Monday, 20 December 2010

Couldn't pass this up

Hi, I know I said I wasn't going to post again before the New year but how could I not post these shots of 2 birds which have always been bogey birds for me. A freezing cold (-4) day with bright sunlight spells meant an opportunity presented itself for Fieldfare and Redwing. The Redwings duly obliged but the Fieldfare was a little more stand-offish.

The Fieldfare will require more work.

Two birds that always look better when there is snow or frost on the trees. Thats it for this year, once again Happy Xmas.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Merry Xmas

Just a few more from my trip down south recently.

Two more of the beautiful Waxwings from Hereford.

This Kestrel was also seen in Hereford, pity there was no light.

On the outskirts of Chester it seemed that we had a giant meerkat on the loose. This amazing sculpture is made from hay and stands over 40 feet tall.

There was also a heavy Hoare frost. The first of the pictures below was taken in my home village, Guilden Sutton.

This second one was taken in Plemstall, another village just a couple of miles from my home in Guilden Sutton.

I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Xmas and I hope that 2011 proves to be a good year for us all, wherever we may find ourselves. God Bless.

Here's to 2011, see you next year.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Waxwing Heaven

I went down south this last week, I had a two night stay at my mums in Chester, during which I took in another match at Old Trafford, with my brother and son.

I then shot off down to Hereford to see my daughter, son in law and grandson, I stayed there for three nights. Then I shot down to Newport to help my son with his house move. I had hoped that I would get the opportunity to get some Waxwings from at least one of those locations, as there had been recent sightings in all three locations.

Hereford gave me the first of my opportunities, but the weather was foul.

Later the same day the clouds broke and there was sunlight, although the birds stayed firmly where they had been earlier in the day, right at the top of the trees.

Although there are three birds in each of the photos above, there were many more in attendance, I would estimate in the region of 35-40.

Hereford gave me the only opportunities for capturing these marvellous birds. Sunday was a particularly sunny day and fortunately for me the birds were feeding on  much more accessible berries.

They really are a cute bird to photograph.

The really light background in this picture is the painted wall of a house.

You have just got to love that swept back look.

There are so many of these being seen around the country at the moment that it would have been mega disappointing not to have managed a few close ups, I was a little sad that I'd only been able to take my 300mm lens with me, but at least using the 1D mk 3 I could use the 2x converter.

I got a few other shots of various things whilst I was on my travels, when I get chance to go through them I may post one or two on here.

As always click on the pics for a larger version, all pics are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without my permission.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Top Shots 2010 (part 2)

Time for a few more of my favourites from this last year. I hope you like them.

I want to start with this Tree Sparrow, I remember there being lots of these around Guilden Sutton in Cheshire when I was a child, yet now I dont think they are seen in the village at all.

The Tree sparrow was taken at Fairburn Ings RSPB reserve West Yorkshire, this next shot was a Kingfisher also taken at Fairburn, Its the only Kingfisher I've photographed this year so thats why its here.

It was a very grey day and he only made a few fleeting visits, but I was so pleased to get him at all.

The next shots are two birds that are very similar, infact they are cousins. I love both of these pictures.

This first is the Meadow Pipit.

and its cousin the Tree Pipit.

Two lovely birds I hope you would agree. The first was taken on Anglesey Island, North Wales, near to the cafe at South Stack. The second was taken near Abergavenny in Gwent, South Wales. It was taken earlier this year whilst I was trying to get the Mamora's Warbler.

I haven't got many mammals this year, but I did manage a shot of a poorly hedgehog, It has to be one of the smallest hedgehogs I've ever seen and despite the fact that it was obviously poorly it was nice to see him.

I was really chuffed to get this next shot, the first I had of this little wader. A Curlew Sandpiper captured at Blacktoft Sands RSPB reserve.

I still have a few more shots to go through so there may be a part 3. Come back and see.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Thats Snow business.

What a week, snow,snow and more snow. We've got well over a foot of snow here in Barnsley, and my car hasn't moved off the drive for days.

Unfortunately I've run out of bird seed to so the sparrows and Collared Doves that visit my garden are down to starvation rations.

But the kids love it dont they? My little great neice has been off school all week as her school has been closed, she has enjoyed sledging with her mum and Nanny.

Its given me the opportunity to try out some of my foul weather gear.

the fleece lined trousers are a godsend.

The streets have been very quiet too, with only the odd vehicle (mostly 4x4) using them.

But my sister was all for making a path to our door, the foolish child.

There's more to come, allegedly, so I will look forward to that.....not.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Top shots 2010 (part 1).

I have decided to share again with you some of my favourite shots from 2010. They are not in chronological order but I hope you will enjoy them with me.

This first is a simple shot, taken with my nikon compact I think, its not technically brilliant but I love the simplicity of it.

This was taken on Hergest ridge, North Herefordshire, the day that Chris G and I went a searching for Dotterell, didn't see them but got my closest ever, and first confirmed view of a cuckoo.  Again not technically brilliant but isn't it so lovely to see a foal with its mother?

Highland Cattle, so characterful and impressive with those horns. This one was at Fairburn Ings, RSPB reserve.

This was last winter, it was around the time that we got all the snow, I was living in Ross on Wye and this was the view from my back door.

Wild Boar piglets, this was an opportunity I didn't want to miss. I got up close and personal with these little fellows and 7 or 8 of their brothers and sisters with two adult sows whilst driving through the Forest of Dean. A chance encounter and one which I now have a photographic record of forever. I hope they dont eradicate them from the forest completely.

A simple shot of a Blue Tit, but I really like it.

Macro photography is something I would love to get better at. This was one of my attempts to capture the smaller things that lurk in our gardens.

Lastly for this post is a picture that I absolutely love. I have had a fascination with the Moon since I was a small child. I was really pleased to get this almost full moon.

These may not be the best shots I've taken this year, but they are amongst my favourites. I will post another selection soon.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Chasing Redpoll.

Recent reports from Old Moor RSPB reserve suggested that Redpoll were being seen on a daily basis feeding on the reserve. These were Lesser Redpoll but also given yesterday was a Common Redpoll so if ever I needed a reason to drive the four miles or so to the reserve this was it. I have only one or two pictures of Redpoll, they are a bird that have eluded me in my photographic endeavours.

On my arrival at the reserve I immediately linked up with the staff and asked where the best place to see the Redpoll was, they told me and off I went. Unfortunately what they didn't tell me was that I wouldnt be able to photograph them in situ as, a) The area in which they been seen is not accessible to the public, at least not close enough even with a big lens and b) even if it was its only accessible from one direction and guess what, yes you guessed, its into the sun.  I did see a few Reed Bunting but this picture will give you an idea of what I was up against.

This is quite a big crop.

I think they call this, backlit. Realistically is should be back in the deleted recycle bin.

In the feeder station Garden I suffered with the usual sun problem as well. In other words the shadow cast by the visitor centre completely covers the feeders from about 10am, which when you consider that the centre doesnt open until 9.30am rather limits one's chances. I did try though.

A Woodpigeon,

and a Goldfinch.

and finally a Grey Squirrel.

not a lot in the way of Redpoll and a very depressing visit to Old Moor. I checked later on the Old Moor webpage on the RSPB website and it was a day where very little being seen.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Bird list 2010

I dont normally do this but this year as I have seen so many birds I thought I would list them.

  1. Blue Tit
  2. WillowTit
  3. Great Tit
  4. Marsh Tit
  5. Bearded Tit
  6. Coal Tit
  7. Long Tailed Tit
  8. Crested Tit
  9. Blackbird
  10. Thrush-Song
  11. Thrush-Mistle
  12. Fieldfare
  13. Redwing
  14. Wheatear
  15. Lark-Sky
  16. Lark-Shore (lifetime first)
  17. Pipit-Meadow
  18. Pipit-Tree
  19. Pipit-Rock
  20. Bullfinch
  21. Goldfinch
  22. Hawfinch
  23. Chaffinch
  24. Greenfinch
  25. Sparrow-House
  26. Sparrow-Tree
  27. Dunnock
  28. Wren
  29. Robin
  30. Warbler-Willow
  31. Warbler Wood
  32. Warbler-Garden
  33. Warbler-Grasshopper
  34. Warbler-Cetti's
  35. Warbler-Reed
  36. Warbler-Sedge
  37. Warbler-Mamora's (lifetime first)
  38. Blackcap
  39. Chiffchaff
  40. Bunting-Reed
  41. Bunting-Snow
  42. Siskin
  43. Brambling
  44. Yellowhammer
  45. Goldcrest
  46. Treecreeper
  47. Nuthatch
  48. Woodpecker-Great Spotted
  49. Woodpecker-Lesser
  50. Woodpecker-Green
  51. Redpoll-Lesser
  52. Flycatcher-Pied
  53. Flycatcher-Spotted
  54. Redstart-Common
  55. Moorhen
  56. Coot
  57. Water Rail
  58. Bittern
  59. Heron
  60. Egret-Little
  61. Egret-Great White
  62. Spoonbill
  63. Kestrel
  64. Sparrowhawk
  65. Buzzard
  66. Red Kite
  67. Marsh Harrier
  68. Osprey
  69. Peregrine Falcon
  70. Owl-Little
  71. Redshank
  72. Spotted Redshank
  73. Greenshank
  74. Sandpiper-Common
  75. Sandpiper-Green
  76. Sandpiper-Curlew
  77. Little Stint (lifetime first)
  78. Ruff
  79. Curlew
  80. Oystercatcher
  81. Turnstone
  82. Snipe-Common
  83. Snipe-Jack (lifetime first)
  84. Lapwing
  85. Plover-Golden
  86. Plover-Grey (lifetime first)
  87. Plover-Ringed
  88. Plover-Little ringed
  89. Godwit-Black Tailed
  90. Godwit-Bar Tailed
  91. Kingfisher
  92. Dipper
  93. Duck-Mallard
  94. Duck-Tufted
  95. Duck-Shoveler
  96. Duck-Pintail
  97. Duck-Mandarin
  98. Duck-Eider (lifetime first)(wild)
  99. Duck-Ruddy
  100. Teal
  101. Wigeon
  102. Shelduck
  103. Golden Eye
  104. Goosander
  105. Gadwall
  106. Pochard
  107. Grebe-Little
  108. Grebe-Great Crested
  109. Grebe-Black Necked
  110. Cormorant
  111. Red Grouse
  112. Partridge-Grey
  113. Partridge-Red Legged
  114. Pheasant
  115. Jay
  116. Magpie
  117. Chough
  118. Crow-Carrion
  119. Crow-Hooded
  120. Rook
  121. Raven
  122. Starling
  123. Waxwing
  124. Dove-Collared
  125. Dove-Stock
  126. Dove-Rock
  127. Woodpigeon
  128. Diver-Great Northern (lifetime first)
  129. Gannet
  130. Guillemot
  131. Kittewake
  132. Razorbill
  133. Puffin
  134. Fulmar
  135. Tern-Common
  136. Tern-Sandwich
  137. Tern-Black (lifetime first)
  138. Skua-Great (lifetime first)
  139. Gull-Herring
  140. Gull-Common
  141. Gull-Lesser Black Backed
  142. Gull-Great Black Backed
  143. Gull-Black Headed
  144. Gull- Glaucous
  145. Gull-Mediteranean
  146. Goose-Greylag
  147. Goose-Canada
  148. Goose-Barnacle
  149. Goose-Brent
  150. Goose Egyptian
  151. Goose-Snow
  152. Goose-Ross's
  153. Swan-Mute
  154. Swan-Bewick
  155. Swan-Whooper
  156. Whitethroat-Lesser
  157. Whitethroat-Common
  158. Stonechat
  159. Whinchat
  160. Wagtail-Pied
  161. Wagtail-Grey
  162. Wagtail-Yellow
  163. Avocet
  164. Crossbill-Common
  165. Swallow
  166. Swift
  167. House Martin
  168. Sand Martin
  169. Linnet
  170. Cuckoo (Confirmed lifetime first)
When I was going through the birds I'd photographed and seen this year, from my main list, there were some that I had forgotten to add to my list for this year, Shelduck, Wren, Wigeon, Little Owl. Fieldfare, Little ringed Plover, Greenshank and Oystercatcher.

It is funny but with the exception of the Little ringed Plover they are birds that are so common to me that I must not have recorded the first sightings of them this year. The Little Owls, for instance. I see little Owls every year at Symonds Yat and Eastbach, and this year I spent a great time with Chris Grady watching whilst he photographed them in Herefordshire, yet I had not recorded them on this years list. When compiling my list I always cross reference the birds I see with my main list that I started in 2007 when I got back into birdwatching and when I first met Chris and Andy. That list amounts to 209 birds, which I know is not a huge number but it is a number that I am pleased with as I am, as previously stated, in no way a twitcher or serious lister. I have nothing against those people, whatever rocks your boat, but I could not chase around the country after rarities just to say I saw them.

I am really pleased to have added some cracking birds this year, Shorelark, Jack Snipe, Mamora's Warbler, Great Skua, Little Stint, Black Tern, Grey Plover, Eider Duck, Sandwich Tern and Great Northern Diver. There's one more bird which I saw up close and personal this year and despite it being a bird that I've known of all my life and possibly seen in the past without really knowing, this year I can say that I definately saw one and had Chris Grady with me to confirm it. The Cuckoo, Hergest Ridge, Herefordshire May 4th. What a cracking moment that was, and what a pleasure to share it with a bloke who has become a very good friend to me over the last four years.

There are birds that I would have hoped to get this year that I didn't, although there's still time for one or two more, Pink Footed Geese, Barn Owl, Hobby, Merlin, Black Redstart and even Tawny Owls have evaded me this year, but thats part of the beauty of wildlife watching and photography, you never know whats around the corner.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Two days of Glorious sunshine.

The last two days have been glorious haven't they? I spent the first (mon) trying to get Redwings, which aren't up here in any large numbers yet. I found a spot on Sunday where small groups of 5-6 were coming visiting the thorn bushes for the berries. I returned on Monday and got myself in a position where I could grab a few shots if the birds appeared.

Well thats what I hoped, didn't quite turn out that way though. Only a few birds showed and those that did, didn't hesitate on the outer edges of the bushes as I'd hoped. So time wasted. I walked to another spot that they had been reported at but again with no joy.

Today (tues) I decided to visit a spot which I've come to like immensely in my time here, Anglers Country Park. Its about ten miles away and is a complex of lakes which hold a large number of ducks, geese and other water birds. A few birds have visited recently which added a bit of excitement, Great Northern Diver and Red Breasted Merganser. In addition to these Goldeneye and Goosander often frequent the lakes too, so I was hoping for some fun.

Golden Eye and Goosander were seen, but too far away to get even record shots. I did get Pochard and Wigeon though.

and some lovely close ups of  Mute Swans.

The Merganser had disappeared earlier in the morning but the G.N Diver was there to be photographed, albeit at a distance.

Great Northern Diver.

I would have loved it to come closer, but it wasnt to be. Still I'm not disappointed as yet again a great day was spent at the country park. A move to a different lake gave me views of distant Goldeneye and Goosander but the star of that lake was a Great Crested Grebe.

Bad weather predicted now for a few days so come back soon and see what else I've been up to.