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Sunday, 10 May 2015

And now for something Stoat-ally different!

After a hard week risking my life working on Somersets increasingly dangerous roads, I always arrive at the weekend hoping for clear bright weather!
   After all, nature won't photograph itself!
Saturday started cloudy, but as morning turned into afternoon, the sunny spells became longer and I was tempted out to my local RSPB nature reserve, Greylake, with my partner Nicola......or 'Nick' as she likes/demands to be called!
   We walked around the reedbed and made our way along the riverside, edged by yellow Rapeseed, towards the viewpoint and screen that looks over the back of the reserve. I'd never walked to this point before, but it was a great addition to the Greylake 'experience'.
   During the walk, Nick noticed an animal running towards us alongside the Rapeseed! Being incredibly athletic, I dropped to my stomach and fired off some shots at the advancing creature!
   Had I been much smaller, I may have feared for my life, as the animal approaching me was one of the most ferocious on Earth.....a Stoat!

I'd never photographed a Stoat before, in fact I'd only ever seen one a handful of times in my life, and usually only for a fleeting second as one ran across a road or track and then disappeared into undergrowth, so this was a fantastic moment!
    A lot of nature photography is about being in the right place at the right time. To give yourself the best chance, get out and about as often as possible! There's always something interesting around every corner!

^Above^ - The Stoat..... I think it was aware of my presence!

To the left of the Reserve, over the river, a female Marsh Harrier was quartering the grassland, at one stage dropping into the grass and disappearing from view for a few minutes.

^Above^ - Marsh Harrier.

From the viewpoint we saw nesting Coots, Little Egrets, many Mute Swans and Lapwings dive bombing passing Carrion Crows!

^Above^ - Nesting Coots and Little Egrets.

^Above^ - Lapwings mobbing a Crow.

^Above^ - My partner Nick on the way to the viewpoint.

^Above^ - A Peacock Butterfly, looking rather rough around the edges!

^Above^ - Dragonfly (Unsure what species!)

Later we walked to the hides and saw another Marsh Harrier, a passing Hobby, a hover hunting Kestrel and a Buzzard.
   We met Mike Tout in the new hide, a lovely chap! He'd been watching a Short Eared Owl over the back of the reserve in his telescope, though it had gone unfortunately by the time we entered the hide.
   A little way in front of the hide, 4 baby Lapwings were running around! I'd never seen young Lapwing before! Talk about cute!!
   The parent Lapwings were chasing any bird away that came close, including Marsh Harriers, Crows a Mute Swan, and even a Redshank!!! (Doubt the Redshank would be a danger to their babies!)

^Above^ - Tiny baby Lapwing!!

^Above^ - Parent Lapwings!

^Above^ - Lapwing chasing off a Redshank!

^Above^ - Hobby.

^Above^ - Carrion Crow.

^Above^ - Kestrel.

^Above^ - Lapwing mobbing a Marsh Harrier. (Canada Goose underneath.)

 On the walk back to the car park we heard a booming Bittern in the main reedbed, a calling Cuckoo near the viewpoint where we had been earlier, and the loud calls of elusive Cetti's Warblers! Just as well birds use their voices a lot, or we'd never have known the presence of the Bittern, Cuckoo and Cetti's!!
  Another bird that was noisy but hard to see were Reed Warblers, which sang from deep in the Reeds all round, finally though, I managed a photo of one;

^Above^ - Reed Warbler.

A Heron was in one of the pools on the way back to the car park, it soon took off once it had noticed us!

^Above^ - Heron.

A Mute Swan lazed about besides the footpath and allowed for some photo's, it didn't seem bothered at all!

^Above^ - Mute Swan.

Back at the car park I heard another Cetti's Warbler, plus singing Blackcaps, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Dunnocks, Wrens and Blackbirds. The car park is small, but surrounded by bushes and a handful of trees, and is a great place to see birds itself!
   As with anywhere, it's always a good idea to 'look up'!
Surprising the amount of birds that go unnoticed as they fly past, high overhead!
  Housemartins were amongst them, aswell as a single Sandmartin.

^Above^ - Housemartin.

^Above^ - Sandmartin after a damselfly.

Note the brown band around the Sandmartins chest and the less forked tail, a good way of telling them apart from the Housemartins, along with the lack of a white rump that is obvious on Housemartins in flight.

^Above^ - Blackcap in the car park.

^Above^ -  Reed Bunting.

^Above^ - Dunnock.

^Above^ - Goldfinches.

Nick and I had a wonderful afternoon!

Here are some pics from a flying visit to Greylake last week;

^Above^ - Male Chaffinch.

^Above^ - Female Chaffinch.

^Above^ - Singing Dunnock.

^Above^ - Robin.

This blog is a record of my birding and nature experiences, it's not about excellency in photography!

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