Category Archives: Chiffchaffs

Catching up (January 2014)

I haven't posted any updates here for a couple of months, but I have been visiting Burton Marshes pretty much every week. During this time, two storm-surges have flooded the marshes, introducing new temporary lakes—much to the delight of the local wildfowl. I've also managed to get quite close to a pair of stonechats on a number of occasions, and taken some pretty nice photos.

Anyhow, without further commentary, here is a selection of photographs from Burton Marshes over the last couple of months (in chronological order):

Flock of teal, Burton Marshes.

Continue reading Catching up (January 2014)

Our 48th garden bird species

Ten years we've been at here, and we just spotted our first ever willow warbler in the garden. I know they're not exactly rare birds, but they are around here!

We couldn't believe our luck. It came right up to the patio door we were watching it through and actually perched on the sill, totally oblivious that we were there. Close enough to make quite sure that it didn't have the dark legs of a chiffchaff. A beautiful, olive green bird with dark eye-stripe and light eye-brow.

I sneaked upstairs for my camera, obviously. And, equally obviously, by the time I returned, the bird had disappeared!

In celebration of the 48th bird species spotted in/from our garden (excluding the neighbours' assorted poultry and grey parrot!), I have added a full garden bird list to this website.

I guess that officially makes me a bird nerd.

Moor Walk

A hot, slightly humid day, so I decided to seek some breeze on the Moor Walk.

The harebells are in bloom at the top of the lane. My favourite flowers: so delicate and subtle, yet always managing to survive and get noticed amongst the competing long grasses.

Harebells at the top of the lane
Harebells at the top of the lane

I had just got on to the moor when a weasel leapt out of the heather ten yards in front of me, scampered down the track, and leapt back into the heather. I had my camera in hand and ready to fire, but it was just too quick for me. As always, I was surprised at just how small weasels are: about the size of a large mouse, as contrasted with the squirrel-sized stoat. It was also surprisingly colourful: a glorious chestnut red.

Nothing much doing on the moor: too warm and still. No sign of the sought-for breeze. On the way down, I spotted some mushrooms. As ever, they were growing in old cow poo. I wonder if the mushroom spores are ingested by the cattle and pass through them, or whether they simply land on the cow pats.

Mushrooms in cow poo
Mushrooms in cow poo

Coming down from the moor, I heard a strange bird call from a garden willow at the side of the Lucky Field. I eventually spotted it flitting about, but it was too far away to make out any details. A willow warbler, I guessed, which seemed appropriate. I took a photo to see if I could discern more details at home. Later research, including listening to bird calls on the RSPB website, revealed that it was actually a chiffchaff: a bird so similar to the willow warbler that it took Gilbert White to work out they are two separate species.

Chiffchaff
A chiffchaff pretending to be a willow warbler.

Finally, on the Nook track, I gathered a few tufted vetch seed pods to sew in the garden at the base of our proto-hedgerow. I don't care if they're weeds. I like them!

More photos »