Thursday, December 02, 2010

From Waxcaps to Waxwings to Whiteout!

Wow, November went out with a bang - and December came sweeping in in a big white coat. Edinburgh seems long ago and far away. My outing with the local RSPB group to Frampton Marsh went pretty well. I met an old colleague on the coach, so the journey went quickly. The reserve itself is quite new so it still feels a bit "under development", but there was plenty to see. It was quite busy as they had double booked, so as well as casual visitors there were 2 coach parties. At times, the hides were a bit congested. The real highlight for me was watching a barn owl hunting over the marsh shortly before we left. I got a few hasty shots, which turned out better than I expected - they might be used in the trip report, but it hasn't been posted yet. Weather permitting, I'll be going on the next trip to Tophill Low. I've also been on a couple of waxwing forays. Having the intel from Sheffield Bird Study Group really helped me to track them down, and I managed a number of sightings and quite a lot of photographs of varying quality. I like this one best, as it is against a green background, not the usual backlit sky, and I've managed to get the wing colours showing, which isn't the case on many other photos I've seen.
Since the snow started, I've been on a couple of local walks in Rivelin Valley. I'm glad to have this so close by - it means I can get out and get fresh air and take pictures without having to dig out the car, or even worry about whether the buses are running. On Sunday the light was stunning. I had a couple of unexpected encounters - one with a couple of geo-cachers wanting to look under my sitting rock for their cache - I helped them hunt for a while but by the time I moved on, they still hadn't found it - and a nearly too close encounter with a guy who had taken the steep road that skirts the top of the wood I was walking along, and failed to stop at the bottom in the icy conditions. Fortunately, he wasn't hurt, but he'd made a bit of a mess if the car which had ploughed into the undergrowth before finally coming to a halt. On Tuesday I did the same walk after a little more snow. It was less eventful, and the light was not as good, but I did see a jay, lots of long-tailed tits and a grey wagtail.
Pretty much everything I had in my diary for this week has been cancelled - a visit to a friend, a couple of bird-related events, my art class, my Mac workshop... I'm still not used to the fact that I don't actually have to do anything. I've been feeding the birds in the garden, of course, and spending a lot of time watching for new ones. Nothing new so far unfortunately, but plenty of the usual suspects: magpie, robin, blackbirds, dunnock, chaffinch, coal tit, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, wood pigeon, collared dove, feral pigeon, starling - oh and I did see a kestrel overhead yesterday, which is a first from the window.
As there is some sunshine forecast for tomorrow, I might get my boots and my Yaktrax on and get out to another stroll.

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