Sunday, 30 June 2013

A SEDGE WARBLER FLIGHT SEQUENCE FROM THE REEDBED

Well a double post from me today, doesn't happen to often. I mentioned the ingenious bit of thinking my girlfriend had on Saturday, due to some consumption of alcohol I was getting her to meet me at the Park and Ride at Sixfields to drive me home. I turn up at 5'ish to see her with not only my camera, which I wasn't too happy about, why? Well quite a few dodgy herberts use the main carpark for smoking dope and some even dodgier herberts go via the carpark to get to the housing estate behind the main lake...but she had Jim my greyhound (soft as hell as long as you're not a cat/squirrel or rabbit/hare) and uber grumpy and aggressive Bailey the Australian Shepherd.
"What's with the camera and dogs" I asked, "Thought since the sun was out you'd want to photograph something and the dogs need their walk"....I lo...l**e..love her...sometimes. So Bailey on the back seat, James standing on the floor behind the front seats and head out of the window (dog not me) his usual place and he loves it the weirdo.
So we headed for the REEDBED. Now as you all know my teleconverters are all knackered (the 1.4's anyway) so I've been shooting without them and I've had some sort of revelation, a revelation I had the time my 500mm decided to refuse to separate from the camera body....the autofocus system seems to be a hundred better then with a teleconverter on. Where the autofocus normally jumps around and when a bird comes out of the sky to eye-level with vegetation in the background it's skips out of autofocus briefly before re-focusing, it now just stays locked on as an example check this sequential shot of a Sedge Warbler coming into land, though try ignoring some of the grey'ish skies...as usual.






I think the last two are my favourites, though image number three due to the body angle of the bird is also a favourite, only the slightly grey skies on that image puts me off, I managed 13 frames and got six usable shots and that for the 1d mark3 is quite a good hit rate, I wonder why the AF system works better without the converters on? I wasn't shooting at "super-quick" aperture of f/4 I was at f/6.3 so that's not the reason, maybe the communication via the sensors of the lens and the teleconverter get slowed down or something...very odd. As for the Sedge we were wondering why it kept going up in the sky and doing an impression of a Skylark, I knew where the nest is for this individual, and it was some distance away from the nest and was already singing/flying when we turned up, after the flight shots where got we walked towards the area where the tree was, I got the missus to hold the dogs and I went for a look, as I approached the tree quite near but moving away was a Grass Snake, I couldn't see any "bulges" in the snake, and as soon as I moved away the Sedge went to it's tree, flew off and came back with food, so I'll guess any eggs of juveniles didn't get predated, I didn't check the nest (you just don't do you) so it's only an assumption they're ok, I'll guess we'll see soon if any juveniles fledge from the nest site as to whether they're okay or not.
Other juveniles were present around the site, Great Tits and Blue Tits in plenty of supply and mixed together like it was a "mixed winter flock" but with them was a single Chiff-Chaff juvenile..odd and although there was adult Tits with the juvenile Tits I couldn't locate an adult Chiff-Chaff within the flock. Birds seen and not photographed (holding Bailey on lead) included Reed Warblers, Cettis Warbler, Garden Warbler, Lesser and Common Whitethroat, Bullfinch with juveniles, Mistle and Song Thrush and heard but not seen was a Cuckoo....bugger. I also did get some images of two Hobbies hawking but were both too high and back dropped against a grey sky....gutted but fascinating to watch.

SILVERSTONE

Wow what a day of highs and lows, so I'll keep it short and brief as I know the majority of the readers of this blog couldn't give two hoots about F1, for those who don't sorry,
A BLUE TIT JUVENILE 
HIGH POINTS: Not having to endure Suzy Perry was a bonus, as was a Merc lock out of the front row, the young man who swapped seats with me so I could sit with Scots from Friday, the Scots from Friday, great banter/laughs and exchanging of emails so we can do it all again when the BTCC comes to town, the speed of the cars coming down Hangar Straight TV really does slow the cars down (and flattens the track), whoever decided to place a four sided Get Well card for fans to sign for Murray Walker, I counted six of them around the circuit and saw loads of people signing them, the countless overtakes at the start of Stowe, the Buzzard that went at speed into the wooded area where Force India's factory is (Eddies old factory), the free water handed out and more freebies for Jim to have a chew and Webbers grandstand push for 1st that didn't quite happen....he'll be missed, the nunber of "non-Brits", except the Spanish (see Low Points), Skylark singing away in between track action in the rape fields behind the rally centre and the heat/weather and whoever had scribbled on the Pirelli P-Zero poster "no grip" after the word Zero, very amusing
SAME JUVENILE BLUE TIT

GUESS WHAT? THE SAME JUVENILE BLUE TIT 
LOW POINTS: Them friggin' Pirelli's if they don't do something about it someone, either a driver or marshall is going to be killed! Think about it a blow out like that at the top of Eau Rouge...ouch, not being able to hear Gary Anderson's expert opinion, the bigoted/narrow minded Spanish fans who booed Lewis and cheered as he came past with a blow out (though in our stand they were told to shut up by nearly everyone) and cheered when Vettel went out (was it audible on TV?), the Pimms sipping Posh Man next to me on Saturday who kept "tweeting", texting and stunk of cologne(luckily I got a seat swap), the heat/weather!, the endless chanting of "Eddie,Eddie", the hour and ten minute bus drive home in the heat an no A/C, everyone vanishing as soon as the F1 race had ended, the toilets (not enough and they stank) running out of beer before the race had ended, my race predictions (got one person almost right), Trevor aka the soothsayer race predictions being spookily accurate bar Seb's non-finish lol(see the comment section in the last post) any tips for the horses Trevor? The end of the race, it was that good oh and the "race atmosphere" creators a rip off idea from the Olympics...no real need to be fair
GREAT TIT JUVENILE 
PERVY MOMENT: The women who were promoting a brand of suntan cream and rubbing it into blokes bodies whilst wearing a bikini that left little to the imagination, the queue was unsurprisingly long for that one! I needed some sun block on my back but the lady refused another spot that needed some lotion..heh heh
FUNNY MOMENT:  Two really, on the widescreen Sebs trip on his front wing...guess Red Bull drink really does give you wings (definitely wind!!!) Or the "unknown female girl band singer to me" who tried walking past a camera crew, ignored, she stops turns around and walks past again, ignored again, she turns to someone (manager I guess), he holds her back and just as the bloke with microphone turns around to walk, the man taps/pushes her and she walks by again....ignored again and the bloke starts to interview an "unknown" little kid, her face was priceless as she stropped off arms crossed, not sure who "RTL" are but well done that man, one you had to see to understand but was hilarious, Little Mick/Mic's or something according to someone near me at the time...none the wiser me. Even the band id wasn't 100% from the person, he thinks it was Little Mic......
GREENFINCH 
 I did get a late visit in the evening on Saturday to the "REEDBED", more on that in my next post, that came thanks to a moment of ingenious thinking from the missus, that shall be purely birds...maybe and is where the above images came from.

Friday, 28 June 2013

SILVERSTONE, DAY 1

Well anyone dropping in with the hope of seeing some images from Friday practise, well sorry I don't take my camera to F1 events, just two reasons 1)I'm always carrying a beer bag/cooler and another bag for food/sun block/water etc 2) I think modern F1 cars aren't a thing of beauty, to functional in their designs come the Silverstone Classic a few weeks later that's a different matter, Porsche 967, Lola's and Chevrons and Ford GT40's to name just a few...yummy, yummy.
My seat for the weekend is the very first grandstand at the entrance to Stowe corner (where Scumacher crashed and broke his leg whilst at Ferrari), the talk in the media was the lack of ticket sales! And the grandstand was near empty with the exception of a large group of Scots who the previous weekend had been at Le Mans and are on a massive excursion LeMans/Silverstone and home to Dumfries...after much looking of photo's from their French trip (mostly half naked pissed up blokes and the odd interesting images of cars at night with glowing brake discs...very arty) I started to wonder why the organiser never put a grandstand from Maggotts down to Chapel and the start of Hangar straight, it's a truly amazing site watching an F1 car attacking the series of left/rights at speed, the change of direction is amazing....the lack of crowd gave plenty of chances of viewing from "standing only" spots around the circuit and it seemed those that were there today had the same idea as me and also headed for the banking at the Maggotts section come Saturday/Sunday it's a proper scrum to get good views so shall not bother woth that.
I'm for one aren't surprised at the lack of people today (though I would estimate 80,000 were there) Friday practise has normally been like that, only when either a definite Brit winner is on the card or the campsites are completely flooded that the crowds flock for Friday. Obviously tickets for race day is still down and available on the door so either the "bandwagoners" have jumped off and subscribed to SKY. Talking of which I was gald to hear so many fans moaning about SKY and refusing to sign up for it's coverage and stating "If the Beeb looses out we'll stop watching F1 on TV and just catch up via Autosport and attend the British GP" being the general "ill-feeling" comments.
Actually I did see a Buzzard come and circle the in-field before flying towards Towcester, after the on track activity a Rook sat on the safety barriers on the far side of the track, the Scots behind me "Duncan look a Raven", "nah it's a crow", me "it's a Rook mate", "No way" came the response, "I bet you it is" a can of Stella against a can of Tennents Super Strength was the wager....the track inspection vehicle (Porsche 4x4) came round and the Rook "croaked" as it took off....Tennents sucks!
Not knowing who's sat next to me at the Grand Prix is a worry but at least the Scots are near enough for a bit of joke etc and as long as I don't get the bloke I had a couple of years ago who thought a Torro Rosso was Seb Vettel it shouldn't be too bad. I had my predictions for the race results with Trevor ( I think you might be right about a Force India as an outside bet) however it seems my predictions have been a bit of a curse, for the record I'm going 1st:Alonso 2nd:Webber 3rd:Vettel or Massa. From what I seen today (not much to be fair) the Merc's of Hamilton and Roseberg haven't got race pace but expect to see them in the top five for qualifying. So my curse first Webber announces he's leaving, though I'm excited by the news he's joining Porsche for endurance racing next year, obviously wishing to exercise that horrific crash/take off on the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans for Mercedes....remember that one!! Then in second practise Massa stuffs into the barriers not far from view, to me it looked like at the last minute he opted to pit, got on the white lines and lost it, no replays on the big screen opposite today to verify that..grrrrr. And Alonso was 10th though some say he was heavy with fuel if that's the case, IF he qualifies first he won't be caught! The Fez was rapid at times...from the Stowe section anyway.
So now was the chance to get some freebies, plenty normally on Saturday/Sunday not so much for Friday, having a dedicated seat this year means I won't worry about loosing "my spot" and shall see what's on offer on Sat/Sun and another look at the trade stands. I got one lurid bright orange baseball hat from a certain roadside recovery firm...my greyhound Jim is now using it as chew toy, Pirelli were offering out hats that look like those the winners get on the podium minus the 1st,2nd and 3rd on the side as it was placed on my head by a rather tasty looking lady in body hugging Lycra (the real reason for the look around lol) the hat should've been placed elsewhere. I asked the bloke on the stand whether the hat will last the whole weekend or will it just fall off after a few minutes which brought some laughter from those that heard it and some well dubious looks from the Pirrelli staff, though not from the woman..no surprise...to late I got the poster I wanted lads....a really dodgy "material" silver baseball hat (like nylon) from Mercedes, when Jim finishes with the orange one he can have that too, but not many freebies, hopefully Sat/Sun will produce some lovely tacky free gifts....too childish?, moi,NON!
I didn't object paying the £15 for the privilege of a Park and Ride service for the three days, firstly the buses start early, 6am early, secondly parking in Northampton for three hours alone can cost upwards of £2.40 so seems good value to me and lastly if I took the car a)it would cost £60 for parking at the circuit for three days b)If you go by car to the circuit you'll end up in start/stop traffic both arriving and leaving so you'd easily use up a fivers worth of petrol, plus it means I can get sloshed and have the other half meet up with me at the carpark and drive me home...romantic?moi!NON.
But when I saw a horrid looking cheese burger was £3.50!!! and a 500ml bottle of pop costing £2 compared to £1 at the shops I knew I made the right choice to leave the camera behind and stock up on my own food.
Lastly the last and most valuable freebie came at the entrance when the obligatory cheap and cheerful little radio was handed out to enable people to listen to the circuit commentary and to protect your ears to a degree from the evocative loud F1 cars, like an idiot I forgot by little yellow foam earplugs, for the last couple hours it sounds like I got a mosquito in my ear lugs, school boy error.
I hope you enjoyed the images from the last week, no connections with the blog post, other then to mention I got another shitty comment from an "Annon" saying why post grey sky shots, two reasons 1) Because when I started this blog it would be random topics, not much knowledge parted as not much to offer! and both "decent"/dodgy and record images will be published 2) BECAUSE I CAN..EASY AS THAT.
HAVE A GOOD 'UN WHATEVER YOU'RE DOING

Thursday, 27 June 2013

CUCKOO,REDKITE,SANDMARTIN AND SONG THRUSH

Right let me go off topic for one moment, I just heard our clueless government have given (once all planning disputes are dealt with) the go ahead with the improvements to the A14, as a regular user of the A14 in my truck I can tell you this road is in my opinion a hell hole worse then the M25, a couple of winters back I was coming from Felixstowe in the truck and was hit by a massive snow storm, snow drifting and nothing moving, it was so bad all the vehicles were stuck for 24 hours, the police herded three groups of people to 5 generous farmers and home owners for the night as we crossed the fields knee high in snow it was like a scene from a film with refugees fleeing a war zone! GREAT THEN YEAH? NO!!! And here's why, I would conservatively estimate 70-80% of the traffic on that road is trucks and vans, sadly the government is making the new section of the road a TOLL ROAD. Now transport companies will NOT PAY for their vehicles to use toll roads, the firm I work for will if we're carrying a time sensitive delivery or the driver is just about to hit a traffic snarl up and is running out of driving time but at no other time are we permitted to use a toll road (well we can but the firm won't reimburse us), for example if I have a run to Earith in Kent, I have go around the M25 past Heathrow rather then pay the toll at the Dartford crossing, which by the way we shouldn't be paying for the crossing, back when the bridge was built the Highway Agency said it would only be so until the cost of the bridge had been paid for, that was done three years ago yet we're still paying it to fund "for other road improvements", surely it doesn't cost much to create a crater sized hole in the road? What road imrpovements?. Have you ever used the M6 toll road? Near empty and you won't see many trucks on it? Will haulage firms pay to use the new section of the A14, NOPE! Will the foreign truck drivers pay to use the toll road? NOPE! Will "average" Joe Public pay to use a toll road (when most moan about paying £3 to park their cars) NOPE! SO WHATS THE POINT? Just another construction company making a killing from public finances have we learnt nothing from the Millennium Dome?
RANT OVER.
Going by the title of this post you'd be easily be mistaken I would be a happy chappie....how wrong, the weather although nice and warm was plagued by grey skies, I was gutted and it seems from the image I managed below my "Cuckoo Curse and Grey Skies" bit back again yesterday. Sadly the evocative call of the Cuckoo didn't stir any romantic feelings/notion with me yesterday, it seemed more like it was mocking me, still second male of the summer in two separate locations and was actually a bit of a surprise/bonus bird......

 I was perched for the day at a river bank enjoying watching a farmer busily making bales of hay, knowing to well it would bring something of interest down for the bugs, mostly Black Headed Gulls, the odd tern, Pied Wagtail and this gorgeous Redkite, if you look at it's talons it's got something in them talons and some grass trailing by it's tail.
Wow it was low, circling overhead calling and definitely "checking" me out, the above image was a full frame and cropped just to "remove" the bird from dead centre of the frame....shame about the sky!!! Things didn't improve, sky wise, when it did typically the birds vanished,grrrrr...here's a Sandmartin....
Still with grey skies there's no excuse as I opted to go and search for the Cetti's Warbler calling away when with a burst of "I'm louder then you" a Song Thrush called away, it was showing unlike the Cetti's so plonked for that instead. Now for a comparison look at the light levels between the two images taken 33 seconds apart, that's what annoyed me, one minute bright light (good) then seconds later dull and flat (bad).

Still with a list of Redkite, Cettis Warbler, SandMartin, Hobby, both male and female Kestrel, a daylight calling Tawny (which warrants a revisit), Lesser Whitethroat, Cuckoo and Kingfisher I had plenty to sit back and enjoy watching if not actually photographing.........



Wednesday, 26 June 2013

COMMON TERN and my LOCAL SPARROWHAWK

I tried to photograph the local birds on Eastfield Park, but sadly the council seemed it fit to place a massive fair on the park. It normally sits on Lings park/Lings woods but they're building a new temple on it so...."put it on Eastfield". I'm not bothered about the fair, good people, as a kid Ben the Plumber, myself and others as kids used to help Mr.Evans (fair ground owner) for cash in the hand, but a combination of camera and loads of drunk teens it was sensible not to have the camera with me..tempting fate etc. I was justified to worry as there has been four stabbings already!!! My main reason was the Starlings down there, a couple of times as I finished work there's been a size able flock feeding in the grass playing field of the schools opposite the college, they can't feed in the college grounds as their fields have been replaced with a massive concrete carpark so the students can park their cars...thought students were skint!!!! Plenty seem to have nice shiny cars....back to the point, the starlings (three flocks) are under a constant attack from the sparrowhawk that I've blogged about, doing fine with three juveniles by the way.The flock has developed a technique when under attack from the sprawk by flying into the reedbed for cover, this gave me a chance of getting a proper record shot, to enable a count of starlings. the dodgy image below
Uncropped no processing etc, just to give me idea of how many birds there are, I counted 105 (easily an under-count) starlings in the frame, mostly juveniles, there is more behind this flock so about 120-130 in total, this remember is one flock of three.  These juveniles are fleeing to the reedbed, staying low whilst it seems the adults flock together into the nearest tree, it'll be interesting to see how many stay for the winter...depends how many the sprawk gets.
Yesterday evening to make up for my 3 days awol from the missus coming up (British GP) we went for a meal and pint down the Billing Mill, "How sweet Doug, and no birding, bonus points love" came the response from the other half....well not quite, we had our meal, it was sunny outside so I enquired whether we should sit outside on the beer tables, it was agreed and I grabbed my camera from the boot of the car that I snuck in whilst she was doing her "hair"... "I knew you couldn't go a day with photographing birds" came to somewhat grumpy response to that, no bonus points for me then, huh, huh....It was only a tern as well...Common Tern

Hovering nicely in the evening sun, forgive the quality, Stella does an odd thing to ones judgement!
This got a few "ah, sweet" from the missus as the tern popped onto the post, a spot of preening.
 The next two are my favourites, there has to be an easier way to preen?

 A more standard style portrait?
 This made me laugh as my missus reckons it reminds her of one those ghosts with their head under their arms...yeah I could see what she meant...
Best quote again came from the missus, "they're noisy buggers aren't they, and they remind of Kestrels",.... can't wait for the Grand Prix!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

WELFORD RESERVOIR 24-6-13: OSPREY

I like Welford reservoir and nearby reservoirs of Sulby and Naesby, often something of interest turns up from time to time during the migration, during the summer there is normally a lot of Swallows and House Martins to photograph etc, you might get lucky and catch the resident Kingfisher or the Kestrel, one of the fishermen from the area often tells me how the Kestrel has been hovering "over there", although according to my contact some lucky bird togger even had it right in the carpark and was shooting from his car, got me thinking who it would've been? I got a call Saturday, "Doug, are you near Naesby?", "Nope stuck in a truck near Telford" came the reply, "Just seen an Osprey as I was packing up", "Cheers mate". Now I was wishing I wasn't near Telford, Sunday was no better on my last day of my shift pattern, driving down the M40 and I was clocking the number of Red Kites, contemplating what would happen if my truck suddenly munched it's gearbox it was getting worse as on the way home I clocked several Hobbies hawking near some military base (there was a lot parachuting going on and was by the M40 if that helps) when my phone goes off, the Osprey was spotted trying to fish on Sulby reservoir....gutted.
So Monday being my first day off, I was off, I wasn't even put off by the grey skies, though those grey skies would irritate me today. Mostly because I wanted to do the House Martins (not many here this year) and the Swallows (again not many here this year), they weren't skimming the reservoir surface as normal, to windy, and the grey skies meant I just watched them. Had a Kestrel (male) hovering in the field next to reservoir and it was getting annoying, it was very close and oblivious to my presence and didn't flinch from hunting as I moved into position sadly the grey backdrop meant I had a full recycle bin. The skies looked like they may break and the Kestrel just kept coming back to where I was so it was worth hanging around....I got a break in the grey'ness and managed a half decent flight shot....could do better I suppose. However I'm shooting without the teleconverter, the teleconverter just doesn't seem to be right after it's malfunction, the images look soft. The Kestrel below was my best effort with blue skies....no teleconverter of course.
 What you might not be able to see in the image above is the trace of blood on it's bill (in the nostril region) so must have caught something tasty the image below was the best from the "grey sky" period.
Now one bird that is starting to pop up on Naesby/Welford/Sulby and sometimes Hollowell reservoir is a regular "summer" time Osprey, I first found 5R a Rutland bird, fishing off the bridge at Welford a few years back and the last three years I've seen one here and had scores of reports from the guys who fish the "syndicated" reservoir of Sulby and Naesby, one of the great things was how the fishermen enjoyed watching it, giving me loads of details of the fish it's caught, time, location etc.
Now I was sat at the carpark end of Welford reservoir and I heard all the terns on Sulby kicking off, always worth a glance, sometimes a Buzzard, Hobby, Kestrel or Sparrowhawk, not this time, trying to fish off the dam between Welford and Sulby reservoir was an Osprey....sadly too far away so here are some award winning record images...

Picture of the Year, here I come lol, on the last image in Capture One at 100% zoom a green id tag is on the Osprey, sadly I can't read the number/letter, just too far away, but am I right in thinking the green id tag means it's a Rutland bird?
It was only around for about 10 minutes before going towards Kelmarsh/Naesby direction. I left the area at 7.30pm and no further sign. If anyone fancies going up Sulby beware I think it's kind of private I might be wrong, but there is one field with a rather polite notice about people straying into the fields and how there are dogs loose (they had some sheep and horses injured by dog walkers) in the field as I walked along the footpath near the said field two huge Doberman's came running towards me, thank god for the fence and hedgerow....did also get this rather bold Hare, if it wasn't the Dobermans chasing me I thought this Hare was going to "charge" at me, I was hardly well hidden but came within 12 metres of me before turning away.
"I'M GOING TO GET THAT CAMERA NOW HE HASN'T GOT HIS GREYHOUND"

"GET HIM!!"

"OH, OH HE AIN'T MOVING"

"NAH I'LL STOP HARE I THINK"
But a few moments later along the same path came this Red Leg Partridge...again it came quite close.

So despite the grey skies not too bad, bird wise the Osprey and Kestrel was the best the despite the lousy images.
On the way home I found a new Little Owl site, I almost killed the bird, I was luckily driving slowly down this single track road were I was tipped off about a Barn Owl (didn't see it, but looks like another check is worthwhile) I came down this hill section and came round the corner and right slap in the middle of the road bathing in the water (burst water main) was a Little Owl, I slapped the brakes on and luckily at the last moment the Little Owl jumped up and perched on a transformer box attached to a telephone pole...if it hadn't moved I sadly would've hit it, I was only doing 30-35mph as I was scanning for a Barnie, my windows wound down I grabbed the camera, it flew off from it's perch and flew into a hollow knot of an ash tree....I shall go back I think, my first new site for a Little Owl in about two years....BUT IT WAS A LUCKY BIRD. I hope it doesn't like feeding or bating in the water on the road too much!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

STORTONS GRAVEL PIT RE-VISITED

Had my annual medical today, legal requirement for drivers of  the company I work for, poked and prodded by a nurse sounds like any red blooded males dreams come true, sadly not when the nurse looks like an ex-East German shot-putter cica 1980's and grumpy as hell, jeez I was glad this wasn't an internal examination!!!
The "medical" centre was up near Duston, so on the way back stopped off down Stortons Pit for a couple of hours, more in hope of finding that Hobby and to wipe the memory of what "nurse" did, which with the hazy cloud cover, occasionally being broken by some hot,hot sun I was glad it didn't show, nor did the Swifts, just the one and that didn't hang around. I parked up in the main carpark scanned the big lake, not many Terns either, just four, odd!
I headed straight for the footpath that runs along the river and at the back of the ex-gravel pit and up towards the MASSIVE reedbed.
Along the path the were plenty of common species but apart from the Blackbirds all the adult birds were in heavy moult from nest tending duties (Goldfinch,Blue Tit,Great Tit and Dunnocks) so weren't very photogenic but plenty around. Other birds seen were Cettis Warbler, Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat also a male Kestrel in one of the willows by the side of the river alas no fly-by of a Kingfisher, on Westlake not much of note really apart from a Gadwall on a nest and some Tufted Ducks.
I decided to concentrate on one species today since I didn't either have much time nor half decent images of this species this year: SEDGE WARBLER



 There were quite a few along this section of footpath, the above images are actually from four separate spots along the footpath, with so many about you can see why I opted to concentrate on just the one species.
 The next image is my favourite from the day, any help with the official id of the bugs would be amazing/gratefully received, especially the big forked tail one lol...

Monday, 17 June 2013

ANOTHER VISIT TO THE REEDBED.

Well I finished work at 12am on Saturday, got home and teased the other half how I was right, she was wrong and I fancied roast beef with roast potatoes and the full trimmings, I was feeling quite smug with myself...that wasn't too last.
I got my camera gear ready for an early start (was supposed to meet up with Tom Hedge on Sunday at Summerleys) and realised I had an issue with the camera. I attached my 500mm and 1.4 teleconverter and realised on the display where it should have read an aperture of f/5.6 it said 0.0, oh no! I knew this meant something was wrong with the sensors either on the lens or converter or worse both! I took the 500mm off and it soon became apparent it was the teleconverter, two very small screws dropped to the floor, now I couldn't blame the dog or the missus as it's all stored away etc, my last teleconverter has failed, I received today an "exploded" diagram of a teleconverter, so pulled it apart today and reassembled it, it appears to be fixed BUT any lens attached feels very loose and I don't feel very confident with it...time will tell I suppose. But things got weirder I hit the bed at 12.30 and was just nodding off when "beep,beep,beep" my car alarm was going off, so without leaving the room I disabled the alarm then re-armed it...at 01.44'ish it goes off, sure it was windy but my alarm isn't that sensitive (here's a tip: if you have an overly sensitive car alarm, close the air vents, and point the vents downwards as on a windy day the wind will come through and the vibration from the wind will set it off) so I go out and check the car...nothing, got back under the duvet and re-awoke at 05:30 got my camera gear and went out to the car....driver side front and rear tyres slashed...f**k.
I've got a pretty good idea who done it but can't prove it, so I left the credit card with the missus (never a good idea) and told her to call a mobile tyre firm later on in the day...I was grumpy and tired and to be honest in no mood to talk to anyone as when I'm in that frame of mind I can be a right TWAT and opted to blow some steam off and chill out and the "REEDBED", no people just me or so I thought, just as I was finishing "chilling" out I heard some faint voices I turned around and saw two birders it was only as they walked onto the boardwalk was I relieved to see it was David James and his mate....I like David, very knowledgeable, friendly and funny, he was doing his birding survey (glad someone is surveying this spot as I don't have the skill,knowledge or patience) and we got chatting I had to let him know how jealous I was of his Red Footed Falcon image, a bird I've only seen once and REALLY wish to photograph again, I got more jealous as he told me how close it came and how it was feeding, I actually did put my fingers in my ears I was that jealous lol. I won't mention his Penduline Tit video and images but check out his blog it's listed on the left handside of my blog after a lengthy chat he went off to finish his survey and apart from a group of ramblers and a bloke walking his Irish Wolfhound (I like them) I didn't see a single person after that. I did confirm one thing with David, it definitely looks like some Swifts are already on the move (see previous REEDBED post) as he noted a similar thing at Clifford Hill Gravel Pit.

Image wise I didn't get a lot from this visit from the reedbed, no cuckoo,no hobbies, saw plenty though these included Sedge Warblers,Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroats,Cettis Warbler,Garden Warbler,Chiff-Chaff,Song Thrush and Mistle Thrush and a female Sparrowhawk also a Buzzard plus a calling Water Rail from the Reedbed.
The only decent (half decent anyway) images I got from the day was the various Reedwarbler images posted here, there seemed to be alot of shooting going on, for what I hope was only Woodpigeons. Also whilst on the boardwalk the reed stems started to twitch, something was moving down there, all the Reedwarblers instantly went quiet and there was no movement from the birds, there was quite a bit splashing around in the water, what was it? I'm not sure to be honest, I can rule out a fox, the water is not only quite deep, but it's also in places has quick sand under it, was it a stoat/weasel possible, I have though a feeling it could have been an otter, after some looking around I found some Otter spraint, is that spelt right?...Otter pooh anyway!
I then headed for SummerLeys I got to the carpark and there was nowhere to park the van, the place was packed and loads of dog walkers and day trippers, people were even parking on the grass banks! Sod this (sorry Tom) and headed off home for my Sunday dinner of which my missus is very grateful to the readers of this blog....as am I, yummy it was lol, though thanks to two slashed tyres I'm £200 lighter in the wallet, lets hope the Pirrelli's last longer then their F1 tyres cousins!

Friday, 14 June 2013

THE REEDBED...CUCKOO

Well the place that doesn't deliver any species of note according to some local bird photographers has pulled a cracker this evening.
I finished work quite early and had two options 1) Go home chuck some dishes around in a sink or 2) Go for a walk round the reedbed with grey skies.....easy option really.
As I walked along the footpath towards the reedbed I was seeing plenty of distant birds the best just a Buzzard and Mistle Thrush, I was really annoyed by the grey skies but with the wind I could see some blue up there sadly not in time for this wee beauty....all my cuckoo flight shots seem to coincide with grey skies, I'm due a break aren't I?
But it got worse (photography wise anyway), the bird headed over the reedbed so was I and as I walked along the boardwalk, there it was perched and me with no cover apart from the low fence of the boardwalk...so I got on my knees and was making good progress, got a dodgy record shot (below) and carried on, I was surprising myself as I got closer and the bird calling away I had to clear a bunch of willow on the corner of the boardwalk then I was certain of a good portrait....BANG....fucking (excuse my french) hell the bird was off...one of those pigeon scarer thingy's I hate them!!!! 
I posted the above rubbish image as I know one birdy/camera bloke who blasphemed the "Reedbed" and will recognise the fence....shame he's off to a "family wedding" this weekend..wuh huh huh!!! Have fun mate!
So I headed to where the above bird was as it's a good spot for both Sedge Warblers and Reed Warblers and the cuckoo was still on the boardwalk but flew away I had not only failed to see it but in fairness I thought it had cleared off I did see the same bird twice more but no signs of a female sadly.
The Reed Warblers are finally showing at the tops of the reed stems, as I waited on the boardwalk for them to show a Water Rail was heard but not seen.

Shame the nesting material is slightly hiding the eye but it's a starting point I guess, my excuse I was keeping my eyes peeled for that Cuckoo. What I did see was circa 150 Swifts heading south west from my location, they were a movement and not a feeding party, they flew straight through in small flock of 10-15 at a time over an hour, no hunting and they didn't circle back neither....a bit early I thought!!!
Got this Sedge Warbler too whilst waiting for the Reed Warblers....a bit distant though.
 After a while I headed up the farm track to search for the Kestrel, the male was hunting the verges of the oil rape seed field and was some distance off, I could try approaching, but left it for another day, along the setaside I got this very worn looking Green Woodpecker, the sun had finally came out and was strong and didn't take long for a heat haze to develop....
 Now the next image has developed an argument in the Mac residence, my girlfriend reckons this is a Roe deer and I'm telling her it's a Muntjac (seriously she watches 3 weeks of Springwatch and is now an expert), I refuse to accept she's right....put me out of my misery, what is it?
Wasn't bad result for just a couple of hours after work, sadly Saturday is work for me, however Sunday ain't....weather permitting guess where I'll be heading after a morning visit to Summer Leys?