Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Simply Spring

The new month seems to have brought a change in the weather, it has been very cold here for the last few days but I suppose we have been quite spoilt for some weeks with such mild temperatures and glorious sunshine, perhaps we forget how early in the year it still is.

'The world's favorite season is spring,
All things seem possible in May.'
(Edwin Way Teale)


To continue with some photos taken in the last few weeks, I saw this pretty little Blue Tit at Draycote, it seemed to be wondering what on earth I was doing pointing a camera at it!

Blue Tit

But this Chaffinch was unconcerned by my presence.

Chaffinch (Male)

'The cock Chaffinch in Spring
Is as stunning a little bird
As any in the world.
It should be prized for its commonness'
(Simon Barnes)

Compared with last year Draycote seems surprisingly lacking in gulls at the moment but this time last year we hadn't discovered the place so perhaps a little later in the year there will be more. However, we did see this Black-headed Gull which had found something interesting to eat.

Black-headed Gull

There is definitely no shortage of Coots


and soon there will be more, this one was contentedly sitting on its nest.

'Oh Coot! oh bold, adventurous Coot,
I pray thee tell to me,
The perils of that stormy lime
That bore thee to the sea!

Amid the foaming wave, thou sat’st.
And steer’dst thy little boat;
Thy nest of rush and water-reed
So bravely set afloat.'
(Mary Howitt)

This Tufted Duck was looking very smart in its monochrome plumage

Tufted Duck

and this one was out for a swim with his wife.

These Great Crested Grebes were looking serene in the early evening sunshine

Great Crested Grebe

while this one was enjoying a fish supper!


It was quite strange to see this colourful Pheasant with a watery backdrop but it seemed quite contented as it scratched around for food. The strange black marks on this photo and on the one of the Pheasant at the beginning of my post are actually the dratted flies which I mentioned in my last post!

Pheasant (Male)

'... And to see 'mid the growth of all lovely things,
The joyous Pheasant unfolds his wings,
And then cower down, as if to screen
His gorgeous purple, gold, and green!'
(Mary Howitt)


This Canada Goose looked more in keeping with its surroundings.

Canada Goose

As we walked past some bushes I heard rustling noises and spotted this Rabbit looking rather well fed.


This Cormorant (I wondered if it was a Shag at first) looked, to me, like a witch in her black, hooded cloak, astride her broomstick!



During a visit to one of the small, local lakes I saw this Swan looking resplendent in its finery

Mute Swan

'Wild bird of beauty,
Strong, and glad, and free!
Dwelling on these waters,---
How pleasant it must be!
Like a gleam of sunshine
In shadow passing on,---
Like a wreath of snow, thou art,
Wild and graceful swan!'
(Mary Howitt)

While this Mallard was in reflective mood :)

Mallard Duck (Male)

I am always amused by the large and rather ungainly feet of Coots and Moorhens and this Moorhen illustrates my point.



In the last few weeks, wherever I have been, the constant call of the Chiffchaff has teased and tantalised me. I have scoured the trees so many times with my binoculars to no avail but on a walk quite close to home, just as I was about to give up, this one suddenly appeared in the open. It was a fair distance away and this was the best of a bad lot of photos.


I was hoping to visit a Bluebell wood this weekend but the weather has turned very cold and we have had prolonged, heavy rain. This photo was taken as they were just starting to flower about ten days ago


'My hundred thousand bells of blue,
The splendour of the Spring,
They carpet all the woods anew
With royalty of sapphire hue;
The Primrose is the Queen, 'tis true.
But surely I am King!
Ah yes,
The peerless Woodland King!'
(Cicely Mary Barker)

and this photo taken just a few days ago shows how frighteningly quickly the year is moving on with this Horse Chestnut tree already starting to show its 'candles' which will eventually bear Conkers during the season which begins with A and which I really don't want to be reminded of :)

Horse Chestnut


Finally (well nearly), we returned to Draycote, one day last week in the hope the flies might have gone. They were still there but thankfully not in such huge numbers. I was pleased to see this very proud mum out and about with her new family.

Female Mallard Duck and Ducklings

I counted eleven ducklings so she has a busy time at the moment especially as dad abandons his family once incubation is well underway, leaving mum to raise the large brood on her own!

Now, finally (really!), regular readers may remember my many fruitless searches last year at Draycote for the elusive Lesser Scaup. Well this year I have been several times in the hope of spotting the two Great Northern Divers which have been seen there for some weeks but as is usually my luck, they have eluded me each time. However! On my latest visit, while scanning the water for the Divers, my attention was caught by a duck which looked unfamiliar. It was quite a long way out so the photos are not wonderful but on my return home after checking my books I was thrilled to discover I had found a...

Garganey Duck (male)

Shy and secretive, the Garganey is a dabbling duck, meaning that it feeds by skimming rather than diving or 'upending'. The male has a distinctive 'crackling' mating call. The RSPB says of it,

'The garganey is a scarce and very secretive breeding duck in the UK. It is smaller than a mallard and slightly bigger than a teal. The male is most easily recognised with a broad white stripe over the eye. In flight it shows a pale blue forewing. It feeds by "dabbling".'

It was great to see a new bird.

Enjoy this beautiful season of Spring, wherever you are.


  1. Dear Shy,
    Thank you so very much for this amazing group of photographs. I just love seeing your birds. They are gorgeous...all of them!
    I am very fond of Swans so the Swan photo took my heart!
    It has been an early spring in my gardens. Today the Baltimore Orioles arrived! I have not taken any photographs yet. I will in the next couple of days....
    Thank you for taking me along with you on your safari!
    Glad you are out with your camera.

  2. Hi Jan! What a great collection of photos you have here!! I love that colorful bird near the water. And the bunny is so fat and cute. My favorite is the duck and her young ones...They are adorable!! Isn't it great to have spring back! Take care and big hugs!!

  3. ShySongbird ,
    A really enjoyable wander through nature and verse .
    Topped off with great shots of that male Garganey . Well done .

  4. Hi Jan I can see your truly back in the harness with such a great and varied selection of images in your post. Also the poems and comments are a pleasure to read. Congrats on the Garganey a lovely little duck I have missed the few that have been around here this year.

  5. Hi Jan,

    Lovely photos and so many birds! :)

    Very strange weather recently jumping from blazing hot sun to hail within a few minutes. But as you say we have been very spoilt over the past few weeks with lovely warm weather.

    Btw, Chiffchaffs can usually be found at the tops of trees singing away, that's the best place to look for them. Of course, now I've said that they'll just have to prove me wrong :)

  6. Nice post and super pictures. I really like the Tufted Duck shots, always difficult I think to get good images of a black and white subject. Well done with the Garganey!

  7. Hi Jan,
    I am in awe of the beautiful birds you managed to photograph. Their colors are so stunning, it looks as if they were painted. Mother Nature is so talented!

    Thank you for your visit and kind words. I hope all is going well with your eyes.

    Have a joyous day :)

  8. A lovely post, the Blue Tit does look quite quizzical! Congrats on the ChiffChaff photo, very elusive birds for me!

  9. Dear Jan, the photographs are beautiful and show our country at it's very best.
    The swan is stunning.....so majestic.
    The pheasant photograph made me stop....you are right it is seeing it by water. I see them in the fields here and that, of course, is where they belong. It looked out of place but absolutely magnificent.
    Our native bluebell will always steal my heart. I have a love affair with this sweet bloom each year......

    A lovely post Jan, the poetry always adds a certain charm that only you can capture......

  10. ...you have a really nice selection here. I love the Pheasant. I've only seen one once in the wild in Michigan. They're not native here, but fit in quite well. He was gorgeous! Loved the Cicely quote as well!

  11. Q

    Thank you for your very kind comment, Sherry :)
    There is something very special about Swans, although they are a common sight I always find them quite mesmerising!
    I will look forward to seeing photos of the Orioles...happy Spring.


    Thank you very much Ginny, The Pheasant was quite a surprise in that setting but he didn't seem bothered to be away from his normal habitat.
    Hope you are going on OK. I think (and worry) about you such a lot...Hugs :)


    Thank you, Greenie, your comments are always much appreciated. I was so pleased to discover the Garganey, it's not often I get something relatively unusual!


    Thank you very much Monty, it really is nice to be able to enjoy Nature again :)
    Finding the right poems is quite time consuming so it is always good to know they are appreciated. Thank you, I was really chuffed with the Garganey.


    Thank you very much. Yes, I agree, I suppose we can say the weather is being typically British at the moment!
    I think the ache in my neck :) bears testament to how many tree tops I have scanned lately, in the hope of finding one of the Chiffchaffs, which has been taunting me by calling its name but when there are lots of trees together it is not easy especially as it sometimes seems to have the ability of 'throwing' its voice! It's fun trying though :)


    Thank you for your very kind comments Phil. I agree, black and white birds are difficult to get 'right' but the Tufties were posing quite nicely for me that day. Thanks, I was thrilled with the Garganey sighting :)


    Thank you so much for visiting again, Pam and for your lovely comments :)
    I heartily agree Mother Nature is wonderful!
    I think I probably spend rather more time on the computer than is advisable but otherwise all is well, thank you. Things will be much better when the other eye is operated on though.
    I hope you have a lovely Spring day too :)


    Thank you very much, Pam :)
    I too find the Chiffchaffs elusive, they shout their names so loudly but however many treetops I scan they manage to stay out of sight. I think I had more luck last year but of course it is still early yet, maybe eventually I will get a better shot.


    Thank you so much for your generous comments, Cheryl :)
    Swans are special, aren't they? The Pheasant did look strange in that setting but seemed quite happy...such a colourful bird!
    When I started my blog I really never intended to include poetry but somehow it has evolved and I suppose my posts wouldn't feel quite 'right' now without it, I'm so glad you like it :)

  12. Beautiful birds.. all of them..

  13. Hi Jan, lovely set of pictures and congratulations on your 'new' duck, the Garganey Duck. He's a handsome duck, especially with that white stripe.

  14. Sorry to hear your weather has turned coldish ~ much like our day yesterday! We even had hail! Luckily you were still able to share all your lovely bird photos ~ I have looked for ducklings around here, but so far no luck. The swan looks particularly gorgeous, as if posing just for you ;) Also congrats on your new duck!

    Thanks for your visit and mentioning that my name couldn't link up to my site. Could you check and see if it works now? I really appreciated your comment. :)

  15. Cracking post again Jan, with some great pictures. Even my favourite put in a double appearance. :)
    Love that Cormorant; and he does look like a witch on a broom lol

    By coincidence I saw my first ever Garganey today. Stunning birds aren't they.

  16. What a wonderful place to go and take photos. I'm glad the flies are finally becoming less troublesome.

    I must find some time to visit one of our wetlands and try to get some good photos. I've been so busy, there never seems an extra minute to just go and do something for the fun of it.

  17. What a great find, a Gargany! I would be chuffed to bits to have one on my patch, come to think of it I would be happy with a Coot!....or a Tufted, or a GC Grebe :-)

  18. Beautiful photos yet again Shysongbird!!! Love the swan, just stunning and i like the bird on the witches broomstick!!!!! he he, thankyou for sharing them with us xxxxx

  19. Hello Jan, I took some pictures of a moorhen and her babies when we were away…bless, they were not the most prettiest babies I have ever seen.

    Beautiful pictures as always! :0)

    Love Lou xxx

  20. Naturedigital

    Thank you, Costas :)

    Linda Yarrow

    Thank you very much, Linda. He is rather handsome isn't he? Very striking, I thought!


    Thank you for your comment :) Your weather does sound similar to ours at the moment, quite changeable and we had hail too!
    Those ducklings were so sweet.
    I'm so glad, your link works perfectly now :)


    Hi Keith, thank you very much. I'm glad you enjoyed seeing the Pheasant, it was just a pity that the flies marred the photos of him.
    I am looking forward to seeing your Garganey...they must be like buses :)
    They are stunning, I was thrilled to see him!

    Roses and Lilacs

    Thank you, Marnie. It is difficult to find the time sometimes but very rewarding. I'm sure you have some great places to visit when you can.

    Warren Baker

    Thanks very much, Warren :)
    I was so chuffed and could hardly believe my luck! Draycote does have some great things to offer. Did your Coot disappear in the end?


    Thank you very much, Karen. Every time I see the Cormorant photo I still see a witch :)


    Hi Lou, Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed your holiday. Yes, you are right but I'm sure mummy loves them anyway :)
    Lots of love and XXXX to you and Poppy.

  21. Kelly

    SO SORRY! Kelly, I nearly missed replying to you!!! Thank you for the lovely comment. The Pheasant looked lovely with his bright and colourful plumage, it did seem funny to see him by water though.

    Glad you liked the Cicely quote, I thought you would :)

  22. I'm amazed by the number of different species of ducks you find in this area, Songbird--the Garganey, in particular, is certainly unusual. But I must admit I'm partial to the mother with her babies; it must be hard to be a single mom with such a large brood:)

    The cormorant and the swan look like the Beauty and the Beast next to each other:) As always, such wonderful photos and so enjoyable to take these walks with you. And I'm so glad you are able to see all these spring lovelies!

  23. Beautiful set of photos Jan. I`m well envious of the Garganey.

  24. Shy your photos are positively stunning as always. I want to find a place with birds I can go to practice with this new camera. The back yard is getting old although we have had some new birds lately and many - hope they stay. ;-)
    Yes, I got your apology and had visited earlier so knew you had been out having surgery. I may have commented on an old post that went unseen. Sorry 'bout that. But I do love coming and seeing all of the variety you have to photograph.

  25. Lovely blog. What more does one need but to stroll around the countryside admiring the beauty of nature and reciting poetry!

  26. Hi again Jan, so lovely to see you posting again. Guessing you’ll have cut down on the late hours for the moment ;-)

    What a treat to see so many birds I never see. Great photos too. Gosh, reading this really shows me how much of a birder you are and I’m not.

    That Cormorant did look sinister didn’t it. Love the tufted duck shots… there’s something about that bird I like. I think it’s the eyes and their dark colouring.

    Hope you are feeling well and your operation eye is recovering well. Enjoy the rest of your week :-D

  27. A great set of photos Jan. I can never get that close to the local rabbits and you have beaten me to a photo of a Chiffchaff as I often hear one but have never managed to see it.

  28. You have such beautiful pictures on here. A joy to see.

  29. Hi Jan.
    Great photographs and Text. I have a feeling Draycote Water will be very good to you this coming year.

  30. Looks like a great day out. You see so many birds that I have never seen from my side of the world - though I used to raise Mutes, Tufted and several of your waterfowl. Great Post.

  31. Rose

    Thank you for your very kind words, Rose :)
    Draycote is a very good place to visit and, more locally, we have some small but quite well inhabited lakes and there are always plenty of Mallards around so there will probably be more ducklings appearing on my blog before too long.
    I hadn't thought about the juxtaposition of the Cormorant and the Swan until you pointed it out, Beauty and the Beast is spot on :)


    Thanks very much, Dean. I was well pleased with it :)


    Thank you very much for your kind comment, Linda. I will be interested to see what results you get with your new camera!
    Yes I remember your earlier visit now and that I replied to the comment. I must have had short memory syndrome, I'm afraid :)
    I do hope all those lovely new flowers of yours do well!


    Welcome! Thank you for visiting and for your kind comment. I agree it doesn't get much better than that. Not that I actually stroll around reciting poetry of course :)


    Hi Shirl, thank you so much for your kind words.
    I'm afraid the late nights are ingrained but I am trying to improve...really :)
    I don't think I have ever seen a Cormorant looking quite that strange, I just can't not see a witch when I look at it! I agree about the Tufties, it is something to do with the eyes, I think.
    Yes it is recovering well thanks although I probably spend a little longer on the computer than I should and it will be so good to get the other one sorted out too.
    Have a great weekend :)

  32. Hi Jan.
    I was trying to picka photo that I like the best, but I m sorry to say thay I cannot, they are all really good, although it is always nice to get a good shot of a male Garganey.Well done.

  33. Midmarsh John

    Thank you very much, John. I find it incredibly difficult to locate Chiffchaffs, they announce themselves so loudly but somehow manage to remain out of sight, very frustrating!


    Thank you very much, OC :)

    The Abbot

    Thank you, Trevor. I hope it will, it certainly turns up some goodies, not counting the flies of course :)

    It's Time to Live

    Thank you very much. It also works the other way of course, you have some lovely birds there which we don't have here. It's always nice to see birds from different places, I think.

  34. Ken Browne

    Thanks very much for the comment, Ken. It was great to see something unusual.

  35. Hi Jan,

    A lovely post, the photos are just perfect and the poems just add to the fact it is like we are walking there with you.

    I was watching a Pheasant this morning walking through a large flooded area on a Marsh thought he was going to disapear under the water...

  36. Great post. You have a lovely collection of images. THe GC Grebes are my favourite.

  37. John

    Thank you for your very generous comments, John. Until now I had only ever encountered Pheasants on farmland, the one you saw must have looked comical, I hope you managed a photo :)

  38. Angie

    Thank you very much, Angie. I like Great Crested Grebes too, I think they always look rather elegant.

  39. I've just come in from the garden and I've stolen a few moments to view your blog before the family arrive home. I'd really forgotten what a lift to the day your blog makes Jan. Wonderful photo's and such lovely words to go with them. Thank you for making my day xxxx


  40. Another excellant flowing post there Jan. Great stuff. Now added your blog to my list on my new one. Take care....

  41. A lovely post. I really enjoy the combination of poetry and pictures, being a lover of both. You are lucky to have so many wonderful birds around. I look forward to reading more of your posts. :-)

    Many thanks for your comment on my blog it was much appreciated. :-)

  42. Jayne

    How lovely to see you here again, Jayne. It is very kind of you as I know how busy you are. Thank you for your very generous comments, they have made my day :)

    Simon Taylor

    Thank you very much, Simon. It is great to see you again :)


    Welcome! Thank you for visiting and for your kind comments. The poetry just evolved somehow, it is rather time consuming looking for the right pieces but I don't think my blog would be the same without it now. Of course some might say that was a good thing :)
    Please do visit again, you will be very welcome!

  43. hi jan, sorry i missed this post, ( been very busy working on the bungalow ), as usual, an educating and most inspiring work of photography and the written word, always look forward to your posts.

  44. denzil

    Thank you for your generous words Denis, you are very kind :)

    No need at all for apologies, just lovely to see you here when you are able.


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