Sunday, 30 November 2014

Week 33 30-11-2014 Birds Spotted: 2

It'''s been another two busy weeks, meaning I've had little chance to get outside. I was able to spare a couple of hours at Blashford Lakes last Sunday, which netted me two new birds. All in all though, it's been pretty lousy seeing clear blue skys (for the most part) and not being able to get out and enjoy them. Still, even though it was pouring with rain for the most part at Blashford, I was able to enjoy myself there.

I saw one of these gorgeous birds back in the Summer, but it was so quick I was unable to get a photo. I took this one at the woodland hide at Blashford Lakes, and while he didn't stay long, I did manage a couple of shots. Bullfinches are one of our bigger finches, with thick, heavy set bills that make them perfect for cracking open heavier seeds. The male has a stunning pinkish red chest and a bold black cap, making him unmistakable in the field. Despite the fact that there are over 220,000 breeding pairs, it's taking me a good six months to see one. The wait was certainly worth it though.
Here he is. Check out that lovely pink colouring.

Ruddy Duck
My other spot for the week is a record shot. I missed the Ruddy Duck last time I was at Blashford, but accidentally took a shot of it. This time I was luckier as there were three out and about, but they were all very far off, so record shots only I'm afraid. The Ruddy Duck is actually a north american bird and was introduced here around 60 years ago. Unfortunately, it's now been targeted for extermination as there are concerns that crossbreeding with the Spanish White Headed Duck will lead to the birds extinction. As the Ruddy Duck isn't a native UK species, the government is quite happy to have it terminated and has spent over £5 million. It's a pity this is happy as it's a beautiful little duck that you'll never forget once you see it.
He's sitting low in the water, but here's my Ruddy Duck record shot.

So that's it for another couple of weeks. I'm now up to 125 photographed birds, with another 147 left to find. I'll leave you wish some more high iso shots of Blashford Lakes.

Blue Tit at the woodland hide.

A hungry Chaffinch.

Coal Tit, one day I'll see a Willow Tit!

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Greenfinch on feeder.


A Dunnock in the underbrush.

Robin says hello.

Goosanders were out, but still very distant :(

While I saw the Franklin's Gull through a scope, I couldn't see it here!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Week 31 16-11-2014 Birds Spotted: 1

The one thing about birding at the weekends is that you're incredibly reliant on the weather being good. It's been terrible for me this week, so I've not got much to report. I did manage to see one new bird however, and amazingly, it was right outside the window where I work.

Black Redstart
On Tuesday I was having a chat at work about some feature ideas, when I saw two birds flitting about from the corner of my eye. I excused myself (read, got up and walked away) and could see they were definitely not something I'd seen before. Upon getting home I realised they were Black Redstarts, a new tick for my list. But would they be there the next day?
The following day I only saw the one male, but he hung around for the rest of the week, allowing for some decent photos.
It's a stunning bird, roughly Robin-sized and recently reclassified as an old world Flycatcher. I thought this was quite appropriate as he would dart out, fly erratically in mid air and return to his perch. While it's not a very common breeding bird (around 40 pairs) up to 400 birds are thought to winter here each year, which may explain the numerous sightings around portland recently. Like Peregrines, they've managed to successfully colonise man-made structures and are typically found breeding at locations like Battersea Power Station, which proves that man and nature can co-exist together.
Anyway, I was really please to see such an unusual bird and it certainly made up for the otherwise terrible weather over the weekend.
He was quite tame and I was able to get to the minimum focal length of my lens.

You can better see his orange tail here. Some variants have orange breasts too.

It was a blustery day, hence him being quite ruffled.

A shot that's been uncropped.

So that put me up to 123 photographed birds, with another 149 left to find :)

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Week 29 02-11-2014 Birds Spotted: 2

I've been on holiday this week, so I've managed to visit a few places and see some new birds. Sadly, the weather hasn't been fantastic, meaning my shots aren't the greatest. Still let's take a look at the two new birds I spotted this week.

I've obviously seen these gamebirds in the past, but not since starting my blog. Anyway, we were taking a walk at Hengistbury Head when we discovered one in a bush tucking down on berries. We ended up seeing three in the end, but this male was arguably the most impressive.
It's found over most parts of the UK, and is introduced so there are plenty to hunt during the relevant season. In fact, over 2 million females exist, meaning the population shouldn't go into decline any time soon. It feeds on seeds, greens and shoots and is typically found in hedgerows, and open countryside. It's one of our largest game birds and is unmistakable due to its long tail.
I think this one was moulting as it looks a little scruffy.

And here's another shot of it. Tricky to get in focus due to the branches.

I've been wanting to see a Goosander for a while, because it's one of our few saw-billed ducks. While I was lucky enough to find some over at Blashford Lakes, they were quite a fair distance away, meaning record shots only.
Anyway, Goosanders are handsome ducks with serrated bills designed for catching fish. They are on the RSPB's green list with around 3,000 breeding pairs and are found in most parts of the UK. They are often confused with Mergansers and are unpopular with fisherman due to their love of Salmon and Trout. Like many other ducks they happily winter in the UK, meaning that up to 12,000 will arrive. There were a handful at Blashford, mainly females. They stayed on the spit for for entire duration, meaning I'll need to go back for better shots in the future.
Here we have three Goosanders. The male is the bird in the middle.

Another record shot, this time showing the male preening.

So that's it for this week. I've now up to 122 photographed birds, with another 150 left to find!

Despite the weather being poor, I was still able to visit a number of different locations. So let's take a look at each one in turn.

Hengistbury Head
Always a favourite of mine, with lots of different environments and the possibility for rare birds.

Spied a Magpie at the golf course.

A passing Jay. Seeing lots of these at the moment.

Hunting Kestrel. Again, terrible weather.

Blashford Lakes
I've never been here before, but it's only 25 minutes up the road, so I'll certainly be returning.
Lots of Great-Crested Grebes were about.

Little Grebes were also plentiful.

A Cormorant dries off.

Saw a number of ducks including Tufted...



And Wigeon. There was rumoured to be a Ruddy Duck, but I didn't see it.

A flock of Lapwings were at the Goosander hide.

While Greylags and Egyptian Geese were far off on the spit as well.

Highlight of the day was a Kingfisher, that kept posing for pictures.

This is the closest he got, about 17 feet away. 

Heavy crops, but they will do for the moment :)

Truly stunning birds. Here's hoping I have more light next time as 1/100 is too slow!

Longham Lakes
I was hoping to see the Black-Necked Grebe, but it continues to elude me. Still it's a great location with lots of birds.
Seeing Cormorants resting on pylons is very odd. They were everywhere.

Managed to catch one on its way to fish.

Coots were plentiful, although I saw no Moorhens.

There was one lone Little Egret that kept the Mallards company.

Hopefully this shot is sharp enough!

A size comparison shot!

A Mute Swan plays peekaboo.

A Buzzard was on patrol.

I was surprised at how pale it was!

There was a single pair of Canada Geese.

And I disturbed a Shoveler!

Discovered a hunting Kestrel.
I think it's a male, but I could be wrong.
Stunning looking falcons.

I also spied a Pied Wagtail as I was leaving.

Hengistbury Head
Went there again today in search of the Lapland Buntings that had been sighted but didn't see them :( It was really windy and overcast, so there wasn't much about.
Starlings by the golf course.

More Pheasants were about.

Spied a Stonechat.

And also this male.

And a very noisy Wren.