Again, apologies, Google Blogger is giving me trouble with font size.
I arrived at Heathrow Airport at around 7:30 am on Saturday and after waiting approximately two hours in the passport line, I walked out to greet my friend, Cliff, who had been waiting all that time for me to have my passport stamped. We had coffee from Costas and then were in the car and on our way to Chilterns to see Red Kites. The weather was warm and muggy and the roads were heavy with traffic.
As above, the Red Kites (Milvus milvus) did not disappoint us, but they were just a bit too high up with a lot of haziness in the sky to photograph. Here is a silhouetted bird that flew quite low over our heads. Red Kites are a reintroduced bird in the England and Chilterns is a location where the birds were traditionally known to be.
The Red Kite photo above - a real Red Kite photo - was taken by my friend, Cliff Young, about three weeks after our first visit to the Chilterns area on 06-05-10. Is this a beautiful bird, or what?
To start the process of overcoming my jet leg my plan was to stay awake the whole day - I did not sleep on the plane - and was reasonably successful with this. Joy had lunch prepared and we ate on the sunny patio. Cliff put out mealworms for his garden birds and, while we enjoyed our lunch, we watched the birds come boldly up to his feeders - with their greatest interest being the meal worms. The following are the best photographs I could get from this.
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocta)
Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
Robin (Erithacus rubecula), iconic bird in England
Great Tit (Parus major)
In Cliff's yard there are also Magpies, a Blue Tit and a Green Finch pair all of which I am still hoping for better photos. When I think about this, and compare Cliff's yard birds to our yard birds, he has an amazing diversity.
Additionally, he also has a couple of the birds below. Note that I write a couple. They do not overwhelm his feeders, do not fight and are said to be in decline. I think we have a few we can send over if they run out.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that they are not so irritating over here. Incidentally, there are also Starlings out with their fledglings (cuter than I recall when home) but I draw the line at adding a photo of a starling.
Later Cliff and Joy took me to Brandon Marshes which is a very popular National Wildlife Trust preserve that surprised me by being full of bird song in the late afternoon. There were many other birders walking around and there were also photographers. The passerines were easy to hear, but difficult to see in the fully leafed trees. The fun bird, and one I never did see, was the Chiffchaff with its squeaky repeated singsongy, chiff chaff, chiff chaff, chiff chaff. Easy to figure that one out. The "hides" that are located in this birding spot and that look out over ponds or marshes are the best and really only way to get a look at the birds in the water or around the pond edges.
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Oystercatcher (Haemaatopus ostralegus)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
I am waiting for a better, i.e. less distant, chance at photos of Tufted Duck, Common Redshank and the like before adding.
Today we went to Coombs Abbey where we saw Jay, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Coot and the birds below - again, because of the distance, none are great photos - nevertheless, here they are.
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos); terrible photo, but red alert (in great decline) bird in England!
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
Tomorrow to Rutland Water Preserve and then to the county of Norfolk.
Next: "Norfolk is flat, very flat."
Next: "Norfolk is flat, very flat."