Sunday, 6 January 2019


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

We have been having some very dull and misty weather and it seems every time I decide to have an afternoon out birding, by the time I arrive at my proposed destination the weather turns dire. 

So after these complaints I firstly was on my way to Eyebrook when the phone rang and a friend asked as to where I was going, but then asked if I could go to Rutland instead as a member of his local bird club was going to be at Rutland, So it was a case of change of venue and I was to meet up with Ben in the car park at the Egleton Reserve.

On arrival I met up with the gent and we got underway heading for the hides, I enquired as to what he really wanted to see and top of his list was a Male Smew.  A bird had been seen on Lagoon 1 that morning but had later flown away towards Eyebrook. Our first Hide to visit was Grebe and upon opening the shutter with my first look out with the bins, I saw a Male, a very long distance away but it was a Smew. 
So we gave it a while as it appeared to be drifting towards us and came within 290 metres, with them being such a small duck the auto focus was finding it very difficult to get and hold a decent focus but the results are below.
After seeing this duck the sun went in and it became even more difficult to get any decent images. 

20th December 2018.

Male Smew, Grebe Hide, Lagoon 2.

Not as good an image due to the distance but its a Smew. Ben was over the moon and was after taking I would say going on for a hundred images phoning a friend to report on his luck. I kept saying to him I cannot get the birds here, only help to find them.  

Having drifted slightly closer it then decided to turn its back on us. 

It then flew a short distance and appeared behind a small island. After this we visited the other hides in case we could find a closer specimen but it was not to be. After this the sun departed us, whats new???

Tufted Ducks, Lapwing Hide, Main Reservoir, South Arm 3.

This enormous flock of Tufties was visible with the odd Mute Swan in with them.
On returning at the end of the day, the lady on duty said the bird count had been completed and for the whole reservoir the number of Tufties was 5600.

 Hebridean Ram, Near Shoveler Hide.

As we walked out of the Hide, these sheep came to see I'm sure thinking we had brought some food for them. When we headed back to the centre the farmer had turned up and was feeding them at the gate.

After visiting the centre on the way back to the car park, I got underway home and Ben headed for Norfolk as he was visiting Titchwell Reserve on the Friday.We said our goodbyes and after an excellent afternoon together we got underway.

27th December 2018.

By the time I arrived it had become very dull and misty and for a time I had some misily rain, just perfect weather for getting some decent images. 

However the afternoon was not totally wasted as will be revealed.

Kestrel, Upper Bunker Hide.

Upon arrival i had a drive round the area mostly initially looking for Red Kites but on arriving at the reservoir I visited both the hides and found this bird. It was by then raining so I headed back to the car to look for the Bewick Swan.

Bewick Swan, Fields Opposite the Fishery entrance gate .

This Swan had been around for a few days but certainly took some finding. I eventually found it in a field with an adult and juvenile Mute Swan. Trouble was it was just over 350 metres away and it was turning misty.

Short Eared Owl, Between Horninghold  and Great Eaton.

I had another drive around looking for Red Kites and saw this bird in a field at the side of the Road, Luckily I had turned up the ISO to 5000 as only after taking about a dozen images and the bird heading away I found I had somehow switched off the VR so not the sharpest of images, not the easiest thing hand holding a 600mm lens and trying to follow the bird without any shake. The rest were all rubbish. But after this I decided to return and have another go for this Shortie.

3rd January 2019.

I decided to have another visit for the Short Eared Owl and arrived at the Reservoir for about 12.50 hrs on another dull day, I wish it would turn colder and perhaps we would get some sun. I had a good look around the Reservoir with another gent looking for the Smew of which we found ten, seven Red Heads and three Males but they were all much to far a distance to even consider even attempting any images, I will try again next time.

Greylag Goose, Lower Bunker Hide.

On arriving in the hide this goose was walking by not far from the water but in the Marsh grass so it was a case of shooting when it was least obscured. 

Golden Plover and Lapwing, Upper Bunker Hide.

These birds were about 200 metres away, I have never managed a decent image of a Golden Plover. 

Fieldfare, Stoke Dry.

This tree was initially full of birds as I approached, but by the time I got within about 50 metres only this solitary bird remained.

I then decide to go on a Shortie hunt and headed to the area where I had seen the bird the previous week, as I got nearer  I thought I would stop in the gateway where I had last seen the bird but then at the last second decided to drive past and go to where I first saw the bird only to travel about 50 metres up the road when the owl flew about 3 metres above the car from right to left, the language was choice, luckily I was on my own, just me and a passing Owl.

Short Eared Owl, Near Eyebrook Reservoir.

This time I checked that the VR was switched on, this bird is I'm sure the same bird I saw from the upper bunker hide at the Reservoir. The only problem being the area it appears to be feeding over. One minute it was next to the road, unfortunately the roadside hedge is in excess of 3 metres high so its not possible to follow the bird that well from the road, its a case of standing by the field gates and waiting for it to come my way. For these images I had to shoot at ISO 4000 but wished I had gone to 5000, it was still very cloudy  and it was starting to get dark. 

Before I took these images I had spotted the bird at the top of the hill a good mile away, it then came towards me but vanished into a valley only to re appear and fly towards me, in these images the bird was about 200 metres away.

It then did an about turn and headed for the side hedge and disappeared over it into the next field and as it was time for me to head for home I gave it best. Next sunny day I intend to have another try.

Thank you for your visit. I hope you have enjoyed your visit as much as I have in the getting of the images.

I also hope for some brighter weather so I stand a better chance of some decent images.


  1. Absolutely stunning birds, Short-eared Owl, Golden Plover, Fieldfare, and the Highland Goat, they are beautiful John.

  2. Hi Bob,
    It has been an uphill struggle trying to get any decent images with the weather, that I'm sure you have found the same.
    I went out on my last trip mostly to get some images if possible of the Shortie, anything else I saw was a bonus.
    All the best, John

  3. Hello John, the Short-eared Owl is the capture for me. One day I will hope to take captures of it. As for all the other birds it is great to see captures of them dispite the grey weather. We also have the same wet and grey skies.

  4. Hi Roos,
    Sorry you have also had such poor weather, its not good for us who like to get some decent images.
    The Shortie was a bird I visited Eyebrook Reservoir to look for again, I had seen it previously but not managed any reasonable images, so I was pleased to see it.
    I hope you manage to see one soon.
    We had an Email from Julie and Peter, it sounds as if they are settling in.
    All the best, John

  5. What a gorgeous owl, lovely to see it in flight. You certainly see many beautiful sights and I am grateful you share them with us. Thank you John and Happy New Year!

  6. Hi Denise,
    Short-eared Owls are such a beautiful bird and so good to watch when out hunting, they are one of our owls that hunt in the day, mind with the size of the bird, nothing much is going to bother them.
    So pleased you have enjoyed your visit.
    All the best, John

  7. Hi John,
    I recognize that too well of that fog if you want to go birding hahahaha .... Also nice that you have been a day away with Ben. Together is often very nice :-)
    The ram is really a tough boy !!!!!!
    Nice shot of the kestrel and great to see a Bewick Swan! And wow ..... a short-eared owl in flight :-)))))))

    Geese and golden plovers are also always nice to come across. The flying images of the short-eared owl are really great. I'm a bit jealous of that !!!! So I hope to be able to keep this owl on foot :-)

    I enjoyed your beautiful photos and I hope to see many beautiful photos of you again in the year :-)

    Cordial greetings,

  8. Hi Helma,
    It was a real pain to have fog about, not the best for a decent or any images.
    It was very nice to meet up with Ben, he was a lovely man and very interesting to talk with, he is a captain for Emirates airline.
    The Ram is such a beauty, I find it difficult not to take an image.
    The Bewick was an added bonus, it had apparently been in the field for a couple of days, its the first I have seen for a good while.
    I'm jealous of your images of the Short and Long-eared owls, lets hope you can visit again and find them flying.
    I visited again on Thursday to try for some more images but I never saw the bird.
    I'm pleased you enjoyed your visit, lets hope we can both get some wonderful images this year.
    All the best, John

  9. Bad weather, providing low visibility, is the bane of a photographer’s life to be sure, John, but you did very well despite the lighting challenges, especially with the Short-eared Owl shots. You seem to have had more than your fair share of owl sightings recently, but then again I haven’t done too badly myself!😀

    1. Hi David,
      The weather in some respects has been dire, with dull and misty weather, one of the problems with using these large lenses is they also magnify the mist, a double whammy!!!!
      I would have liked the Smew to have come another 150 metres closer but the gent I had with me was delighted just to have seen the bird, mind he took plenty of images.
      I was really struggling with the Short-eared Owl, it only came within a reasonable distance the once and I could have done with a higher ISO but its too late for that after the bird has gone into the next field and out of view.
      You have had some wonderful Owl sightings yourself with some excellent images.
      All the best, John

  10. You have captured some lovely images in spite of poor weather. You always come up trumps with something interesting. Love the Ram and Fieldfare and great shots of Short Eared Owl. What a lot of Plovers! M

  11. Hi Margaret,
    Thank you regarding the images, I always hope for something unusual but cannot always supply the goods. I spent most of last Thursday afternoon waiting for the Short-eared Owl but unfortunately with no luck, I will more than likely try again this week. I can never resist taking an image of the ram.
    Apparently from the bird reports they have had as many as 200 Plovers reported at Eyebrook.
    All the best and see you soon, John

  12. Great set of images, John!
    I dream of observing and taking photos of the Smew and that Short Eared Owl in flight... WOW!!!
    all the best and take good care :)

  13. Hi Noushka,
    I have today seen 17 Smew at Eyebrook 6 of which were drakes, unfortunately they were all a very long way away.
    The Shortie I tried to see a week ago to no avail but when visiting today I met up with a gent who I had told where the Shortie was to be seen and he had seen three in the same place yesterday so I will soon be returning hopefully.
    All the best, John

  14. Hello John, wow that Short Eared Owl is stunning. But I also like very much all those Golden Plovers. The Bewick Swans are amazing as well. Great you had the change to see it all.

  15. Hi Roos,
    I had another visit to Eyebrook yesterday and met up with a friend who I had told about the Short-eared owl and he has been monitoring the site and been seeing three on a regular basis.
    Unforunately the area where they show is next to a shooting estate and they had a shoot yesterday and everything left the arera for a time.
    I would love to get a close up image of a Golden Plover, they are always so far away. The Bewick swan has also not been seen for a while but it was so good to see it.
    All the best to you, John

  16. Hi John!! Nice set of pictures.. Thanks for yours comments and happy weekend :-)))

  17. Hi Ana,
    Glad you enjoyed the images, thought you had got some wonderful images of the Starling.
    Have a good week ahead, all the best.


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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