The Perfect Shot and the disapointment of my patch

Bit of a double post today, I took a walk through my whole patch today (not something I do often with my back) and it got me thinking about two things; I realised how useless some areas of my patch are for birds (you may be surprised which areas) but more on this later, firstly I want to talk about taking the perfect photo of a bird, and I'd love to hear what others think about this.
 
European Robin, Loughton Valley Park, Milton Keynes
European Robin, Loughton Valley Park, Milton Keynes

It all came about as I spent an hour or so today photographing a European Robin, It is a bird I haven't photographed much before, but I am always determined to try and get that "perfect" photo of one, but I then wondered what birds have I photographed before and now no longer bother with, and why don't I?

another European Robin, Loughton Valley Park, Milton Keynes
The Perfect shot? Robin, Loughton Valley Park, Milton Keynes


The first that sprang to mind was the humble Blackbird (but others like song thrush or reed bunting also suffer this fate), it is one of the first birds I photographed well, many years ago, and now I don't even lift my bins for one let alone  the camera, but why? Is it because I have that perfect shot or is it because they are so common, or maybe it is because they don't often do much that is different to hopping on the ground or feeding on berries. Maybe it is a combination of all or some of these I'm really not sure but I think I will try and photograph more, and revisit birds I think I have nailed. (Please leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts on this, can we ever achieve the perfect shot or are there many perfect shots?).

Singing Robin, Loughton Valley Park, Milton Keynes
Singing Robin, Loughton Valley Park, Milton Keynes


Right on to my patch, the day started in a very odd way, after being woken and showered with birthday gifts (including my 4 year old daughter giving me one of her teddy bears, actually Micky mouse, as my "birthday toy"), yeah I turned 38 today, I decided to spend my day out on the patch, well, Bo was at School and Zoe at work, I was hardly going to be spoiled staying at home. I arrived at the lake ready to walk one way round but (counter clockwise from the restaurant) when I spotted there were loads of gulls by the feeding area, so I changed direction and headed here instead.

Wood Pigeon, Loughton Valley Park, Milton Keynes
Wood Pigeon, Loughton Valley Park, Milton Keynes
I was shocked to say the least when I realised there were loads of Common Gull in amongst the Black-Headed gulls, and when I say loads I mean it, usually I get excited by one or two, and double figures only happen in fly over flocks well today there were no less than 43 Common Gull on the lake, I have no idea what brought them in but it was a pleasant surprise. Perhaps the weather played a part (dull and overcast, with rain in the air) or maybe it was luck, they moved over as someone fed the ducks maybe bringing them in?

Carrion Crow in the rain, Lodge Lake, Milton Keynes
Carrion Crow in the rain, Lodge Lake, Milton Keynes

A slow wander along the river to the dragonfly fields didn't produce anything of real excitement but it is always nice to see a Buzzard. I then continued along the river, stopping by kingfisher corner to photograph the afore mentioned Robin, before heading on to (spotting my first day light Fox for the patch, and my first this year, sorry photo below but it isn't great) Bradwell Abbey, and my first area of disappointment. The Abbey grounds should be more productive there is a great area of bushes tat always looks full of promise but in truth holds very little (nothing there today). But this isn't the real area that doesn't produce as it should, no, at least the bushes hold a few warblers in spring and Summer and I have photographed red kite here.

Fox photographed in Milton Keynes
Fox sneaking through the bushes behind a fence by the railway line, Milton Keynes
Anyway I continued on through the Loughton valley park area seeing some nice birds like Bullfinch, Fieldfare and a flock of Chaffinch all feeding happily, and then I reached the far end, the end of the patch that looks so good but offers so little: The Flood Plains!!

Floodplains (panorama), Blue Bridge, Milton Keynes
Floodplains (panorama), Blue Bridge, Milton Keynes

Floodplains 2 (panorama), Blue Bridge, Milton Keynes
Floodplains 2 (panorama), Blue Bridge, Milton Keynes

As you can see from the above panorama it looks a blooming good area for birds, most people would love this as part of their patch, the problem is that it doesn't produce much, the only birds of note here have been Common snipe and Jack snipe, there are no ducks (bar mallard) no waders (bar the snipe) and little else.

Floodplains 3 (panorama), Blue Bridge, Milton Keynes
Floodplains 3 (panorama), Blue Bridge, Milton Keynes
I have heard rumours that large waders have been seen here, but I've not seen any and the person who said they had seen them did not know what they were. So maybe there is hope but I would have expected Teal, Gadwall, maybe even wigeon at this time of year as well as Lapwings, but nothing.

Floodplains 4 (panorama), Blue Bridge, Milton Keynes
Floodplains 4 (panorama), Blue Bridge, Milton Keynes
I still hope it will hold a glossy ibis one day or a migrating avocet or something but so far nothing, It does make me question why I walk all this way (near crippling my back) just to suffer the same disappointment, but I guess that is part of local patch birding, we put in the effort for that one elusive moment of joy. Any way my walk back held nothing but back pain, and rain.

Black-Billed Magpie, Lodge Lake, Milton Keynes
Black-Billed Magpie, Lodge Lake, Milton Keynes

Carrion Crow, Lodge Lake, Milton Keynes
Carrion Crow, Lodge Lake, Milton Keynes

Please feel free to leave me a comment, I really appreciate the interaction and will reply as soon as I can.

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3 comments:

  1. Nice shots Ashley, easy to overlook the beauty in birds taken for granted. Colin

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  2. Its a tough slog mate - I at least have the luxury of driving to the Flood plains to allow for 2 minutes of depression ! You have to keep the dream alive ! we will skor one day ;-) keep the faith ! oh and Happy Birthday mate. Sorry it didn't give you a present of a goodie ! always tomorrow .....

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  3. Thanks Colin. And I do Envy you the quick stop at the flood plains Si, would be much easier than the long slog to get there.

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