Seven deadly sins



I am trying to make the most of the unseasonable sunshine.  So I stole a few hours and headed off to Canada farm. Recently I have suffered from many of the seven deadly sins.  The first one is envy... More specifically Kingfisher envy...
Canada farm has the Kingfisher stick and someone I know got some stunning pics here.  Was I envious? You bet yah. Now I wanted a slice of the pie.
On my way to Canada hide I suffered another deadly sin,  Gluttony.  I casually stuffed my face with Beef flavoured hula hoops. Whilst I was tucking in a Jay flew nosily across but I was to busy feasting to catch a shot.
At the hide all was quiet.  I sat for a good half an hour waiting for something interesting to happen.  As I was about to nod off a Bittern flew from pretty much underneath me.  I wasn't ready and it was gone before I even had chance to turn the camera on.  Immediately the sins re appeared.  Wrath was building up already...

In order to calm myself down I quickly located my tuna roll.  Obviously the Cormorant could smell it.

Sorry you cant have my tuna (Dolphin friendly)

Then off in the distance I noticed a small white blob.  I checked with my binoculars first, looking for a yellow bill rather than a black one.  Sure enough the only egret on the pond was a Cattle!

Following on from the worst Great Crested grebe pic ever taken.  My follow up is the worst Cattle egret picture ever taken.  If you use a magnifying glass you will note the yellow beak.  The two black things are not bin liners but are in fact cormorants.

I had a bit of a chat with all the nice people in the hide, whilst watching 2 Marsh harriers and a Hobby.  All too far away for photos but good to see nonetheless.  One couple had come from the Scottish highlands and were really enjoying the wildlife the levels offered.  I felt pride (another sin).
Conversation invariably got on to the Kingfisher stick.  Which had not been used since I entered the hide.  In order to let everyone see a Kingfisher I headed over to the new hide at the Hawk and Owl Trust.  There are lots of feeders here and loads of little birds flapping about.  I only managed a few Wren pics which isn't really very impressive but there you go.

On the way back I met the chap from earlier.  He paused and got his camera out.  I knew exactly what he was going to show me... A Kingfisher in lovely light, perched up nicely.  Here I felt envy again but I reckon the gentleman felt pride (he had taken a sin for the team).

So as I type this up, feet out on the stool.  Bum plonked firmly in the armchair I would consider that I am representing a little bit of sloth.  Sadly I haven't covered lust yet.  Maybe later tonight? If I'm lucky...


Best of British



My mum is visiting/possibly staying forever (its a long story which doesn't need to be discussed here) Anyway, she is currently a rare but regular vagrant from eastern Australia.

Inevitably her annual migration brings with it numerous tales of fancy Australian birds (Kookaburras, Lorikeets and Brahminy Eagles to name but a few).  Now with all these exotic 'show off' birds flying about it can be difficult to compete. But, I had to try.  Stiff upper lip and all that.

So I took us to Westhay.  London Drove was looking rather resplendent in the bright sunshine.  My chest filled with British pride as my mum commented on how Australia lacked a diverse number of trees.  Not like good old Westhay with Oaks, Ashes and Pines all in full attendance.
As we wandered along the lush drove a large party of Long Tailed tits whistled noisily amongst the foliage.  My camera was focusing on every twig that ever existed before finally doing what it was supposed to do.

You can keep your garish parrots.  They make a right racket.  Not like these dainty fellows.
I then reminded my mum that we do have birds with Anglo- Australian relations.  These egrets for example are just as happy in a cold wet English bog as they are in a warm, tropical Australian creek.
Could be Australian.
After sunning ourselves along the track we walked up to the hide at the end.  Here it was pretty quiet but it all looked very pleasant.  A dragonfly caught my attention and I managed to just about get a flight shot.

Yes I know you probably get thousands of these in Aus.
Nearby the was a scream like that of a dying, asthmatic pig.  A Water rail was about. Now, this was an unexpected shot.  My mum had never seen one before.  He stood for just a moment in a nice patch of sun.  Showing himself off with true British pride.  Good man!

What a little rippa (pronounced in an Australian accent)
He even adopts many of the classic English flag colours.

But we were not quite done!

Another first for my mum.

A Bittern bottom

She loved this bird a lot.  Even though it was flying away and quickly crashed into some reeds. The sun was slowly setting and cast a beautiful golden light across the moors. I was feeling quite dewy eyed...

"What a lovely part of the world" she said.

I had to agree.  We do indeed have the best of British.


I don’t believe it…


Glastonbury is rammed full of myths and legends.  King Arthur, the Golden Chalice, the Staff of Arimathea, to name but a few. Plus Bearded Reedlings…

 I’m a skeptical sort and I don’t believe it.

It all started off rather well.  It was warm and sunny.  I met up with Andrew for a true EFRS outing.  He had the hue of a person who had been relaxing in a sunny climb (see separate post). As he regaled me with tales of Squacco herons and Ospreys, we pedaled down to Ham Wall. VP2 was looking rather splendid with the reeds just starting to turn a nice golden hue. A Kingfisher was heard zipping up the little drain but was to fast to be caught on camera.

Luckily some bigger, slower birds were about.

This would have been a myth 20 years ago.  A Marsh Harrier and a GWE at the same time!

 Never quite close enough...

Here's my selection. Nope they never come close enough although this guy was hunting pretty much all day going back and forth. A juvenile Male. - Andrew

We headed over to Noah's stopping briefly at the scrape to view the Godwits along with another Marsh harrier.  We were keen on the idea of seeing some Bearded Reedlings.  The chaps who were at the scrape already had seen some (I have forgotten names again.  I am simply rude and a bit rubbish). (He means you Cookie, sorry) - Andrew

Andrew doesn’t believe in Bearded Reedlings and I am inclined to agree.  Like the Loch Ness monster, and the Beast of Bodmin.  I just don’t believe it to be true.

I got a little bored and did some macro with my Takumar f4.0 100mm - As always a beautiful bit of kit that works rather nice as a standard prime as well. Plus some other random shots to give you a bit of atmosphere. - Andrew

Anyway we didn’t see any but luckily there were a couple of distant Black terms and possibly a Black Necked Grebe on Noah's lake.

Its the worst picture of a grebe ever...

While James is showing the Black Necked Grebe in detail I'll show you the bigger picture. - Andrew

I quit like it

We hung about a bit and soaked up the warm rays.  It was really rather nice.

On the way out of Shapwick we spotted a Jay in the fields - Andrew

Andrew was nursing a hangover and so to help him hydrate we headed over to Eco-Friendly Bites.  It was here that things got interesting.

Unlike many other conventional cafes Eco-friendly Bites encourages all sorts of critters.  Heck even Wasps get some love here… Along with the bigger more bad boy Hornets.

This is why I really like Eco-friendly Bits. Everyone is welcome and you live with it all. No sanitizing of the real world here. - Andrew

             I have never seen three Hornets all at once.  They are big and scary.
                                      Make wasps look like little girls

                                     He is one mean critter.  Don't mess.

                                    This one was photobombed by a wasp. Shame.


Going head to head - Andrew

I have never seen more than one at a time.  But here there were up to six!

Along with about 100 Wasps…

And a Robin.

Where else could you find a Cafe that positively encourages Wasps!! - Andrew

After some food and drink we headed over to Westhay.

It was really quiet.  No Bearded Reedlings… or much else for that matter.

We went up to “the hide at the end”.  Here we got some views of a Great White Egret demolishing a large fish.

Andrew busted out his smaller lenses and got some nice Dragonfly pics.

Well one or two good ones. They were on the outside of the Hide so I had to reach over and try and peer into the Live View Screen. HEY CANON MAKE A FULL FRAME WITH A FLIPPY OUTY SCREEN!!! - Andrew

Far in the distance a Peregrine was soaring but it was to far away for a pic.  Also a Kingfisher flashed by but it was far to quick for me to capture.

In the absence of anything to take photos of Andrew showed me his clever WiFi tablet, all synched up to his camera.  Had I seen this 20 years ago I would have thought it a hoax (like the Loch Ness monster and Bearded Reedlings).  I certainly don’t believe in those...

But wait there's more! We parted and I (Andrew) went back through Shapwick stopping off at VP2 Hamwall intending to just shoot the breeze for half an hour before heading back to complete the much waited Mallorca blog. Unfortunately I let time slip and simply enjoyed the slowly changing light. That Marsh Harrier was still looking for lunch which had turned into tea and was quickly turning into supper the rate he was going.

A couple of fair weather glory hunters just looking for the exciting stuff like the Glossy Ibis!

Yep even more waylaidness in the shape of the above, Mike and Carolyn plus Scamp somewhere snuffling around. There goes another hour.

Midnight snack?

Mike kindly spotted this chap on a stick - See Mike it did come out ;¬)

But the mist was moving back in and the light was going. We called it a day. The reeds are at thier prime for me. Yes we may moan that we can't see anything, erm who the hell are we to complain!, but that ruddy, ruby red of the flowering mixed with the greens and blues and browns washed over with a late summer glow and haze is the epitome of the levels for me - Andrew

Erm! Breakfast?

And finally - On the cycle home I got a text of Mike - "Just had a Glossy Ibis flying over VP1"