – I have never seen more than three of these together before. Best of all were two Black-necked Grebes, a bird I’ve only seen a few times before. They were far too distant to photograph, unfortunately.

Mute Swan

Just before 1pm I drove the short distance to College Lake. Here I saw some Pochard and my first Chiffchaff of the year – it was singing and moving about in bushes very close to the path, but I was unable to get a photo. I also saw some Violets, Ground Ivy and Primroses. Just before I left I went in a hide near the visitor centre, where I saw some Yellowhammers. I also saw a Brown Rat here.

Great Crested Grebe

Minor update to web site

Saturday, March 15th, 2008

I have just updated my web site with a few more bird photos and one more flower photo.

I only really did the update as I noticed the ‘hit counter’ was no longer working – it turns out that my web host no longer supports Microsoft Frontpage Extensions, which it needed. I’m now using a hit counter supplied from the web host.

I’ve still been feeling weak after my recent virus, and haven’t been able to go for any long walks. Very frustrating! Managed 3 or 4 miles all around Kensworth Quarry on Thursday, when I saw a Green Woodpecker and some Ground Ivy and Coltsfoot.


Other than that, I’ve just done some more bird watching in the garden. Finally managed to get a closer shot of the Great Spotted Woodpecker that sometimes visits, and managed to get some very close-up shots of a Great Tit.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Great Tit

Great Tit

Quiet Week

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

(Entry copied from my WAB blog)

It’s been a quiet week. I’m still fealing rather weak after the virus I had a couple of weeks ago, so I haven’t been able to go for my usual long walks.

I did go for a 2.5 hour walk round Ashridge on Monday morning, but felt really tired afterwards. It was a beautiful morning, and the woods at Ashridge were gorgeous. I walked very slowly, and stopped very often to take photographs. I saw three or four groups of Fallow Deer and a pair of Muntjac Deer, but all were too far away or too well hidden by the trees for me to get a decent photograph. I saw a Coal Tit and a Wren too.

On Wednesday I drove for about an hour to Turville in Buckinghamshire (it’s the village used as the setting for ‘The Vicar of Dibley’). I spent about four hours wandering the footpaths of Turville and the neighbouring hamlet of Fingest looking for Red Kites and Buzzards to photograph. I probably walked about 3-4 miles in all that time. I saw plenty of Red Kites and two or three Buzzards, but sadly never any came close enough for me to get a really decent photo. I did get a photo of an escaped Harris Hawk, though.

Harris Hawk

Every other day of the week I’ve spent an hour or more photographing birds from my makeshift ‘hide’ in the garden (well, it’s the summer-house really). Nothing unusual turned up, the only irregular visitors that came were a pair of Goldfinches which turned up very briefly a couple of times, both quite early in the morning. A Great Tit had a narrow escape when a Sparrowhawk swooped on it – the Tit escaped through a bush, the much bigger Sparrowhawk struggled to get through the bush after it, and so the Tit managed to survive the encounter. The Sparrowhawk perched briefly on the fence, but it was hidden by the bush so I couldn’t get a photo.

I did snap this little critter, though, which ambled out of the flower beds to help itself to some spilled bird food. I posted its photo on the WAB mammal forum, where it was identified as a Bank Vole.

Bank Vole

This morning I spent about three hours bird watching in the garden. Strangely neither the Greenfinches nor the Long-tailed Tits turned up at all, but I did see Blue Tit, Great Tit, Dunnock, Starling, Robin, Magpie, Chaffinch and Jackdaw. The highlight was seeing a Blackbird take a bath, using the netting over the goldfish pond.