Tuesday, 30 April 2013

WELFORD RESERVOIR 29TH APRIL 2013

I had to take my greyhound Jim with me today, he's being a real pain in the butt. First it was the internet router BUT it was just the start, he's figured out how to open doors including the fridge and freezer, came home and found frozen food everywhere, some of it eaten some half eaten. A tub of margarine, tomatoes you name it....the swine. He got into my bedroom and climbed up on the bed (heavy sleeper I didn't notice) and laid on my legs and me being in the land of nod didn't know my legs from his weight were also asleep, so I swivel out bed, plant my legs on the ground and because my legs are numb, they're unable to support my weight...the best belly flop ever, anyone feel the tremors?
Problem with taking a dog with you, the birding is limited, I don't like to take him to nature reserves..he ain't natural lol, every time I take him for a walk in rural areas I seem to get accused of Hare coursing, so a reservoir....don't like Sywell, Pitsford....too many joggers and cyclist..too tempting with the hound in a "chewy" mood so went to Welford.
I stumbled across two Little Ringed Plovers and two Yellowwagtails, no chance getting near them so a very poor record shot of both.

The day was weird, weather wise. One minute very sunny then cloudy and back again, sadly one bird that did come close despite the dog was the Housemartins collecting the mud from the shoreline for nest building, sadly it was cloudy at the time...plenty of chances later in the month (fingers crossed)
A pair of Blue Tits both sporting a different look was also quite approachable, especially since the dog was taking a nap whilst tied to a tree...revenge!!!

And the final bird is this Wren and despite the dog was very active and showing very nicely giving me some time to get a clear shot of it despite the thick undergrowth. There was two other Wrens that flew underneath the perched Wren and judging by the sound (couldn't see them) were fighting, my favourite is the first one, though the last one makes me laugh as it was checking out the sound below it. Saw a Redkite just on the edge of Moulton Park Industrial estate on the way home, right near the Chrysler garage too, bonus bird.




Friday, 26 April 2013

SPARROWHAWK, CETTIS WARBLER AND WILLOW WARBLER

Have you ever had one of them days, you know bit like the weather....one minute everything is great not a care in the world and then in a heartbeat...BOOOM....everything goes wrong...well I had one of them days. Chelsea scrape through their first round of their semi-final, weather looked grey but I was going to what I call the REEDBED, an undisclosed but known site, I should explain no-one goes to this site as "there's never anything there", tut-tut..there loss, my gain. It's is a hard site to spot stuff yet alone photograph stuff, when something appears it's often slightly obscured by a branch/reed stem or just ends up lurking at the base of the reeds "un-sighted", but to me the more I go the better my luck I very rarely see anyone, often the only person I'll see is the farmer who turned a part of his land (with the help to Natural England) it a truly great and under watched sight. Look at this for a species list for the day: Little Owl, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, House Sparrow,Blue Tit,Great Tit, Long Tail tit, Willow Tit!!!,Goldcrest,Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler,Chiff-Chaff,Cettis Warbler,Blackcap,Wren,Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat,Greenfinch,Bullfinch,Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Water Rail, Grey Heron, Common Tern, Swallow,House Martin,Sand Martin and some wildfowl including Tufted Duck and Mallard....not much to see hey!? Missing as they're yet to turn for spring Cuckoo/Grasshopper Warbler and Swifts and Hobbies.
There is plenty of warblers on site, the Cettis Warbler being the most vocal and at times (if you're quick enough) quite showy, sadly this photo represents how hard it can be to get a clear shot of anything here, a bit gutted but not bad given the species reputation as a noisy skulker. Shortly after taking this image my day got worse, a left my camera perched (stupidly) on a gate post so I could blow my nose during a heavy (but brief) down-pour only to watch a 500mm prime lens and camera go crashing to the floor...ooops! BUT weirdly (I've seen this happen so many times) the only damage done was to my 1.4 teleconverter....good to know what the inside of a teleconverter looks like,not! But I had a spare converter at home so no "real" loss, so far UP's-loads of birds, DOWNS-smashed teleconverter...one all.
The weather and skies clear and from behind my hiding post I spot a Sparrowhawk land in a tree, loads of vegetation between me and the bird so I sit tight and not move, I opt to wait and see what it did, not much as it turned out, a bit of preening and it was off into the blue skies..back to me...gutted, but it turns back round and glides past me....I think it knew I was there and it wouldn't be the last time I saw it either, so below is the sequence of the birding turning around for a "glide-past".



So great bird and the lens appears to be fine, tough ol'bertha lives!!! that makes it 4-2 in the ups and down stakes, the crafty cockney ducking and diving....
I walk back to the boardwalk/reedbed as I fancy a go on some Willow Warblers that was on the...willow trees, the obvious bird would be the chugging Reed Warblers but it was windy so didn't want to waste time hoping they would sit on the reed stems in the blustry conditions if I did the "DOWNS" would get one back, sadly they did get one back...I was standing on the boardwalk and within feet of me the above sprawk glides past me, very slowly before pulling it's wings back and dives off at one heck of burst of speed similar to that of the Millenium Falcon going into hyper-space, boy it was quick...yet apart from flushing loads of Wood pigeons I didn't see it with much, it was at this point I heard the Water Rail, squealing away. Sadly despite the Willow Warblers being very vocal I couldn't get a clean shot so it looks like the "DOWNS" have drawn level..still if the weather holds I'll be back to the site of "were nothing of interest ever shows" or as I'm going to call it for the summer...THE REEDBED.  I shall hopefully blog a few more posts from this spot it looks a promising site.
A couple of not so brilliant Willow Warbler images, the fly in one of the image sums of your average day "buzzing around, not a care int the world, sun is shining, minding my own business and then you get predated..bugger it!"


Thursday, 25 April 2013

BUZZARDS,CHIFF-CHAFFS AND GREEN WOODPECKERS

Well with no "net" and a massive loathing of TV output of late has left me with plenty of spare time in the evening to "do things" and not one of them connected to house hold chores...huh huh!
Firstly I've been photographing and keeping my eyes peeled for this Barn Owl, sadly no signs of the actual bird but it did turn up a regular Buzzard and couple of new Little Owl sites, sadly despite my best fieldcraft I can't get near the LO's, the Buzzard on the other hand I keep stumbling across it on various posts and often in low flight and in the image below taking off from the ground after a bit of worm hunting...a pretty tolerant Buzzard.
I've managed a few "buzzard on post" shots but not really happy with them, so won't post them until I've managed some half decent shots, fingers crossed it will not be long as I keep finding it on one of three posts so it just a matter of timing/luck and distance from the bird itself...so one with a darkening sky but quite low in flight...
The other thing I've been doing is exploring my local park of Eastfield Park, I love it over there, a couple of "special" birds and plenty of common stuff and we're still waiting for the Reed Warblers to turn up. But two species that are very numerous at the moment are Chiff-Chaffs and the odd Willow Warbler, I even managed a Chiff-Chaff in the garden doing what a lot of birds visiting my garden are doing and collecting my dogs hair for nesting material. My Australian Shepherds coat is water-proof and very thick (warm) so perfect nesting material and they've moulted their winter coats so there's plenty to go round. I've had Magpies,Crows,Long Tail Tits,Blue Tits,Goldfinch,Great Tit,Chaffinch,Blackbird,Dunnocks and Chiff-Chaff coming down and picking up the dog hair....I think the two images are Chiff-Chaffs and not Willow Warbler....I won't mention the male Common Redstart that was on my front garden but I was returning home from newsagent without camera and flushed it on my neighbours roof, grabbed my camera and it flew off towards Moulton village...gutted! but goes on my garden list regardless!

Like I said there's plenty of common species on Eastfield Park and one the most common is the Green Woodpecker, all taken whilst sat lazily on the park bench as it went about ant hunting....


The above three images (and the one on the previous post) are my personal favourites and below two I'm not so keen on but show the bird hunting...just wish on one the images the tongue is slightly more visible...hate the crop to be fair too....

The last of the Green Woodpecker I couldn't do much compositionally with and I would rather had both eyes visible, but me being stupid I never knew the Green Woodpecker's bill was triangular so oddly I like the image, the bill kind of reminds me of a Rook's bill.

AN APOLOGY DUE

Sorry all for those whom left comments that went unpublished, my internet router went to pieces and just haven't been able to get any net connections etc, I think I'm the last person on earth who has a smartphone...the dog took a fancy to the router and dropped it into it's water bowl...git. It took a bit of persuassion to the internet provider to send a new replacement out to me, though I have to admit a lot of was down to me not being in (work etc) or time searching for birds etc. Hopefully my router issues sorted.
GREENWOODPECKE, EXPECT A POST WITH BETTER IMAGES SOON. 

Monday, 8 April 2013

BUZZARD,REDSHANK AND LAPWING

First up from Sunday and at Summer Leys a Lapwing, expect (hopefully) to see more of these as the spring eventually turns up, they're quite common around the reserve and the neighbouring fields...yet often overlooked.
LAPWING (VANELLUS VANELLUS), COMMON SIGHT ON THE SCRAPE AT SUMMER LEYS
The Great White Egret remains on the reserve, prompting speculation whether it'll stay all spring and summer..fingers crossed! Though on Sunday was very elusive hiding either next to the old railway line or Hawthorn Island.
GREAT WHITE EGRET, TAKEN ON 28TH OF MARCH
Redshanks, another common breeding wader on the reserve will hopefully sustain my appetite for waders until the Little Ring Plovers arrive, though there are some Snipe lurking on the scrape...too far away though for a decent image.
REDSHANK (TRINGA TOTANUS), HOPING FOR A LESS WET SUMMER THIS YEAR

REDSHANK (TRINGA TOTANUS), BREAD AND BUTTER FOR WADER STARVED PHOTOGRAPHERS
This afternoon/evening I spent some time searching,waiting and wandering around looking for a Barn Owl I mentioned in my last post, due to the ground I was going to cover I opted to walk from my house to the location so instead of carrying "bertha" (I thought walking through my estate with a 500mm prime lens might draw some unwanted attention) I bolted my x2 teleconverter to the 300mm (f2.8) prime lens for an outing. Whilst waiting in one field I suddenly regretted my choice the images aren't too brilliant distance and poor light an Achilles heel for the 300mm and x2 converter combo, but not too gutted as it was the closest I've been to a Buzzard (apart from Gigrin Farm of course), it took one look at me and flew off to the far side of the field. Having searched one area (two left) I struck out and found no Barnie...not going to give up though.
On the way home I saw on my local park three Pimperstrel Bats, the first I seen this year, I was very surprised they had awoken from hibernation given the cold nights but was a pleasant 15 minutes spent watching them.
COMMON BUZZARD (BUTEO BUTEO), HAVING CHOSEN IT'S POST

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COMMON BUZZARD (BUTEO BUTEO) COMING IN TO LAND

Saturday, 6 April 2013

PHEASANT FIGHT.

Yippee my weekend started at 6:30 tonight. Four hopefully glorious sunny days...I just need something interesting to photograph. I'm feeling a bit of owlstarvation at the moment and wanted to try a locate an owl Paul Riddle had told me of one he saw in Northants, sadly for me this was just before I cleared off to Jersey,  I had a Barn Owl that arrived nearby to where Paul had spotted his so off I went, luckily my work uniform is green and I already had my camera (I always have my camera) so off I went looking. I started off with the fields near to where the Barn Owl I had was and was able to keep an eye on the area where Paul's was, after much waiting and scanning of every tree I could see I got one new Little Owl, 1 pair of Buzzards nest building, a Skylark,plenty of corvids and a Great Spotted Woodpecker pecking away at a hole, sadly no Barn Owl. I took a walk down the lane got loads of passerines mostly Great Tits and headed towards an establish orchard as the field next to it has a massive set aside which looks promising, got a Kestrel and another Little Owl in the orchard, saw another promising location for the Barn Owl but I'm going to have to consult a map for right-aways/public footpaths etc. So even though I didn't see a Barn Owl I remain positive, simply because on the way back to the car I was approached by a "game keeper", he approached me as he thought my lens was a GUN!! and wanted to know what I was doing, we got chatting and he told me had seen a Barn Owl on and off, mostly just as it was getting dark and pointed out where he had seen it...result...of sorts.
Not very good images below of a pheasant fight  I got on the way back to the car, the birds the gamekeeper thought I was shooting....well I was...of sorts.





Wednesday, 3 April 2013

SUMMERLEYS 2nd&3rd APRIL

GREAT WHITE EGRET, this one taken on the 28th May, but three remain on the reserve.
I decided to "collate" images from the last two days for one post. The Great White Egrets are still on the reserve and this morning saw all three on Hawthorn Island, that's the big island on the right handside of the Paul Britain Hide (two-tier) but are the front facing Rotary and Round Islands, so are best viewed from the main hide.
I have to say most who read my APRIL FOOLS tweet weren't fooled...always next year.
There's quite a few, eight Bullfinches at any one time at the feeding station and more on the footpath leading from the screen hide down to the feeding station.

Also on the footpath near the entrance was a showy Robin and a very tame female Blackbird.

Flight shot wise things are still a bit distant, there's a Curlew and two Oystercatchers on the flood plain area and two distant Snipe on the scrape, water levels are still very high and in places reminds me on the Nene Washes. The first is a Canda Goose flight/fight shot-distant, and the second a gull who I think is a Herring Gull but think I'm wrong...let me know?

My other favourites despite them being backlit was the Goldcrest taken along the footpath between the Screen Hide and feeding station, despite the sun it's been very windy and this footpath with tall tree cover on both sides provided brilliant shelter from the wind, making it feel very pleasant and there was plenty of Goldfinches,Tits etc feeding out of the wind too.


Monday, 1 April 2013

GREAT CRESTED GREBE BELLY FLOP

Just for a laugh I thought I would post the following images, not great but mildly amusing of a Great Crested Grebe (podiceps cristatus) coming into land



Why the hurry? Why getting all in a flap?................................................................................................
Hormones.......