Wednesday, 24 September 2014

BIRDS OF WAR....

 Well I had a different sort of day. Pulled a sickie but not long after speaking to my boss I felt a bit better, how weird! Then starting tomorrow I have two weeks off..yippee. I took my portable hide and set it up at Doug's Pit. Now I had just "popped" the hide up, pulled my camera out the bag and checked exposure on a spot in where I knew Snipe were lurking. When bold as brass this Sparrowhawk glided inches from me at waist height and landed on this twig, not sure how the twig didn't snap. Below is the full frame.
 Below is a cropped version, SIX FOOT AWAY!!! Two frames is all I got, the other is it fleeing. This was as good as it got, I had small disturbance overhead....
First a Spitfire.

Then real brute the Vulcan bomber.


You would be forgiven to think it was noisy, but it's surprisingly quiet.
It was overhead for ages flying over me at the quarry, Pitsford, parts of Kingsthorpe and of course Sywell airport where it pulled this trick, quote nimble for such a big old girl
Not really seen one fly before and definately didn't mind this distraction.
 Smokey old thing though reminded me of my dodgy old van.



YELLOW WAGTAILS

 In the last few posts about the quarry I have mentioned about some Yellow Wagtails. Sadly they kept passing over the quarry from a field on one side right overhead and dropping back and forth. I was always a little to far away for flight shots or the one's I did get they all looked like surface to air missiles.
Well last night's visit to quarry I opted to do two things 1) named one of the pits, well no-one else birds down there so I thought I might as well name it (I was bored) 2) due to the sky being a milky shade of grey just sat in one spot and see what dropped, the previous night I had 6 Snipe, last night just 3 Snipe load if Goldfinch, some Song Thrush, a large flock of Linnet and 2 Meadow Pipits, a couple of Yellowhammer, a male and female Reed Bunting the best was when two Yellow Wagtails.


 As always the wild overgrown nature of this particular pit provides a composition nightmare. I saw one of the Yellow Wagtails was higher up on a branch and carefully moved around, for a change the bird stayed still.


Notice on two if the images how it is looking skywards, there was of course a reason a regular bird at the moment.....

The sky was terrible which was a shame as the other regular showed nicely too.


Even though the sky was awful it was good practice and also good to see the Kestrel getting used to me and hovering a bit closer.
As for the name of the pit, well it's small, bit rough, bit messy, sometimes interesting, so I am calling it Doug's Pit :-)

Sunday, 21 September 2014

A STOAT AND SOME BITS 'N' BOBS

On Wednesday 17th September I got lucky and had finished work by noon and was out of the front door, thanks to careless drivers playing bumper cars on the motorway the previous day I was out of regulated driving time, THANK YOU.
So it was off to the quarry where things didn't get off to a good start.
Knew it was to good to believe. Always wondered why a company would create a wildflower meadow, footpaths and plant new tree's if only to carry favour with locals and the planning department. I blogged about how this site was/had put in planning permission for a landfill site, now with bigger and deeper holes I can see once the gravel extraction has finished, if they get the go ahead then it won't be safe for people to walk around (not that I saw many) and the holes will be filled with rubbish.
I have asked a couple fellow birders about what to do etc, for what it was worth, and one pointed out that many of Northamptonshire best sites were ex-gravel pits: Summer Leys, Ditchford, Thrapston, Clifford Hill, Titchmarsh(?), Stanwick Lakes and Storton Pits...to name a few I was told "look at the site you're talking about" jeez thanks for your help.
Oh well I like a scrap and if I have to do it on my own so be it.
Birding wise things were slow and the skies were gloomy, most of the warblers have gone with just a handful of Chiff-Chaff's a few Sparrowhawk baits were floating around..Stock Doves, scummy looking bird but worth keeping an eye on....
 Sure enough the Sprawk made another appearance, the sky was awful but I think I dialled enough exposure in and got away with it....

Since things were slow and wasn't a million miles from Pitsford reservoir I headed to a bay called Moulton Grange as a few waders had been dropping in, to be fair Autumn migration has been so slow around here this year so wasn't to positive. I got myself settled in some long grass and was watching 5 Ruff, some dog walker flushed everything away so got a little closer and waited for them to come back, when they did 5 became 6 and a Snipe for an added bonus, grabbed a few record shots and since it was getting dark headed for home, this is as good as it got with the Ruff
So today's visit (20th September) to the gravel pit wasn't much better, really dark skies, 3 Snipe, 2 Meadow Pipits, 1 Little Owl, 1 Kestrel and a very brave STOAT. At first it was a bit distant

It kept using the boulders and the tunnels created by the boulders to nip back and forth checking me out. It got so close the little green light in the viewfinder kept flashing (on Canon it means it's not focusing/focused)  despite the lens (500mm) being on closest focus setting.


It was tricky guessing which boulder it would appear from behind next. It was like the fairground game where you have to bash a mechanical gofer to win a prize, except I was using a camera rather then a mallet.
The next one was full frame and uncropped, just resized down the file to save storage space, big file!

 So cute yet so ferocious
Didn't get any full body shots as I was sat down and was to busy sitting still and it kept popping up from the boulders, it just kept coming closer, having a look the disappearing and just when I thought it was gone, it turned back up. These are my favourite three, on the last image if you look at the top left hand corner you can see how dark/cloudy it was.




Sunday, 14 September 2014

A BIT OF A ROUND UP.

THURSDAY 11th.
Was mostly cloudy so opted to head for the woods. I wanted a long'ish cycle so it was cool enough for a long enough ride up to Salcey Forest. Given the light  levels I wasn't hoping for much and even less as I went up to what is called the tree top walk. A wooden walkway when or should that be IF it's quiet can be quite good ,  except on Wednesday it wasn't too bad. Bird wise it was a bit of a disappointment. From the top of the walk you get good views across the tree top canopy and distant views of Northampton and with little cloud cover you can see Wellingborough. The best bird was a couple of Buzzards and the odd Pipit probably Meadow.
One thing I do like about the walk is ambushing Goldcrest and Coal Tits they're just not expecting a human so high up.



FRIDAY 12th
Things get a bit repetitive here now as I went up to the quarry..of course. The male Sparrowhawk was floating about, didn't see the Kingfisher. Saw some more Yellow Wagtails which I have the suspicion are the same I saw on my previous visit and are lingering. The Sparrowhawk was always around the log pile or the quarry floor making things a bit quiet I saw the Kestrel hovering up one of the footpaths that has been created so went up there. They're quite nice footpaths tree lined, even though some of the saplings look like they're dead/dying, mostly the young oak. Here's a photo from the phone of the footpath.


The bushes here were full of mostly Chiff-Chaff's. A tit flock was disputing with the Chiffs which helped but also hindered me as they were always moving about, squabbling, here's an innocent Long Tailed Tit.
Now I am 90% certain all were Chiff-Chaff their is one or two that stood out from the flock (circa 20 birds) this one was notable by it's slightly smaller size and the very noticeable rusty brown on it's head and down it's rear, so wanted a back shot to demonstrate this but failed, just look at the head and the rear was the same...more likely just a Chiff.


The next bunch all the same, Chiff-Chaff's.... I think.




Told you a bit repetive lol.
Same bird next, I think is a Willow Warbler, any help or corrections on this or the above images would be gratefully received, thanks.

RECORD SHOTS
this I can confidently say are Goldfinch, small part of the flock that lingers around the paddocks on the way home, yes there is a Little Owl here but always too distant.


And a couple more..of the same, sorry!