Saturday, 7 March 2009

Getting it right.

Or not as is often the case. Unlike my last post where I said that sometimes I don't like to go too far for my pics on this occasion I went miles.

Two targets were in mind. 1. Munt jac deer, and 2. Brown Hare.

Where? Glos/Oxford border and further into Oxford.

I saw dawn come over the hill, not very often that I'm up early enough to say that. I drove to the Glos border to find Hare that I know are there. I drove up and down a stretch of countryside that in the past has been very productive. I saw only one hare, and couldn't photo it because it was on alongside a dangerous stretch of the road. I drove further into Oxford to another productive spot for Muntjac. I saw three, this was the best photo I could get.

Not what you'd call a "money shot" I gave up after a short while and drove back nearer to Glos.

I was driving around lanes near Burford and saw a small herd of Fallow deer. It looked to be a lone buck and about 10 hinds.

Too far away. This is quite a heavy crop, what you can see though is that there appears to be only one hind with what you might call normal colouring the rest are dark in colour, I think these must be escapee's from a deer farm only a matter of a mile or so away. But they were certainly not fenced in here and were ready to run off if I got too close.

So back even further into Gloucestershire and again I was hoping for something out of the ordinary, Barn Owl. Unfortunately the one spot I know of produced nothing. I widened my search circle and found a Red legged Partridge in the gateway to a field. It didn't run off when I stopped my car quite close to it but unfortunately for me the only views I had of it were through the metal bars of the field gate.

Again, not the "money shot" I was after, I was distraught and truly believed that my day could get no worse.

A little patience though and my luck changed. The little fella moved away from the gate sufficiently enough for me to get a clear shot of it between the bars.

For better examples check my Web site from my links on this site.

Now, the highlight of the day for me was spotting a Bittern. Not a bird one see's every day. I won't tell you where I was but suffice to say that during the day I was driving around and I saw a Kestrel sitting in a bush on the edge of a lake. I stopped to view it and a movement to the left caught my eye. I could not believe what I saw, there in clear daylight was a Bittern. I went back to my car to set up the camera kit but by the time I got back to where I'd been all I could see was the Bittern settling into a small clump of grass and reed. I only managed this shot.

I know what you're thinking, no Bittern there Brian. There is, I've enlarged the middle bit of the image and hopefully you will be able to see the Beak and a small bit of the head sticking out at an angle from right to left in the middle of the pic. Again, no money shot but I was amazed to see it and I have secured permission from the land owner to visit again with my hide to sit and hopefully see it again.

So for all the failings of the day, it was still special and yet again made me glad to be alive. Isn't nature brilliant?

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Slimbridge Again

If ever I don't want to travel too far from home, but I do want variety then there really is only one place to go, Slimbridge. Slimbridge is a great place, I may have mentioned that before.

There is always the chance of a rarity, Med' gull, American wigeon, Bean goose, and Spoonbill have been a few recent one's. But even if you are not seeing them then there is still tonnes to see, Goldfinch, Kingfisher, Redpoll, Water rail to name but a few. If the sun is shining then you would be hard pressed to find a better place to get lots of photo opportunities.
A rather plump Female Mallard duck was catching a few rays, before being chased around by the males.

The Greylag geese were also enjoying the sun. Look at the lovely colour of the water and the reflection within.

Jackdaws and Rooks were sweeping and swooping around like mad, the nosie from the rookery was immense. This was a fly by from a Jackdaw.

This immature Mute swan won't be looking for a mate this year I don't think. It is slowly turning from an ugly "duckling" into a beautiful swan. It still had lots of brown feathers.

The Moorhens at Slimbridge whilst certainly more trusting than your average countryside example are still wary if you get too close. They were chasing around like mad things.

A close relative of the Moorhen is the coot. I 'm not sure what this one was up to, but it reminds me of a red indian joke. A red indian scout has been called by the fort commander who fears an impending attack by the apache. He asks the scout how many enemy he can expect. The scout gets off his horse and puts his ear to the ground. After a few minutes he says to the Commander, "I tell you this boss, there are 2000 indian braves about to attack". "How can you be so sure" asks the commander "can you truly tell just by listening to the ground?" "No boss, thats an old Indian myth, I can see the feet of the horses below the fort gate".
I won't be appearing at the Appollo any time soon will I?

This Sparrowhawk was just sitting amongst the reeds, I'm not sure if it had struck and missed but it seemed in no rush to move.

You will very often hear the Oystercatcher before you see it, it has a very high pitched call. The sun had decided to hide behind a cloud at this time so the Beak is not as gloriously orange as it might have been.

King of the fishers. Slimbridge is famous for it's Kingfishers seen from the aptly named Kingfisher hide. This is the best I could get at the distance.

The chap on the right here got us all a fluster for a shortwhile. It was believed that it was an American Shelduck, a first for a number of us who viewed it. Unfortunately, thanks to Martin McGill one of the wardens, it was correctly identified as a Hybrid (mixed breed) not a true American version of our lovely duck. Still very impressive though.

A really enjoyable day which, after the two recent rather less enjoyable days due to the weather, once again went to confirm that my membership to the WWT was well worth it and money well spent.

On a slightly different note, one of my favourite childhood celebrities was at Slimbridge today. John Craven was doing a piece for countryfile. I have never seen him before and would have liked to have said hello, but in the true British tradition I sat and stared at him like everyone else. I was warmed to my very cockles when Mr Craven stopped and chatted to a group of special needs youths. I hope that is the correct term, please forgive my ignorance if not.

The group were in attendence for the day and I had already chatted to one young member of the group who was excited by the prospect of meeting Mr Craven. It was great to see Mr Craven, who was quite clearly working to a schedule, not helped by the ever thickening cloud, stop and pose for photos with the group. He was quite clearly taken by the young man whom I had chatted to as he was photographed with his arm around him. The young man was smiling all over his face. Afterwards I again spoke to the youth and his day had quite clearly been made.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that celebrity comes with a price, sitting in a canteen being stared at by dozens of people cannot have been comfortable, but Mr Craven, who could so easily have ignored the group and dashed on to complete filming showed a side to celebrity that a lot of younger celebs could do well to heed. Celebrity is easy to get in these days of the reality show but a lot harder to keep hold of. I look forward to seeing Mr Craven on Countryfile this weekend.