Coughton Court, Kinwarton Dovecote, yellowhammers and grey wagtails.

 Coughton Court has been home to the Throckmorton family for 600 years; this fine Tudor house stands testament to a family's courage in maintaining their Catholic beliefs. Today the visitor can see and hear about the dangerous times during which Catholicism was practiced at great risk to life, limb and livelihood. The two churches on the estate reflect the history of Christianity on these islands. The house has been in the ownership of the National Trust since 1946, the family holding a 300-year lease and still occupying part of the property as their home, although the house and grounds are now managed by the trust. 
 For myself it is the beauty of the buildings and the extensive semi-natural estate that are the main attraction, providing endless opportunities to craft some intriguing images with the camera.

Coughton Court 458 (166)Coughton Court 458 (170)Coughton Court 458 (152)

The interior of the building is worth exploring on a quieter day when more time can be spent looking for a particular angle without having to wait too long for the view to become uncluttered by visitors....

Coughton Court 458 (96)Coughton Court 458 (89)Coughton Court 458 (87)Coughton Court 458 (95)Coughton Court 458 (81)

The interior of the Catholic Church is worth seeing as it has a particularly fine painted roof.
Coughton Court  Catholic Church 458 (110)Coughton Court  Catholic Church 458 (107)
Wild flowers, insects and birds flourish in the gardens, fields, woodlands and river beyond the building and a day can easily be spent exploring the possibilities on the warm Spring sunshine. The bridges over the river afford good views of the nesting grey wagtails for example and we found a nuthatch nest-hole in a tree on the bank as well....

grey wagtail 458 (137)nuthatch 458 (225)grey wagtail 458 (140)
The woodlands by the river and further afield are full of wild flowers; have a look at the pictures on Flikr.
I want now to turn my attention to a longer walk (up to about 7 miles) that starts at the main gates of Coughton Court and crosses fields to the 14th Century Kinwarton Dovecote, a relic of the Abbey of Evesham which stood to the north-west. It is an impressive example of a circular stone dovecote with a tiled roof, the view of which is somewhat marred by power cables (two sets of them) looking as if they were deliberately positioned to ruin the image! I include below a picture which I admit has been `photoshopped` up close and a second shot from the road further along the walk taken through the telephoto lens which I feel illustrates the dovecote in what must have been  its original type of surroundings...

Kinwarton Dovecote 458 (189)St Mary`s Church Kinwarton 458 (177)
It is possible to enter the dovecote and admire metre-thick walls with their 580+ nesting holes and the intact potence, or ladder that can rotate about the central pivot to reach every hole. The pigeons would have made eating in the Winter for the Lord of the Manor although his tenants would not have been pleased to see the birds eating their crops in the spring! The resentment is said to have contributed to the revolution in France (!) and much unrest in England.

Kinwarton Dovecote 458 (193)Kinwarton Dovecote 458 (194)
The church at Kinwarton is worth a detour as well. Rebuilt in the 1800s, it is a lovely church that provides many opportunities for some nice images (although it is difficult to hide the water butt by the door) both inside and out...

St Mary`s Church Kinwarton 458 (176)St Mary`s Church Kinwarton458 (180)St Mary`s Church Kinwarton458 (183)St Mary`s Church Kinwarton458 (185)
Finally; a special mention of the the WW2 memorial commemorating the crew of a Wellington Bomber, killed in 1944. Kenneth Wakefield had married the rector`s daughter at the outbreak of war. This is a timely reminder in this peaceful beautiful place of the debt we all owe to so many brave young men as we wonder about our free land....

St Mary`s Church Kinwarton458 (186)

The Other Birds of Upton Warren this Month.

(other than Avocets that is)...

Other birds that have attracted the attention of my camera this month at Upton Warren include the nesting Lapwing and Little Ringed Plovers and a lovely Black-Tailed Godwit.
There are two pairs of lapwing nesting that I have seen from the tower hide on The Flashes. One has placed herself nice and close to the hide. When sitting she is at the perfect distance for my digiscoping kit, and when on the move she often approaches the hide for minutes at a time; irresistible!

lapwing 459b (3)lapwing 459b (5)
I am particularly pleased of this set of images capturing the adult`s return to her nest after a few minutes away looking for food. In this cold weather she doesn`t really get much of a chance to find food as the eggs would quickly chill in ths constant cold wind we are having.
lapwing with eggs 462 (79)lapwing with eggs 462 (80)lapwing with eggs462 (83)lapwing with eggs462 (84)
The LRP nests are not so close and the telescope must be used to obtain any kind of picture of the adults brooding. They do occasionally venture close to the hide however and give brief glimpses at a reasonable distance. One must be quick (or lucky) with the focusing however!

LRP on nest 462 (9)little ringed plover 459 (65)little ringed plover 459 (66)
The Black-tailed Godwit is a colorful chap in his breeding plumage. I assume he is `on passage` but he does not seem to be in any kind of hurry! I am told he has been quite near the hide - I have had to use the `scope though.
  black-tailed godwits 462 (27b)
Finally, I know they are not everybody`s `cup of tea` but I find the Canada Geese quite intriguing. They make good parents; arranging for baby-sitters even in quite large creches. The chicks are endearing as well.
canada goose 462 (34)canada goose 462 (29)canada goose 462 (30) The Mallards can get pretty feisty as well at times. This squabble went on for several minutes when one female approached another`s chicks too closely by the feeders; the chicks were completely oblivious of course!
mallards 462 (50)mallards fighting 462 (46)
Mind you, it isn`t just the adults that fall out sometimes. These two Canada Geese chicks had taken a distinct dislike to each other; the parents just looked on as if to say `sort it out yourselves`!
canada geese 459 (110)

Avocets at Upton Warren this month.

May 2015.
During the spring of 2003 a pair of avocets established territory, laid eggs and successfully fledged young here. It must have been a time of great excitement! For a history of this event follow this link -

During the last two years we have been entertained by the antics of these iconic birds and this year I have tried to record a series of images of the chicks as they grow as well as some behavior of their feisty parents!

I use my Swarovski ATX telescope with their APO lens connected to an Olympus OMD M10 for many of the photographs of the chicks when small. However, the chicks and adults often approach close to the main hide and allow photos to be bagged with quite short lenses. (I am presently limited to a 210mm lens on my M1 as I wait with growing impatience for the promised 300mm lens)!

The parent will protect their young from pretty much any perceived threat. The Mallard and Shellduck chicks coming in for particular (violent) attention!

avocet 462 (21) avocets attacking shellduck chicks 462 (25) avocets attacking a gull 462 (19)

I have spent several enjoyable hours watching the avocet chicks grow this month, They clearly thrive on the ready supply of insects and other invertebrates below and above the surface of the water here. The parents seem to offer no help or instruction at all so far as feeding is concerned.
The photographs below were taken this month; note some were digiscoped but some of the later shots are actually taken with a relatively short lens as the chicks as grown and as they obligingly come close to the hide (while I am actually there)...

avocet chick 459 (37)bavocet chick 459 (22)avocet chick 459 (122)avocets 462 (55)avocet chicks 462 (5)avocet chick 459 (86)avocet chicks 377  (75)

The parents are always ready to offer shelter from a sudden shower of rain (of which we have had too many this cool Springtime) and otherwise pose for the photographer!

avocet 459 (104)avocet with  chicks 459 (17)adult avocet 459 (77)

...and of course, continue to terrorize the other bird families....

avocets vs shellducks 459 (10)avocets and mallard family 459 (30)