Taking my Breath Away

Taking my Breath Away

As a wildlife watcher there are spectacles I have seen that have taken my breath away, from thousands of Pink-footed geese taking to flight in the setting sun, to clouds of Starling swirling, en masse, as they paint amazing patterns in the evening sky; Watching a Cappercallie lek in the pine forests of highland Scotland, all the way to the champagne pop at the end, to witnessing Zino's Petrel coming in to roost atop a high peak of Madeira, their eerie call piercing the night sky. But it is not often it happens on your local patch.


Taking my Breath Away


But before I get to that....

The day started as one of those grey overcast days, where the light never really feels like morning has fully arrived, a constant dawn/dusk spread over the land.Wandering through the old lock, Bullfinch seemed to be everywhere, the light peeping of their calls seemed to stretch the length of the canal. As I walked through, a tiny Goldcrest flew across the path and sat in the open for longer than I usually see them, grabbing my camera I started to take a few photos but alas the dull light of the day made that task very tricky especially with a fast moving bird in the dark bushes.

Goldcrest
Goldcrest


As I neared the end of the path to the river, the soft 'wheeting' call of a Chiffchaff could be heard, an unusual, but not unheard of, winter visitor, it is nice to get one before spring, but there is nothing quite like that first chiffchaff call in spring.

Floodplain Forest


My walk continued along the River Ouse, and as I passed the camp site lakes, 8 or 9 Goosander could be seen chasing each other, ducking and diving in the deep water and making it very tough to count. But little else stirred the emotions, and I was soon entering the nature reserve.

Settling down in the first hide, there was a distinct lack of birds in front of me, a few Gadwall and the odd piping Teal, a Little Egret creeping along the banks, but not much else. A brief flash of excitement as a Peregrine dashed through, passing right over and disappearing off into the distance but not much else, so I was soon walking on.

Magpie
Magpie


Strolling along the nature reserves path, Wigeon and Gadwall flew around the reserve, some flushed as I walked passed, others flying in as I arrived, a few Shoveler sifted through the cold waters, sweeping their spade like bills through the water, stirring up all manner of creatures to feast on.

Goldfinch Feeding
Goldfinch Feeding

Gadwall in Flight
Gadwall in Flight

Shoveler sitting on the banks
Shoveler sitting on the banks

Black-headed Gull
Black-headed Gull

Wigeon in Flight
Wigeon in Flight

I was soon along the path and settling into the Aqueduct hide.

Breath Taking Moment


In front of the hide a Little Egret was sat at the edge of the small spit sticking into the water, it was the only bird that didn't dash off as I walked up the bridge to the hide, and as I sat watching the striking white bird out of the blue, like a shot from a gun, all hell suddenly broke loose as a Peregrine Falcon smashed into its back. I have seen Peregrines a number of times, I have even once witnessed a stoop (the bird then was out at sea) but I have never been witness to a strike, and especially not one within 20 metres of me!

A few seconds later the Peregrine was back in the air, flying directly at me in the hide before heading off around the lake, flying low, trying its luck with the gulls all around, while ignoring the hassling attacks it was receiving from corvids.

Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon close to me
Peregrine Falcon close to me


Still in shock I sat watching and photographing this spectacle as the bird toured the lake for 15 minutes or so, before heading off over the river and into the distance.

Swooping Peregrine
Swooping Peregrine

Swooping Peregrine
Peregrine

Peregrine
Peregrine

Peregrine under attack
Peregrine under attack

Peregrine moving at speed
Peregrine moving at speed

Crow trying to chase off Peregrine
Crow trying to chase off Peregrine 
Crow trying to chase off Peregrine
Crow trying to chase off Peregrine 


Peregrine with Water Tower in Background
Peregrine with Water Tower in Background

Peregrine
Peregrine

Peregrine starting a stoop
Peregrine starting a stoop

Peregrine flying over the Eastern Lakes
Peregrine flying over the Eastern Lakes

Final Peregrine shot
Final Peregrine shot


When I arrived home I went through the images and, as you can see in the below photo, noticed a blue ring on one of the birds legs, some investigation (Twitter) and I was in touch with the original ringer of the bird, Ed Drewitt, who has informed me the bird was rung at Salisbury Cathedral on 7th June 2016 at 3 weeks old, was one of a brood of 4 eggs, producing 2 live chicks and was thought to be a female. It is amazing to think this bird is still so young, and has headed north to see us this winter, and equally amazing as I had assumed the bird I was watching would be one of the birds I have been seeing for the past couple of years.

Close up of the blue SC ring on the Peregrine Falcon
Close up of the blue SC ring on the Peregrine Falcon


The egret? well it was fine, after standing around in shock itself for a while it eventually recovered its composure and flew off passed the hide I sat in.

Little Egret in Flight - this is the bird that was just attacked by the Peregrine
Little Egret in Flight - this is the bird that was just attacked by the Peregrine


Heading off Patch


As regular readers will know I am walking 2500 miles in 2017 (there's a donation link over on the right hand side) and as part of that I decided today to head off patch (sorry there are no photos from here), crossed the millennium bridge and headed up cycle route 6, the railway line tracking my walk, steady rain my only company.

As I approached Castlethorpe the fields around me were suddenly alive with thrushes, hundreds of Fieldfare and Redwing were hopping through the barley stubble searching the muddy ground for grubs and worms.

Along a farm track, drinking in the puddles formed in by heavy tractors, were numerous finches, mainly chaffinch, but the odd Bullfinch, and Greenfinch and one stunning Yellow Hammer.

My walk continued through a corner of Castlethorpe and out across the, sheep filled, fields in the direction of Cosgrove, more thrush covered the fields, the odd Song Thrush,  one Mistle Thrush and a large flock of Starling.

My walk took an "interesting" turn here, as I crossed one more grassy field and found the banks of the river Tove, I reached a gated bridge with a note from Northampton council informing me that the footpath was closed, due to bridge collapse and that there was no alternative route (a fact that is not quite true), the path will be closed for at least 6 months (how long does it take to fix a bridge?). i realised that the Aqueduct circular walk also took this route, so rather than turn back I followed this path back.

I soon found myself at a very muddy field, with a covey of 5 Grey Partridge huddled in the corner, what I would give to have them move the short distance to my patch, there was however no clear path markings (I used my O/S Map app to find the track across the middle of the field). By the time I finally found myself back on cycle path 6 my boots were caked in thick mud, and pretty heavy. I was soon back on the path home, and powered through to make it back for  spot of lunch, some 10 miles walked and a great memory of a wonderful bird.

I'm Walking 2500 miles in 2017 to raise money for Birding For All - Read about it here - Please consider donating through My Donate

If you enjoyed this post, or found it useful, then please do share it with your friends using the links below


Please feel free to leave me a comment, I really appreciate the interaction and will reply as soon as I can. I apologise for any issues with posting comments, but sometimes Google's blogger platform plays up. ALL comments are moderated for SPAM, so please don't bother if the comment is unrelated to the post it will likely be deleted.

CONVERSATION

14 comments:

  1. Oh wow what a sight to see - and some really awesome photographs too. Nicely captured.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, it was a better experience than I could write up i think lol

      Delete
  2. Hi Ashley, your images are breathtaking! Especially love the goldfinch ones - lovely composure and colours :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, I was quite pleased with the Goldfinch ones as well :)

      Delete
  3. Wow! What an amazing experience - and stunning photos of the falcon, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, it truly was awe inspiring.

      Delete
  4. That must have been a wonderful experience! And the photos are spectacular! Can you tell me, though, why fieldfare and redwing nearly always seem to flock together? I have always wondered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most thrush flock together in winter months, safety in number and group feeding offer advantages.

      Delete
  5. Stunning photos, I got quite excited reading that, can't imagine how you felt! How great to be able to trace the falcon as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was amazing to be part of, I feel very privileged to have been a witness.

      Delete
  6. Fantastic photos, Ashley! What a spectacle to see to, it must have been incredible to witness. I love seeing the birds in the dark bushes as it really does feel like winter.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, one of my top moments ever while out birding.

      Delete
  7. Such stunning photographs! What a magical moment indeed to see that peregrine. I've seen a little egret before too, up here in my remote north sea island home (Shetland). Such pretty birds!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, the magic of birdwatching is knowing you never know what is going to happen :)

      Delete

Back
to top
x

Subscribe by email

Nature

Hiking

Camping

Geocaching

Reviews

Blog posts straight to your INBOX!

Never miss a Views From an Urban Lake post again

Get our latest posts straight to your inbox