Play us a tune Vaughan


It was another trip away. This time the leafy glades of Essex. Passed the contrast of rather large and ridiculously priced mansions and rather large and a bit grubby industrial estates I came upon the secluded old pits which are now a Nature Reserve called Rye Meads. Its a large area with mainly reed beds with a lot of well positioned hides. (Although as you may know a few screens would have been more to my taste)
Having payed my dues in the impressive visitors centre I made my way along the designated pathways. It soon got interesting.

Coots fighting (Its not a decapitated head being carried by another)

Rather a lot Black Headed Gulls

One or two Tufted Ducks

There were quit a few Coots nesting

The path was tree lined so any bird flying over would get a bit of a shock when it saw me. This chat for example.

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

 So I wandered along popping into each hide on the path. Its a big circle with an odd addition of a turn style half way so if you go through you cant go back! There was a reason but I cant remember sorry. Anyway there was a nice little group of Little Grebes unfortunately with the sun behind them. They are lovely little birds that often go unnoticed.

On your marks.............

Get set...............


And he's in the lead............

And he's won!

"Did you see me?"

"You weren't looking were you!"

Industry is never far away

Gadwall looking good

Sleepy Black Headed Gull

Black Headed Gulls on the Tern raft Cam

I tried to resist taking yet another Black Headed Gull pic but there was so many!

Between the Tern Hide and Gadwall Hide there's a little patch, as I came out one hide this caught my eye.

Sparrow Hawk

Then this pair of Common Terns came over

Common Tern

Talking to a very nice RSPB volunteer there used to be over forty pairs on these rafts in past years. Unfortunately its turned into a Black Headed Gull colony. This pair doesn't stand much of a chance!

Sparrow Hawk

Sparrow Hawk

Sparrow hawk, Hen harrier, Marsh Harrier, Pallid Harrier? Nope its a Pigeon.

Being snuck amongst the trees between these hides was a perfect hiding place so when this Kestrel came through it came very close indeed.

The Kingfisher hide with its man made bank for nesting was bereft of Kingfishers however this Coot was fun to watch with the crystal clear waters.

So that's what they do under the water.

Sat there for ages nice and still about two feet away. Why can't all birds be this obliging.

The nicest hide was the Warbler Hide. Stuck out on its own its the most peaceful. Sit there for a while and you'll see lots of flitters. My mate the RSPB volunteer was there. We chatted about stuff including that they get Bitterns in the winter and a Bearded Reedling was heard in the week. Cool

Reed Warbler

Reed warbler

Reed warbler

Since the place closes at five I made my way through the turn style and walked my way round. Unfortunately it wasn't the nicest since it runs a few feet from the A414 although its very quiet and looks over the reed beds. Not to my taste. It brings you out onto the road in an industrial area with a sewage works. You have to walk along the road back to the car park dodging the lorries!

I just made it as the staff were shutting up shop. I swapped lenses........

The following day I made my way back along the A303. I like that road. I couldn't wait to get off the M25. I had my little 50mm on my 70D on the passenger seat. I was going to get a few non birdy shots for a change. Stone Henge was as good a place as any I thought.

It wasn't long before the 400 was whipped back on once I heard one of the nicest and quintessentially British song sounds. The Enigmatic Skylark.

Skylark with Stone Henge (3-2 I thing Mr Morrison)

I saw these guys on the way down the day before and twice on this day. Obviously got his test soon.

That was a good couple of days. The highlight has to be the Skylarks though. I really love the sound. Vaughan Williams wrote a perfect piece to capture this bird.


The Wrong Trousers


I finished work a bit earlier than normal today.  I was on a mission.
As I crossed the car park I noticed a sleek, graceful shape gliding above.  A Peregrine!
She was a rather large specimen and flew in quite low which was rather nice.  She then slowly climbed and was lost to sight.  A great start to the evening!

SAFETY WARNING: Please don’t try this at home.  Staring at the sky whilst crossing busy car parks is extremely dangerous.

Feeling good I jumped into the car.  My plan was to go straight to Westhay however there was a problem.  I quickly checked my bag and realized that I hadn’t packed any trousers (I had some on of course, but black work trousers don’t really work in boggy, wet areas).  I did have a t shirt but it would all look a but odd (I know it’s a bit vain).

So I quickly scooted home and grabbed the extra bits (and scoffed some chocolate).

Avoiding the bulldozers, cranes (metal ones) and other heavy vehicles around the house I drove out to Westhay.  My target? A Hobby!

I have been down a few times without luck.  But today felt good…

At the viewing hide I spoke to a very pleasant fellow.  Hi if you are reading.  Together we scanned the skies.

Swallows and House Martins nipped by and then the familiar silohette appeared.  To far away for any pictures but I was pleased to see one.  A Hobby is brilliant to watch.  Amazing speed and dexterity in the air.  Gently plucking insects out of the sky.

Soon there were 4 of them flitting about.  The light was a bit rubbish.  But here are a few.  Not great but it’s a start…

You will have to excuse the bit of dust on the lens (it happens to everyone so I’m told).

 He caught something...

 Dont crash!

I really enjoyed myself despite the slightly mediocre results.  I be back soon wrong trousers or not.  Hopefully with Gromit Andrew.