Sunday, January 13, 2008

Winter scent

In several places along local road verges there are coarse heart shaped leaves that grow thickly in patches. Right now the leaves are sparse and the scented flowers reveal that this is winter heliotrope. They almost look pretty.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Footnote to previous post ............. wagtails do eat pastry. So do blackcaps. At least they do in our garden.


Recent reports of red crested pochard and smew at Swillbrook Lakes in the Cotswold Water Park had me salivating, so last weekend Kay and I set off on a trip ..................

.............. and struck lucky. But I guess I'd better come clean, because we didn't go to Wiltshire, just to Slimbridge! So they're not actually wildlife snaps at all. Still nice to see - never seen a male smew in breeding plumage before - what a cracking bird.
I think this goldeneye may have been a wild one. Whatever, it was showing the mating display well, but not as clearly as the one below in a pen .............

Looks like it's head is on upside down, doesn't it?
There were wild birds around though. Not rare, or unusual, but the chance to get some close views of birds accustomed to people. A nice wave on the water added some value to the blackheaded gulls

as did the persistent iceThe moorhen was much less shy than usual ..............
and I finally got a decent close-up view of probably the most elegant duck we have, in the form of this pintail (along with the Bewick swans the reason I'd actually wanted to go).The surprise package was the aquatic woodpigeon .............

clearly evolving into a fish - look at those gills it's growing - just like a lamprey!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008


The New Year was ushered in with a trio of raptors, and promises that at least the buzzards may prove to be a source of more pictures as they have taken to using the trees around a field just a couple of hundred yards from home.
The short eared owl and kestrel were down at Aust Warth on Severnside, but the light was poor again.

Meanwhile the wagtails are like buses. These shots were taken when I was trying to track down some fieldfares near home.

The close up shows that the grey wag at least was feeding on rat-tailed maggots. May sound like something from a Pogues Christmas song, but is actually - and I feel almost unbelievably - the larval stage of a type of hoverfly (Eristalis). Look at the long tail used for breathing when in the water.

Also observe the curious phenomenon known as sunshine, clearly detectable in the last 2 pictures - it may have been brief but the timing was helpful!