Monday, 30 September 2013

September blues roll on October

Blimey that was a slog.
I managed a massive two ticks in 30 days during September despite having a week off work and pounding up and down shingle all over the east and south coasts. For my effort I pulled in a lifer in the form of the Lesser Grey Shrike in Suffolk and Balearic Shearwaters at Dunge gave me tick two for the month but it was hard work. I now need five more birds to match last years total of 279 and I'm hoping October might be kinder to me.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Getting it wrong again at Landguard

I headed up to Landguard again today with no small degree of expectation. The forecast was for strong winds from the North & East and reports were being posted of strong passage so all I needed was a little September dullness to the morning, maybe drizzle or rain or just mist / fog and the birds on the move would hit Landguard and drop but on arrival the sun was shining delivering a beautiful sunrise to the East coast and although the wind was reasonable and coming in directly off the sea from the east the birds didn't arrive (or went straight through) and passage at sea was really quiet too.
I counted 22 Meadow Pipits, 3 Wheatear, a single Redstart, 2 Lesser Whitethroats and a Common, 3 Golden Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, several Chiffchaffs, and a large mixed flock of Greenfinch and Linnets. Other than that not much to report on the migration front today.

Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipit

Sunday, 22 September 2013

British Wildlife Centre " Owls of Britain "

The British Wildlife Centre houses examples of British wild animals from mice to Deers but for me being a bird nut it was nice to see the seven British Owls in one place. I managed to grab a shot of each apart from the Little Owl which just wouldn't come out to play on my visit.

Eagle Owl ( Breeding again in Britain but heavily persecuted)

Barn Owl
Tawny Owl
Short-eared Owl
Long-eared Owl
Snowy Owl 
Little Owl (not taken at the BWC)
So above are all seven of Britains Owls
Please check the previous four posts for more of Britains Wildlife.

Snowy Owl in flight.

British Wildlife Centre Badgers

The BWC houses a family of Badgers and it's possible to watch them below ground in their sett but on my visit I was lucky to see them come out to feed above ground giving me the chance to grab a few shots of these beautiful creatures.


British Wildlife Centre Otters

The BWC holds four Otter pens allowing good views of them. One pen has a holt viewing area so you can see the Otters sleeping underground. Well worth a visit.

Otters playing
Otters play fighting
Otter at the BWC

British Wildlife Centre Red Squirrels

At the BWC they have a walk through enclosure containing Red Squirrels. This is a great way to get close to these charming creatures. They often come to inspect you climbing up your legs and checking you out, On my visit I had one actually in my pocket and one dropped in my camera bag to check that out for a while too.

Red Squirrel
Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

Roe Deer

Saturday, 21 September 2013

British Wildlife Centre

Pictures taken at the British Wildlife Centre.
Eastbourne Road, Newchapel, Lingfield, Surrey RH7 6LF

Scottish Wild cat

Check out the next four posts for more from the British Wildlife Centre

Dipped The Brown Shrike at Warsash

We opted to travel south this morning for the Brown Shrike at Warsash in Hampshire instead of heading into Suffolk for Lesser Grey Shrike that the Jims needed. Our luck was out and after making the 105 mile 2 hour drive and standing watching Blackberry bushes for several hours in the company of Dave A et al we gave up on the bird.  We headed for home stopping off at the British Wildlife Centre on the way. (Pictures to follow)

Nice talking with you again Dave, hope you had a good journey back up to Yorkshire, let's home our next meeting is more productive.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Macro photography with a reversing ring

I've been thinking about buying a Macro lens for a while now and only the cost has got in the way so I decided on trying first with a reversing ring. Ring ordered from the far east for about a pound and duly delivered today I set about trying a few shots with my old Nikon D50 and Nikkor 18-55 lens.
Hundreds and Thousands
Setting the lens on back to front I found myself having to open the aperture manually and adjust in a trial and error kind of way plus focusing manually. I'm able to set shutter speed so can use this to vary exposure. The whole session was a little experimental to say the least. Results were not bad all things considered.


Paint Brush
Outdoor tap
A few more without tags for the guessing games.......

Can you tell what it is yet?
House Fly
With a little practice hopefully I'll be able to improve on my technique but for a pound I'm not complaining.

PS: Just seen news of the Red-backed Shrike in Hants being re identified as a Brown Shrike...A mega!
If my information is correct this is only the fifth time this Asian bird has visited Britain so I'm guessing there'll be a sizeable twitch for it over the weekend.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Spotted Crake at Oare marsh RSPB in Kent

Arriving at Oare this morning I was hoping to get a closer look at Spotted Crake than my previous Kent encounters with this species as I'm usually looking through a scope to see one. The bird that's been at Oare for a week has on occasion shown quite close so I fancied my chances. I walked around to the East hide and walked through the gate at the hide stopping to view the small reedbed between the gate and the hide only to find the Crake just sitting in the reeds a few feet away. It walked away slowly but did give a couple of opportunities to grab a shot or two in poor light.
Spotted Crake
Spotted Crake
The reserve was full of waders with good counts of Black-tailed Godwits, Avocet, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Redshank and Lapwing. I counted 22 Ringed Plover, 3 Curlew Sandpipers, 3 Little Stint, 8 Ruff and 3 Snipe. A Peregrine flew through hunting and put every bird up with most trying hard to get above the falcon to safety. Despite several attempts the bird left without a kill. A couple of Marsh Harriers hunted the fringe and an Eider was on the Swale so plenty to see whilst waiting for the Crake to appear.

Peregrine at Oare marsh

On my return home I was pleased to see that Birdguides had awarded me a "notable" for my Red-backed Shrike photograph from last week.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Great Snipe found dead at Kilnsea

News broke this morning that the Great Snipe at Kilnsea had been found dead, apparently the poor bird had become breakfast for a local feline.
The bird was apparently a youngster born in 2013 and had developed little fear of humans as it performed for the crowds that gathered to see, tick and photograph it. I had not made the trip, as much as I would have loved to see it the journey was just out of reach for me. a) being too far and b) being too expensive.

It brings memories back of the Needletail that attracted the crowds earlier this year only to meet it's end by colliding with a wind turbine and more distant memories of a local Woodchat Shrike that was seen being taken by a Sparrowhawk.

I love the Autumn months as the young birds that pass through to their wintering grounds do generally have a less developed fear of man and allow for closer photographic opportunity but I find myself wondering just how many actually make it to adulthood and have to admire every single one for how they cope with life.

My own close encounter...let's hope this guy does better than the Snipe

Monday, 16 September 2013

Lesser Grey Shrike in Suffolk

I had one eye on the Lesser Grey Shrike reported in Suffolk yesterday when I left home this morning but decided to pay the Canvey Island RB Shrike a visit first as the light was great this morning.
I arrived early to find Dave Mo. already on site and searching and within a short while we'd found the bird.
The little star then put on quite a show coming too close for my 400mm lens at times as it chased insects along the fence line. I couldn't help but grab some shots despite last weeks encounter with another Essex bird of similar star quality.
Red-backed Shrike Canvey Marsh
Red-backed Shrike Canvey Marsh
Red-backed Shrike Canvey Marsh
A Sprawk flew through and the the reserve was alive with Swallows. Over head we had Green Sandpiper, Whimbrel, Blackwits and a single Wheatear flew across towards the river too. Also of note was a small Acro warbler that provoked some discussion due to it's liking for the thorn bushes and it's crooked shape. Reed or maybe somebody a little smarter than me might find enough to ID it differently.

Reed Warbler....or is it?
At 9am news came through that the Lesser Grey Shrike had stuck over night so my journey up the A130/A12 began and I arrived around 11am parking up in Leiston to walk to the cottages and along the bridleway behind the stables where I found a small group of birders (John R. Chris B, Nick A etc.) enjoying good views of what would turn out to be a lifer for me. The LGS hopped along the fence line feeding before catching a large Bee and taking it away deep into a bramble to feast giving me reason to depart.(274)
Distant record shot of my first ever Lesser Grey Shrike
Whilst I was now under the shadow of Sizewell I took time to walk the beach towards the outfall where I found a prize in the shape of an Arctic Skua which obliged with a photograph allowing quite a close approach which I'd tested by watching the dog walkers and how close they got before it took flight.
Arctic Skua at Sizewell beach Suffolk

All in all a very enjoyable day.