Thursday, 1 December 2011

November To Remember

I guess you know its going to be a good lunch break when the first bird you see without having to leave the Car is a Kingfisher, without bragging I'm seeing them so often now Im going to soon have to learn the difference between Male & Female. Well maybe I am bragging a little bit!

So I decided to walk the Anton Lakes LNR path in reverse today, with the late Autumn sun so low in the sky it makes spotting on and around the lakes near on impossible with the amount of glare, so I thought a change of angle might bring me better fortune. Turns out it did! Second spot about a minute down the path was this Grey Squirrel not at all perturbed by my presence as he tucked into the berries atop of this tree.

Grey Squirrel
I thought Id be sneaky today, and crept down a bit of a drainage ditch to a piece of water enclosed public eye from both sides, instantly regretting my decision as I flushed a Water Rail from the bank beneath me! It always seems to be me doing more damage than good. But a definite confirmed sighting as it skimmed across the shallow water to denser cover, the first Water Rail I've seen in the Andover area so one for my records!

Now if God or some other divine being, Momma Nature perhaps was repaying me for my disturbance of the Water Rail, they picked a pretty instant return. About another 50 ft down the path in a small Rowan tree near by its side, 5-6 Bullfinches fed happily atop its branches, 1 Male with his gorgeous Pinky Red chest plumage, and 4-5 Females no less striking with their thick black caps. Beautiful Birds!

To be honest I think I would pick them over a Kingfisher 9 times out of 10. So I inch my way very slowly down to wards the tree, checking the camera settings so as to snap them perfectly against a blue sky. Then I realize that the pathway to the local play park is about 10 yards further on, as 4 very young looking smokers (about 12) swearing and spitting (Dirty Bastards) disturb the birds to the thicker Ivy covered hazel behind me on the other side of the path. Bloody Typical!

Im not going to give up just like that, I mean a flock of Bullfinches in beautiful autumnal light, but they had flown off so I thought i'd bide my time, pretty certain I might get a couple of shots, but I guess it could have been predicted, something sent to thwart me, that as soon as the birds hopped a bit further up the overhanging branches, looking as if they might return to the Berry bush, some rather unassuming member/members of the public would walk past and disturb them and give me a look that suggested pure unexplained wierdness. This happened on no less than 3 occasions, Dog walker, Single Mum, and a Kid on a Bike ringing his bell! Bloody Strikers! Kids should be at school! I did manage to get a proof shot, up through the branches before they were disturbed finally an flew off up the adjoining hedgerow.

Male Bullfinch
Plenty of Long Tailed Tits, Blue Tits & Great Tits on the lower branches around the waters edge. The usual array of Ducks, Geese, Swans and Coots on the water. But I don't suppose nothing prepared me for my next encounter, towards the bottom of the lakes, the River Anton flows into the lake coming up from behind the retail units in town and along side the London - West Country Railway line. This is quite an open piece of ground with 2 small water meadows bordering either side of the River bank. Sat on the branch about 4 ft above the water was a Kingfisher, perfect visibility no branches or leaves interfering with my line of sight! Am I really that lucky!

Turns out I was, So I crept a little closer, and closer still, and still it perched, not at all bothered by my presence, so I move around the other side of the bush, and crept slower still up the opposite side of the bank, staying close to the fence-line, till I was pretty much opposite the branch. Still no movement, now either my stalking skills have suddenly become very impressive! Or it could have been the fact I decided to wear my real tree camo coat, now confirmed that it is extremely camouflaged! I managed to fire of about 50 shots in the time, before he/she dived into the Water and flew off on re emerging!

The Best One Yet
Now I've been entering onto this blog for just over 2 weeks now and I must say Im a little shocked with the amount of interest and page views I've received but then again that could be my witty Blog title! With certain web browsers a little disappointed when they click on "A Cracking Pair Of Tits" and Wild birds pop up instead of plastic ones!

As its is the first of December today I thought I'd give a brief tally up of the Bird / Mammal Species seen in these 2 and half weeks in November - 59 Birds & 7 Mammals with the Black Redstart being a complete newbie to me, New species for the area that id never seen before included Siskin, Treecreeper & Water Rail. Here's to hoping the imminent arrival of Christmas brings me some more delights.


  1. Ive not got close to a Kingfisher here yet Martin, not with my camera anyway!

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  3. Wow - gorgeous shots of the Kingfisher, very striking! I think I'd have to agree with you though, I'd rather take Bullfinches any day! And people say UK's birds are boring & brown :)

  4. Hi,

    great post, nice shots also, the light must be better down there than up here in the Windy bloody North.

    Used to live in Tidworth in the late 80s but unfortunately wasnt into Birding then, pity as I popped down to see my son who lives near there last year and saw 5 Buzzards and a Kestrel in a half mile strip on the A303 just about a mile from Andover.