Tuesday, 22 July 2014

MOULTON QUARRY....martins,butterflies,buzzards,kestrels and a greenie

Well that's the name for the ex-gravel pit I have been visiting of late. A chance encounter with a "follower" and fellow birder from Twitter who was jogging on the site let us know it's proper name, thank you Andy.
The weekend was really spent dodging thunderstorms and hail which didn't give me much chance to get out with the camera, I was supposed to me on a night out in my truck yesterday but got lucky with three cancelled drops in Oxfordshire so I was straight up the site yesterday after work.

The surrounding farm was harvesting the crops which in turn producded a lot of gulls and Buzzards. This shot you might not be able to make out (bottom/left talon) but there is a small mammal in it's talon. I did get a very distant image too of it carrying a rat. Not worth publishing, to far away.
One of the main plants on this site is the Budleia (spelt right?) which in turn produces a lot of butterflies and yesterday the place was SWARMING with them, if you look at Eleanor and Neils blog they were reporting the same thing with their budleia in their garden, as the crow flies their village is about 4-5miles away from where I was. On one budleia bush I had a remarkable 20 Peacocks feeding. And a few small tortoiseshell too, bear in mind it was taken with the 500mm lens but took a record image of them sunning on the earth banks. There was plenty more but trying to get them all lined up in the frame with a 500mm was near impossible.....


 Now I may have the plant species wrong but is this a white version of budleia?
The other thing about the site is the insect life here, I have seen a couple of species of crickets/grasshoppers that I need to photograph but whils sitting around I got with my camera phone this cinabar moth caterpillar.
The sandmartins are getting very active with some of the young flying out of their nests holes now, won't be long now before they leave, best get on with getting some images, still not happy with this lot.

The last one being my favourite out of a bad bunch. It was then the turn of the Kestrel to keep me entertained and frustrated. I was gutted I couldn't sneak up on this without it flying off just a little to far away it also held the high ground.......
 It seemed to have something in it's talon in this image, zooming in I know it is not a mammal or bird, it looks like either an earthworm or slow worm, given it was on the rock pile before hand, probably who knows?

And finally I got a surprise as the Little Owl flushed this out over towards me from the owl's tree, I am so close also to getting my first flight of a Little Owl too, more of that a later date....here's the greenie....

Friday, 18 July 2014

HOW MUCH? 1d Mk3 back.....

I got a call from the camera shop tasked with repairing my Canon 1d Mk3 on Tuesday and received the camera back yesterday, I would love to say "can't wait to use it"etc,etc,blah,blah.
Sadly I can't, the reason is the cost to repair the bloody thing. I swear I am so angry with Canon cameras at the moment. It is going to cost £850 plus to repair, given the second hand retail price for a Mk3 and the fact for an extra £800 you could get a 1d mk4 I told them not to bother with the repair.
Basically the shutter was going to need completely replaced, a new mirror and asscoiated parts also a sensor was not working at all, then a service and some of bits and bobs, which I had thought, I had for some time had a nagging feeling something wasn't right with the camera, images just weren't quite right, missing shots etc. I put this down to me rather then the camera, after all I was doing flight shots. To say I am not happy is an understatement, I'm still undecided as to what I should do next stick with Canon or sell the lot and switch brands after all is the 1d mk4 going to be any better? Here is a brief run down with the troubles I have had with the Mk3: Lens stuck to camera body due to faulty lens release button, 1 faulty sensor (again!!!), factory recall due to mirror sticking in the up posititon (same as current problem!!!), faulty shutter button which left the camera unable to take an image and countless firmware updates to solve the autofocus issues, 1 leaky battery that leaked into battery charger....doen't install confidence does it? Enough bitching here are some images from a camera that canon should've stuck with...the 1d mk2.
 These Common Tern's were taken on a stroll down the River Nene during the early part of the week.
I had interesting time at my new site, the ex-gravel pit, I had a "six birds of prey" day, this included the three kestrels (counted as one) with the adult teachung them to hunt, Sparrowhawk, Hobby,Buzzard, Little Owl and Red Kite still no Barn Owl. Sadly didn't get all six species on image, the Hobby was just to fast and both the Buzzard and Red Kite was to far away.


The old Sandmartins weren't on form yesterday, hardly surprising with the Hobby and Sparrowhawk, the young are almost out of there nest holes/fledged and the sparrowhawk and hobby seems to know this, in the last image above look very closey just after the bill and before the eye there are some feathers and it had a full crop not a Sandmartin but a Blackbird, I saw the catch but agin to far away got the bird as it flew past back to it's nesting area.
The Kestrel's don't seem to bother the Sandmartins at the moment and they seem to know that too, I did manage a few images, still not happy though.....when am I ever?

Sunday, 13 July 2014


The last two days after finishing my shift at work I went back to the ex-gravel pit just outside the village of Pitsford. I have been a bit gutted as whilst working it has been really sunny but yet by the time I have cycled up to the site the clouds have gathered. My current target's of possible Barn Owl and to get some better Sandmartin images was the main aim but also to record what was up there.
 These were by best two efforts from the Friday evening, the sun was out but the big "cliff" from the ex workings of the gravel pits meant I was bit shaded and the light wasn't to strong. So still working on the sandmartin images. The first image is of a Sandmartin skimming low down for insects, sadly back lit.
I still haven't seen the Barn Owl and have searched all the trees possible for any nesting site, there are a couple I can't search as they are at the top of the cliff face and impossible to get to. I have located a possible Barn near to the sight but is strictly out of bounds. However I know there is a Little Owl in two of the trees and are often calling in the evening to each other and a breeding pair of Buzzards in the other. In fact on Saturday I saw a juvenile Buzzard flying around the site.

I opted to try some portraits, not a portrait man really but what the heck, and clock up a species list, I noted that a lot of birds were settling on the phone cables (above the "x" in the above image) and landing in a pile of chopped down willow (to the right of the "x") so settled down at the "x" with a pile of stones behind me, my bike and camera bag for cover. Wasn't sure it would work but it did. I had a Red Leg Partridge wander right up to me I was going to get my phone camera out and video it.
This was a full frame but I chopped/cropped a bit of the left just to remove the bird from centre of the frame a bit, a pain in to get a clear image through the long grass.
The fun continued as the birds got used to my presence.


 The Linnet flock was impressive up to twenty birds descending on to the woodpile to feed though I finally understand why Mark Avery referred to this species jokingly as chinless, they were scared off by a juvenile Willow Warbler sadly that one escaped my camera's gaze to small and fidgety as did a Chiff-Chaff, juvenile Dunnock and juvenile Robin, in fact there was a lot of juveniles feeding in this massive bug-hotel including juvenile Song Thrush I also missed Green Woodpeckers and Jay. I had a total of 33 species of which 29 were on this log pile alone.
I also had three Kestrels on the phone wires 1 adult female and two juvenile also female's.
Even though not as impressive in number terms is the sites Yellowhammers surronded on three sides by arable farm fields I counted 16 a mixture of adults and juveniles, the juveniles were a little too camera shy. However it was good to hear them all calling.

I have four days off, sadly today was rubbish so didn't bother, but weather permitting I will be going back to the sight to carry on with the Sandmartins and hopefully some better news with the Barn Owl....