Tag Archives: sheepcote valley

Stonechat Special

We had some steady wintry sunshine today. All day. It was cold, but certainly a very welcome change, and I headed over to Sheepcote Valley which is where I generally go in search of kestrels. There weren’t any around today, but the scrub clearers were back. Yes, the sheep at Sheepcote are ‘workers’. They get brought in every few months to eat back the undergrowth, and then are moved on to another site.


It was while I was sheep watching that I spotted several little stonechats. These are small meadow birds, with a distinctive call (which gives them their name). They like to perch on low shrubs, and a prone to offer little wing flicks.


Stonechat flitting out a wing


Let’s give both wings a go!

The merest hint of a branch was sufficient for this male stonechat on lookout duty.

Male stonechat on lookout.

And what goes up a perch, must come down. I have to say I was quite pleased with this little sequence, not least because I had deliberately left room for the flight when I lined up the first shot. The stonechat helped things by staying in the same plane as it dove down.

Stonechat flying down from its perch

Stonechat flying down from its perch

Stonechat flying down from its perch

Stonechat flying down from its perch

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D Mark II and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens.

Posted in Birds Also tagged , |

Saturday Selection (birds frog fox)

It’s been one of those quiet pottering days, some of the time spent in the garden but with a brief walk out on the Downs on the way back from taking yet more garden cuttings to the local recycling centre. I’ll start though with a photo from last night. It’s a lone frog in the pond, though a noisy one. We didn’t do well with frogs last year, so I’m not sure whether we’ll get any spawn this time around.


Pretty seems to turn into a shy fox in daylight. She does come by, but today refused to move beyond the back of the garden.

fox at back of garden

The local recycling centre is about a mile and half from here, just a short drive and to get to it I have to drive past the entrance to Sheepcote Valley. Sheepcote is my favourite kestrel site, but there weren’t any around today. Instead of roaming the valley I headed down one of the footpaths.

footpath at Sheepcote Valley

It was sunny but cool, and the skylarks were hovering overhead filling the air with their distinctive trilling. They really do make it feel like spring has arrived.


British Birds

Skylarks are meadow birds and never venture too far from the fields. Goldfinches, however, are tempted to come into gardens and a small group (scarcely enough to call a flock) were flitting in and out during the afternoon. Mainly they hid out of sight in the higher branches, but just briefly they showed enough of themselves to warrant a photo.

Pair of goldfinches

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS lens with the exception of the frog which was captured with the EF 100mm f/2.8L macro IS USM lens.

Posted in Amphibians, Birds, Foxes, frog Also tagged , , , |

Kestrel Sequence at Sheepcote Valley

I don’t think it rained today. Not a drop, which makes it something of a red letter day in itself. It also meant that it was time to get started on some overdue jobs around the place. When I’m outside I keep an eye on what’s around and there was some good sightings, including my first butterfly of the year (probably a red admiral, though the sighting was all too brief).

I was up a ladder repairing some guttering when a buzzard (with accompanying escort of herring gulls) flew overhead; and later while I was shifting some garden rubbish a sparrowhawk flew low across the garden scattering pigeons in its path. I did get a chance to use the camera though. I stopped off at Sheepcote Valley on the way back from my first trip to the local dump. A small herd of sheep were grazing the scrub.

Sheep in Sheepcote Valley

A kestrel was out hunting. It was scouting along a ridge line and I watched it for 10 minutes or so before it headed off into the distance

Kestrel over Sheepcote Valley

Kestrel over Sheepcote Valley

Kestrel over Sheepcote Valley

Kestrel over Sheepcote Valley

Kestrel over Sheepcote Valley

We’ve had a brief glimpse of Pretty in the garden tonight, but she was more interested in fox business and stayed at the rear of the garden listening intently to another fox calling from one of the neighbouring gardens. She’ll probably turn up again later. She usually does.

One minor tweak to the blog. I’ve added an email subscription as a means of getting alerts when new posts are made. The emails are sent as plain text as I still have something of an aversion to html emails.

Camera note: all photos taken with the Canon 7D and EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L USM IS lens.

Posted in Bird of Prey Also tagged , |