Thursday, 29 January 2015


Sorry for the late post, managed to put up the header of the Jay, then everything went haywire, finished up taking the computer to the doctor who found it had got a virus, got it back this afternoon so back in buisiness.

We decided to have a change in our route, and as the weather was not over special, we had an idea to travel through some of the Little Owl sites for a quick look, have lunch at Site No. 9 and then travel on to Rutland Water. Having left our house at 11.00 hrs we as usual set out on the look out. It is still a little early to seriously look for new Little Owl sites and we could do with some improved weather {mind we still keep an eye out just in case} and as some good birds had been reported at Rutland Water, and so off we went. The closer we got to Rutland Water the light got worse and the horizon became somewhat misty.

We arrived and walked straight through to Lagoon 4, this is still very full and so very few waders or anything much was evident, we then left and went to Lagoon 3 and had a couple of hours watching and waiting. We hoped to see the Bittern but they had been seen in the morning but were not visible whilst we were in the hide and the other gents in the hide had likewise not seen them prior to our arrival. Luckily we had a couple of very friendly chaps with scopes who pointed out some Smew but these were very distant and with a mixture of the light and mist it was difficult to get a reasonable image. Large lenses also magnify the mist as well as the subject.

We then visited Lagoon 2 and eventually left Rutland Water at about 14.45 hrs and returned past some of our sites. In the outward and return trips we saw 5 Little Owls as follows. 1 at Little Owl Site No. 5, 2 at Site No. 9 and 2 at Site No. 10. The two at Site 5 were initially marked at being only one but on checking the image on the return journey it was obviously a second bird due to the chest marking, this bird has a large white band up the centre of its chest.

Pintail Duck, Lagoon 3.

I find it very difficult to not take an image of these ducks, they are so pretty and really stand out in the crowd.  

Redshank, Lagoon 3.

Again a bird I like to watch, I like the first image with the mud on its bill.

Shelduck, Drake, Lagoon 3.

A large duck whose place is somewhere between a typical duck and typical geese. The females nest in a disused rabbit warren lining the nest with down.

Teal Drake, Lagoon 3.

These are such pretty Ducks.

Mute Swans, Lagoon 2.

Three swans in aggressive mode with heads tucked down.

Smew Drakes, Lagoon 3.

A stretch to far, the birds were at a distance of 410 metres and it was misty, plus they are not that big a duck. Had help from a gent in the hide to find them using his scope. A couple of Red Heads were also seen.

Little Owl Site No. 13.

In the next week or two, my farmers wife Margaret and myself are going to try and find the nest tree ready for the Spring and breeding. These birds appear to over Winter in the barn.

Little Owl Site No. 5.

Quick image of the bird sound asleep taken at a reasonable distance away so as to not disturb the birds. 

Little Owl Site No. 9.

The bird sat in the nest hole as we had our lunch so could no resist an image. On our return we saw a bird again in the hole but turned out to be another bird so we have still got the two birds. 

Buzzard Between Little Owl Site Nos. 1 & 2.

Spotted by Richard and attempted an image but as the light was going not that bad. 

Jay Between Little Owl Sites 5 and 6.
We were driving between the two sites when I saw a flash of colour, stopped the car and spotted the bird so managed a quick shot just before it flew away.

Great Spotted Woodpecker, Our Garden.

The Woodpeckers have to take turns in between the Jays visiting the nut feeder , this one is waiting in the top of the tree waiting for the Jay to depart.

Saturday, 17 January 2015


Eventually Richard and myself have had a trip out together, not over successful bird wise, but it was good to be out. We decided to get out early in the week with the forecast for the weather not being good for later in the week, so come Tuesday, out we went. The day started out very good with a lovely sunny morning, but by the time we went out it had started to cloud over and a slight wind had become noticeable. 

We left our house at 11.00 hrs and headed towards our first Little Owl Sites, the first site we visited had a Greater Spotted Woodpecker high in the tree but no signs of Little Owls, we are both of the opinion we have lost these birds, but we will still watch the site just in case. 

The next site we saw a bird at was Little Owl Site No. 5 where it had hidden itself round the back of the tree out of the increasing breeze. Seeing this bird was a great relief for Richard as the previous week the farmer had reported a commotion coming from the nest hole.

We carried on our journey visiting our normal sites stopping at Site No.9 for our lunch, so having fed the inner man we carried on and not until we got to Little Owl Site No. 15 did we see another bird. 

As the clouds were getting darker we again carried on towards Little Owl Site No. 12 but as we got closer it started to sleet, this quickly changed to snow as the temperature dropped from 6.0 degrees C to 1.0 but we carried on as we were sure it wouldn't land. 

Arriving at Site 12 we could see no sign of the birds, we could hardly see the trees or the barn due to the snow, so after a few minutes and as it was starting to land we set of on our return journey as no self respecting owl would be out in this weather. 

However we went back past Site No. 15 and sat out in the snow were both birds, this time higher in the tree, we attempted some images, mine are not good, so back to site 9 and a cup of tea, the snow came harder still so we set a course for home but as we started to get lower the snow eased until by the time we got back to site 5 where it was cold but not snowing, this I can say was the case as we stood outside for ten to fifteen minutes, me in just a jumper talking to the farmer.

We then headed for home and as approaching  Little Owl Site No. 4, I suddenly saw a shape appear above Richards car, we stopped and a Buzzard flew past us and headed to the corner post of a fence in the field the opposite side of the road to the Little Owl Site No. 4.

We slowly drove down the road and below are the results with help from Richard. We had also as a try had set the ISO at 2000 and the results are promising.

Buzzard Near Little Owl Site No. 4.

This is how the bird had positioned itself with its back towards us, but with Richards help by squeaking the bird moved around as in the image below.  

You can still see some snow on the post at an angle below the bird. 

As a rule when you stop to get an image from a Buzzard they are away but this one sat still so we made the most of it. We were however about 80 metres away from the bird. Richard said it will fly soon so get ready, but it still sat and watched us and then away it went. 

Image as it left the post. 

Before I knew it I had fired 28 shots and some of the results follow. 

After getting these images, we set off home after at least having a trip out again.

These shots were taken at an ISO of 2000 at f6.3 with speeds between 1/1000 and 1/1250s, I should have changed the f stop to f8 or 9, still a lot to learn with the camera.

Other Images on Route.

Little Owl Site No. 5.

First Little Owl of the day, tucked to the back of the tree out of the breeze and before the snow started.

Little Owl Site No. 15.
The white dots are not noise but snow. Both birds sat out not bothered at all by the weather, not the best of images but shows the birds. 

Little Owl Site No. 2.

No Little Owls evident but a Great Spotted Woodpecker sat up towards the top of the tree with a few Fieldfare close by.

Thank you for the visit to my blog, we are both hoping for some improved weather so we can start to look for some new Little Owl sites, we are of the opinion we have lost at least two if not more sites.

Monday, 12 January 2015


I have taken the plunge and updated the camera to a full frame, however with Richard absent due to his wife being poorly and he not feeling 100%, he had decided not to pass on the bug and so we had separate visits out. I thought even though I had only just received the camera, I would take it out without the D7100 and give it a try, hence the experimenting.

I had a visit to Rutland Water travelling straight from home with no stops this time, having left home at about 11.45 hrs. On arrival I booked in at the Egleton Centre and saw a friend of ours who is usually on duty at the Lyndon Centre with the Ospreys. He informed me that the Bittern were still at Lagoon 3 and someone had reported seeing three. I personally only saw one, and that was only a fleeting sighting as it showed above the reeds.

I arrived at Lagoon 3 to find a party of school children virtually filling the hide with one of the full time wardens with them. All had been provided with binoculars and were having a wonderful time spotting different birds, some were very good and some were a bit of a disaster but still wonderful to here some of the comments they came out with, the best bit being they were all having an enjoyable time. A great way to introduce youngsters to bird watching and nature in general.

However I started taking some images to see what the camera could do and for the first attempt I am delighted, but must check some of the settings. Took the instruction book with me, but you feel a bit of a twit sitting in the hide checking settings in the book, however I still did this but after the children had gone.

All the following images are taken with the lens set at 500 mm.

On leaving I phoned my wife to say I was going off owling and she told me it was raining at home, the sun was still lovely at the reservoir. However by the time I had got to Little Owl site No. 12 it had started raining and the only site I saw an owl at was Site No. 17 and that was only very brief and no image managed.

Pintail Ducks, Lagoon 3.

First image taken on camera at a distance of approx 130 metres at an ISO of 200. Image has been considerably cropped. Nearest two birds are crisp but third bird shows signs of not being so sharp.

Second image, not so greatly cropped to show the fourth bird. 

Red Shank, Lagoon 3.

Bird was striding out and you can see the small bow wave it is making. This bird was 70 metres away.

It then turned and moved to the right and got closer, so I managed to get a side shot.
This still at ISO 200 and 1/640 s, f 6.3.

Little Egret, Lagoon 3.

This bird came in and landed and staid for about a minutes and then went away. Distance 85 metres . camera set at ISO 200 f 6.3 at 1/640 s.

Green Sandpiper, Lagoon 3.

 Again a shot at ISO 200, 1/800 s f 6.3. Distance 45 metres.

Again same setting as above and same distance.

Teal, Lagoon 3.

Teal at a distance of 90 metres ISO 200, 1/640 s, f 6.3.

Teal again at 90 metres, same settings.

Drake Wigeon, Lagoon 3.

I am checking with a friend as to confirm the breed of duck {thank you Arthur}. This bird was 200 metres away and again at ISO 200, 1/400 s f 6.3. I could not crop this image anymore so at least I can get in my mind this was a step to far.

Lapwing and Gull, Lagoon 3.

Same settings as previous and 90 metres away. 

Cock Pheasant, Lagoon 2.

This image at ISO 250, 1/400 s at f 6.3. Distance 80 metres.

I took this image and did a quick check as to the outcome, and the bird flew across the narrow strip of water, that being the shot I was trying to get.

Gadwall, Lagoon 2.

This shot again at ISO 250, 1/400 s f 6.3.

This image would have been better by winding up the ISO to 640 or 800 and setting to f 8 or 9.
This would have increased the focal length and got the head to the same sharpness as the body. This over a distance of only 38 metres. It appears that the closer you get the depth of field shortens.

I hope you appreciate that I was somewhat struggling with the new camera without Richard in attendance but hopefully we will soon be out again together. In the mean time I will keep trying when ever possible to get trial shots in and amend settings as required.

Thursday, 1 January 2015


May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year.

I had another trip to Rutland Water on my own as Richard was on Pantomine duty with his wife, daughter and grand daughter and as the forecast was not good for Thursday I decided to go out on Wednesday. 

I managed to get away from home at about 11.30 hrs and decided to go straight through to Rutland Water and have some time owling upon my return. On the way out I had to pass Little Owl Site No 12 and two birds were siting out, one on the barn door and one on the roof {which disappeared when I stopped} so I had to stop and take a quick image, its a busy road so it was a quick stop, get the camera out of the bag, forgo putting the lens hood on and just shoot. The end result is not perfect but on my return no birds were visible and the barn door was shut, so the best thing to have done.

The farther East I travelled the deeper the snow got and in places even though the roads were mostly clear, it was evident at the sides of the road where the snow ploughs had travelled through they had had some drifts up to about 18 inches. Luckily on arrival at Rutland Water they had not had so much snow.

On arrival at Rutland Water I went straight to the Egleton Centre and booked in turned round to leave and met Tim Mackrill, {one of the leading lights on the Osprey Project} entering the centre, we had our normal greetings and he said to go up to Lagoon Three as we have got a pair of Bitterns arrived, he also followed on with its only ten weeks until we should have Ospreys back?? how time rushes by.

So I set off post haste towards Lagoon Three. The light was wonderful and on arrival two other gents were already in the hide, so we said our hello's and I then asked if they had seen the Bitterns. They are over the far side of the Lagoon and were out on the ice earlier one said. Look for the tree with dead leaves on and they are in front of that. I could see five trees with dead leaves on, so he said here have a look through my scope and then I had them spotted. I could only see one bird but what a distance away.

I stopped in the hide for about two hours before working my way back to the centre and setting off owling but I visited every hide on my return but Lagoon Two was completely frozen over and part of Lagoon One likewise.

On leaving I returned past Site 12 but no birds and not until Little Owl Site No. 9 did I see a bird but the light was going so having visited all the other sites to no avail I set off home for a warm cup of tea.

On a very sad note.
One of Richards friends Paul Riddle who has a Blog "Owls About That Then" has reported on his blog that a farmer friend of his who eventually after decades without Barn Owls on his farm, had a pair return and the farmer was delighted at this and was taking great pleasure in watching them. However he had a phone call from the farmer who said he had found a dead Barn Owl by the box. Paul immediately visited the farm and found the Owl. The farmer took the body to his farm vet who found the Owl had been shot and pellets were in the Owls chest. If idiots are allowed to have guns this awful occurrence will happen elsewhere, I hope not to our Barn Owls. The idiot who shot this bird and caused it such pain should be shot himself and allowed to suffer in the same way. A positive note is that the R.S.P.B. crime unit have contacted Paul and are taking up the case. Good luck to them.

Path from the Egleton Centre towards Lagoon Three. 

Duck and Drake Goosander, Lagoon Three.

Beautiful birds diving on a regular basis with the tuft of feathers to the rear of the head visible on the female. The lagoon was frozen for about 40 metres out and then cat ice was floating about.

Pintail Duck, Lagoon Three.

Pintail in its normal position with its tail pointing downwards for balance.

You can see the cat ice just to the front of the bird. You can see the tail is pointing upwards whilst swimming.

Pochard Duck, Lagoon Three.

Another very pretty duck, this being a drake, a lot farther out into the lagoon.

Bittern Lagoon Three.

Spot the Bittern, this shows the tree the gent was talking about with the dead leaves, this shot was taken over 680 metres. I checked the distance on Google Earth.

With the help of a 500 mm lens, a heavily cropped version of the first image, though not good it show the bird. The second bird is somewhere farther in the reeds and to the right. Within a matter of minutes the gent in the hide said Bittern flying from right to left, a quick change of camera setting and as I was about to take a shot it disappeared into the reeds?. Looked at other ducks etc and the gent again said Bittern flying from right to left, I had the same result as previous sorry to say. 

Shoveler Ducks, Lagoon Three.

Saw several groups of these lovely ducks, I think the large amount of Ducks on the Lagoon was due to the cold weather and the amount of ice on the other Lagoons. I was told a lot of ducks were also at the top of the North Arm of the reservoir.

Little Owl Site No. 12.
As I said earlier this image was taken in a rush, being on my own and driving it was very difficult to stop and concentrate on the Owl due to traffic. Mind he looks at peace with the world taking in the sun.

Little Owl Site No. 9.
I stopped here on my return journey for a quick sandwich and a cup of tea and at first did not see the bird looking through the windscreen with my binoculars but after getting out it was immediately evident, so the above image taken. He has fluffed his feathers up to keep out the cold wind that was starting to appear.

About Me;

Titus White:
Hi I am Richard Peglers friend Titus White, and those who follow Richards posts will understand the name and reason for it. I have been birding with Richard for 3 years and a volunteer at Rutland Water on the Osprey Project for 2 years. My early images were taken on a Nikon D80 with a 70 - 200mm lens. I updated the lens to a 70 - 300mm VR lens but still was not happy with the results. Eventually when Nikon announced the D7100 I decided to change so upgraded the camera and also invested in a Sigma 50 - 500mm lens.
I first met Richard through Arthur Costello as I was having the occasional visit from Little Owls on our land. We eventually found the Little Owls through another contact about 100 metres away. Photo's will follow on future posts.
I have recently upgraded my camera to full frame, this is a challenge I am at the moment enjoying trying to get the best out of the beast.
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