Monday, 31 August 2015

Year Two Week Ten - Birds Spotted 2

Sorry for the lack of updates but the weather really has been terrible.
I'm back though, with a new update as well as a new lens. A beastly 600mm canon L prime which I'll hopefully be getting to grips with over the coming months.

I've got two new birds this week, both of them thanks to a trip to my sisters in Wales.

Tawny Owl
While I saw Tawny Owls a few months ago at my sister's house, I couldn't get a good shot of them.
They live on her property, often sitting a foot or two from her window as she does the washing up or watches TV. There are 5 in total, with three of them being juveniles. I didn't take too many shots as I didn't want to disturb them, but I'm happy with the images I managed to get.
Tawny Owls are relatively common throughout most of the UK and efficient, deadly hunters. They are amazingly quiet and it was incredibly eerie to turn around and have one looking at you without even hearing it land nearby. They were waddling about the grass looking for morsels and seemed completely uninterested as I drew close by to them.
It's thought that around 50,000 pairs live in the UK and as a result it enjoys green status from the RSPB. It's obviously a hard bird to see in the day, but sometimes like to sun itself on branches. This now marks the second owl I've seen in the wild, with the Little Owl being the first.

This little fellow was perched roughly 25 feet away from me.

Every time I've visited my sister's I've wanted to see Dippers. After all, they actually nest in the river that runs through the bottom of her property. Every time I go I never see them, so much so that my nickname is Dipperless.
This weekend looked no different and despite seeing one fly across our landrover as we made the horrible ascent over a local mountain, I didn't see one. My brother in law did, prompting me to endure lots of gnat bites and some cold hours in the Welsh drizzle, but after three days it was to no avail.
I stopped off at one more location as we were travelling home and there it was. Sitting loud and pretty and calling out to a no doubt hidden mate. I got my Dipper!
These birds are incredible. They have boney bits on their feet that allow them to grip the rocks of riverbeds so they can hunt for food. They can even swim under water, where the look for caddis fly larvae and other delicacies.
This one is strictly a record shot as it was a good 50 odd feet away and I had to view it through a bridge. It's easily identifiable though thanks to that big white breast.

Here's the record shot. Not the greatest, but that's easily a Dipper!

A bigger crop through a gap I found.

And just to give you a sense of how difficult the shot was.

Despite these two awesome birds, Wales was a little too overcast and wet for anything else.
Luckily I headed off to Blashford on the way home :)

Common Sandpiper. The closest I've got to one.

I forgot my 1.5 TC, so this is a crop. Still happy with the detail though!

Pleased with this crop.

Little Grebes are tiny.

Black-Headed Gull.

Black-Headed Gulls and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Year Two Week Eight - Birds Spotted 1

Sorry for the lack of updates, but personal things have prevented me from posting recently.
I do have a new record bird from my time in Wales last weekend however.

Pied Flycatcher
Pied Flycatchers are dainty birds that come over to the UK for the summer. While the males can be resplendent in gorgeous black and white plumage, the female birds are far dowdier. I actually saw this one a long, long way off while I was trying to tempt birds to a nearby, more convenient viewing post I'd set up. Although I could see it was exhibiting typical flycatcher behaviour (darting from a perch before returning to it) I was too full of beer and bacon to get any closer to it. It didn't help that the weather was particularly brutal last week with very little sun that meant I got some pretty poor photos of it.
Although on the Amber List in the UK, around 20,000 breeding pairs can still be found here each year, and I'm delighted that I finally saw one, even if I had to get it identified after I got home. That's little brown jobs for you though, they can be a bugger to tell apart.

Admittedly not the best of pictures, but it's easy to tell it's a flycatcher.

The image becomes a little more impressive when you see how far away it was!

With the Pied Flycatcher I'm now up to 136 photographed birds with another 136 left to find!

Sadly I don't have too many decent shots for you this week, so I'll leave you with the ones that I didn't actually bin. 

Pied Wagtails were plentiful and always eating.

The poor light meant I soon gave up trying to get flying swallows.

Amazingly, my sister has Swallows nesting in her actual porch.

A pair of baby Great Tits in undergrowth.

A Skylark, it was way to wet to crawl around, which limited how close I could get.

A distant Whinchat.

Shooting a Swallow at 7am in the morning on an overcast day at 1/4000 is asking for trouble :P