Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Windflowers, Buntings 'n' ol' Blue Eyes!

Well it seems nothing ever goes to plan! We decided to visit a Nature reserve on Sunday which we had never been to before. Things started badly as a result of having waited two weeks for a spare battery for my camera which I had ordered on the internet. I was led to believe it had been posted but thought it strange it was taking so long. I received an email on Sunday to say the order had been cancelled and I was being refunded, and that was it, no other explanation , no apology, nothing! This reminded me that my battery needed charging, which should have been done the night before so I gave it a quick charge before we went out which meant we got away about an hour later than planned. We only had about twenty miles to go but had printed out the route as it was a bit off the beaten track.

After about ten minutes we left the sun behind which was a bad start! Then the turn off to the reserve was sooner than indicated on the printout so we managed to sail straight past it! It's not easy to find a turning point on narrow winding country roads so it took a while to get back to the right turning! We eventually reached a sign which said private road and with nowhere else to go we came to a halt wondering what to do next. We had expected to see signs to the reserve but there was nothing at all! A little way back we had passed a very large and expensive looking house so HLH decided to go and ask directions. A very nice (and expensive looking!) lady told him we should indeed go up the private road and we would eventually come to the reserve but to be very careful as the track was a bit rickety. Well that was an understatement! Potholes didn't nearly describe it, they were more like excavations! After slowly lumbering our way along the track we eventually reached our destination.

By now our estimated travelling time of thirty-five to forty minutes had turned into an hour! However, undeterred we parked the car (ours was the only one there, not surprisingly as I suspect everyone else had given up trying to find it and gone home!) and went to investigate.

The picture above, although rather boring, is to show what a spectacular display of Bluebells there will be in a few weeks time, all the green you can see is Bluebell leaves, they covered pretty well the entire wood.

We also came across the Wood Anemone (Anemone nemerosa), I believe it is sometimes also known as Smell Fox which refers to the musky smell of its leaves but I have always known it as the Windflower.

While human-folk slumber,
The fairies espy
Stars without number
Sprinkling the sky.

The Winter's long sleeping,
Like night-time, is done;
But day-stars are leaping
To welcome the sun.

Star-like they sprinkle
The wildwood with light;
Countless they twinkle
The Windflowers white!

(Cicely Mary Barker, 'The Song of the Windflower Fairy')

Of course one of the main reasons I was eager to go to the reserve was in the hope of seeing some birds and perhaps getting some photos. Well, like the sun the birds were not showing themselves at all! It was a very peaceful place which made a lovely afternoon's walk and will have a wonderful display of Bluebells soon but was rather a disappointment bird-wise.

I thought it rather ironic that just as we were leaving we could hear the furious drumming of a hidden Woodpecker and that the sun shone from the moment we got back in the car until we got home!!

As things didn't quite go to plan on Sunday we decided that after HLH finished work on Monday we would take a quick walk around the local reservoir. There weren't many birds to be seen there either, I was hoping to see the Heron which is often perched on a buoy but it was nowhere to be seen but there were a few gulls about.

I also saw this bird silhouetted against the sky which I believe to be a Sparrowhawk.

Now! I am not, and have never professed, to be a birder or a photographer I am just someone with a deep and ingrained love of Nature and all things natural and beautiful so when I photographed a 'little brown job', which was too far away to identify, I had no idea what I would find when I got home and looked at the photos. As I took it I said to HLH 'what do you think that was?' 'Probably a Sparrow ' he said. 'Or a Reed Bunting' I said optimistically, not really believing it for a moment! Imagine my excitement when I got home and looked at the photos properly and found it was indeed a Reed Bunting, I'm aware that it may be quite a common bird to some but I have never seen one before and have found that it is on the RSPB red list. Incidentally maybe someone can shed some light on this, I have the RSPB Complete Birds of Britain and Europe (2007 edition) which says the Reed Bunting's status is secure but the current information on their website says it is on the red list. This seems to me to be a rapid change in circumstance.

The two photos below are of the Male Reed Bunting, this one perched on the wire fence surrounding the reservoir.

This one in a tree by the river opposite the reservoir.

And this is the female hiding behind a branch!

On the other side of the river which runs alongside the reservoir there is a meadow; and as we were leaving we had the distinct feeling of being watched!!

It was Ol' Blue Eyes! (Click on the photo to see what I mean.)


  1. Hi Shy beautiful....sorry you had a disastrous start but the reed bunting must have more than made up for it.....I have never seen one either....great.

    I love the moving, and I love the tiny windflower, so very pretty.....

    Old blue eyes is so cute......

    Thank you for taking me on such a lovely outing.... Can I come again next time please??

  2. Your visit to the Nature Reserve could be called supererogation (doing more than duty requires). Could you hear what HLH was muttering as he drove through the potholes?
    Lovely photo of the Reed Bunting on the fence.
    AS they say - All's well that ends well.

  3. Hi Shysongbird,

    I bet you were chuffed to see that Reed Bunting. I have never seen one myself. Good photos of them too. Glad you enjoyed your trip. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Sorry to read about the rough start to your day. It seems as if it paid off though with the pictures of the Reed Bunting! Such a cute bird!

  5. Hi Cheryl, thanks so much for your lovely comments. How right you are about the Reed Bunting more than making up for the previous problems. I have found since starting this blog that it can be easy to get despondent when trying to photograph birds, they must be the most difficult subject there is, observing through binoculars is a lot easier! However, managing to capture just one bird such as the Reed Bunting, for me, makes it all worthwhile I was so thrilled it almost brought a tear to my eye!!
    I too think it is a lovely flower and poem.
    You are most welcome to accompany me again, I am honoured.

  6. John, thank you very much for the lovely comment on the Reed Bunting photo. I had to crop it heavily and was quite pleased with the result but of course even more pleased with just seeing the bird!
    The Nature reserve trip certainly was rather a test of endurance! I felt it expedient to don ear muffs during the drive along the private 'road'!!!!

  7. Joe, I really was chuffed, absolutely thrilled! and thank you for your kind comments.

  8. Kim, Thank you. It was as they say 'a funny old day' but, yes indeed, the Reed Bunting more than made up for it!

  9. Well done on finding the reed bunting! They are on the red list because of the rate of their decline, but they are still quite easily seen, more frequently by water. keep up the good blogging!

  10. Those Bluebells will look amazing when they're out in flower.
    As Warren says, the Reed Bunting is on the red list, but I'm fortunate enough to have quite a few round here. Lovely birds.

  11. Been there, done it many times with words like "are you sure this tiny track is the right way" ringing in my ears. Look forward to seeing a sea of blue if/when you go back!
    Nice capture of the Reed Bunting. As a watcher now carrying a camera I'm having the same dilemma getting pics that match my expectations. Practice, practice everyone says. Cheers FAB

  12. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed your day out and I didn't suffer a single bump! Just sorry you experienced the cavernous potholes.

    Sometimes when things go wrong, the events that follow subsequently give even greater pleasure.

    You have some lovely pictures there SS - especially the Reed Bunting.

  13. enjoyed the excursion shysongbird,and well done with the reed bunting.I always find little winding roads are by far the best as you never know where they will lead

  14. I’m so glad all turned out ok in the end!
    I nearly made hubby crash the car last week after seeing a Heron sat by a pond, I think me shouting and screaming might have scared it away, hubby was not too impressed ever.
    A lovely read before bed, have a lovely Easter!
    Love Lou xxx

  15. Shy Songbird, what a lovely outing. The Reed Bunting is beautiful. I have never seen one before. Ol Blue Eyes looks very curious to me. What is that lady doing? Great pictures!

  16. Warren, thanks very much for the encouragement it does help!!
    I'm still slightly confused though, as to why the Reed Bunting should go from being classed as secure in 2007 to being on the red list in less than two years!

  17. holdingmoments, I did feel thrilled to see the Reed Bunting and you are right about the Bluebells they will look spectacular soon.

  18. Frank, thanks for the comments. If we do go back at least we are prepared for a bumpy ride!
    I am coming to the conclusion that getting some sort of photo is the main thing for me and if I manage to get a decent one occasionally then that's a bonus!

  19. Tricia thank you, you are very kind and I'm glad you enjoyed your 'virtual' trip with me and that you survived the journey unscathed! I really was thrilled with the Reed Bunting.

  20. Sheila, thank you for the lovely comments. Narrow and winding fair enough, and we do have a lot of those round here, not so impressed with cavernous potholes though :)
    But it certainly turned it into quite an adventure!

  21. Well, for starting out bad you got some nice photos!! I live in farm country and have never see a cow with blue eyes! What a neat photo! I wonder if the eyes were really blue?? or a reflection.?? Guess I'll be looking more closely at the cows from now on..Ha! Ha! Love your little poem. The bird photos are great too! Never have seen a Reed Bunting.

  22. Thank you Lou, you do make me laugh, your anecdotes are so vivid! Many times I have shouted, 'There's a Pheasant/Sparrowhawk' etc., 'Stop the car!' and without exception it's, 'Can't stop here, someone behind' or 'Double yellow lines!'

    Have a wonderful Easter Lou and lots of love and XXXX to you and Poppy.

  23. Dear Morning Glories, thank you for your lovely comments. The Reed Bunting really is a pretty little thing and I had never seen one before either, such a shame that it is in decline! It wasn't a very good photo of 'Ol Blue Eyes' but did make me laugh!

  24. Ginnymo, thank you so much for visiting again and for your very kind comments. I think Cicely Mary Barker's poems are delightful and her illustrations are so pretty.
    The Reed Bunting was a real thrill as I had never seen one either.
    As for the cow, I wonder if it was actually the bovine version of human red eye, it did look amusing though!

  25. Bless me, I don’t think the Heron was sat by the pond more like stood there; I think you got my point though!
    If I shout one more time in the car I am going to have tape on my mouth so the OH said.
    Thanks for your lovely comment…love Lou xxx

  26. Lou, yes I definitely got your point and very funny it was too! And the idea of you in the car with your mouth taped up is funny also, but maybe not for you!!!
    More love and XXXX to you and Poppy.

  27. Hello Shy.
    Thank you for you lovely comments. Nice pictures you took. Like the Reed Bunting.
    PS. what is your christian name as I cant go on calling you Shy, if you dont want to tell thaen thats ok.

  28. Hi Ken, thanks for visiting again and for the kind comments. My name is Jan and you are most welcome to call me that.

  29. Hi, what a lovely Blogg you have with some truly beautiful pictures, you make it look so easy. I especially love the bullfinch in flight and the silhouette of the sparrow hawk in the sky is fantastic well done.

  30. Geordie Magpie, Welcome and thank you so much for your kind and very generous comments. As someone who is very new to photography it means a lot, I have to be honest and say the Bullfinch in flight was much more luck than judgement but I was pleased with it. Thanks again and please come back any time.


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