This weekend of 25th-26th September was one of two halves – Saturday was mostly sunny, warm and bright if a little breezy, and Sunday was foul. Cold northerly wind, 100% low cloud cover and plenty of rain were the order of the day, so my two outings to the countryside were rather different.
On Saturday I spent a couple of hours wandering around Milton Country Park which is a great place to see wildlife of all types. There were lots of mushroom species on open grassy areas and others in the leaf litter and some splendid brackets sprouting out of fallen trees. Many trees and bushes were providing support for enormous growths of old mans beard and brambles with tons of blackberries, so my fingers were purple when I got back to the car.
My main aim this weekend was to photograph birds such as mute swans, coots, moorhen, mallard, canada geese and great crested grebe. All these were present in numbers this weekend so I got a chance to take lots of photo’s.
Male mute swans are fiercely protective where cygnets are involved and this magnificent chap was reacting with alot of aggression toward another swan which got too close to his offspring. He chased it off at high speed, paddling so hard I could hear him moving through the water.
There were lots of people in the park so woodland birds were staying in the tops of the trees. Consequently I caught plenty of fleeting glimpses of small brown things flitting around up high but they were impossible to identify. At least by me!
In direct contrast there were darter dragonflies everywhere, hunting low to the ground round the bottom of bushes. They were all keen not to land so I gave up trying to photograph them.
Due to the foul weather on Sunday it wasn’t a particularly good day to see birds, but in the fields north of Histon the flock of around 200 rooks rooks which I call the Churchyard Posse were on the ground feeding and indulging in the kind of devilment that members of the crow family are famous for:
A small flock of around 25 lesser black backed gulls were mingling with the rooks along with hundreds of wood pigeon which seem to have had a good breeding season this year. Most of the fields have now been ploughed but in those with cover skylarks have returned after the harvest. In one small corner I counted ten rising out the scrub, chasing and wheeling at low level. Others were constantly rising up in small groups of two, three and four, apparently playing tag before disappearing rapidly into the grass again. The hedgerows were mostly silent and the only songbirds to be seen were reed bunting. Because of the poor light they were extremely difficult to photograph, so this picture is one I shot a couple of days before, she sat proud on top of the hedge and allowed me to approach to within 30 feet and capture a reasonable shot:
It’s now getting dark before I can get out walking in the countryside so until about March 2011 my meanderings will be mainly in the morning, but I’m looking forward to seeing our winter visitors such as redwing and fieldfare arriving in the next month or so.