Woodpecker and Son

One of our most welcome garden visitors is a green woodpecker who enjoys probing the lawn for ants. The other weekend he or she turned up with a recently fledged youngster.

Woodpecker and son

Woodpecker and Son

The juvenile is on the left. As you can see unlike the adult it has a speckled breast, a bit like a thrush. I did manage to get a slightly better shot of the youngster a bit later. Unfortunately they are quite easy to spook so the pictures were taken at the extreme range of the camera’s zoom and through a window.

Juvenile green woodpecker hunting for ants

Juvenile green woodpecker hunting for ants

A Corralejo Escape

‘Here we are now at your hotel in Corra-lechhhho’ the rep’s voice boomed around the coach as we arrived at the Riu Oliva Beach Hotel on the island of Fuerteventura.  Very nice it was too set in the middle of the Correlego National Park, miles away from the resort town. We had fallen on our feet once again despite booking a room we got an apartment with a separate bedroom too. No kitchen though as the Riu was all-inclusive and we were just in time to catch the last servings of dinner, before crashing out for the night.

 

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The following morning we took off down the beach. There’s an awful lot of it.

Beach Taxi

Beach Taxi

It shelves out for a long way into the Atlantic and beyond a certain point no swimming costumes are required.

The island of Los Lobos and beyond that Lanzarote

The island of Los Lobos and beyond that Lanzarote

Back at the hotel the pool areas were teaming with families in Deutchland/Engerland (delete as appropriate) shirts. As a rule the Deutchland shirts had snaffled all the best sun loungers at some unearthly hour, only for the hotel’s cats to enjoy shedding fleas on their nice comfy towels while the ‘Chermans’ were at breakfast or back in bed. Our own countrymen tended to sit around the bar area drinking all-inc lager from opening time, so they were nice and pissed up by the time the footy started.  I’d also fondly imagined that there would be no rugrats there as the school holidays hadn’t started, but there were loads of them getting under your feet when carrying boiling hot water in the restaurants and generally grizzling all the time. Since the beach was such a pleasant refuge we didn’t hang about the hotel too much.

Hoopoe

Hoopoe

We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food and drink at the Riu, after our Riu experience in the Cape Verde Islands I was prepared for dreadful wine and staff who couldn’t mix a Bloody Mary without adding Soy sauce, but the Oliva Beach was great. The on tap wine wasn’t exactly premier cru, but it was perfectly drinkable and the spirits didn’t rip out your stomach lining. All the staff were very pleasant and helpful and the Canarian restaurant in particular was excellent, especially the pimento de Padron!

Little Venice

We took a trip to Bristol last week and London Underground got us to Paddington with time not only for breakfast, but a brief walk along the Regents Canal before our train left.

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The smog full of dust from North Africa imposed a hazy kind of light, but I was delighted to find a couple of red headed pochard dabbling in the murky depths.

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They are pretty little ducks and not that common. Even their eyes are red.

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It had been a long time since I was here last and the area has had a bit of a makeover with some nice looking bars and restaurants, not to mention the odd sculpture.

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This one is called Standing Man by Sean Henry.

However we couldn’t hang about, a really tasty breakfast at the Sloe Bar in Paddington Station beckoned, £8.75 for full English with black pudding and a cafe late included, knocks spots of airport rip off joints.

White Egret

Down by the water’s edge there was a flurry of whiteImage

It was a white egret and he had caught something.

 

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We were not the only people with a fish supper in Playa Blanca that night.

 

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

Pintail

We took a walk around the lake at Chingford’s Connaught Water on Saturday. I was just remarking that we hadn’t seen as many species of duck as we had in the past when I noticed this chap.

Pintail

Pintail

 

He’s a pintail and I was dead chuffed to get a snap of him as I have not seen one in the wild before. Of course being so handsome takes a lot of work.

keeping up appearences

keeping up appearances

 

Other species spotted at Connaught Water that day included: loads of tufted ducks, mallards, mute swan, Canada geese, Greylag Geese

Greylag goose

Greylag goose

moorhen, coot, black headed gull, magpie, carrion crow, wood pigeon.

 

 

Raven Mad

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore —
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“‘Tis some visiter,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door —

Not a Raven after all

Not a Raven after all

OK it wasn’t the Raven, but a pheasant sitting on our window sill at the Alton Towers Hotel last weekend.

‘I’ve never been so close to a pheasant before’ quoth the Powder Monkey

‘you were when we ate one’ I replied.

I made sure the window was well fastened I didn’t want to come back and discover he’d invited his mates round to scoff the complimentary biscuits.

Party room 105 everyones invited.

Party room 105 everyone’s invited.

Egrets and Wagtails – River Roding, Essex

Out by the River Roding on Monday evening we spotted a snowy egret. Unfortunately it also spotted us and took to the wing before we could get a snap. This is the first time I have seen one of these visitors to the UK so close to home although I did spot one up in Walton-on-the-Naze in 2009.

Snowy Egret - Walton-on-the-Naze

Snowy Egret – Walton-on-the-Naze (shot in 2009)

While the egret eluded us I did get a snap of a pied wagtail fledgling, which I was quite pleased with as these are normally quite busy little birds who rarely stand still,

Pied Wagtail Fledgeling

Pied Wagtail fledgling

Other birds spotted included: mute swans, Canada geese, mallard, moorhen, coot, great crested grebe, jackdaw, magpie and wood pigeon.

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

Ducklings, Thistles and Fledglings

The mallard ducklings at Earl’s Path Pond in Epping Forest are still going strong.

Mallard ducklings

Mallard ducklings

There are at least eight of them and they are quite bold, even when mum isn’t about.

Mallard ducklings

Mallard ducklings

In the forest the thistles have finished flowering  and now the seeds are waiting for a draft of wind to see them on their way.

Thistles

Thistles

We have a new visitor to our garden., excuse the quality of the shot, it was sneaked through the kitchen window as I was hiding behind the chilli plants.

Scraggy

Scraggy

This is Scraggy and he’s a recently fledged magpie. I put some breadcrumbs out for him most days, but he is very nervous and spooks easily.

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

Baby Bird Alert – Epping Forest and Woodford Green

Now that the mandarin ducklings have grown up and left Earl’s Path Pond a mummy mallard has moved in. She has eight new ducklings. They mostly kept to the shade, but one of them came out to feed amongst the water lilies.

baby mallard

baby mallard

I was quite pleased with this picture as you can see the water the duckling is spitting out.

Over at Strawberry Hill the terrapins are still enjoying the Sun,

terrapins

terrapins

although one of them seems to have fallen out with his mates.

The Garbo of the chelonian world

The Garbo of the chelonian world

There are more baby mallards at the pond at Woodford Green.

Mallard ducklings

Mallard ducklings

They are very keen on bread and we were really sorry that we didn’t have any when they came to join us at the water’s edge. There were also a pair of moorhen chicks which wee a bit more wary.

Moorhen chick

Moorhen chick

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse

A Hard Act to Swallow at Walton-on-the-Naze

We took a trip to the Essex seaside today for a slap up haddock and chips at Whites and a walk by the Naze. Up on the Naze itself some swallows have made a nest in the public loos and I was lucky enough to get this shot of one of them perched on the tree outside having a bit of a stretch.

Swallow

Swallow

Sadly the tide was in for most of the afternoon, so I only managed to get a few pictures of some seabirds including this group of juvenile herring gulls on a breakwater down by the pier in the town,

Juvenile herring gulls

Juvenile herring gulls

and a cormorant having a scratch down by the Naze,

Cormorant

Cormorant

although we did also spot some black headed gulls, wood pigeons, jackdaws and a couple of rabbits which were flushed out of the undergrowth on the red cliffs by an idiot who didn’t have his dog under control. Fortunately the bunny got away with only a fright.

Photos copyright QueenMab/Shipscook Photographic. contact simon.ball3@btopenworld.com for commercial reuse