Thursday, 15 October 2009

The Rest of the Walk and Two New Birds!

This post continues our walk around Draycote Water with the addition of some photographs I took when we returned there on two more occasions since. It is a place I will return to again and again, it is within easy reach of us and I know there are often unusual and rare birds seen there.

There has been a flurry of excitement at Draycote lately due to sightings of a Lesser Scaup. We did go to see if we could find it ourselves but were unlucky, it had been seen in the morning on the day we went but I found out afterwards that it had been pushed around so much by the boats and fishermen that by afternoon,when we went, no one could find it! However I did see two other birds which were causing some interest and which I have never seen before, the first of which was was a Yellow Legged Gull. It used to be considered a type of Herring Gull and has only recently been recognised as a species in its own right. The Herring Gull does not have the yellow legs or red around the eye.

'Oh! the white sea-gull, the bold sea-gull,
He makes on the shore his nest.
And he tries what the inland fields may be;
But he loveth the sea the best!'
(Mary Howitt)

Yellow-legged Gull

The other bird of note which I had heard was there was the Rock Pipit and again I was lucky enough to see it but it was a fair way away so I had to crop the photos to the size of postage stamps! Also the focus is not too good although better than in the photos I took a few days before which were completely unusable!

Rock Pipit

Now! Back to our original walk and we saw lots of Black-headed Gulls.

The next photo is of an immature (first Winter) bird, note the more orange (rather than deep red) legs and the brown band on the wings.

We also saw Teal Ducks

Teal Duck (male)

'Hurrah for the laughing water,
The songs that the streamlets sing!
Whish! The teal duck's mate has sought her
With a stroke of his mottled wing!'
(William Henry Ogilvie)

Teal Duck (female)

The following photo of a female shows how very small the Teal is in comparison to the Mallard!

I assume that the ducks in the next photo are two of the many Mallard hybrids but if anyone knows different I would be glad to hear from you.

I think this is a Dunlin although to me it looks slightly different compared with the photo on my previous post and was seen in a different part of Draycote Water. I welcome any correction to my ID.


I couldn't resist another Heron photo, I am fascinated by their air of solitude, I feel a connection...

And long may'st thou the seasons brave,
Lone loiterer by the silent wave!
Long may thy stately, rugged form,
Impervious to the sun or storm,
Arrest the wandering pilgrim's eye,
And bid him ask the reason why.
(David Millar)

To the immediate right of the hide (from which we viewed the Heron) there are bird feeders. I was hoping to see Marsh or Willow Tits but it was not to be. However there were lots of Blue and Great Tits, Greenfinches and Chaffinches.

Chaffinch (male)

I am always amused when I see a Great Tit as, to me, they look like they are wearing either a bowler hat or a horse riding hat.

Great Tit

There was also someone else at the bird feeders!

It didn't take long to get to the peanuts!

Grey Squirrel

After enjoying the view from the hide we continued our walk and it wasn't long before we saw this Rabbit enjoying the glorious sunshine as much as we were

and so was this lovely butterfly

Painted Lady
and this pretty

Chaffinch (female)

If I asked you to guess what we saw next I wouldn't mind betting you couldn't! In a field we spotted these


These two looked as surprised to see us as we were to see them!

I have always mourned the passing of Summer but thanks to the enthusiasm I have found on so many of my blogland friends' sites I am learning to embrace every season and enjoy the delights which each new phase of the year brings...thank you to all of you.

'When autumn wind goes running
It does some magic things.
It gives the shadows dancing shoes,
It gives the bright leaves wings.'

Well I think I may have outstayed my welcome by now and you are probably sighing with relief to know we are at the end of our walk. I will leave you with a photograph which shows just how long we stayed at Draycote, this is what we saw as we left.

'Such a colour, such infinite light!
The heart of a fabulous gem,
Many-faceted, brilliant and rare.
Centre Stone of the earth's diadem!'
(Amy Lowell)

Have a lovely week and a wonderful Nature filled weekend.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Draycote Water

Last weekend we went to Draycote Water. We went there previously, about a month ago and unfortunately, on that occasion the weather was appalling, when we arrived at our destination the sky was grey and there was a depressing drizzle enveloping us. After a while the rain stopped but there was a very brisk wind blowing across the water and the sky remained a dreary grey throughout our visit. We tried to make the most of it and walked for nearly three hours before the heavens opened and we returned to the car drenched to the skin!

However, we knew this was a place worth returning to and this time we were much luckier, the weather was glorious. It was what I call a golden day, one of those days we only see as Summer loses her will to live and Autumn starts to tighten his grip. The sun shone and the colours of Nature were strong and vibrant. We were celebrating a special occasion and the weather was a perfect reproduction of that very special day which seems like yesterday but is rather more than that!

Draycote Water is a reservoir near the town of Rugby in Warwickshire and is owned and run by Severn Trent water who also manage an adjacent 20 acre country park. The reservoir was created in the 1960s and was opened in 1969 and is by far the largest expanse of water in Warwickshire. It covers more than 600 acres and holds up to 5,000 million gallons of water.

There is a visitor centre which incorporates a gift shop, cafe, ranger's office and fishery although the cafe has currently ceased to operate while they tender for a new catering supplier. There is, however, a mobile catering unit supplying hot food and drinks.

Draycote is renowned as a site for birdwatching and is particularly popular with boaters, windsurfers and fly fishers who fish for Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout from the banks or from boats and, as we saw them, up to their waists in the water itself!

Living where we do, which is about as far as one can be from the coast in this country, I was immediately struck by how, being at this place, felt like being at the seaside.

It is a five mile walk around the perimeter and took us nearly five hours but of course we walked slowly so as not to miss anything and stopped many, many times just to look and watch. There are frequently rare and unusual birds seen here and although I don't think we saw anything particularly unusual on this occasion, it was a thoroughly enjoyable walk. I am not very familiar with water/wading birds so welcome any corrections to my IDs. Most of the bird photos benefit from being clicked on I think.

Each time we went there was an abundance of Pied Wagtails.

This time we also saw these

Yellow Wagtail

Edit: Thanks very much to Warren for pointing out that the bird above is a juvenile Yellow and not a Grey Wagtail as I first thought.

I thought these Mallards looked very colourful.

and this Coot looked comical as Coots have a habit of doing!

'Busy, busy, busy!
Things to do, places to go'!

We saw Cormorants.

'The common cormorant or shag
Lays eggs inside a paper bag.
The reason you will see, no doubt:
It is to keep the lightning out.

But what these unobservant birds
Have never noticed is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.'

(Christopher Isherwood)

I thought this Great Crested Grebe looked very handsome.

Now, I have completely pickled my brain with these next birds! I have looked through all my books and google images but nothing looks quite right which could possibly be, I wonder, because they are juveniles. I have considered Dunlins, Sandpipers, Sanderlings, Curlew Sandpipers, Godwits and many others but I'm sure they will be easily identified by those more familiar with waders than I am.


Edit: Thanks very much to my very knowledgeable blogland bird friend Warren for also identifying these (at least they were first on my list of possibilities!).

I know these are

Tufted Ducks

I was very pleased to see this pretty

Little Ringed Plover
and these


'Pennons of the autumn wind, flying the same loose flag,
minions of the rush of air, companions of draggled cloud,
tattered, scattered pell mell, diving, with side-slip suddenly wailing
as they scale the uneasy sky flapping the lapwing fly.

See them fall wailing over high hill tops with hue and cry,
like uneasy ghosts slipping in the dishevelled air,
with ever so much of forlorn ocean and wastes of wind
in their elbowing of the air and in their lamentable call.'

(Rex Warner)

The rather turquoise hue to the water in some of the pictures is due to a particular algae which is affecting some parts of the water, we saw signs warning that contact with it could cause allergic reactions. The next photo particularly shows this colouration and one could be forgiven for thinking I have manipulated it in some way but it is just the result of the algae, I rather like the effect it gives to the photos!

It was interesting to watch (from a hide) this Heron enter the water, it glided stealthily through the water hardly causing a ripple.

'He walks the shallow with an antic grace.
The great feet break the ridges of the sand,
The long eye notes the minnow's hiding place.
His beak is quicker than a human hand'

(Theodore Roethke)

In my next post I will show some more photos from Draycote, until then have a wonderful weekend.