On it like a car bonnet


Hello! Yes we're still here! You'r reading this quite a while after the event due to unforeseen circumstances so apologies to you all. There may be some omissions of the tale due to age and incontinence or is that incompetence. Well what you don't know you wont miss. So on with the tale of a potential new era in the EFRS.

Erm! how did it all begin? Hmmm..... Oh yes we were supposed to do a cycle around Steart then we decided it was a bit chilly so a cycle along the usual route then we admitted defeat and plumped for Grey Lake. This conveniently gave us the excuse to not take the bikes as it's a bit too far away for all that. You wouldn't catch me cycling along the A39 anyway.

So we were off to the haunt of the likes of Mike Tout and Carl Bovis. Neither were there as we practically had the place to ourselves. Save for a small group of four in the main hide we had the cammo raised hide all to our selves.

'Tis the time for Fieldfare and Redwings

Rather nice Reed Bunting by James from the safety of the Carpark

The sight that welcomed us at the Hide.

It wasn't long before we saw the cause not one but two Marsh Harriers and a rather plump and well fed Female Peregrine. When they were on the prowl they set the whole lot up.

Spot the Pintail

That Pintail again

The Peregrine having a look-see

Having a rest

The Peregrine made quite show with several guest appearances along the way

Peregrine and Great White Egret

Peregrine on her own

Peregrine, Marsh Harrier and Crow

Peregrine, Marsh Harrier and Grey Heron

While she had another rest the Crow and Marsh Harrier did another turn

Ah! she's back

Far off at the back of the reserve there were murmerations occurin'

Lapwing were up and off

Enough of the raptors what about their food?

How cute are Teal?

Shoveler the odd one out here

That was Greylake very dark and very grey with only the odd glimpse of pale blue between the dark clouds. We'd had enough and began to realise why everyone else was in IKEA that Saturday. We however were made of sterner stuff. We headed back over to Catcott for more action. I was determined to see this Hen Harrier that Lee Dutton had seen on more that one occasion. Why should he have all the luck. Perhaps his regulation blue RSPB flees had something to do with it? Perks of the job perhaps??
Unfortunately Catcott was having one of it's quiet days. It's an odd place like that and often either feast or famine. It was definitely famine today.

Coot chocking on a reed

The Wigeon getting territorial

To encourage something a little more exciting James went for a stroll back up the track. He came back pretty soon with the same picture count that he left with.

Being a little down at heart we wondered what to do. James had a stroke of genius. With a deduction worthy of Sherlock Homes himself he calculated that Tealham Moor would be good for close up birds. We headed straight there without delay. With slightly less deductive powers he had also predicted a hive of activity amongst the Heronry which there was nothing but a few dead twigs falling silently in the breeze from the skeleton trees still waiting for the birth of the next generations of themselves and the birds.

He was spot on about Tealham though. His reasoning being that it was quiet especially with cyclists so birds would be more inclined to go towards the edge of the roads. But how would we do this? Would we wander walking down the road or drive and stop at spots along the way. We did neither. We cruised along. I did the driving in my corporate chariot which is more used to cruising at 80 up and down the countries motorways all day so a gentle crawl at 12mph  along a single track was probably a blessed relief. It was for me, thats why I do this and you do to more than likely.

It worked.........

Tree Creeper

Little Egret

Great White and Little Egrets

We ended up by the T junction passed the bridge with James very happy save for the fact we had not seen a Kestrel all day. There's usually one or two around but not here. His eye was in however and called for a halt. There was one sitting on a gate. He got him. As is often the case if you try and stalk a bird they sit there and think "Why is that thing stalking me? I'd better fly away" so they do. If you just drive up and stop, wined your camera out and snap without a care in the world they often don't take a blind bit of notice. Which is what we did.


Feeling a little left out it was my turn to snap on the return journey

Rather demure teenage Signet/Swan

Crow eating what looks like a Shrew

And James doing Artsy!

With our ardor up we were on a roll and getting excited. So excited that we screeched to a halt (Well as screechy as 12mph will get you!) and spotted another Great White Egret along a rhyne.

'That' Great White Egret

With a bit of a giggle we called it a day and drove home but not before stopping at a sorry figure looking forlornly into the fields yonder. He spun round as we stopped to enquire as to what he was looking for. It was non other than Cliff Smith (Twitter name: @01000011S ) looking for the White Fronted Geese. Someone else who spends a lot of his time sprinting up and down the motorways of Britain but for more pleasurable motives. He's an ardent twitcher of the highest order. I often admire his determination on Twitter when I read where he's been gallivanting off to. He had managed to see some Golden Plovers! We thought of stopping at the Sheppey as it has been a while but it was early Sunday afternoon and roast was still in full swing. We settled for the G&P in Glasto but not before I had thought I had seen my first......... I stopped and with hushed tones proclaimed to James. "I think I've just seen my first Little Owl". I reversed slowly to the Pillbox by the road looking into the gun slit preparing to see the grumpy look of an owl.............

'That' Little Owl

It was a good day in all. Greylake produced, Catcott had its ducks and Tealham was full of it. James did well with his prediction. You could say he was on it like a car bonnet. EFRS had discovered a new way of doing things and with our gathering years perhaps this could be the norm? I doubt it folks. We'll be back on two wheels in no time. Well once the weather warms up and the bones stop aching and the back stops playing up and as soon as I find that tube of Wintergreen and thermal socks.

Just to show Lee Dutton we're still on the ball I let him know we had seen a Peregrine. His reply? He saw FIVE!! Two sitting next to each other. I was right, perks of the job init!!


Too close for comfort


James didn't have much time so it was an early start to the day. 8am sharp at Greylake was the order. As is the tradition for the EFRS I arrived to the wonderful scene below at about 9:20 with James running just a little late. 9:20 and I was greeted with a wonderful display from the raised hide at Greylake of hundreds of Ducks doing a fly about.

I had a good scan to see what was about. A pair of Female Marsh Harriers were quartering around not too far from the hides but far enough away to not be worth the shot. Pretty much standard for Marsh Harriers in our experience. Anyway James turns up complete with bobble hat and Lidl gloves well it was a bit chilly.

Wigeon coming in

Rather chuffed with this Shoveler

One of the Marsh Harriers scaring the ducks

I do like a bit of symmetry

With not a lot happening I plumped for an exercise in Snipe. It wasn't too successful with most keeping well down and out of the way. I tried anyway. James on the other hand had higher ambitions of Peregrines. Well you can but dream and Greylake is a good spot for them.

Pretty much as good as it got with the Snipe

Not the first Great White Egret to drop in on the day

Little did it know but this Lapwing would have quite an exciting time in the next few minutes (OK it probably isn't the exact Lapwing as there were rather a lot of them and they do tend to all look the same but in the interest of drama we'll assume it is this particular one shall we)

Aye up whats this coming right at us James?

Yep James had got his wish and far off there was a distinctive shape sending mayhem up amongst the ducks quietly minding their own business in the fields.

The scythe of DEATH

Hmm good luck with that!

Who's chasing who??

As close as it got (It did get a lot closer than this but read on)

It did indeed get a lot closer. Right over our heads out of sight directly above the hide roof. It was chasing a, sorry I mean the lapwing for lunch. We got rather over excited by it all as we heard the squeal of the Lapwing and a crashing of branches. The Peregrine must have just caught it but it managed to fall into the trees immediately behind the hide. James had it in his sights but couldn't focus quick enough before it fly out. The Peregrine was well gone by this time. The whole palaver was too close to capture even if the roof hadn't been there but at least we would have seen it. Bugger!
A few minutes later it appeared on a far off post. The Marsh Harriers were not too pleased.

Marsh Harriers and Peregrines don't mix

Finally a couple more of the hunkered down Snipe

We thought we'd seen enough for one day at Greylake and headed over to Catcott. 

James: I'll take over from here then.  After leaving Greylake Andrew speeded  off in his new fancy car.  But then suddenly stopped after the creepy abandoned looking motel.  Perhaps he had seen a ghost?  It actually turned out that he needed a wee.  Leaving him to it I arrived at Catcott.  I was slightly off put by the large number of cars sprawled all over the place.  Looked more like Tecos carpark than a slice of countyside.

 Just before Andrew arrived there was a bit of a commotion but I dont know what caused it
 Its the jittery Lapwings, they are always on edge!

 Andrew looking uncertain - dont worry it is Catcott.  Not Tescos carpark.
My sports car occupies the foreground.

Thats more like it.  Best bird in the sky. Hard as nails.

Unfortunately the Peregrine was only flying through.  Perhaps Greylake offered some easier Duck pate?

Speaking off which...

Plenty of winter ducks and the sun even came out for a bit

Time was getting on and the childrens party loomed closer.  Luckily it was pretty flippin cold and it was quite nice to warm up a bit in the car.  It had been a great start to the year - long may it continue!