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!

Fungi Foray. November 2012.

 When Sarah and I took a leisurely walk around the Lodge at Sandy, the amount of fungi showing was exceptional, on this occasion I chose to hold a large cigar and not the camera!, but I chose to return a couple of days later to take these shots. There were a lot of decaying clumps and broken or eaten specimens so I had to search for some adequate enough to be snapped.

 Some ground areas were covered with fungi, which made for a more scenic view.

 You can see the tiny insect upon this fungi, and its only when you get up close that you view the wildlife living on and around them, and plenty of nibble holes proving they must be good food for some.

 I found a few like this one, growing with the cap in an upright position, which showed off the gills really well.
 Most of the large Fly Agarics had been squashed or broken down, but looking carefully I found a few new ones just emerging from the earth. Some already bearing teeth marks!. I had great fun laying prone and rolling on the ground to get the images, I would of stayed dryer if I'd remembered my waterproof bottoms! And the amount of times I got stung or had to de-thorn myself from the brambles will definitely not deter me from a Fungi Foray again.

Snipe still at Bev's. November 2012.

 The start of November and the Common Snipe were still in numbers at Bev's, unfortunately I could not find a Jack Snipe among them, still eluding me for the site list. The number of wildfowl seemed to be increasing, notably with the Gadwall. With a year at Bev's approaching quickly I still hope to add one or two species to the list, fingers crossed. 

Grafham Water. November 2012.

 With just a couple of hours forecast as bright first thing, myself and Sarah ventured up the A1 to Grafham water. I like to check stuff out along the dam end, knowing I would most certainly encounter some pipits, its always good practice on these small birds as they search the waters edge. 

 There were a couple of small groups feeding among the washed up debris. The challenge is setting yourself up ahead of them and hope they continue their line of approach. They tend to be quite flighty though and frequently squabble with other birds in the group causing them to take flight after one another, so its reposition time again!

 Along with a couple of Pied wagtails a White wagtail made an appearance a couple of times. It was fairly quiet otherwise and the weather set in darker than anticipated so time to call it a day.

Snipe spectacle at Bev's. October 2012.

 Although these images were taken on the same trip to Bev's as in the last post, I thought these warranted a entry of there own. I had seen Snipe here before but not in the numbers I  was about to witness. I noticed a few get up and fly off and spotted a few in the lakeside vegetation, but I did not expect the amount that then got up.

 In this shot there are 25 Common Snipe, and that was part of the group that took to the air, I couldn't fit the whole flock in the frame!
There were over 50+ snipe estimated, I have never seen that many at a time before.

 They continued to fly around the main lake, back and forth searching for a place to tuck up and hide away. They would occasionally take to the air before returning to the same spot. I could not pick out any Jack snipe though, whether this huge group will move on or stay I cant say, but I hope they find their surroundings comfortable and linger on.

Starlings put on a show. Bev's, October 2012.

 I had a few hours spare before having to pick Sarah up from work, so I headed up to Bev's which was just a short drive away. The weather was good for a change so I was hoping for some images to add to the yearly bag, I cant believe how quick the months have gone with the year mark nearly upon me.
 There was quite a buzz of activity around the barn and houses, with a troop of Long tailed tits providing the noise.
 On the main lake the duck numbers were increasing and a few more Pochard than last time, also the Gadwall and Shoveler seemed to of increased.
 Daytime gulls were more than normal with a couple of Common gull,Lesser black backed mixed in with the Black headed gulls.
 Just a single Little Egret compared to the usual four.

 There are normally a few Starlings around the entrance when I arrive, but what a sight I received whilst walking around the lake. I happened to look West across the A1 and there before me was a mass of Starlings. I have no idea how many birds were involved as they seemed to be different groups coming and going, but there were must be thousands.
 They twisted and turned and formed those familiar shaped bundles. And then they flew overhead to the common, wow what a sight.