Even Toothache….

…has its compensations. Having not slept well through the wee small hours, when I woke again at 5 with a proper face-ache I decided to get up and have done with it. After a leisurely pint of tea to wash down a tablet breakfast, I was soon at Leighton Moss under immaculate blue skies. There seemed to be more small bird activity along the causeway path then I would usually expect. I saw several warblers at unusually close quarters. I was heading for Lower Hide. On the path round I passed several….

….tall common valerian plants.

Just behind the hide I watched for quite some time as a bird circulated between several high treetop and shrub perches, singing the whole time. The song was a complex mix of sweet notes and the guttural whirrs and clicks that some warblers make. The flights seemed to be some sort of display with a climb at roughly 45 degrees, a similar descent, rapid wing beats and continuous singing. I took several photos, which, whilst not great, are sufficient to show that the bird was a sedge warbler. I subsequently found that sedge warblers were sometimes know as mock nightingales because of their fine singing.

From the hide I watched a great crested grebe in the mere and a marsh harrier flying beyond it, but it was the birds in the reeds which really caught my attention.

Particularly these reed buntings.

And the blue tits which were briefly with them.

I think that this is a juvenile, because of the lack of blue on the head.

I also took no end of shots of a reed warbler singing energetically from the reeds, sadly none of them came out too well.

When I eventually dragged myself away from the hide and started for home and family and breakfast, I found that the sedge warbler was still energetically circuiting the same few perches singing every bit as enthusiastically as before. I also startled another roe deer with fawn, but this pair were away very quickly – there was no question of me getting any photos.

I would have said that this was limestone woundwort, but I see from ‘The Wildflower Key’ that in fact it is marsh woundwort. The leaves and flowers are slightly wrong for limestone woundwort.


 Star sedge (I think).


These flowers, on tall stems, looked rather insignificant at first glance, but on closer inspection are rather cheery. I think they might be nipplewort, in which case I was lucky to catch them on a sunny morning since they are reluctant to open in cloudy conditions or afternoons.

I had a brief but stunning view of a marsh harrier, then spotted this male broad-bodied chaser sunning himself by the path.

Frustratingly, I also had good clear view of a male reed bunting singing from a prominent perch on a shrub and of another path-side broad-bodied chaser, this time a yellow female, but couldn’t get decent photos of either. Another time.

Even Toothache….

5 thoughts on “Even Toothache….

  1. The photos of the birds in the reeds and the broad-bodied chaser are stunning. You must have a great camera and steady hands to get such in focus shots! The way the light’s falling so softly on the reed buntings is beautiful.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Thanks Emily – you didn’t see all the other shots which didn’t make it on to the blog! I was quite close to the broad-bodied chaser which kept obligingly still. The light on the reed-buntings is down to two factors – the intervening reeds which amazingly (and unusually) my camera seems to have managed to ignore, and the fcat that I was using my teleconvertor lens to extend the telephoto on my camera – it seems to have had the effect of making most photos I took slightly hazy and to have muted the colours in a rather annoying way – but it worked beautifully for the reed-buntings for some reason. For those photos I had my arms braced on a shelf in a hide to try to get sharp pictures.My camera is

      1. beatingthebounds says:

        an Olympus SP560UZ – a superzoom camera which cost about £200. You get a lot of camera for your money these days. I sometimes think I’d like to pick up a secondhand DSLR, but I don’t know if I’d have the patience to lug the lenses around. (And they’re very expensive even second-hand.)
        I took a better photo of a broad-bodied chaser last year:

  2. I’d like to echo Emily’s comments on the BBC and the buntings.
    Those woundwort flowers look very orchidy don’t they.
    Meadowsweet is suppose to be good for headaches – maybe toothache too. (A couple of years ago I tried steeping some Meadowsweet to try it out but forgot about it and it turned rather worrying so I tipped it away. An experiment still waiting to be done).

  3. beatingthebounds says:

    Rob – I think a fuller post on Meadowsweet is in order – flavouring for mead, pot herb, original source of aspirin and general panacea. For some reason I didn’t think to look this up in Hatfield’s Herbal before I posted – thanks for nudging me in that direction. How would you know that you were taking an appropriate dose?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s