Sunday, 28 December 2014

Week 37 28-12-2014 Birds Spotted: 0

I won't lie it's been a pretty disappointing week in terms of birding recently.
The inevitable pull of Christmas has meant that there hasn't been a great deal of time to get out and about, so I've very little to report.

So I'm still on 127 photographed birds with another 145 left to find.

I think in the new year I'm going to have to start going to specific places in order to see the birds I need to tick off my list in order to get back into the swing of things. I've still had a great day today heading off to Longham Lakes for an early look around, but it's not the same when you can spot something new or interesting.

Anyway, here's what happened when I headed off to Longham this week.

I left around 9.30 which is the earliest I've headed off to the Lakes. Unfortunately, it wasn't well-timed, because of the position of the sun. All the action typically takes place on the far side of the lakes, and the sun was directly in front of me, meaning sun glare was a constant issue. By the time the sun was behind me, the birds were on the far side of the lake, which meant taking photos quite problematic. Still, it was a great walk regardless and I saw a fair few interesting birds. The black-necked grebe continues to elude me and I lucked out on seeing any Fieldfares and Redwings, but I'll try and get out again in a few days time.

One of the first things I spotted was this Greenfinch. He got relatively close, so I was able to catch a fair amount of detail on him.

I then spied a Kestrel in a tree. Well actually, I missed him originally, and caught him as he flew to another. The tree was obscuring him, so I waited for him to have a poo. Sure enough, as soon as he made his deposit he took off and I was able to capture this shot of him.

Cormorants were everywhere, but this one got closest too me and he was still a good 50 odd feet away. Still, managed to capture some nice detail and you can see he's still wet from a swim.

Unfortunately, I didn't see this Heron as I had my back to him. It would have been nice to get a shot head on, but that's the break with bird watching sometimes. Your eyes can't be everywhere.

Mallards where everywhere, and were always open to a photo opportunity. I quite like this one as it shows off the brilliant green head and that lovely yellow beak.

Not a bad shot, but Little Grebes are tremendously shy and this one refused to get within 50 feet of me. It's not a 100% crop, but it's not as sharp as I'd like.

Forgot my exposure here meaning there are blown elements on the bird. I guess the composition is okay, but it's not as good a shot as it could have been. There weren't too many Mute Swans around, so I'm guessing they were in the nearby fields.

It was quite far off but I liked the extreme splash landing this Cormorant made as it came in for a rather clumsy little landing.

There's a little island about 40 feet from the sore and this Grey Wagtail was there looking for food. The island was largely deserted, so he had the place to himself.

I now had the sun to my back, but the tall reeds meant I couldn't see birds until I disturbed them. This Gadwall looked rather pretty as the sun really brings his colouring out.

A Tufted Duck, but a lousy shot. Still I like Tufted Ducks, so up it goes.

I wanted to get a Christmas Robin and I was rewarded with this little fellow. It's three days late of course, but a nice touch all the same. I'm impressed with how much better the 7D is at picking out birds in branches compared to my old Canon 600D.

This is when I feel I could do with a teleconverter. There's a nice selection of birds here, including Shoveler, Cormorants, Lapwings and a Black-Tailed Godwit. It's a good 70-odd feet out, meaning this is a 50% crop.

Spotted this Pochards as I was on the way back to the car. I love their red eyes, it gives them an almost alien-look. They were a good way out, but I'm still pleased with the composition.

Caught this Rook as I was heading back to the car. I saw plenty of Magpies, Carrion Crows and Jackdaws, but only this Rook got near enough for a photo opportunity.

The final bird of the day was another Grey Wagtail that I was able to get extremely close to before some other walkers scared him away.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Week 35 14-12-2014 Birds Spotted: 1 New Camera Test

So this week was rather good. Not because I saw lots of new birds, but because I got my hands on a fantastically priced Canon 7D. I've already seen an improvement in some of my distant shots (although the focus is more sensitive in poorer light) and I'm sure things will only get better with practice.

So anyway, let's take a look at the new bird I saw this week.

The place was Poole Quay. I'd taken a wrong turn going into the park, and instead ended up a short distance from Poole Quay. As I was wandering around I saw a small group of waders that I first thought were Purple Sandpipers. Upon closer inspection I realised they were Turnstones.
Interestingly, these birds were actually scavenging on the ground, which I didn't expect to see. This tiny dumpy wader has mottled plumage with a white underside and is easy to mistake with many other waders. It gets its name as it likes to shift small pebbles and stones with its beak as it searches for food along the UK's rocky coasts. It's on the RSPB's amber list and around 51,000 birds winter here each year. None appear to breed here though.

These birds were incredibly tame, allowing me to get within 17 foot of them.

Here's another having a forage.

So that's it for another week. I'm now up to 127 photographed birds, with another 145 to find.

I'll leave you with some of the other birds I saw around the Quay and Poole Park. While I did see a Fieldfare, it flew by to fast to get a shot.

A selection of Black-Headed Gulls. One in a car park.

One admiring it's reflection.

Perched on a post.

There was a group of Brent Geese in the fields.

And one flew overhead.

Egrets were out and about as well.

Pleased with these flight shots.

Light was a little harsh though :(

I got very very close to a Black Tailed Godwit.

I caught the back end of a Carrion Crow.

Who hooked up with a friend.

A feeding Oystercatcher.

One playing hide and seek.

Another flying by.

Blackbird in the undergrowth.

Moorhen is hungry.

A blurry Rock Pipit.

A Mallard.

A perched Egret.

A very heavy crop of a Buzzard, which hopefully proves my lens isn't broke like I first thought.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Week 34 07-12-2014 Birds Spotted: 1

It was a pretty poor week for me this week. Despite spending plenty of time at Arne and Hengistbury Head, I've struggled to take decent shots. Pretty much anything I take at great distance is extremely blurry, meaning I've little decent to share this week. I'm unsure if it's my technique or the pathetic low light (the sun set at 4pm today!) but what I do know is that it's not a great time of the year for taking photos. Still, I did get one new bird, so here it is.

It's another record shot due to it being extremely far away. Still, there's no mistaken this incredibly striking bird. The flagship bird of the RSPB used to be something of a rarity in the UK, but it's numbers have slowly increased since its return in the 1940s. It's a medium-sized wader with distinctive black and white markings and a long upcurved bill. Around 7,500 birds winter here each year now and it successfully breeds at various strongholds throughout the UK.

Not the greatest shot, and the image is blurry, but it's an Avocet.

Another shot, highlighting just how deep the water was.

So that's it for another week. I'm now up to 126 photographed birds, with another 146 to find.

I saw another Dartford Warbler at Arne.

As well as a very distant Marsh Harrier hunting.

Brent Geese were numerous.

And there were lots of Godwits and Teal about.

I caught up with a Pied Wagtail at the barn.

And so another at the head.

There was a distant Pheasant in one of the fields.

And I spied a Goldcrest in the woods.

Black-Headed Gulls were numerous.

I caught a Wood Pigeon taking off.

And discovered an inquisitive Carrion Crow.