Sunday, 6 March 2011

Draycote but Distant!

There is an unfortunate theme running through this post which is that most of the subjects on my recent visit to Draycote Water were very distant. As I think I have mentioned before I do have a 500mm lens but I find it too heavy to hold without using a tripod and have always been reluctant to take a tripod out with me although I am beginning to realise that I may have to rethink that decision.

The weather here has been bitterly cold again with a cruel  and unremitting north easterly wind, however March is here and the year is steadily moving on.

'Then March, the prophetess, by storms inspired,
Gazes in rapture on the troubled sky,
And now in headlong fury madly fired,
She bids the hail-storm boil and hurry by.
Yet 'neath the blackest cloud, a Sunbeam flings
Its cheering promise of returning Springs.'
(John Clare)

I again failed to find the Smew and the Scaup :( but did see some of the Goosanders which have been there for a while now. However, they were a very long way out in the water. The following photo is of four of the group of eight which I saw.


The male has bold, striking plumage.

Goosander (Drake)

The female is equally striking I think and is commonly known as the 'Redhead'. 


Goosander (Hen)

A young Goosander requires 33kg of fish to reach adulthood! Goosanders are shot under licence on (mostly Scottish) rivers to protect angling interests. I wonder who needs the fish most... the hungry birds who depend on them to sustain their lives... or the anglers to satisfy their hobby!  

A bit of showing off here!

'Look who pretends that she's a sprite,
Who kicks and prances in self-delight.'
(Averill Curdy)

 Someone else showing off was this Mallard.

Mallard (Drake)

I wonder if he was the same one I saw getting very friendly with a female. Shortly after I took the following  photo they got even more ... errm ... friendly ;)

 If you thought the Goosanders were distant ... this Shoveler was even more so :) but I have included it as a record shot.


There are quite a large amount of Teal there at the moment and they, at least, were a little closer affording slightly better photographs.

Teal (Drake) 

I never cease to be amazed by camouflage. The female Teal below blends perfectly with the rocks and the green of the weed!

Teal (Hen)

The male's plumage is particularly striking I think.

 There were subtle signs of Spring despite the vicious cold wind blowing across the water and biting into every bone of our bodies.


 'There's an alder-tree, which sighs alway,
On the stillest night and calmest day ...

That alder-tree, with a happy sound,
Bowed its whisp'ring branches to the ground.' 
(Ada Trevanion)

Pussy Willow

We had seen some people feeding Mallards and noticed Canada Geese getting in on the act too, this group came scurrying up to us but were disappointed on this occasion.

Canada Geese

 Finally, in keeping with the unfortunate distant theme running through this post, I saw this Cormorant overseeing the gulls coming in to roost for the night.

Cormorant and gulls

Until the next time ... enjoy the beauty of Nature, wherever you are.


  1. Hi Songbird,
    Another bright and cheerful post, with just a hint of controversy about it, :-),

    I do like the drake Goosanders, they are so striking a bird. How could anyone shoot one :-(

  2. Ya know Im the same way...I hate to tote a tripod..Im thinking of getting a monopod, it could be useful--Love shots anyways especially the teal...So colorful--
    I know what you mean about the weather we had such a good run, then the rain and gloom came and its still hanging around.
    OH well it will soon be SO Hot we will be complaining of that, Great Post!!

  3. Hi Jan another super post from you the images are great and the words you put to them bring it all together so well.
    I would agree you cannot use a 500mm without a tripod, thats why I stick with my 400mm and even then under dull lighting I use a tripod.We have also had the wind for the last week which has kept it very cold.Still March and hopefully a rise in temperture in the coming weeks.

  4. Great post again Jan.
    The Teal shots are lovely, as are the showing off Mallard ;)

    The Goosanders are beautiful birds, and such a shame some elements of our world see fit to destroy them; and other creatures.

  5. I enjoy your words as much as your pictures. I use a Sigma 500mm and never use a tripod, well into my 70's, I manage. I use my monopod as a walking stick.

  6. ShySongbird ,
    You seem to have started a three leg , one leg , no leg debate . I'm on the three leg side .
    Regardless of what you used , some really good shots again .
    Shame no male Smew , but the male Goosander goes well on the way to make up for it . Most enjoyable .

  7. Great photos in spite of being distant. I second Sondra's idea of a monopod. I got one last year and used it constantly until I left it in Belize (on purpose) back in October. I think i may buy another to keep here. There is still at least 5 inches of snow on the ground, so, wimp that I am, i have not been outside to photograph anything. Though I am putting together a little post on some life and (near)death activity outside my window ...


  8. Brilliant post, but the Teal is my favourite.

  9. Warren Baker

    Hi Warren :) Thank you very much, I might be a shy songbird but I have to have a little 'go' every now and again and like you I will never, ever understand how anyone can even think about shooting a living creature!


    Thank you Sondra :) I too have wondered about a monopod, it might be the best solution!
    We actually had some sun today, but still viciously cold :(


    Thank you Monty :) The lens I use the most is 250mm, I would be interested to kow how heavy your 400mm is.
    I do hope we all get some milder weather soon without that wind.


    Thank you Keith :) I do like the Teals especially the males, such striking plumage!
    I completely agree regarding the Goosanders, they are lovely and how anyone can even consider killing them, or any other creatures completely saddens and baffles me.

  10. Thank you for braving the cold bone chilling wind to photograph the birds! It is frustrating when the objects of your focus are too far away, but you have some wonderful shots. I am partial to the male teal and its attractive plumage The camouflage is indeed effective for the female. Super shots of the mallard display. As usual your intermingle of poetry is bonus!

  11. Mike Attwood

    Thank you very much Mike :) It is the Sigma 500mm which I have too but as I find it so heavy I tend to rely on my Canon 250mm.


    Thank you Greenie :) I seem to remember you saying you generally use a tripod, I think I may have to give in and do the same.
    The Smew is still there apparently but time is running out for me as I suspect it will soon be gone.


    Thank you Wilma :) I may give a monopod a try, I have wondered about it, perhaps that is the answer.
    I hope you get rid of that snow soon, if you don't you will be wishing you are in Belize like your monopod :)
    I look forward to reading your post.

    Bob Bushell

    Thank you very much Bob :) I like the fact that the Teal isn't as far away as some of the others!! :)

  12. Jan...despite not using a tripod, your photos are such a pleasure to see! That shot of the teal so well camouflaged against the that photo! Beautiful rippled reflection in the water too! And the drake is stunning!! As usual I love the verse that your posts are interspersed with.

    Hope your week goes well. I'm thinking about the bitter cold you mentioned.

  13. Ah. Distant is the story of my life when I am out and about. You still did well and have a great set of photos of the various water birds there.

  14. Glo

    Thank you Glo :) The cold that day really was bone chilling, that and the very distant birds made it a very frustrating and rather uncomfortable experience.
    I too like the male Teal, its plumage is lovely I think, not only the colour but the patterning.
    I'm glad you like the inclusion of poetry, it gets increasingly difficult to find the right pieces.

    Nature Rambles

    Hi Kanak :) Thank you, it took me a while to realise it was you under a new guise ;)
    Yes, the camouflage really does fascinate me, Nature is incredible.
    I'm so glad you appreciate the poetry, as I mentioned to Glo, in the reply above, it is getting increasingly difficult to find the right pieces, I think I will have to start repeating myself soon!
    I hope you are enjoying the week too. It is a little milder here today and we have some sunshine :)

  15. Thank you, Shy, for these beautiful photos. Some of your photos of ducks show what we see here, but most are different... love that teal!!

    Happy Spring!

  16. Hi,

    I have just found your blog, there are some lovely photos there with really nice light, your comment about the 500mm lens has got me thinking, as I'm just about to upgrade from a totally automatic zoom to an SLR, although not immediately as I'm saving for a good lens.

    All the best


  17. Jan, you have the most beautiful ducks at Draycote! I love the rich-colored plumage of the males, though the female redhead looks like she could use a little hair gel:) So good to see the pussy willows opening up, too. Just when I thought spring was on its way here, we had snow and blustery winds on Saturday, and another snowstorm is forecast for later this week. I've seen more of our usual spring bird visitors this week, but I'm not sure if they're prepared for the return of winter.

  18. Lovely photos. Are goosanders the same as mergansers?

  19. Midmarsh John

    Thank you John:) It would be so much easier for us all if the birds were more confiding and allowed us nearer but of course it won't ever happen and we only have ourselves to blame for that with the appalling way we have (and in some cases still do!) treated them over the years.

    Shady Gardener

    Thank you Shady :) I love the Teal too, you might be surprised how small it is, one of our smallest ducks!
    Happy Spring to you too :)

    Alan Pavey

    Hi Al :) Welcome and thank you for visiting and commenting. I found getting decent photos that day very difficult but in the right conditions Draycote is a great place to visit and photograph birds, a good long lens would be preferable though! I hope you enjoy your new camera and lens when you eventually get them.

  20. Rose

    Thank you Rose :) It is a great place to see birds (particularly water birds) which I would otherwise have no hope of seeing anywhere within easy distance of home.
    I agree that the Redhead needed hair gel :) I think we all do there, the wind can be very fierce at Draycote!
    I do hope the snow that has been forecast for you isn't too disruptive and that Spring is not too far round the corner.

    Lisa and Robb

    Welcome! Thank you for visiting and commenting :) Yes, I think our European Goosander (Latin name Mergus Merganser) is the same as your Merganser.

  21. what lovely photos, specially the teal, one of my favourite ducks!

  22. Crafty Green Poet

    Welcome! Thank you for visiting and for your comment :) The Teal is one of my favourites too, the drake is so striking.

  23. hi jan, draycote looks like a good place to go and see a variety of wildlife, always enjoy your visits there as i don't get to see many water birds, we hear the ducks flying over at night but that's as close as we get,

  24. denzil

    Thank you Denis :) Yes it is a great place to go and as I live in such a landlocked area I wouldn't see many water birds at all if I didn't go there.

  25. Hi Shy! You visited recently and left a cute comment about your "Mary Alice." :-) I left you a note about your amaryllis - so I thought I'd post it here, too.

    I have something I can tell you about your Amaryllis bulbs. The one that is growing only leaves will most probably only do that this year. Don't ever trim off the leaves from either bulb. Set them in a bright, shady spot all summer - keeping them watered if it doesn't rain. The bulbs will grow larger and stronger. In the Fall, take them indoors and place them in a dark, cool (if possible) spot. The leaves will die, eventually, and you can cut them off. By February or very early Spring, repot the bulbs carefully in new soil. Set them in a sunny spot. They say not to water, but I do - a good bit. Then let them sit without watering for awhile. They should begin to grow after awhile. Then you can resume watering (when they're dry). You should have blooms from both bulbs next year if it goes well! :-)


Please feel free to leave a friendly comment and thank you for taking the time to visit, it's much appreciated and I try to answer each one although it may sometimes take me a few days to do so.

PLEASE NOTE: Any comments which include unrelated links will be deleted!