Wednesday, 31 March 2010

London Calling

Myself and Erin were London bound on Wednesday, before the rail strikes hit! 2 main aims for the jaunt to our capital, firstly to go and see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum which is truly excellent and puts all my photographs to shame and secondly to take a look at Kensington Gardens Tawny Owl family. The parents this year have successfully raised 4 Owlets that around 6 weeks old now. London birdwatcher Des McKenzie (http://hpkg.blogspot.com/) has been tracking these birds as he does every year and with his help and also the help of a local bloke and lady and photographer Tom Hines Erin and myself managed to locate the whole family and what a sight!

Both Adults


The Owlets!








The day was not good weather wise which did make photography a little tricky, but Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens has this magical power of making all the birds incredibly tame, obviously they see millions of people every single day of their lives and these people feed them and watch them and basically they really dont care, for example i has a squirrel run up my leg to my waist! Crazy! So, despite the bad weather the fact that i could get so close to nature allowed for some nice photo opportunities, here's the results...


Pigeon in flight



Female Red Crested Pochard



Male Red Crested Pochard












Great Crested Grebes


















Herring Gull



Grey Heron









Thanks again to Des for meeting up with me and showing me such an awesome urban wildlife site, i definitely want to return in the summer with some nice light and a bit of a warmth, and thanks to Erin for suffering in the cold and rain whilst i searched for Owls or ran from the table we were eating lunch at because a Great Crested Grebe was in a good place for a picture, you're the best!


Monday, 29 March 2010

Sunny Sunday

Sunday proved to be a bit of a hit n' miss day in terms of nature spotting, it began early up Pegsdon Hills, Bedfordshire with Adam. Sunday morning walks are always just a way of getting a good start to the day with a bit of exercise but we did have a few birds in mind that we wanted to see, namely Ring Ouzel and Wheatear.....none were seen and Pegsdon seemed a bit bird-less really! Afterwards we had a quick pop into Arlesey Nature Reserve and heard a few Chiff-Chaffs...finally i managed to see my first one of the year and get a quick photo...



Next stop was our local Adder population with Dan Trim and Ed Taylor, the roads were our first stumbling block as they wouldn't let us go anywhere near the bloody woods, some sort've repair work! However, we never doubted Ed and his map reading skills and after a few detours we were staring at Adders! Brilliant! We saw 5 in total and despite most of them coming up to shedding their skin they were still a great sight...




I left the 2 guys from the Canon club up there and returned home to the lovely Erin who seemed keen to drag me back out again, result! We decided to head for the resevoirs and canal of Tring via Blows Downs in Dunstable, this was a nice walk and another chance to see Wheatear...but that wasn't happening, will i see one this spring! So we moved onto Tring and was greeted by the swirling movements of both Sand Martins and a couple of Swallows, lovely stuff! A pair of Great Crested Grebes were being soppy and dancing for each other....



A few Grey Wagtails were zipping about and letting me take their picture...





These 3 Mallards were in a serious struggle, clearly a three-some was on the cards but not all parties were keen!

Another returning visitor to out shores came in the form of Common Tern, a truly cool bird that flicks and dips over the water before shooting downwards in search of a meal. Not the easiest bird to photograph but i managed a few as the light began to dissapear!



Ended the day in the only way i know how, taking photos of Pied Wagtail, why is it most days end in a Pied Wagtail...or start with one? I just think they are everywhere and dont mind having you point a camera at their beak! Cant wait for the next day!


Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Lovin' the Sun!

Here are a few recent images, the sun has brought out Bumbleebee's and Reptiles which is great!

Bee with a face full of pollen!


Common Lizard


Adders






Little Grebe
Black Necked Grebe

Buzzard

Marsh Tit

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Not Just Birds!

I have to admit that although the past year or so i have really enjoyed "becoming" a birdwatcher and taking photographs of birds they have not always been my favourite type of animals. If i'm honest i'm much more of a reptile, amphibian and mammal man so it's really great that the weather is changing and spring is almost in full swing...and that gives me a few more opportunities to photograph a wider variety! Today proved to be excellent in that respect as both the Toads and Frogs down my local river were out in the sunshine and love was certainly in the air! Also saw my first Butterfly of the year, a Small Tortoiseshell at The Lodge!









Thursday, 18 March 2010

Slavonian Grebe

Here are a few of my favourite shots of the Worcestershire Slavonian Grebe who is currently loving Top Barn Watersports Centre in Grimley. He has a small pond all to himself stocked with plenty of perch and really doesn't mind you hanging out taking his picture....brilliant stuff!