After the barren spell of April, filled with camera woes, I had hoped that May would get things rolling again. It did, and then some. What a month! This is just a brief summary of the end of it, to cover a few of the local trips made.
Continuing on the Bank Holiday weekend, after the effort of the Long Mynd, I opted for a more leisurely couple of days for the Sunday and Monday.
Brandon Marsh comprised of 2 sessions. Initially I spent a while watching and photographing the great spotted woodpeckers going to and from the nest, bringing back food and taking away the waste, though the chick couldn't be seen. Still too small I guess. Fantastic to watch these birds and observe their behaviour.
With the water level too high for the kingfishers at Carlton, it meant I could have a look around the other hides, and after bumping into Pam & The Gang, I was soon headed to the East Marsh hide, where apparently a pair of whitethroats were performing. Were they ever! Bringing food back to the nest, just a few feet from the hide window, then on the way out, perching for a breather on the tops of shrubs.
Around the rest of the reserve there were the usual warblers, a few cuckoos calling (always a fabulous sound I think), masses of swifts, swallows and martins swooping by, plus a few terns, flying with their awkward style overhead.
Upton Warren (Flashes)
Monday was a trip to Upton Warren, after I had been neglecting it somewhat as of late. The Hen Pool at the Flashes was the first target, though with the rapidly growing reeds, and a family of blue tits on the side of the hide, there was little to photograph, with the warblers keeping a fair distance from me. That said, patience paid off, and in a brief moment, a reed warbler hopped by, low down amongst the reeds, and I managed to get a couple of shots.
On to the main hide at the Flashes, and I was soon snapping away at the avocet chicks. They seem so happy pottering around in the shallows, swishing this way and that after food, oblivious to the carnage around them from their protective parents.
Cute as they are, they were outdone by a pair of lapwing chicks which have got to be one of the most adorable looking fluffballs out there. They alas kept their distance, so I could only manage some heavily cropped pics of them. Lovely to watch though, again with their watchful mother standing guard.
Brandon Marsh (Revisited)
This last weekend took me again to Brandon Marsh, to check up on the woodpeckers. The youngster, a vicious individual is now almost fledged, and was launching out of the nest hole to get at the parents' food, and gave them a nasty peck if they strayed too close without any food being on offer.
Aside from this though, the marsh was pretty quiet for photography, so didn't hold our attention that long. And there was no sign of the shrike that had appeared the day before, albeit at a massive distance!
Wyre Forest and Clee Hill
Sunday was initially going to be a trip to the Chase, but reports from those in the know (cheers Dave!) persuaded me to head elsewhere, to Wyre Forest as it happened. With lots of decent shots of pied flycatchers under my belt from Devon, I wasn't that bothered by the lack of them around the woods, though it is a little worrying not to see any. Nor did I see any redstarts, though they were probably still around the tops of the trees.
I did get to see a chattering male blackcap though, and several wood warblers, the latter being a master in the art of landing on obscured perches or being against a bright background, so limiting my photo options. Grrr.
By early afternoon the mozzies had reminded me why I hate them so much, and with an itchy hand, I made the hike back to the car park, bumping into Pam & The Gang (again!!) as they were out for a pleasant walk around the woods. They didn't fancy the trip to Clee Hill, so we parted and I soon found myself sitting on one of the benches at the viewing area...
Though not for long, when I heard the cry of a peregrine, and spotted it sat relatively close on the cliffs. A photo opportunity not to be missed, especially as it soon flew off. It returned a short while later, with the other parent in tow, and they perched further along the cliffs. After perhaps catching their breath, it was off hunting again, and they zipped off out of sight down to the low lands.
While they were away, out of the distance came a large bird of prey. A buzzard, I guessed, as there are loads around. But no, the flying style was all wrong. A red kite. Excellent. As I lined up some shots hoping it would come closer, I heard that wail again, and like a missile, from nowhere appeared one of the adult peregrines.
I don't think the kite knew what on earth it was, but it certainly didn't want to stay around to find out! And after a couple of very near misses, it had changed direction and soared off and away from the nest area. The peregrine circled overhead for a brief moment, before hurtling off to join the hunt again.
Another magical moment though to savour, and one to end a great month's worth of adventures.