"Swan Lake". Bev's. December 2012.

Ten days after the first December visit to Bev's and the month is flying past. There were a few more Common Snipe this time although only just into double figures. No sign of the Goldeneye that was here last, but plenty of Gadwall still and a few Shoveler.

After a quick jaunt around I set up to see what was available for some images, I opted to stay put and capture anything providing picture opportunities especially any flight images with which to practice on.

Any larger gulls than the Black headed and Common seemed to pass over high, the lone Kestrel was very active, no doubt taking advantage of the decent weather that was gracing us for a change.
I think this is the first record shot of a Wren at the sight, I'd seen them before but never managed to grab a shot. I also noticed there were a handful of Song Thrushes around the site. Normally just one maybe two but I had 5 or 6 today feeding in the waterside vegetation, and never stopping to pose for a shot.

With a few more Mute swans present I finished up with some images of them, getting close in for some water dripping images. Then to add to a very nice morning out, I noticed something along the waters edge on the far side. With just binoculars, although more than adequate for identifying stuff at range, I happily picked out a Water Rail scurrying along the waters edge before weaving in and out of the vegetation. I'd only been thinking about catching a glimpse of one earlier as I searched the drainage ditches for snipe, no picture because of the distance, but a tick I was pleased to get.

Hoar frost extreme. Wrestlingworth. December 2012.

Only the second real hard Hoar frost that I can remember, and the first that Sarah had been able to witness, we both dressed for the cold and set off around the village. It is an amazing sight to see, everything white and frozen. But the extent of frozen taking to a higher level, on closer examination the leaves,branches and virtually everything else had a needle like coating. Some of the leaves still had some vivid colour and these stood out on the almost bare branches, most were falling with the added weight of the spiky ice jackets. The leaf litter covering the ground was brown and wet from the defrosting ice and giving a contrasting colour scheme when a ice laden green leaf hit the floor.

Every branch just glistened with the icy spikes. Yet some ice formed more like small crystal beads. A feather    lodged in a tree had now become more of a jewelled brooch, whilst the berries took on a frozen punk look hairdo!
I hope the next Hoar frost graces another work free day, I'll be donning the thermals and getting out there again. 

Waters freeze at Bev's. December 2012.

 The start of December and the conditions were becoming cold to say the least. A trip to Bev's found the outer edges of the lake frozen over. Mostly Black headed gulls and a few Common gulls occupied these areas, there was a group of Lapwing that were circling but they ventured further afield.

 This Common Gull unusually stayed put and allowed a fairly close approach, enabling me to grab a few decent images.

 The Goldfinches were mobile as usual, but not in the large groups as before, busily feeding on any seed they could find.
 Even on a grey day these birds seem to shine in colour.

 This female Goldeneye dropped in on its own, after a very short spell it disappeared, not before I could get a record shot though.
Whilst skirting the reed fringes I noticed a small bird flitting around, revealing itself as a Chiffchaff only to then be moved on by a Reed bunting. Other birds noted were a Green woodpecker perched in a hedge and a Goldcrest which was nice to find but frustratingly flew as I pulled focus with the camera!!
With the cold weather forecast to carry on hopefully some winter birds will visit the lake....oh and as for the Snipe, I only saw 2 this time, no doubt they were further back from the water sheltering in the grasses.

Slavonian Grebe. Priory CP, Bedford. Nov 2012.

 This Slavonian Grebe was found at Priory Country Park in Bedford, and being not too far away and a couple of hours spare I made the trip up there. There were plenty of Great crested grebes present but I couldn't see the Slavonian anywhere. I headed along to the shingle 'beach end and it was there that I spied it,  it was staying near a group of Tufted duck and fairly close in to the bank, the only problem was that the sun was directly behind and the bank side plant obscured any chance of a frame filling image. 

 But I set myself up for a patient wait and hoped it would move to a better position which it duly did, and I was able to grab some shots. The piercing red eyes really shone when the sun hit them, YES I did say sun!... one of those rare weather days I seem to experience. It was actively catching small fish, but had to keep an eye out for the dominating Great crested grebes as well as the Black headed gulls. as it surfaced with a fish it would then have to dive back under as the gulls pounced on it. 

"I thought the last count was big!" Bev's Nov' 2012.

 22nd November 2012.
The forecast was a brighter morning then rain moving in through the afternoon, well as usual that turned out to be fiction. I hadn't been at Bev's long before the clouds rolled in and the rain, albeit a few drops, started. The lone Little Egret was still present and the Gadwall numbers seemed to of swelled, I counted 26 with possibly a few more on site. The Lapwings were moving from the lake to the fields but unfortunately no Golden Plover.
 I noticed a few thrushes moving along the southern hedge line, and I noticed a few Redwings mixed in and I was lucky to get a record shot of one. The Fieldfare were always flying overhead though so no image there.

 As the skies darkened, it wasn't even midday yet!, I focused on the still present flock of Common Snipe. The flock seemed large as before, but its hard to estimate the numbers when they take flight in different directions, and they are fast fliers too which adds to the task of counting.
 I took some time to carefully approach a few on the outer edge of the group, and was able to get pretty close, not one bit perturbed by careful stalking they even took to short spells of sleeping. Some of the Snipe were a lot richer in colour, and they were dotted anywhere there was a bit of cover. Still no sign of a Jack Snipe though, with the year mark getting closer I still hope to tick that off the list.
 My best chance of an estimation of Snipe numbers was to take shots of them in flight and then count them, in the image below, this large group did not comprise all of the birds on site and staggeringly in this one image there is a total of 84 ...yes 84 Common Snipe. I think if I attempt any more Snipe counting I'll need a wide angle lens!