Thursday, 14 October 2010

Not Quite Beside the Seaside!

Another visit to Draycote didn't reveal the hoped for Lesser Scaup but was nevertheless an enjoyable afternoon out in a place which I love. As I have mentioned before, living just about as far from the coast as it is possible to be in this country, it is the nearest thing to being at the seaside that there is for me. Sometimes the water is a beautiful blue but the photo below shows that when there is not much sun it can look very grey!

There are usually lots of gulls which add to the feeling of being by the sea and on this occasion the Black-headed Gulls were swooping and swirling and showing off their aerial acrobatics quite close to me.

Black-headed Gull

'Away on the winds we plume our wings,
And soar, the freest of all free things:
Oh! the Sea-Gull leads a merry life
In the glassy calm or tempest strife.'
(Eliza Cook)

I had to look carefully at each Tufted Duck I saw (and there were a lot of them!) just in case it was the similar looking Lesser Scaup...but of course it never was!

Tufted Duck

I scrambled down the bank on the opposite side of the water to get a closer look at some fungi which I had spotted through the binoculars while scanning the grass for a Green Woodpecker which I had seen there before. It turned out to be the impressive looking Shaggy Inkcap. This first photo shows it in its immature state

Shaggy Inkcap

and this one in maturity.

'There 's a thing that grows by the fainting flower,
And springs in the shade of the lady's bower;
The lily shrinks, and the rose turns pale,
When they feel its breath in the summer gale,
And the tulip curls its leaves in pride,
And the blue-eyed violet starts aside ;
But the lily may flaunt, and the tulip stare,
For what does the honest toadstool care ? '
(Oliver Wendell Holmes)

There are also always plenty of Rabbits to be seen among the grass, many of which I suspect, provide a tasty meal for predators such as raptors and foxes.


Back to the water and another bird I see there often is the elegant Great Crested Grebe.

Great Crested Grebe

I also quite often see the delightful little Teal there. For some unknown reason I always seem to see the hen (female). It is surprising how small they are, one of the smallest dabbling ducks there is, I believe.

Teal Duck

Draycote wouldn't be Draycote without Pied Wagtails flitting about. Even if you are not quick enough to see them properly there is no mistaking their call and swift, undulating flight. I think both of the following may be juveniles.

Pied Wagtail

The colours of this Guelder Rose were glowing beautifully in the afternoon sunshine.

Guelder Rose

Apparently the fruit of the Guelder Rose is edible in small quantities but is 'very mildly toxic' and if eaten in large quantities could cause vomiting or diarrhoea...hmm! I don't think I'll bother :)

I was really pleased to see a Wheatear again. Like the wagtails it seems to enjoy hunting on the rocks at Draycote for insects, I do think it is a lovely little bird. It is a passage migrant which will be preparing for the long and hazardous journey to central Africa.


'Away! away! thou summer bird !
For autumn's moaning voice is heard,
In cadence wild, and deepening swell,
Of winter's stern approach to tell. '
(Sir Bevis of Hampton)

Every time I see Teasels I hope to see Goldfinches feeding on them and although I have seen Goldfinches at Draycote even, strangely on the rocks, I have never seen one anywhere on Teasels apart from in photos. However, I thought this one looked nice decorated with webs and even a little spider.


Finally, at the end of the walk, I saw this Cormorant far out in the middle of the water, maintaining its lonely vigil as the last rays of the setting sun cast a coppery glow over the water.


'Yet not to all was sleep's kind angel sent,
A pale worn form in lonely vigil bent.'
(Nicholas Michell)

Enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.


  1. I love your Wheatear. And the rest of them. Great pictures.

  2. Great set of images Jan,I was just about to close my blog when I saw it flash up so glad I delayed.

    Love the Wheatear and the Pied Wag and those Gull flight shots are supurb. May pay you to check them out for overwintering Med Gulls, if your not sure try looking for adults as the are all white with no black in the primaries a much stouter bill and a dark mask around the eye. Bet you there's a couple in there somewhere.

    Again lovely set well done

  3. I've never seen a Wheatear, what a beautiful little creature! I love the guelder rose picture too! The teasel does look very neglected at the moment - perhaps the goldfinches will visit when they have finished on the glut of this autumn's bounty. Our usual garden goldfinches are all enjoying the hedgerows at the edge of the countryside at the moment.

  4. Are you getting most of our birds now? ;-) The wheatear shots are sumptuous! I got some nice shots of it recently too and I love this bird!

  5. A collection of fine photographs with nice revealing text. The Teasel is a beauty ...also the Cormorant is a fitting ending to the collection.

  6. What a superb presentation from beginning to end, interspersed with delightful sprigs of poetry :) I know how difficult it is to get clear photos of birds, but yours seem to have posed just perfectly for you ~ even the ones in flight! Well done, indeed. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

  7. the wheatear is fabbo! your pics seem sharper lately....

  8. Excellent post as always Jan; but the Wheatear stealls the show. Cracking pictures.

  9. Bob Bushell

    Thank you very much Bob, I loved seeing the Wheatear and it was a nice little poser for the camera.


    Thank you Monty, yes I saw that great minds were thinking alike when we both posted within moments of each other :)
    Now, if you thought I was bad on identifying waders...when it comes to gulls, I'm even worse! However I will follow your advice and take a close look at my other photos and hopefully might just spot something I had overlooked. Thanks for the tip :)


    Thank you very much Dan :) I had never seen a Wheatear myself until this year, we don't really see them in my area but I have seen them twice now at Draycote. They really are delightful little birds.
    The birds are not visiting my garden much at the moment either but I think that is more to do with a Sparrowhawk making its presence felt than the Autumnal fare on offer.

  10. Ah! Thats a great Wheatear photo Songbird, one of my favourite birds. I really could do with one of those Tufed Ducks though :-)

  11. enjoyed your post jan, i have never seen the teasel plant, do you think they would grow in the garden, and if yes where would you buy them?.

  12. Hi Jan.
    What a lovely post and snap with the Wheatear and Tuftie photo's today.
    Your aerial Gull shots are superb, it's so difficult to get good results on the wing. But for sheer artistry I have to say your golden Cormorant shot gets my vote!

  13. Chris

    Thank you very much Chris, there certainly are some goodies around at this time of year :) Yes, I enjoyed the lovely photos you took of the Wheatear and smiled when I saw them knowing that I was about to post some pictures of this lovely little bird too :)

    The Abbot

    Thank you very much for your kind comments Trevor :) Seeing the Cormorant there as the light was going did seem like a fitting end to the walk.


    Thank you for your very kind words Glo :) Birds certainly aren't the easiest subject to photograph but just occasionally they do seem to cooperate nicely :)


    Thanks very much Pete...I keep trying :)


    Thank you very much Costas :)

  14. Your photos of the seagulls are so lovely, Songbird. I've always been so fond of seagulls, probably because we live hundreds of miles from any open water, so the only time I see them is when I'm on a holiday somewhere near the sea.

    All your photos are lovely as always, but I especially like the Guelder Rose--such bright autumn colors! I'm enjoying the fall color here, too, right now, for as long as it lasts.

  15. You have found plenty of interest again on your outing Jan. Great flight shots along with the wagtail and wheatear.

  16. holdingmoments

    Hi Keith, Thank you very much :) the Wheatear was a delightful little bird and not too bothered by my presence, quite a poser!
    So glad your recent hospital procedure went well :)

    Warren Baker

    Thanks very much Warren :) We really need to do a swap, some of my tufties for some of your Linnets perhaps or maybe one of your garden GSWs or Nuthatches :)


    Thank you very much Denis :) You probably have seen Teasels but not realised, they grow freely in the wild and can be seen on roadsides, pasture, stream edges etc. Their pinkish purple flowers look lovely in mid to late Summer and then dry to the brown colour you see in my photo. They are often grown in the garden by wildflower lovers, can be 3-6 feet in height and are biennials. The butterflies love them in the Summer and Goldfinches in the Winter, you should be aware that they seed freely though. Any garden centre which has a wildflower section should keep them or as in my case a herb centre. I planted one in my garden earlier this year only to have it pulled up by my husband within weeks who thought it was a weed!!

  17. ShySongbird ,
    This post nearly crept under the radar .
    Great shots throughout , but the flight shots and especially the crisp Wheatear shots were excellent . Enjoyed .

  18. Such beautiful photos Jan! I think the Gulls are so pretty but they sure are a pain around the inland restaurants here. I can't believe they come so far inland. I'm hundreds of miles from the ocean. I really like that little spider and web too! Hope you are doing okay these days. Hugs!!

  19. Shy Songbird your photos are always so crisp and clear and I really enjoy looking at them. If Hubby is thinking about getting a camera like mine tell him not to pay too much attention to my quality because I haven't quite figured this one out yet. I don't think 'automatic' means automatic like my other one did. I think ya have to know more to put with it. I'm working on getting better pictures but it's slow going. I know they're in there because I did a lot of research before purchasing this particular Canon. Good luck!!!

  20. Phil

    Hi Phil, Thank you very much and yes, snap indeed! :)
    I do find it difficult to get flight shots but the gulls were cooperating nicely that day. I'm very flattered by your comment on the 'golden Cormorant' shot...thank you :)


    Thank you very much, Rose. I think I like to see gulls for the same reason you do and they always remind me of childhood holidays by the sea :)
    I love the colours of Autumn too, it's just a shame it is followed by Winter!

    Midmarsh John

    Thank you very much John, there always seems to be something of interest there, it is a great place to visit.


    Thank you very much, Greenie and I'm so glad it didn't quite 'creep under the radar' :)
    Both the Wheatear and the gulls posed nicely for me.

  21. Ginnymo

    Thank you very much Ginny :) The gulls can be pretty determined, I believe they will even grab food from people's hands!
    I didn't even realise the spider was there until I looked at the photo later :)
    Wishing you well as always...Big hugs!


    Thank you very much, Linda, I think even the most 'simple' camera is more difficult to get used to than we are led to believe but you seem to be doing just fine with yours. I will let you know if he does get one and how he gets on with it :)

  22. I've been by twice to see these beautiful photos and can't believe the comments didn't stay, I think I'm leaving before the word verification thing goes through. That Wheatear has such beautiful shades of color, love the rabbit.

  23. Country Mouse Studio

    Yes you did comment before but scrolled down too far and put it on the post before (which you had already commented on) I realised what had happened by what you wrote!
    Thank you so much for all your comments, they are much appreciated and yes, the little Wheatear was beautifully coloured :)

  24. Hi there Jan ;-)

    I always love to see your postings from Draycote. I always enjoy seeing the Pied wagtails and the Grebes. I've also enjoyed seeing the Wheatear. That does look a pretty bird.

    The fav shot this time though has to go to the Cormorant with the sunset. Once again, thanks for sharing your visit with us :-D

  25. I added myself to follow your blog. You are more than welcome to visit mine and become a follower if you want to.

    God Bless You


  26. Wow! Beautiful photos! Looks like quite a lovely place!

  27. Fantastic photos. A real insperation.

  28. Hi Jan.
    A lovely selection of great photo's,especially the B/H/Gulls in flight.
    I should really practice more with the camera. Shame I don't live near you for some tips.
    Have a good weekend.

  29. Just catching up, another beautiful post & some wonderful photos

  30. shirl

    Hi Shirl :) Thank you very much. Draycote really has become a favourite place to visit, it can be a little bleak when the weather isn't good but in the sunshine is really lovely.
    As with Herons I always like to see a solitary Cormorant just watching and waiting. Have a great weekend Shirl, I hear it will be a cold one especially up your way!


    Thank you very much for finding me and following Ron :)

    Sarah Knight

    Thank you very much Sarah, it is a great place!


    Thank you very much for your kind words Colin :)


    Thank you very much Ken :) The gulls cooperated very nicely for me that day! Judging by what I have seen of your photos I don't think you need tips from anyone :)
    I hope you have a lovely weekend too.


    Thank you very much for your kind comments Pam :)

  31. Your pictures are always wonderful to see. I really like gulls and you've captured them beautifully. And, who can not like that bunny, lol. Great stuff.

  32. Jan, I just saw your comment on my latest post and wanted to explain. I didn't put all the blogs I read into my "blogs I follow" list because I depend on my sidebar to alert me to recent posts, rather than the dashboard. I noticed I didn't have you in the followers' list, so I added you. Not to worry--I enjoy all your posts and will be back faithfully! But I know how you felt--sometimes when a regular reader doesn't visit for awhile I start worrying--did I say something to offend them? I'm so glad you weren't too bothered by the photos of Sophie with the vole; I tried to keep the worst ones out. I have a very soft heart when it comes to animals, but it's hard to feel too much sympathy for a destructive creature like this. Hope things are going well with you!

  33. A lovely collection Jan. The Wheatear is my favourite.


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