Wednesday, 22 December 2010

White Christmas

Today was my last day out with the camera before the Christmas festivities begin, another dumping of snow occured overnight and once again roads were rumoured to be a pain in the arse so i decided to wait until the work traffic had passed it's busiest point before heading out. I decided to stay in Hertfordshire and opted to try my luck with some local smews. Over the past few days a couple of drakes have moved from the completely frozen over Stockers Lake near Rickmansworth to Bury Lake next door, a slightly smaller fishing lake right next to the nature reserve.

Bury Lake is also frozen over but does have a patch of unfrozen water next to the bank crammed with hungry wildfowl. Since the weekend this unfrozen patch has also held the 2 Smew. From what i gather the water body was really quite small in size over the really cold weekend thus allowing great close views of the birds but obviously has begun to thaw out since then and with the Swans help as grown in size. When i arrived at the site both birds were over the opposite side of the water body and well out of reach of my lens so i had to wait in the cold and snow for them to come closer, unfortunately they never came really close....alot of dog walkers and people walked past and everytime this happened both birds drifted away and it was only when it was quieter that the birds swam towards me.

As i was about to give up 1 bird really started motoring towards where i was sitting, i kept still and he got a bit closer...i'd still say it was slightly out of range especially with the awful grey sky but it was still the closest i have ever been to this species and my best ever photo's. I'd like to go back and try again with some decent light but by the time Christmas is over i reckon they may have moved back to the main lake and will just be dots in the middle again, and i dont really blame them! Here are the best of a bad bunch!....

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Snowy Sunday

Here are a few images of a day spent in the snow of our local area with Erin today, some of the pictures were taken by Erin herself who is also into her photography and is indeed very good at it! Enjoy!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Hooray for Hampshire!

Above is one of the gorgeous views that i experienced on Sunday as i spent the day in Hampshire, this particular picture was taken as the warm evening light streamed through the trees in the New Forest, truly spectacular! The day was a classic birding day full of great birds, photographic opportunities and excellent company in the form of Ed Taylor, Daniel Trim, Matt Newman and Sam White.
We began the day near Keyhaven at Hurst Beach and the surrounding area. This is a quality area with a harbour full of waders and wildfowl, a stream running into a large water body, a beach and a field full of cut crop, the range of birds here was amazing for such a small area and what's more it's not only full of birdwatchers and photographers but joggers, dog walkers and walkers...which all help to create an area where the birds are fairly tame and used to people.
A rusty red wire running along the crop field proved an excellent place for birds such as Rock Pipit and Reed Bunting to perch on...

The small stream from the harbour to the lake was frequented by a couple of extremely tame Little Egrets, a bird usually quite difficult to get close to yet these birds were more concerned with fishing than me and thus allowed some excellent views and my best ever photo's of the species.

Meadow Pipits were feeding in the crop.... well as Lapland Buntings, my first ever!
The Turnstones were even probing amongst the corn!
After a few hours here we re-fuelled on junk food and made our way to photograph Woodland birds. For me it wasn't the most productive time spent with these birds, it was good fun but the new forest ponies and a certain piece of teasel kept getting in the way and in the end i never settled and couldn't manage any decent shots! I did however get my best ever Greater Spotted Woodpecker shot which i'm happy with!
The day ended in good fashion with the Blackwater Arboretum Hawfinch roost which always delivers, and what day wouldn't be complete without a Robin...

Here's the team complete with their lenses....go team!!!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Dingle's Shingle

After leaving Ness Point on Saturday i visited the RSPB's Dingle Marshes nature reserve with the main aim of seeing the large mixed flock of Snow Bunting, Twite and Shore Lark that are feeding on the shingle there (i think someone has put food down for them...not sure). Arriving in the car park i was met with 2 Redshank which were nice as they bathed in a puddle...

I then began the walk to where the large flock have been feeding, 2 birdwatchers told me it was a bit of a trek along shingle but i was to look for 2 wooden posts where the birds seemed to congregate so off i went, these 3 Whooper Swans flew past making alot of noise, was nice to see!

The walk is definitely a bit of a trek! Probably took me 25 minutes from the car park and most of it is along sandy shingle which isn't the easiest, and when you don't know quite where you're going it always seems like you're never going to reach the end! Anyways i plodded along noticing plenty of Dunlin feeding along the shoreline and the marshy pools were also full of wildfowl and waders. The 2 wooden posts finally came into view instantly i saw birds on the ground feeding, i had to drop to the ground very quickly and adopted my usual belly crawl towards the birds, this technique makes me look like a complete idiot and is rather silly but has the desired effect as the birds didn't even bother looking up. I got as close as i thought was sensible and although not quite close enough for photo's i hoped that by staying still the birds would begin to move closer to me....this Skylark was a nice suprise and then the Snow Buntings decided to start coming close!

The Twite often popped in but photographing them wasn't as easy, being so small and less confiding meant that my 300mm just couldn't get anything of quality especially as the sun had dissapeared by this point, these record shots will do for now, cute little birds though!

This was the whitest Snow Bunt i saw on the day, unfortunately the Shore Lark never ventured to the feeding area staying further away although just seeing them was nice enough.

On the drive home i couldn't resist photographing this windmill with the sun setting behind it, another great day for me and i went to bed knowing i only had 1 more day of big 5 days birding but that was to be a good'un in the New Forest!