Previously "Diary of a Birding Medic"

Previously "Rugby Birder"

Friday, 31 July 2009


In a quandary sums me up at the moment. I want (need) to update my camera lens from the Sigma 170 - 500 to a Canon 400 prime or Canon 100 - 400. So, what do I do? Budget is paramount and unfortunately not very big!


Buy new and have the safety net of a warranty should anything go wrong?
Buy second hand at the risk of "buyer beware"?
Use a local reputable dealer at a higher price or use a distant dealer at a lower price?
Risk a bid or buy on e-bay?
Try to part exchange my existing lens or sell privately?

More Choices?

Go for a Canon 400 prime which is cheaper? I nearly always use my Sigma at 500mm.
Go for a Canon 100 - 400 which may be more versatile, but more expensive?

I am not very good at making decisions and will probably make the wrong one! Hopefully I will make the right choice (probably when all of the bargains have been sold!). Eventually.......................

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Rutland Water Reserves

Marsh Harrier flypast just as I got into the hide, fired off shots , but got exposure totally wrong!

Little Egret

Green Sandpiper

Little Egret - You put your right leg in...................................!!!

Distant Osprey
More pics on website
Popped over to the Rutland Water Reserves at Lyndon and Egleton today in the hope of something special. I was disappointed!! Well not really, it was a nice day and some good exercise - I had forgotten how big the reserve was and how far it is between some hides. It was also very difficult to get close to the birds as some of my (poor quality) pics show, and why most of them are of Little Egret.
Started off at Lyndon and was surprised that the permit fee was still good value at only £4.00, covering both reserves. Walked to the furthest point, Shallow Water Hide which had most usual species plus Osprey, Ruff, Common Sandpiper and Egyptian Goose. Then a short drive to the Egleton Reserve. This is massive with hides spaced at quite considerable distances. It is possible to walk a long way and see very little! I walked north to the new Lagoon 4 which is producing waders but perhaps needs to mature further. Here, another Osprey, Little Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Redshank, Ruff and Common Gull were of note. Lagoon 2 held Pochard and Wigeon in small numbers, Little Egret (the only bird I managed to get close enough to photograph well), and Green Sandpiper. Entering a hide, I was in time to see a Marsh Harrier fly past. Managed to fire off a few pics, but soon realised my speed failed to ensure correct exposure!
Arriving back at the carpark, I decided to change into shorts for the drive home. As I stood next to the car in my underpants, I noticed the nearby CCTV camera and chuckled as to who may be watching a desirable hunk!!! (Well I can dream.........!)
This is also the nearest I will get to the Bird Fair! Sad, I know!!!
Wood Pigeon; Blackbird;Chaffinch; Carrion Crow; Swallow; Rook; House Martin; Blue Tit; Long Tailed Tit; Mute Swan; Great Tit; Greenfinch; Common Tern; Tufted Duck; Lapwing; Great Crested Grebe; Wren; Magpie; BH Gull; Jay; Reed Warbler; Starling; Coot; Mallard; Pied Wagtail; Ruff; Heron; Egyptian Goose; Curlew; Grey Lag Goose; Sand Martin; Canada Goose; Linnet; Common Sandpiper; Jackdaw; Dunnock; Osprey; Green Woodpecker; Moorhen; Chiffchaff; LBB GUll; Cormorant; Yellowhammer; Bullfinch; Swift; Collared Dove; Goldfinch; Shelduck; LBB Gull; Redshank; Little Ringed Plover; Pochard; Green Sandpiper; Little Egret; Reed Bunting; Gadwall; Sedge Warbler; Stock Dove; Dunlin; Common Gull; Wigeon; Marsh Harrier; Teal.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Draycote Water






Grey Heron

Mute Swan



More pics on website

Arrived at Draycote at 0730 (late for me) in warm, pleasant sunshine, so decided to walk the perimeter, amassing 52 bird species before leaving at 1100.
The Yellow Legged Gull was initially on a boat near the fishing pontoons, but was later seen on a fly past at Toft Shallows and ending up on a bouy off Biggen Bay. Farborough Bank produced a splendid Turnstone and a Grey Wagtail. The low water in Toft Shallows produced an adult Little Ringed Plover with three juveniles, and also, six Common Sandpiper, four adults and two juveniles. All the usual suspects for this time of year, most of which were being disturbed by the large number of bank and boat fishermen, together with a larger than normal number of fast, silent racing bikes. My arrival at the Valve Tower resulted in a female Goosander and then as I approached the Inlet, three Dunlin. So, a very pleasant morning. I even managed to pass by the refreshment van without buying a bacon and egg batch!
Rook; Greenfinch; Wood Pigeon; Chaffinch; Wren; Carrion Crow; Green Woodpecker; Pied Wagtail; Swift; House Martin; Skylark; Blackbird; Blue Tit; Magpie; Grey Wagtail; Mute Swan; Tufted Duck; Mallard; Canada Goose; Coot; LBB Gull; BH Gull; Herring Gull; Yellow Legged Gull; Cormorant; Great Crested Grebe; Chiffchaff; Whitethroat; Turnstone; Swallow; Jackdaw; Grey Lag Goose; Grey Heron; Common Sandpiper; Moorhen; Lapwing; Little Ringed Plover; Dunnock; Robin; Song Thrush; Goldfinch; Great Tit; Starling; Blackcap; Dabchick; Jay; Goosander; Dunlin; Willow Warbler; Gadwall; Buzzard; Cape Shelduck.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Draycote Water


Juv Little Ringed Plover

Juv Little Ringed Plover

Juv Little Ringed Plover

Pied Wagtail


I had not visited Draycote for several weeks, so with a couple of hours to spare, decided to walk to Toft and back. Arriving at 0645, I amassed 44 bird species before leaving at 1015. The day was warm with sunshine but the usual "Draycote breeze"!
The walk started well with a Yellow Legged Gull on the fishing pontoons. A cyclist who obviously could not get his gears to engage, crunched loudly past me, setting up two Redshank on Farborough bank, just as I was getting my camera on them, which flew towards the Visitor Centre. Further along Farborough Bank, an adult and two juvenile Little Ringed Plovers took flight, with a further juvenile located later in front of the bird hide. Two Common Sandpipers also took flight up and down the length of Farborough Bank before being re-located near the boardwalk. Very little else of note was seen. The number of people fishing seemed reduced (always a pleasure) but hordes of walkers and cyclists were arriving as I left.
Greenfinch; Chiffchaff; Wood Pigeon; Carrion Crow; Magpie; Chaffinch; Rook; Blackbird; Wren; Robin; Goldfinch; Swift; House Martin; Mallard; Dabchick; Coot; Mute Swan; Black Headed Gull; Tufted Duck; Lesser Black Backed Gull; Great Crested Grebe; Pied Wagtail; Redshank; Yellow Leggesd Gull; Little Ringed Plover; Meadow Pipit; Common Tern; Jackdaw; Cormorant; Common Sandpiper; Whitethroat; Moorhen; Lapwing; Grey Heron; Green Woodpecker; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Blue Tit; Great Tit; Canada Goose; Herring Gull; Common Gull; Linnet; Reed Bunting; Dunnock.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

No New Camera Lens for Me!

How I must have looked in the garage this morning (minus the water!)

Well, I have been looking at and considering a new or second hand Canon 400mm prime or 100 - 400 zoom to hopefully improve my images. This has now been put on the back burner due to the repair carried out on my car this morning! The warning lamp proudly displaying on my dash was looked at this morning and resulted in the departure of nearly £400 for a new "Flap Motor" (whatever one of those is?) and labour. Having finished yet another very busy night shift, I had foolishly booked the car in at a Coventry dealer straight from work. The garage was superb and very efficient - they quickly identified the fault, ordered the part, picked it up and fitted it within 90 minutes! Or was it their desire to remove a very tired, uncoordinated, unshaven "scruff" from their showroom? I leave you to decide...............?

Saturday, 4 July 2009


Driving home from Brandon yesterday evening, a warning symbol appeared on my dash, which on investigation suggested it involved the "control system for exhaust gasses". Stopped, switched off and restarted in the hope it would not return - it did. Normally, I would not be too worried. However, I drive a Skoda Octavia and the dealer 800 yards away has just closed as its parent company has gone bust. So telephone calls this morning to the nearest dealers in Coventry and Leamington left me with differing opinions. One said I should not drive the car until it had been looked at, the other said that I would be alright to drive it so long as the symbol was not flashing. It was not flashing. However, due to my work shifts, I cannot get the car to Coventry until after my night shift next Thursday. Then it will be investigated, and I bet it will need a part, which of course will not be in stock, meaning more trips.
Now, as my base is only 4 miles from home, I will take to my bicycle (and hope the weather remains fine!). But what a faff and how typical of my luck.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Brandon Marsh

Water Rail - East Marsh Pool

Green Sandpiper - Teal Pool

Tufted Duck - Carlton Pool

Tufted Duck - Carlton Pool

Grey Heron - East Marsh Pool

Grey Heron - Carlton Pool

Grey Heron - Carlton Pool

Kingfisher _ Carlton Pool

Grey Lag Geese - East Marsh Pool

Juv Lapwing - East Marsh Pool

Another hot and busy night shift so decided to pop over to Brandon this afternoon to "chill" out. Arriving at 1515hrs it was fairly quiet with 45 bird species being seen before leaving at 1900hrs. Not many people about either, but managed to bump into Richard M and Dave C who were chasing butterflies, dragonflies and other insects. They also did a fantastic crimewatch sketch when they put their nets over their faces! Some may say an improvement!!! (Sorry guys).

A leisurely walk in very humid conditions to the Teal Pool Hide where two Green Sandpiper were present then into the East Marsh Hide. Most of the usual suspects, with a Water Rail passing in front of the hide gathering food. Also of note were Oystercatcher (2), Ringed Plover (1), Redshank (4); Heron (8); Sand Martin (14). The Carlton Hide produced Kingfisher (1) but little else.

Overall, a pleasant afternoon.
Todays Sightings:
Kingfisher; Reed Bunting; Stock Dove; Swift; Goldfinch; Greenfinch; Chaffinch; Buzzard; Wood Pigeon; Swallow; Carrion Crow; House Martin; Blackbird; Reed Warbler; Coot; Grey Lag Goose;Mute Swan; Heron; Robin; Ciffchaff; Black Headed Gull; Whitethroat; Blue Tit; Moorhen; Mallard; Teal; Lapwing; Green Woodpecker; Jackdaw; Green Sandpiper; Canada Goose; Common Tern; Cormorant; Oystercatcher; Water Rail; REdshank; Sand Martin; Pied Wagtail; Sedge Warbler; Wren; Willow Warbler; Magpie; Cettis Warbler; Kestrel; Ringed Plover.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

The "BIG" Heat!

Not much time for birding at the moment and very busy at work due primarily to heat related problems. Can people no longer use common sense? How hard is it to wear lightweight and loose clothing, drink water based fluids (2 - 3 litres per day), keep cool (wet flannel on forehead works well), rest, allow plentiful ventilation in rooms and attempt to keep still air moving? Well apparently it is very hard! And it is not just the elderly, who can sometimes be excused, especially if they are confused - but wait, surely family and carers can advise and monitor compliance with the above? Failure to be sensible can easily lead to constipation, urinary tract infections, falls / collapses and dehydration (sometimes death!) all of which can lead to hospital admission, where lots of nasty, hard to treat "bugs" await their arrival!

Typical call to someone feeling lethargic, lifeless, hot, clammy, sweaty, nauseous and not feeling like eating. Well try to take on board the above! 99% of the population are feeling the same - including ME who has just lugged all my emergency equipment up several flights of stairs to be greeted by a pathetic 22 year old (30+ years my junior), who seems incapable of accepting responsibility for their own well being, and then complains that the profuse beads of sweat from my brow is dripping on them!

I desperately need to get out birding ..............................!!!