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.


  1. What a lovely place. I'm not at all familiar with water birds living so far inland. We do have mallards, coots and herons in nearby lakes and streams.

    You captured some wonderful photos. I always enjoy going with you to these lovely parks.

  2. Awesome post; I love your pictures!

  3. A most enjoyable post, with beautiful photos of birds, that i could never identify, excellent,


  4. once again a lovely visit with you and your photographs which are so clear,colourful and beautiful

  5. Hi songbird
    Lovely photo's. I think the waders are dulin. Both those wagtails look like Yellow wags. One is a Juv.

  6. Hello Jan,

    I know Draycote Water, went there a few years ago with a birding friend, I know what you mean about it being like the seaside.
    I am very fond of Lapwings one of my concerns as lose more and more every year.

    Lovely post thank you.

    Roll on Springtime.


  7. A lovely selection of images.

  8. What a great selection of birds you got there.
    I'm thinking I'd like to visit that place lol
    Good shot of the Yellow Wagtail, not seen one before; and the flying Mallards, great capture.
    I love the way Coots seem to run on the water, and the posing Cormorant is a beauty.
    Great post.

  9. A brilliant well put together combination of photographs and text.
    I like the Pied Wagtail as it is not an easy bird to photograph well and also the close-ups of the Lapwings which are indeed a lovely bird.

  10. You certainly took good advantage of the wonderful light. The flying mallards are terrific. The first shot of the heron looks like it is in an alien landscape. Looking forward to the next ones you post!

  11. Another stunning set of pics shysongbird! Beautiful shots of the wagtail and the lapwing! i really need to get out more often and see this for myself!!! You have inspired me x

  12. A really great set of photos from your visit Jan. It looks a beautiful place to visit with plenty of room for all sorts of activities. My local reservoir is a man made, above ground, structure with concrete walls. Not the same sort of atmosphere at all.

    Loved the Christopher Isherwood poem.

  13. Lovely posting and lovely pictures. It is great to find a lovely walk and see so much wildlife on that walk.

  14. Hi Jan
    Lovely post with great shots as usual, love the Yellow Wags still trying to get some good shots but only seen flyovers so far, maybe Dracote Water is the place to get them. Well Done.

  15. Thanks for the kind words Songbird. :-)

  16. What beautiful photographs!
    Thank you for each one. I feel as if I too saw these charming shore birds.
    Thank you again.

  17. ssb,

    it is so lovely to see the shore birds beit a beach or a huge lake.
    the algae had a nice effect on the photos for sure.
    i am so delighted for you that you got a whole new day with brand new light and perspectives. very nice photos of the birds. you always manage to find the perfect words to fit your images. bravo.
    happy autumn.

  18. Roses and Lilacs, Cherrie and Denzil: Thank you.


    Thank you very much. I live about as far inland as it is possible to be in this country so the water birds are very unfamiliar to me but I am trying! ;)
    It is a pleasure to take you with me on my visits :)


    Thank you very much, you are very kind :)


    Thank you so much for your very kind comments. I am on a very steep learning curve with the water birds, many of whom look so similar to me :)

  19. swatson, Warren Baker and John: Thank you.


    Thank you for your very kind comments, they are much appreciated and it is always a pleasure to have you visit.


    Thanks very much indeed for your comment and the IDs. I thought if anyone would know it would be you ;) I am very cross with myself about the Wagtail as I clearly remember thinking it looked different from the Grey one on my previous post, I then thought no more of it! I feel I was very shoddy and should have done better with that although I think I would have struggled to realise it was a juvenile. Thanks again :)


    Thank you very much. How nice that you have been to Draycote too, I really enjoyed it and I shall definitely go again as there have been some quite unusual sightings there. It does make a difference to go on a nice day though, it is pretty bleak when the weather is bad!
    Lapwings are such attractive birds and I am profoundly saddened to find they are on the red list of endangered species!

  20. Here I am playing "catch up" again!

    Superb post and great pictures....looks a great place to visit... one day perhaps :)

    Sounds an ideal place to celebrate a special occasion ..

  21. Angie, holdingmoments and The Abbot: Thank you.


    Thank you very much :)


    Thank you very much for your very kind comments. It is another place I'm sure you would enjoy, I thought that while I was there!
    I'm not sure I have ever seen a Yellow Wagtail before either!
    I don't know how the Coots manage to look so comical but they certainly do!

    The Abbot,

    Thank you so much, you are very kind! I too have found that the Pied Wagtail is not easy to photograph, I don't know why that should be, possibly because it is always bobbing about ;)
    Yes the colouring on the Lapwings is beautiful, not a bird I see very often!

  22. Wilma, Karen and Midmarsh John: Thank you.


    Thank you for your lovely comments. You are right, the good light makes such a difference.
    I must admit I was quite pleased with the Mallards and you have hit the nail on the head with your comment about the Heron! It really did look like it was in some sort of alien landscape, quite surreal!


    Thank you so much, you are so kind!
    Blogging and Nature photography has really inspired me to get out and about much more, it is fun!

    Midmarsh John,

    Thank you very much John, Yes it was a lovely place.
    The reservoir nearest to us is not very inspiring either which is a shame as much more could be done to make it more attractive.
    I'm glad you liked the poem, I do wonder sometimes whether I should include poetry but for me it does seem to fit in with Nature somehow, I just hope others agree!

  23. Congratulations on your special occasion, and how fortunate that the weather was obliging to add to the beauty of your visit to this lovely spot. Your photos are so clear ~ it's a pleasure to see them in such detail. I got a kick out of the Coot! I think your addition of poems is delightful, and must take a fair bit of research on your part to find just the right one! The words and images in each poem enhance our awareness of nature, from that perspective. Hard to put what I mean into words, but I hope that makes sense. Thanks for dropping by my blog, and hope you come by again :)

  24. Lynmiranda, Monts and Warren Baker: Thank you.

    Welcome and thank you very much for visiting and for your kind comments. It certainly was a very pleasant walk and we were very lucky with the weather. I think we shall go back many times.

    Thank you very much Monty for your very kind comments. I was really pleased to see the Yellow Wagtails and to be able to get photos too, they are such colourful little birds.

    Warren Baker,
    Thank you Warren :)

  25. Q and Marmee: Thank you.

    Thank you very much Sherry for your generous comments. It is always a pleasure to share my walks with you ;)

    Thank you so much for your lovely comments, you are very kind. It was lovely to visit Draycote on such a warm and sunny day. The strange coloured algae did add something to some of the photos I think. It has turned quite autumnal here now and the nights are chillier too. Happy Autumn to you too :)

  26. ShySongbird ,
    Another very enjoyable visit .
    Thanks for your detective work on the Knot Grass caterpillar , I would have been looking for ever .
    Post duly amended .

  27. So many interesting birds I've never seen before! Living in the midst of cornfields, the only "sea" birds I see are the ducks and geese living in nearby ponds. There is something so lovely and graceful, though, about one of these birds skimming above the water. I think the little ring-tailed plover is my favorite.

  28. Lovely photos Jan, lovely time was had no doubt :)

    Sorry for the slow commenting... I've had a cold and I *think* I remember seeing this pop up when it was at its peak but I was unable to think never mind type lol

  29. Hi Jan....Does the algae hurt the birds???? Is it toxic.....
    I agree it gives the images a beautiful backdrop.....and you have captured another of my favourite birds....the lapwing....

    When we first moved here a flock of around 200 birds arrived in the fields opposite our garden. Mr P and I walked the fields and watched the sunset as the birds flew above us. I special moment and one I will never forget.

    Beautiful place Jan and as always your narrative and photos enhance it beautifully.......

  30. Great photos of these interesting birds Jan. Looks like that is a great place to go for birding...

  31. Jan, it's such a delight to come and see these wonderful pictures. Such colour...the mallards are most beautiful. We see cormorants only on those isolated stretches (of river) in the jungles...that is when we go to nature reserves.

    I've never really been successful with photographing birds in open areas. My attempts have been mainly with the ones in our neighbourhood. Your photos are so inspiring, loved them all!!

  32. Your photography is superb! The action shots are amazing--and what an impressive list you racked up on that day of birding! Cant wait to see the rest.

  33. Tricia and Glo: Thank you.

    No worries, I frequently play 'catch up' ;) Thank you very much for your kind comments, it is a great place to visit and we plan to go regularly now as there are often unusual birds seen there.

    Lovely to see you here again and thank you for your congratulations and very generous comments. We did feel blessed with the weather especially as it perfectly mirrored the weather of the special day we were celebrating ;)
    Those Coots always manage to look funny, I think it is something to do with the long spindly legs and enormous feet!
    I'm so glad you like the poems, I do sometimes wonder whether I should include them, they do take a while to sort out but it is fun to try and find the right one.
    Yes I understood you perfectly, after seeing so many of your comments on blogs and reading your own blog I cannot believe you ever have trouble putting your thoughts into words, you do it so well :)

  34. Greenie, Rose and Liz: Thank you.

    Thank you very much. I'm glad I was able to help with the ID, strangely enough I fell on it pretty quickly!

    Thank you very much. I live about as far inland as it is possible to be in this country so a lot of the water birds are new to me too and quite confusing to identify but it is fun getting to know them! That was the first time I had seen a Little Ringed Plover and I thought it was lovely.


    Not slow at all Liz and I know only too well how difficult it is to keep up ;)
    Thank you very much, yes we had a lovely time. I hope the cold is better now.

  35. Dear Cheryl,

    It is lovely to have you back from your holiday and thank you for your very kind comments.

    As far as I know the algae does the birds no harm at all but contact with the human skin can cause an allergic reaction in some people according to a notice we saw.

    The experience which you and Mr P had with the Lapwings sounded wonderful, it must have been a spectacular sight. It is moments like that, which, for me, are worth far more than anything money can buy!

  36. Hi Jan,

    I can’t believe how much wildlife you see on your walks, BEAUTIFUL PICTURES!!!
    You have a lovely way with words!

    I loved the look of that drift wood, you are so lucky, If only I had been with you on the walk you would have been helping me carry it back to the car. ;0)

    Have a lovely day love Lou xxx

  37. Wonderful blog post.
    Amazing that you can identify all these birds. I love the herons. We see them fly over us here sometimes. With their lanky langs trailing behind them..!

  38. Ginnymo,

    Thank you very much Ginny, it is a lovely place and we will definitely be going again.

  39. BEautiful and lovely shots !! I always amaze how you click so much of different birds !! Beautiful and fantastic location !!Unseen Rajasthan

  40. Kanak Hagjer and Dixxe's Doodles: Thank you.

    Thank you for your lovely comments, you are very kind. I have only seen Cormorants on the coast before but Draycote seems to attract quite a variety of visitors. Yes the Mallards are colourful, we see them regularly on ponds, canals, lakes etc. but they are always entertaining birds to watch. I am very new to photographing and identifying water birds but it is great fun!

    Thank you so much for your very kind and generous comments :)
    We are really pleased we have discovered Draycote, there is often the possibility of seeing something unusual there. We will go again and again!

  41. ...a five-hour walk! What a wonderful day to spend the day. Did you bring a picnic lunch? Beautiful birds....scenery....and I thought your phrase "as Summer loses her will to live and Autumn starts to tighten his grip" lovely. (the plover is so sweet looking!)

  42. Hi, what fantastic photos - I love the one of the mallards flying! Draycote Water looks like a lovely place.
    Thank you so much for your comments on my blog, I'm glad you liked it!

  43. Your pictures always amaze me - they are so beautiful and you always have such a wide variety! I'd love to find a place where I could get pictures of many different birds but then wouldn't know what they are like you do. We really love watching them in the yard but it's pretty slim pickins right now.
    Once again your pictures are gorgeous and I swear the birds pose for you and even entertain just for you!
    Thanks for stopping by with your kinds words about my Dad.

  44. the plumage of Dunlins is very variable. very confusing

  45. Beautiful blog... peaceful and unique as nature itself....


  46. simply beautifully captured shots....lovely photos of the wildlife!

  47. Lou and Sheila: Thank you.

    Dear Lou,
    Thank you so much for your lovely comments, you are so kind! Now we have found Draycote we will go back many times, (we have already been again!) there is always the chance of seeing something unusual. I might have known you would have your eye on that driftwood! I think you would have had us banned if we had tried to make off with it and we would have looked a real pair of sillies struggling along with that for the two and a half miles it takes to get back to the car! ;)
    Have a great weekend. Lots of love and XXXX to you and Poppy.

    Thank you very much. I am still learning to identify the water birds/waders, there are so many of them and a lot look very similar. It is lots of fun learning though.
    I too like to see Herons, they seem quite elegant somehow when they are just silently stood watching the water.

  48. Unseen Rajasthan and Kelly: Thank you.

    Thank you so much for your very kind comments. It is such an interesting place to go with the possibility of seeing a good variety of birds and one never knows what to expect next!

    Thank you so much. No we didn't take a picnic but probably will next Summer. As you can imagine we were pretty hungry by the end of the walk and the special meal we had afterwards to celebrate our special occasion was very welcome!
    The plover was very pretty and seemed to be the only one there so I felt lucky to see it.

  49. Gorgeous shots of the birds. What a wonderful sunny day you had.

  50. Sharon and RainGardener: Thank you.

    Welcome and thank you for visiting and for your kind comments. :)
    Yes it is a great place to go and we have already been back since I wrote this post. It won't be the last time!

    Thank you so much for your very kind comments. We did see a very good selection of birds and identifying the waders/water birds has been a steep learning curve which I think will continue for a very long time!
    Although I am rather late in replying to your comment I read it when it first came in and while out taking photos a few days ago your comment about the birds posing for me came to mind as one seemed to do just that, sadly so very many don't ;)

  51. Pete and Cielo: Thank you.

    Thank you very much. I agree, to me, confusing in the extreme!

    Thank you so much for your lovely comments! Happy Autumn to you :)

  52. flyingstars and oldcrow61: Thank you.

    Thank you for your very kind words, I'm so glad you enjoyed my photos :)

    Thank you very much, we were fortunate to have such a lovely sunny day. It can be a little bleak there in poor weather!

  53. You take the most wonderful shots of birds. A joy to look at.

  54. OC,

    What a lovely comment! Thank you very much, I am flattered and it is great to have you back after your travels :)


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