Bleak Mid-winter

Awoke yesterday to a sharp frost, everything was white and a thin layer of ice covered the pond.  As a lover of butterflies, dragonflies and warm sunny days the winter months can be a depressing time.  What for me is cold (around 0c) is to others in chillier climes almost tropical!  It’s all subjective.  Stuck out in the North Sea on the east coast of the UK we don’t get the hard winters others experience.  On occasion we get a blast all the way from Siberia but mostly it’s dull, gloomy, leaden skies with various amounts of mist, drizzle or proper rain.  So if the sun threatens to put in an appearance grab the camera and make the most of it.

That is what happened yesterday.  Mrs H suggested a trip out looking for birds and trying out the new lens.  Did I really hear that?  Needing no further persuasion it was hat, coat, gloves, camera gear let’s go!  We went 20 miles west around the coast to the shingle ridge at Salthouse.  From the beach road two vegetated areas are worth a look.  To the west the ‘Little Eye’ and east the much larger ‘Gramborough Hill’ and that is where we went.

The shore pool by Gramborough Hill had only one bird on it, a Redshank (Tringa totanus). These waders can be quite nervous and flighty but this one allowed a nice set of shots in the soft light

I was hoping that there may be Snow Buntings near the hill, this is an area they have visited for many years.  It was not to be but a small ‘charm’ of Goldfinches flitted through and frustrated my attempts to get a decent shot in the failing light by keeping low and not hanging around.  Two other birds were noted and by their behaviour I could tell they were a pair of Stonechats (Saxicola torquata).

The male Stonechat. A species I have photographed several times but never get tired of them. They like to sit up on a vantage point to survey the ground for a tasty morsel but rarely return to the same perch
‘Wonder what’s up there’ The female Stonechat
‘Wonder what’s down there’ At times the Stonechats came really close
A Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) briefly hovered over the hill but any brightness had gone and it was difficult to get much detail
Me and my shadow. a Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) appears to have a Redshank mimicking it

Today we should be on a plane jetting off to Berlin to spend the week with our daughter.  Sadly it’s not to be as the German government banned entry to us Brits four days ago in a bid to control this new covid variant, well good luck with that.   Wherever you are around the world and whatever your beliefs (or not) take care, be safe and if you are with your families, cherish the moment.  Have a good one.  B

44 thoughts on “Bleak Mid-winter

  1. Very nice Mr. B. The Redshank especially.
    20 miles! Wow … that’s what I call keen. Well done that man!
    200 metres and I’m thinking I need to pause for a coffee break!

    The very best Christmas wishes to you and the wife, Brian.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. The first thing I did after reading your nice seasonal post this morning here in SW Virginia was to check Google Maps to see exactly where you were on such a nice day, with a very long lens (that being perfect given the number of potential birds compositions.) A Merry Christmas to you and family. Sorry to learn your trip to Berlin isn’t possible this COVID variant infested year.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’d say that despite the winter’s bleakness there—there, as in near Norwich if my memory serves me little these days? 🤪 Up there where Canaries fly feverishly around Carrow Road, yes? 😉 —I’d say this outing was a grand success, despite holding down the 20th position of the Table. 🤭

    And geeezzz, if my fading memory is playing dirty tricks on my footballing recall, then I’m a dupe for teasing this way and apologize profusely. 🤦‍♂️

    Nevertheless, on the avian front… I do love tremendously the Kestrals of England. Absolutely one of the most gorgeous of the predator birds. Our version here is STUNNING as well (Falco sparverius) is a most superb hunter, aye, like yours there I’m sure. And one or two Merlins (Falco columbarius) have appeared now that we are supposed to be in the throws of Winter. But alas, we are suffering from one of the warmest, mildest winters on record here in the Hill Country of Texas since way back in 2018. 😔 (please note my severe sarcasm)

    Wishing you and yours a very safe, memorable holiday season too Brian! Here’s to hoping 2022 is much much better than ’21 and CERTAINLY 2020. ✨🎆

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well Prof next year can’t possibly be any worse could it?
      And to add to the winter gloom yes, the Canaries are not flying high. Every week we get our wings clipped but deep down it’s pretty much what we expected. Thought the new manager might turn things around but after a couple of good performances seems like we are slipping back into the bad old ways!
      Must say I really like your American Kestrel, they’re a real cutie!
      Wrap up and keep warm Prof, don’t want you getting frostbite out there 😂😂😉

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Hello Mr. B, a “bleak” winter it may be, but what wonderful shots of our avian friends 🙂 I am very sorry the trip to Berlin did not work out – it must be a huge disappointment for all. We keep hope that the situation will improve and that you will be able to see your daughter in-person in the very near future.

    Wishing you and all your loved ones a safe, healthy and happy holiday season and new year ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, what a difference a year makes… 12 moths ago I was shovelling snow up to my knees in sub-zero temperatures and this year it may well be +12 degrees on Xmas Day. Now that is barmy, I mean balmy. Fabulous photos Brian. I’m very envious that you can get close to your birds, the ones on our estuary fly off at the merest hint of movement. I’ve never got closer than 50 yards!

    It’s a great shame that you will not be with your daughter for Christmas. Though it confirms that we made the right decision to move back to the UK. (We’re heading to my sister-in-laws tomorrow and to see my daughter in Sheffield next week – sorry if that’s rubbing it in!) There is a certain beauty though in having a quiet time together at home. So I hope you both have a wonderful time and keep that camera ready, just in case the sun does come out again! 🎅

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Brian. I’m told that it rarely snows around here, so it will be interesting to see if it happens this year. We definitely didn’t get any a few weeks ago when a lot of the rest of the country was covered. We’ll not be getting a white Christmas that’s for sure!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Your trip was well worth it–these are all gorgeous photos. I guess you’re enjoying that new camera?

    So sorry about your planned trip. I hope you can re-schedule in the not-too-distant future. My son, who lives in Amman, Jordan, was also planning to go to Berlin with two friends from Vienna. They’ve decided to go to Prague for a few days, then back to Vienna.

    Have a restful holiday and happy, healthy 2022.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A little bit of decent light and something to point the camera at is always appreciated. Sorry about your trip. Hope you are keeping in good spirits. Season’s best!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Not overly cheerful at the moment Pete. For everything to be cancelled at such very short notice was stunning and heartbreaking. It’s a bit deja-vu, the same thing happened in spring ’20 with the first lockdown. Now we have gone full circle and are back where we started.
      And you can’t even enjoy the fireworks! Never mind there’s Robins to be fed.


  8. Any day out is better than a day in! And being able to capture some wonderful images of birds makes the day even better!

    The New Year is just around the next bend. We intend to live like it’s the best time of our lives – because it is!

    Here’s to us, Brian of the United Kingdom! We shall overcome all barriers and survive to bird and bug and photograph again!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Again, sorry for your misfortune for the holidays especially when it impacts the family being able to get together. Best wishes for better days in 2022. As far as the birds go.. Snow Buntings are number 2 on my list of targets for this year – they keep eluding me year after year after year. That Redshank looks a lot like our Spotted Pipers – definitely more orange though. Will gladly take on of those Stonechats if you would kindly put one in a box (with holes) and send it my way. I can reciprocate with a colorful warbler to help cheer you up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers B. We had to make the best of it and it turned out to be a not too bad of a day, long video chat with the Lemming helped. If we have to wait ’till spring to be allowed into Germany then so be it, we will celebrate properly then.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Sorry to hear about your canceled trip, Brian. Our plans don’t always work out, especially when there are much greater forces at play.
    I hope you get safely into the new year and wish you many opportunities to get outside and use that new camera of yours to help dispel the winter blues.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Glad you were able to get out and try out the new lens! Looks like the birds were cooperative for the most part. Love the shots and the descriptions. Lets hope 2022 gives us more opportunities to get out there with our cameras. There are some ducks around here that missed seeing me last year (I’m sure.) 🙂 Take care Brian.

    Liked by 1 person

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