Monday, 14 October 2019

Charlecote Park, Warwickshire

We took the opportunity of a free and hopefully dry day last Thursday to 'nip' down to Charlecote Park for a walk and who knows what we might see!

The answer was not a lot.... on the birding front it was pretty quiet. We started with some Deer by the entrance to the park.

The little hide near the house provided us with Blue, Greatr and Coal Tit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and a House Sparrow! We walked both the West and East side of the extensive grounds hoping for some Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, which we have seen in the past, a couple of Cormorants and a Grey Heron showed down by the river, but too far for photos. So took pictures of rutting Jacob's Sheep,
and more Deer.

The East Side of the park was a tad more successful, with Mallard, Mute Swan, a Sparrowhawk,
and a Buzzard,

Finally a couple of Jays showed nicely.

When adding the common corvids, we tallied 18 species of birds all together, plus a lovely walk!

Sunday, 6 October 2019

A Kingfisher Afternoon at Upton Warren

On Thursday we had a couple of hours spare in the afternoon and I was keen to see the work that had been done at Hen Brook. We very rarely used the Hen Brook hide when visiting, as in recent years you are just confronted by a wall of reeds blocking any views.

The transformation is spectacular and within minutes of sitting down a Water Rail put in an  appearance, popping out briefly on two more occasions before we moved on down to the Flashes. It was way to quick for me to get a photo, but seeing is the main thing. A big well done to the Wildlife Trust for making what looks like a great habitat for the coming winter and spring.

The flashes were pretty quiet, still a single Avocet in residence, plus I counted eleven Curlew out on the scrapes.

There were a good number of Shovelers and Teal about.

 A few Lapwing, a Little Grebe and of course plenty of Black-headed Gulls. After our obligatory coffee, we walked back to the car and the short drive over to the Moors, seeing this feller on the way.
A resting Red-veined Darter.

The weather was getting quite dull when we arrived at the Moors, we watched the activity on the feeders at the North Moors for a while, but only Blue, Great and Coal Tits were seen, with little on the water except for some Mallard and single Mute Swan.

So we carried on to the Lapwing Hide, the main interest at the start were two Mute Swans harassing another Swan, wherever it went, they headed towards it and proceeded to have a go at it. This is the main aggressor in attack mode,
 then the chase. This went on for a good 30 minutes.

Meanwhile there was a lot to see:
Little Grebe,

 Grey Heron
 and Shoveler.

But the start of the afternoon was the Kingfisher, it came along and perched on a stick in front of the hide, making five fishing attempts, being successful four times. The photos are a bit grainy as it hard turned very dull and was also starting to rain.

 I wasn't quite quick enough to follow the dive,
 but got his return.

 Looking up as a raptor got the Lapwings up.

 Off he goes....

A great afternoon!

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Warbirds at Duxford, Part 2

Well, where were we. Ah yes a promise of Spitfires! Well a few other things first. I have to apologise for the gloomy pictures, as I said the weather for the later afternoon wasn't good, so I have had to edit the photos a fair bit to brighten them up so that some detail can be seen. Anyway here we go........

I'll start this part with what they called the Bristol Mercury Section of the display, that means that the four aircraft displaying are all powered by Bristol Mercury engines:
We have a Gloster Gladiator, two Westland Lysanders and a Bristol Blemheim.

 The Lysanders,

 Bristol Blenheim
and the Gloster Gladiator.

Now back to US built for a Naval Aviation Section,
Firstly the Grumman Wildcat, called the Martlet when flown by the Royal Navy!
and the fabulous Consolidated Catalina:

The weather was certainly suitable at times for a flying boat.

Staying with the US we then had a Boeing Stearman followed by two Harvards a Yale and a Valiant. These are training aircraft that many of our pilots training in Canada during WWII would have learnt in:
The Stearman,

and the others,
a Harvard in Portugese Air Force Colours,
and a Harvard in RAF colours,
the Yale,
and the Valiant

So from the US, we move to what was the USSR...... in the form of two Yak fighters,
a Yak-9
 and a Yak-3
Let me know if you can spot the difference.

Now it's Spitfire Time as promised in my first Duxford post.

Sixteen Spitfires took to the grey skies,  in twos and threes as they would have done, 79 years ago! Fifteen went away to form up for the display, while one gave us a fantastic solo display.
This is a Spitfire Mk.I Serial number N3200, it took off from Duxford on 26th May 1940 on its first combat mission, with the rest of 19 Squadron, flown by Geoffrey Stephenson, to cover the withdrawl of our troops from Dunkirk. After shooting down a Junkers 87 Stuka, it was in turn shot down and crash landed on a beach near Sangatte. Geoffrey was captured, ending up in the infamous Colditz Castle. (Stalag Luft III).

In 1986 it was rediscovered, excavated and the long restoration commenced, returning to the air in 2014 from Duxford. Completing a long circle over time.

While N3200 was displaying the others were forming up in the murky distance,
before sweeping in from the left, a diamond nine, followed by two vics of three.

It was brilliant!

After a great display 13 of the Spitfires broke formation and landed one after the other, (I won't do all 13!)

This left two Spitfires to do final solo displays, the first was Spitfire Mk.IX, serial MH434, I have a huge soft spot for this aircraft, as it is the very first Spitfire that I saw back in 1972 at the now sadly defunct Halfpenny Green Air Show. (Halfpenny Green or Bobbington, sometimes known under the grand name of Wolverhampton Business Airport) Anyway here it is:

Then lastly a Griffon engined Spitfire Mk.XVIII, serial SM845:

And a final fly by:

So I hope you liked what I put together.