After a morning and early afternoon shopping in Reading, the lovely sunny afternoon provided me with the opportunity to pop down to the estate area to see if I could find anything of interest. What I did find was pure indulgence, but as I walked up the path towards the field all I could hear was a Song Thrush in full song and this Great Tit that was battling with another through song.
Just before the cattle grid there is a patch of rhododendrons and a large Yew tree, I have heard Goldcrests here,and lots of Tits so I stopped and "pished" just to see what I could attract. A small bird appeared but what caught my eye was the flash of orange. I couldn't believe it yet another sighting of my favourite British bird, a male Firecrest.
It was extremely feisty, and came very close raising the bright fiery orange crest that gives it the name. The trees kept it dull so I cranked up the ISO at first which is why it is a little grainy.
It was calling and singing, and continued to come close, eventually moving into a brighter area. I make no apologies I filled the camera with this absolute beauty.
This is my favourite.
But then this isn't bad either
The crest consists of two orange colours something that I didn't realise, a deeper orange surrounded by a lighter border
I finally left it looking at me with this lovely pose.
Amazing to think on my small patch I have now seen Firecrest in three different locations. As I crossed the grid and walked up the path towards the pond I could still here it singing.
I stopped at the pond, and watched a pair of Long-tailed Tits and a pair of Blackbirds. I then decided to walk towards the main park area, taking the path through the new plantation of trees. Woodpigeons flew over, and I noticed something lighter in the trees ahead. It was a Kestrel, and I walked slowly to get as close as I could. This was the final picture I took before it flew off.
I didn't see the Kestrel fly off because in front of me I noticed a larger bird at the top of one of the trees in front of me. Again I took photographs as I edged as close as I could. Beautiful in flight , it is unusual to find them sitting in a tree, so I hoped I could get close. The Red Kite is another of my favourite birds, so I was really pleased to get this chance.
When I got too close it was off away across the fields.
Looking away to my left there was a sizeable gathering of Jackdaw, I wouldn't be surprised if they nest in the house.
The path was wet, and in places there were puddles, and i suppose I shouldn't have been surprised when I flushed a pair of Mallard by the side of the path.
I turned back and scanned the field. The sun was now getting lower and was picking out the Monkey Puzzle tree in the garden. Monkey Puzzle trees are natives of Chile and Argentina and were first brought to Europe in 1795, they are now common in parks and gardens. The female cones are almost twice the size of the males, and the trees are either male or female, I think this one is a male as the cones appear at the tips of the shoots
A little further on I noticed a pair of Bullfinch feeding on the shoots of a larch. The male kept out of sight, but eventually the female did come into a better view.
I walked back down towards the quarry, I could hear Chaffinches singing, and there was a large flock in the trees around the field. As I looked through them for maybe a Brambling I disturbed a Hare that shot across the field before I could get the camera up. This was the first Hare for the year.
The male Chaffinches were enjoying the evening sun, but there were no Brambling.
As well as the Chaffinches there was also a pair of Mistle Thrushes, this one was also lit up nicely by the evening sun.
I walked down to Plain Farm, and up to the barns in the hope I might see an owl, but there was no luck. It was quite quiet around the buildings, and the only moving birds were Woodpigeons
I turned and made my way back, as I came up the hill I saw this Buzzard in the tree on the other side of the field.
Very much a winter scene a bird of prey sitting in a tree, and a little further on was another, this time the kestrel, who had returned to the tree I had seen it in earlier.
The sun was now dropping behind the distant trees, and the sky was turning orange. It was only a short time out, but well worth it, and I thoroughly enjoyed my encounter with a spectacular, beautiful little bird, top bird definitely