Thought I better give the camera an airing

With the easing of lockdown coinciding with the start of Spring, it only seemed right to let my camera see the light of day again and I had a lucky feeling I might see something different today. Although I’ve been keeping my birding skills up to scratch with regular walks around my local patch, Earlswood Lakes in Warwickshire, I’ve not used my camera in anger for some time, bar a few shots from the office window of the garden birds.

Great-crested Grebes

I’d been enticed down to the lakes this morning by an early report of a Wheatear in the adjacent horse paddocks, the first sighting of this species for the year, but coming on the back of a flurry of migrants through in the past week or so, with the first House Martin on March 29th, Swallow March 28th, Sand Martins March 24th and Little-ringed Plover on March 18th.

The lakes are undergoing some serious maintenance over the coming months, so water levels have been lowered, which is not great timing for some species, like the Great-crested Grebes for example which will struggle to find a suitable nest site this year. We’ve still got a lot of birds left from the large over wintering group, with at least four pairs practising their wonderful courtship dance, so maybe they no better than me?

Exposed mud at this time of year will certainly draw in some migrants and we’ve had Avocets, Dunlin, Redshank, Teal, Gadwall and a Shelduck through recently, all of which are normally a rare sighting when water levels are at their normal depth, so its certainly created a buzz among the local birders as to what we might see next.

Coot

After tracking down this mornings Wheatear, I was met at the lakes by the usual suspects, Coots, Black-headed Gulls, Mallards, Tufted Ducks, Canada and Greylag Geese, and the sunny morning was certainly encouraging the smaller birds into song.

Nuthatch

Nuthatch were particularly showy and vocal, with one singing close enough for me to get a few nice images of surely one of our most handsome birds.

Nuthatch

The morning was to get even better though, with the sudden appearance of an Osprey over the damn and drifting west across Engine pool. I’d somehow managed to spot it before the local gulls did, who soon caused the bird to change tac and head north, but not before I got a couple of record shots.

The bird flew just close enough to see it had a blue ring on its leg, but no chance of reading it sadly, it would have been nice to have known its origins but good to have them back and to see one so locally.

One species that is an occasional visitor to the lakes, but could actually stay and breed this year due to the lower water levels is the Oystercatcher. The larger expanse of shoreline and exposed muscles have encouraged them to hang around, with up to eight birds across the three lakes counted. Terrys Pool now has a large pebble island which looks perfect for them to stay and nest.

I’m hoping to get my holidays up and running again with a Devon trip planned for May, but for the meantime, its nice to be able to see a nice range of birds so close to home.

8 thoughts on “Thought I better give the camera an airing

  1. Thats good to know. If its a Rutland bird it was going the wrong way.. We will keep the Ospreys for a while, you can have them back in The Gambia in a few months my friend.

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  2. Great blog, its been a great year so far at the lakes. I waited around for an hour today to try see the osprey but no show, unfortunately. Great that you seen them, its good encouragement for me 👌

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    • Its just being in the right place at the right time, but the more hours you put in the luckier you get. I missed all four Osprey sightings at the lakes last year, but had two from the house which is no where near water. Just keep looking up and listen for the tell tale sounds of Gulls and Crows getting agitated.

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  3. Thanks Ashley, great to hear your news and your lucky sighting of the osprey. Blackcap singing in my garden today – and the usual chiff chaff heard last weekend. A good number of yellowhammers singing down the lane this year – last year they were conspicuous by their absence. So glad they’re back and in fine fettle. x

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  4. Hi Ashley,
    We enjoyed your latest Blog. Pity about the Lakes being low , but it is a case of you win some, and you lose some!
    We’ve been on the look out for the arrival of Wheatears on the Common on the East side of Titterstone Clee Hill. We are hoping that they will be around by this Saturday, when we are taking a group around!
    Now, we will try and get you excited – we saw a pair of Goshawks overhead and quite close on Sunday! This was at a forest near Clun, about 10 miles West of Craven Arms. We were on the first outing, for exactly a year, of our local RSPB Group. The chap leading it had a good idea that they might be around. In fact, he’d pointed one out last year but it was in the distance amongst some Buzzards. The other good spot was a wonderful view of a Siskin in the sun.
    We are hoping to meet up with some of last Autumn’s Torquay crowd at Slimbridge at the end of the month.
    Looking forward to the Scottish Jolly in June.
    Lionel & Beth
    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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  5. Glad you approve Lionel. no doubt you’ll get eyes on Wheatear soon enough, but this blast from the north may slow things somewhat. Goshawk sightings are few and far between, so that was a bonus. I believe they’re on the increase again thankfully.
    Enjoy Slimbridge and I’ll see you both again soon. Take care.

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