Saturday, 30 July 2011

Cricket Season

Met up with 2 good friends tonight who represent the Wildlife Trust and had been showing members of the public various speices of grasshopper and crickets in nearby Stevenage. The event had finished but the guys kindly hung around to show us what they had caught during the day, they pushed off but left myself and Adam to release the various inverts, upon release we decided to make the most of this opportunity and take a few photos!

The highlight was clearly the Great Green Bush Cricket, only found in 1 site in the home counties so we were lucky to be handed a handsome male specimen and Adam came through again by finding another, shame we couldn't find a female but i am sure we will be back to take another look! Enjoy...

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Tiny Toadlets

Down this end of the country the weather has been fairly miserable recently, not cold but not hot, sunny during the day but then clouding over just as i leave work...but Wednesday evening finally seemed to be shaping up to be a nice one! I wanted to find my Reed and Sedge Warbler families from a few days before but the light was quite in the right place and they seemed a bit less tame, maybe they weren't awake properly (photos and more from them soon!). Anyways, found some baby toads and in the warm evening light they made nice subjects and the sunset was to die for!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Rutland Ospreys

3 Young have successfully fledged in Manton Bay, Rutland Water. After a wedding reception in Lincolnshire Erin and myself popped in on the way home to take a look. All 5 birds were stationary on various posts, pylons, trees and the nest site for alot of the time so photography wasn't going to be on the cards as they are a fair distance from the hide (esp with my lens)...

However a group of people appeared out of nowhere and began walking towards the edge of the water and towards the nest site, this is clearly very much frowned upon and probably illegal! It was a bit of a blessing as all birds took to the air and flew slightly towards the hide away from the people allowing for some slightly closer views and a few ok-ish images! It turns out the people were Polish and had no idea they weren't allowed down there, they were quickly removed from the site and the birds all settled back down apart from the adult male who used this time to catch a fish and then present it to the family.

It was stunning just to watch these birds and to see 5 in the air at once was amazing, the visitor centre is worth the trip alone just to see the nest cam and see the birds up close!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Little Birds, Big Task

I have been trying my hardest to find and photograph Little Owls recently. This is considered one of the best times of year to see them as the young are fledging and calling their parents to feed them so the adults are very active and locating them is supposed to be easier! Photographing them has however proved tricky....

I have checked a couple of local spots that have been reliable in the past but they have proved fruitless, not sure what has happened but all evidence of owls at these sites have dissapeared! The next site was with Adam who has seen a pair across the river from where he lives on private land, we gained permission to access this land from the landowner who luckily i knew and an adult owl popped out of its home, landed on a post and then flew off...only allowing a couple of pics!

Not the greatest of photographic ventures but just seeing an Owl was at least a start and this was followed up with an evening trip to Pegsdon Hills, just 5 minutes from my house and another site i have seen owls in the past. As i approached the hills i heard the familiar screeching of a baby Little Owl calling its parent, views were had of both adult and parent including watching a baby being fed a worm by the adult in the top of the tree! Great views but not an amazing amount of photos....

Locally has been a challenge and i will continue to look for decent sites before the young move on, one last place to try and photograph owls was Regents Park in London, a strange place it may seem but in reality it is actually a brilliant place to see them! I arranged to meet park and wildlife expert and all round decent bloke Tony Duckett who has a blog about the parks wildlife - check it out! We had a couple of hours in the morning to view the owls before they head further up the trees and away from the joggers and dogs that inhabit the park during the day.

This was a truly memorable experience, the owls are so used to the presence of Tony and his vehicle that he can approach quite close and they dont seem to mind, we saw 1 adult and 2 youngsters during the morning (which started for me at 4.10am with a train to london!), unfortunately the sun was always behind clouds so my photos are a bit dark and dingy but seeing the birds this close with them so relaxed was such a privelage, we even saw a baby being fed on the ground by the adult! Fantastic! Here are my best shots...

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Help for Hedgehogs

Out birding with Adam on Wednesday when we received a call from his brother who was doing some work at a school. His brother mentioned that in the process of doing work they had found 3 baby hedgehogs wandering towards the road so they had moved them but they didn't know what to do next! We visited the site and had a good look around for more babies and any adults but none seemed to be around, the baby hogs were calling out frequently but nothing was calling back. We deemed it best to take the baby hogs away and Adam will be looking after them until they are big enough and weighty enough to fend for themselves, we fed them and then took a few they are!

Friday, 8 July 2011

In Death, Comes Life

2 pairs of Spotted Flycatchers have successfully fledged young in one of my local Churchyards, getting decent images of the youngsters has been tricky and therefore i wont embarass myself by putting poor images of them on here but here is a selection of the adults. Although rather morbid hanging around graveyards it is a place full of life with plenty of birds using it as a place to nest and feed....

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Gannets Galore

Last year and i had 2 dissapointing experiences involving Gannet photography. My first was a trip to Bass Rock that i had planned months in advance of my Scotland holiday with Erin. As we drove up to Edinburgh the weather forecast looked dreadful and on the morning of the trip to land on the rock i received the dreaded phonecall informing me it was to be cancelled as the weather would not allow us to land. I was gutted. We took a trip around the rock and although stunning to see it just wasn't the same.

On the way home from our holiday i convinced Erin to make a "minor" detour via Bempton Cliffs RSPB in the hope of salvaging some Gannet photos from the trip as i had seen photos from this site showing close encounters with Gannets. The detour took forever and we didn't arrived at Bempton until 5.30pm, the sun was going down, the Gannets were flying low down and i couldn't work out where was best to stand and view from, as i dragged Erin up and down the clifftop i soon realised this wasnt very well planned, you couldn't just turn up at Bempton in the evening when everyone else was leaving and hope to nail unbelievable Gannet shots, again i felt gutted!

This year i knew that there would be no chance of seabird photography for me due to lack of holiday time etc, i wouldnt be visiting Scotland, Skomer or the Farnes. However, a few photos began filtering their way through of Gannets from Bempton looking close up and once again i began to wonder how people get these shots in a place that is clearly no good for close encounters with them (thats what i thought anyways!). I bit of digging revealed that although i had missed the best time to see them as they fly along the clifftops collecting grass there was maybe a chance that certain individuals have nested fairly high up and some are landing quite close to the path....maybe there was an opportunity afterall! So myself and Matt made the journey and i am so glad we did! The Gannets kept fairly low but occasionally 1 would fly quite high up allowing for some nice flight shots and some even did land on the clifftop right next to us to collect some grass, result! Here are my fav Gannet shots...