Some special birds in the sunshine

I suppose I've hyped this up a bit so let's hope I can make it live up to expectations. With the relaxation of restrictions this week, I went for a little toddle along the M62 and crossed the border into ... I have to say it quietly ... Yorkshire. I like to go to St. Aidan's in early April as it's one of the best spots for some very special birds. Just by the car park, in a stack of sleepers, is apparently a regular haunt for a Little Owl. The shadows were covering its face but it just fits in and looks like it's holding that sleeper up with its head! 


Along the path were several Meadow Pipits

And, amazingly, this was my first Linnet of the year

However, I hadn't found my target and I was beginning to worry they weren't around. Then, I found one.

A fabulous Black-necked Grebe in full Summer wear. And in reflected glory

Patrolling the same patch was its larger cousin

I thought one B-N Grebe was a relative poor showing, but chatting to others I found they had been showing much better a couple of weeks ago. Still, I had a couple of decent photos so time to continue my wanderings. And what should I come across but one of those elusive Cetti's Warblers. It had me wandering up and down the path for ages while it flitted from tree to tree always just out of reach. I was happy enough to catch this shot.

But I wasn't going to give up and got another. Still half-hidden but getting better.

By this stage, another photographer joined me which made it easier to track it down. And then it surprised us both by popping up in the open.

How about that? A Cetti's in full view and no obstructing twigs or anything. I was over the moon! It let us take a few photos ... as it went off like a sonic bomb

... and then flew off on its rounds, only to end up in exactly the same spot again a few minutes later where it posed for more photos!

Maybe you can tell, but it was close as well, so the photos aren't even cropped over-much. About as good an opportunity to photograph these birds as you can hope for.

Mr. Elusive is now looking annoyed.

"You know us Cetti's have got super powers. We can deafen you at 100 paces! I'll do it, too!"

"Are you deaf yet?"


That was a truly rare sighting, to be given such a good view from just a few feet away. It took me a half hour of patience from first hearing it but worth every moment. What a fabulous little super star! 

Back to the reed beds and I could hear a Bittern booming but it didn't show. A Greylag sailed by while I was having my sarnies.

And a few more B-N Grebes showed up

They have to be one of our most exotic looking birds and I'm glad I don't live too far away from their favourite UK haunts

They're not that shy either and come quite close to the shore even when people are watching them.

If you weren't sure of their family, that fluffy behind definitely says Grebe 

A bit of preening to maintain waterproofing

Absolutely gorgeous birds and a real pleasure to see and photograph them

There were also a few Pochard about, like this highly streamlined male who was showing off to one of the few females still around. I love the background to this. It looks like Monet could have painted the reflections in the water. Life imitating art, maybe.

And finally, a GC Grebe from a very low angle.

A fabulous day, with some truly spectacular birds and a glorious way to celebrate the latest easing of restrictions I thought.


Nige   Flickr

  • Just wonderful Nige, that fascinating red eye of the B-N Grebe, never seen one!


     2013 photos & vids here

    eff37 on Flickr

  • Certainly looked a stunning day out Nige, and good weather too. I think I've only seen a B-N Grebe once, but it wasn't in sunshine and it wasn't in breeding plumage either, so it's like seeing a totally new bird...thanks :o)
  • Wonderful photos.
    It truly is like a surrogate walk, to see accounts related on this sight.
    I think a profit was struck as soon as the little owl was seen. The rest was just an abundance of cherries!
  • There is a prevalence of red eye in there, GC Grebes and male Pochards but they aren't quite as red as the BNG. Either that or someone's added a lot of gin to water there  

    I rarely see BNG's except when I go there. I know the two biggest UK breeding sites are in the North but I don't know if there any others around perhaps further down South.

    I'm glad I got something of the day out across. It was a day of cherries on cakes!


    Nige   Flickr

  • I've heard a Cetti's but of course not ever managed to see it. Wonderful photos Nigel, you will be sooooo pleased, and it sat there on one leg happily posing for you singing it's heart out, bet you needed ear muffs :-) Now to the Grebes, I love the Little Grebe and the fluffy bottom has lot to do with it's appeal, so to see the B-N Grebe is a bonus for me, quite a spectacular looking bird with striking markings on the head, thanks for posting.

    Lot to learn

  • A brilliant selection of photos Nige. I've noticed generally the birds seem to be a lot more, hidden than normal, I wonder if they've gone in a sulk after almost twelve months of being ignored!

    I know, a stupid thought

    Black-necked Grebe, never even heard of one, but its good that every day can still be a school day.


    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • Super shots as always! So NOT jealous! lol

    (Pardon the Scottish Accent)

  • Hi Nige,
    A stunning set of photos, especially the Black-necked Grebes and Cetti's. Some birds are relatively easy to photograph so you're only really happy with particularly good shots of them and others so difficult or rare you're just happy to get a clear in-focus photo. With the Black-necked Grebes and Cetti's Warbler you've managed to tick both boxes (very good shots of difficult and/or less common birds), I've never seen a Black-necked Grebe and I've only managed a couple of half decent shots of a couple of Cetti's. My experience with the Cetti's (and of most other people I've spoken to) is a burst of song followed by an occassional brief 2 to 5 second appearance in the open before flying off, at least the song gives you a loud warning that they may appear nearby which gives you a small chance to be ready.
    I'll be off to Minsmere soon to see what I can manage.
    Anyway well done,