Thursday, 17 February 2011

The best fed birds in the world!

I write this as i am about to head off to Morocco for a couple of weeks birding, should be an awesome time! On Wednesday i wanted to get out one last time before i left and wanted to make sure i had a decent day. The weather wasn't easy to predict with the reports predicting sun, cloud and rain....great! Decided to head to London and Hyde Park for 2 main reasons, i could get the train so no driving and it'a always guaranteed to give you extremely good photo opportunities.

Many people would probably turn their nose up at an inner city location such as Hyde Park, maybe it's not "wild" enough for them or maybe the wildlife on offer just isn't as rare as they'd want but i love it there! It has a great variety of habitats and for an urban location that's pretty good going, in these habitats you get a great variety including woodland birds, mammals and birds that inhabit water and often a rarity turns up too. What makes it even better is that the wildlife has become so accustomed to human contact that it is extremely tame, species that would normally run a mile are very tolerant so photography is relaxed and at close quarters.

I really would reccomend anyone getting seriously into photography to visit a location like Hyde Park, it's a good chance to try techniques out, you can practice field craft and you will be guaranteed to come away with something. Here are some of my best photos from the day, quite a few of them but i did take over 1,500 photos! Oh and the weather was sunny with a bit of cloud...not bad!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Highlights from Hampshire

Spent Wednesday with Adam and Matt down in the New Forest and around Hampshire. Ignoring the lure of Dorset's Ring Billed Dull and Dowitcher we decided to focus on staying in and around where we were familiar with. The day started grey-ish but with the odd bit of sun poking through, it unfortunately never improved and if anything just got worse, not ideal for photography!

We began in the Keyhaven area around the stubble field of Hurst Beach/Cutt Bridge. Unlike pre-xmas the field was ploughed meaning the various buntings and pipits that were all over the place then were nowhere to be seen, really dissapointing. Back in Decemeber (when it was much colder) birds such as Rock Pipit and Little Egret were also far tamer but this time around we hardly got a chance to approach them and take photos so opportunities were limited due to weather and the tameness of birds!

Brent Geese were constantly flying around

The Turnstones were by far the most confiding birds at the site and i spent a good amount of time trying to capture images that were a bit different to what i already had. Was nice to see them in the water and actually turning small stones and pebbles as they looked for food...

The only other bird that seemed to be willing to have it's photo taken was a Greenshank, a bird i have rarely seen let alone get close to. This particular individual was confiding after you put the effort in which meant lying flat down on wet muddy seaweed, classic bird photography! Unfortunately just as it was becoming very tame and approaching Adam and myself 2 dogs ran into the water scattering around 20 Turnstones and sending the Greenshank flying.....ridiculous behaviour from the dogs owner and even more saddening when we found out that 1 of the dogs had grabbed hold of a Turnstone and killed it, a real shame as we didn't get the photos we could've got and even more of a shame as a bird who'd i'd been photographing happily feeding only moments before was now dead and for no good reason.

After leaving Keyhaven we stopped off atEyeworth Pond, a site that would guarantee close views of Mandarin and some woodland birds but by now the weather had seriously deteriorated as so most of my photos although still decent aren't what i consider my best and therefore will be left alone.

We ended the day at Blashford Lakes with the main aim of photographing Siskin, Redpoll and Brambling. All 3 species are regular winter visitors to this site and very obligingly frequent the various feeders all day long. This particular day we had good views of Siskin and there was huge numbers of Brambling but only a few Redpoll. Once again the lack of light was our worst enemy but also the birds were mainly favouring the feeders rather than the more natural perches around the feeders so photo opporunities were tricky, the Woodland Hide was also extremely noisy with some really loud talkers in there clattering around and the door constantly opening and slamming shut...this can't have helped.
After going through my photos i am happy with this Chaffinch hovering shot considering the light and a Brambling on the ground but little else was worth blogging.

Overall the day was a decent one, we saw lots of bird with plenty of close views but a bit of sun would've made all the difference, bring on Spring and some more consistently good weather i say!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Posing Pochards

Last week Adam and myself visited Lincolnshire in the hope of seeing the Worlaby Carrs Short Eared Owls. Unfortunately our whole afternoon waiting proved fruitless, grey skies and quite a bit of wind seemed to work against us and resulted in the owls not showing, by 4pm we'd left and although they may have popped out later we had a decent journey home and with very little light decided it was for the best.

In the morning we had some time to kill but didn't want to travel too far away from the owl site so ended up in Cleethorpes at the boating lake. It wasn't the most exciting or pituresque places in the world but after spending some time there we did really enjoy ourselves and we were rewarded with close encounters of many duck and goose species. The Pochards there were some of the tamest i have seen and willingly came to any food placed in the water allowing for nice close views and despite the grey conditions some decent photographs....

Here's the female...

..and Male....