Tag Archives: Moorhens

River Witham in May

As I have said in some of my other Blog posts we are quite lucky in Lincoln to have many parks, pools, rivers and lakes and these are inhabited by a whole host of different wildlife species although birds are the most common and visible. As part of my “keep-fit” regime (limited though it is) I occasionally walk into town form home. This is between 4km and 5km depending on the route I take often culminating in the Starbucks on the High Street; as I walk quickly I’m quite warm at the end and I enjoy a Mocha Frappuccino Light which isn’t too high in syns (see the Slimming World website for details on what a “syn” is).

Although I walk rapidly I do look around on my journeys and so note anything of interest, I have even modified my route on occasion if there is something to see. My route into town takes me down Brant Road onto Newark Road (aka A1434) which then joins the A15. The two roads turn into a short dual carriageway called St. Catherine’s which after a round-about splits off into the High-Street and South Park Avenue. I follow the High-Street route into town.

At the bottom of the high street (just after the afore mentioned roundabout) is a pedestrian route to the right called Altham Terrace which runs adjacent to an off-shoot of the River Witham called Sincil Dike. On the opposite bank that is inaccessible to people is a large swan nest that had a female Mute Swan as the occupant (as well as no doubt one or more eggs).
I had wanted to take pictures of the swan and hopefully see how many eggs she had for some time and just over a week ago I made time to takes some photo’s. As I had walked from home to this Altham Terrace, I first had a quick drink of some coke I brought with me. The wasn’t much action so after the drink I took out my camera (OM-D E-M1 Mark-II + 300mm f4 IS PRO lens) and took a few shots. I waited for a bit and apart from some preening by her and the male “cob” there wasn’t much to see.

After taking a few shots of the two swans I carried on down Altham Terrace and saw my first set of ducklings this year, in total I saw five families of ducks and ducklings. In my enthusiasm, I had my shutter speed set too low (1/250 sec) so my first shots of the ducklings are all blurred as they were moving too fast.
As you progress down Altham Terrace / Sincil Dike after a small weir there is a river crossroads of Sincil Dike and the River Witham. Altham Terrace joins a road of the same name after crossing a pedestrian foot bridge. If you follow the River Witham to the right (North) it ultimately goes into town and eventually flows into the Brayford Pool in the centre of town. If you go left (South) the river flows towards the junction of Brant Road and Newark Road. You can either walk down the bank of the river or alternatively back from the bank is a tarmacked path (perfect for bikes). This has led to a completely new route which from the end of Brant Road and town.

Now onto the photographs…
My first three photographs are around the Mallard ducks; a small family, a female and 3 ducklings swam onto one of the banks that had some other Mallards there and there was an altercation between the mother and one of the males:

Whilst this was happening the ducklings took cover:

However, it all turned out well and the family carried on down the river foraging for food along the way:

Near where I was standing watching this (the junction of the two rivers) was a railing where a House Sparrow was collecting food and I caught a shot whilst it was perched on these railings:

When it jumped to the ground I took a couple more shots but that low shutter-speed caught me out and the bird was moving too quickly. However, a female Blackbird landed not far from the Sparrow and it wasn’t moving too fast so I managed a few nice shots like this one:

During all the commotion and the large number of birds in the water a Mute Swan that was swimming down (probably a Male) puffed himself up as follows, needless to say the other birds got out of its way:

Once I started to walk down the river towards home I saw other Mallard duck familes, Common Coots and Moorhens such as this one:
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What I didn’t expect to see though were any Grey Herons such as this one:

In fact, there were two Herons present, this one was on the other bank:

As this was on my side I walked slowly towards it and I managed to take a few head-shots as it looked over the tall grass. Not long after this the first Heron (on the opposite) bank took off and a few seconds later this one also flew away, this was my best effort and it would have been great if the other wing had been in frame too:

I think this a combination of my (lack of) skill and too much focal length and/or being too close.

As I said earlier this will most likely be my preferred way into town now as it is picturesque, offer photographic opportunities and is less polluted tank to the lack of cars.

Hartsholme Park – October 2016

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It’s been a while since I last visited Hartsholme Park and posted some photos; however, I managed to go last Saturday (just over a week ago) and try out my new Fujinon XF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 F LM OIS WR lens which I recently purchased from WEX Photographic for a considerable sum less than it now costs, even with the current cash-back offer taken into account.

I planned to visit the park at the weekend (to try out the new lens) and mentioned this to Richard who I work with, he hadn’t been for a while either and mentioned that he would join me if he could. A quick look at the weather forecast meant that Saturday (15th October) would be the better of the 2 days.

Saturday came and I was up early (to drive my Mum to work) and after getting ready and a good breakfast I headed out to Hartsholme Park, it isn’t a long drive and I arrived around 08:00. I set up the tripod and gimbal tripod head with the lens and camera and took this into the park, I tried a few photos of the Grey Squirrels on the way to my usual spot who were very active on Saturday, but these didn’t amount to anything usable. I ventured further into the park and tried taking a few other photos and noticed that the light levels were very low, I turned up the ISO to as high as I dared (6400 mostly) and this gave me enough light with a high of enough shutter speed to freeze any action or camera shake (even though the tripod helped with the latter of these two).

After about 45 minutes or so at my usual spot I was joined by Richard with his larger (than my) Gitzo tripod, Nikon D800 and Nikkor 300mm f2.8 lens. Although we managed to take a few photos of wildlife on the lake it seemed that there was more action happening behind us what with the squirrels, a curious crow and a few other birds like Wood pigeons and Moor Hens. Unfortunately, with the very high ISO I had to use a lot of my shots (particularly those that needed quite a bit of cropping) didn’t come out too well. I was however quite lucky that a relatively large number were OK enough for me to process and post on my blog. You can also see one of Richard’s on his blog here – at least he got these Canada Geese in focus, I wasn’t quick enough.

My favourite pictures are as follows (all taken with the 100-400mm lens @ 6400 ISO):

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Hartsholme Park in Early May

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A few days ago (on Bank Holiday Monday) I visited Hartsholme Park to see any young birds that might be present after all of the various mating that had been going on. I took the Olympus OM-D E-M1 with the excellent 40-150 f2.8 lens with the 1.4x extender attached. Fortunately for me the sun was behind me giving me the best chance to get decent pictures although the intensity varied quite a bit as the various clouds in the sky moved in front of the sun from time to time.

When I arrived at the water-front the first birds that I saw were the three Grey Herons almost mid-centre of the island near the water as per the image at the top of this blog post.

I took various photos of the usual inhabitants of the lake such as the Black Headed Gull now with its Spring/Summer plumage which shows how this bird got its name:
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We also had a number of Moorhens in the area too (I saw no pairs though):
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And the Great Crested Grebes were swimming and diving a lot of the time, I have never seen so many as per the last few weeks:
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With all of the different birds around they seemed to largely ignore each other, just like this Grebe swimming past the aforementioned Grey Herons:
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However, after all of this activity I did see a pair of Greylag Geese with 8 goslings, I do love watching groups of young and adult birds swimming together:
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As the Geese and Goslings swam out of view I moved around the lake towards their direction to see if I could get a better look. As I ventured around there were a number of Mallard ducks sleeping at the edge just like this female:
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As I was getting myself into a better position to get some photos of the Geese (being careful not to disturbs the ducks), I noticed this squirrel scurry in front of me and perch on top of a tree stump. I couched down and took few photos such as this one:
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There were at least two Greylag Geese families; in addition to the parents with 8 goslings there was another family with only 2 goslings, they warned each other to keep away:
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After watching the geese for a while I started to go back to my starting place and saw a rabbit scurry away. As usual they are very quick and shy and this was the best photo that I could get. This is what is known as a “butt-shot” but you can see that this is rabbit and it is the best one I have taken at Hartsholme:
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Just as I was about to venture around the corner not far from the rabbit I noticed two small birds hopping around the ground and fence, one was a robin on the fence:
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The other is a bird that I am not sure of, it looks a bit like a “Dunnock” but it could be female from another species:
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After walking around another way to the water-front (my starting position) I took a few photos of the Herons in their nests. There must be dozens of them on the island:
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As I was watching a magpie retrieve food from a bin and taking some mediocre shots a squirrel came within a few centimetres of me as I was crouching down. I suspect that he hoped I had some food, I managed a few shots even with the tele+extender combo on the E-M1 – the close focus distance of the lens came into play here. This photo isn’t great but it shows how close he was:
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What I was hoping to capture were some ducklings but I didn’t see any around in the near vicinity but I did see a family of them (I think) swim from one end of the lake to the other to the far right of my current position. So I decided to head in that direction to see if they could be found. Unfortunately when I got there they were nowhere to be seen, other birds were there such as adult Mallard ducks and Common Coots:
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After a while another Moorhen showed up and started to wade through the vegetation at the water’s edge as follows:
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So I decided to head back to the car and I noticed something that I must have passed (and not noticed) on my way to my last position. Not far from the edge of the path in the water was this Common Coots’ nest. On the nest was one bird positioning various plants, twigs and leaves around the nest as well as another Coot that had been collecting them in its beak and passing them to the other coot for the nest, it was joy to watch:
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I took one final photo as I left:
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It was a great session at the lake and I look forward to my next visit there. I took a few videos and I might put them up on Youtube when I get some spare time. This post has taken far too long to create and publish.