Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Fun at the Feeders.

As a wildlife photographer I constantly strive to get images of birds in their "natural" habitat. However, sometimes its fun to get them at feeding stations. Garden feeders produce a regular source of birds. I saw a few during the period of snow, the meadow pipit was just one example.

Recently its been back to the "run of the mill" birds. My female Blackcap keeps visiting though.

and occasionally I get a pair of Goldfinch, like today for instance.

Starlings have been visiting occasionally, I love the colours of the Starling, unfortunately the light today was not brilliant so it does not show the beauty off so well.

Earlier in the week I went into the forest. There are a couple of places where the birds feed on feeders. One such place is New fancy view another is Cannop ponds. The feeder station at Cannop has unfortunately been ruined by the Forestry commission, who in their wisdom took down the tables that had been placed there by members of the public and have replaced them with a huge monstrosity of a table. In doing so they have also cut down the small trees and bushes that surrounded the old tables thus creating a vast open area which is not condusive to photographers needs and requirements. It has also caused the Great Spotted Woodpeckers and Jays to think twice about coming to feed.
Dont get me wrong, birds still come to feed. In the recent weather they have needed to. However the place does not hold the appeal that it used to. That's not just my opinion either. I spoke to a number of people who agree with me. I just wish the Forestry would consult with people before they make the sweeping changes that they seem to love doing. Talking of meeting and speaking to people I bumped into my friend Bob Bushell, he's been having some problems with his camera and has bought himself a new Canon 7D. I'm looking forward to seeing some shots from him when he starts to use it. I've loaned him my 300mm lens too as he's thinking of getting one. There should be no excuses now Bob. Visit Bob's website from my links and see for yourselves.
Here are a selection of the birds that I managed to photograph over 2 days at both places.
First off the Coal tit.

A sweet little bird that hardly ever seems to stop. One has to be very quick to snap them.
The Blue tits visit the both sites in large numbers, they are coming into summer plumage and starting to look lovely.

Likewise the Great tit.

A less frequent visitor is the Reed Bunting. This is a male coming into summer plumage with his jet black head almost complete.
and this is the female looking her best.
The stars of the show were some Long tailed tits who came to visit. I love these birds so much.
So beautiful with their incredibly long tails.

I have some more images to sort through so there may be more to follow.

As always click for bigger versions.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

From Scotland to England

On wenesday evening we moved south from Scotland, we were heading for Leighton Moss RSPB reserve in Lancashire. Wednesday night was spent in the nearby town of Carnforth. We stayed at a Hotel which had Carnforth in its title, it may have simply been the Carnforth hotel, I cant recall. It cost us twenty pounds for a room each, I had a twin and Chris a single. I am not exaggerating when I tell you the place was a tip, the rooms were clean but at the same time grotty, the bedding was very basic and the room was freezing despite having the radiator on full blast. There was a shared toilet/ bathroom which stank of cigarettes a half full ashtray was on the floor next to the toilet. Would I stay there again? No.

However all that said, we had a cracking evening in the bar, music videos, chat, and good alcohol made for a great evening, The elderly landlady was very entertaining.

The next morning after a breakfast in a nearby cafe, which I would reccommend, we headed out to Leighton Moss. We called first at the Eric Morecambe and Allen hides. Unfortunately due to the cold conditions the scrapes were frozen over so other than a few Lapwings and Redshank there was nothing to see.

Bittern were or target species. I have no pictures of Bittern so any shots would have been appreciated. The Lower and Public hides were reputed to be the place for Bittern so it was to these we headed next.

On route to the first of them I spotted what I thought was an Otter in the distance, a quick hop to the first hide proved me to be right. We saw 3 Otters, probably a mother and two cubs. Unfortunately they were too far away to photograph.

The lakes were frozen over too so the chance of seeing the Bittern were good. First however I was amused by this Coot who seemed bemused by the ice.

He did brave it, but looked very unsure of the whole thing.

Our first sighting of a Bittern was some way in the distance. This is a heavy crop so It gives you an idea of how far away it was. Still it was my first shot.

This was the only sighting we had so we decided to head back nearer to the centre and we called into the Lillian Hide. This Bittern had been moving around, again at distance infront of the hide, but it flew across the ice and came a little nearer. Again this a crop, but not such a heavy one.
The closest we got was on the occasion that a Bittern was flying across the front of the hide. These two shots are cropped but they are the best I managed.
I am happy though, I got to see Bitterns and photograph them. I also saw Otter, something that I had only seen on two previous occasions. I also got to see a lifetime first first for me. Snow Geese. There were four of them mixed in with a flock of Greylag Geese. They are beautiful birds.
Our trip to Scotland had been largely successful, we had seen and photographed a number of species, a number of which I hadn't photographed before. Some very challenging conditions and some different techniques used. All in all a very enjoyable experience.