Sunday, 9 October 2011

Missed chances and grabbed opportunities.

The lovely weather we had recently saw me longing for a trip up to the Elan valley. The Elan valley and Rhayader are one of my favourite places and I like to try and get at least one visit in every year. I knew it was getting a little late in the year for many birds but I was hoping to try a little landscape photography if there wasn't much about.

I wasnt able to get up there before Sunday 2nd, other commitments kept me at home till then. I checked the weather and it was still forecast to be bright sunshine everywhere execpt the very north. I set off in the dark hoping to get some very early morning shots and everything was going well on route.

I stopped a few miles from Rhayader and got this shot.

It promised a lot, but unfortunately it never really delivered. The sun came out for about 20 mins once dawn had fully passed but then it clouded over completely.

I saw many Red Kite this trip, more than I have on any other single trip. A few more miles further down the road towards Rhayader I saw four sitting in a tree together. This adds credence to my belief that whilst Gigrin farm has done a marvellous job in the re-introduction of Red Kite it is now being a little counter productive. I honestly believe that the Red Kite are not speading away from Powys as well as they should be because they know that there is a ready supply of easy food at Gigrin. I know that there are a number of residents in the area who view the Kite as a pest, I would not say I agree with that but I can understand their concern. I saw a Countryfile or Country tracks programme recently where the Owner of Gigrin stated he has up to 600 birds attending his feeding sessions. With that many one would have expected the spread to be further than it is, but how often have you seen a Red Kite away from Powys? I have only ever seen one in South Herefordshire.

Don't get me wrong I think Gigrin has a lot to be thanked for. Without their efforts the Red Kite would still possibly be high on the endangered list. I recently commented on their website that they should consider not feeding so often in the summer, but unfortunately this was not well received. I fully appreciate that Gigrin put a lot of the money they make back into the birds but it must also be a great source of uncome at a time where farming in general is suffering. I wonder now if they have other things in mind than just the welfare of the birds. I will leave you to discuss your thoughts on this.

I did not get any photos of the Kite I saw, nor of the half dozen Buzzards or the 4 Ravens that came close enough to warrant getting the camera out. I didnt get to do any decent landscape photography either. These were two examples of how the weather was not condusive to it.

Imagine how much better these shots would have been if the sun had been out. I did get a few shots of some fungi. The first is taken with the flash as the light was still not great. The second is the same Fungus but a few minutes later.

Its very pretty don't you think?

Unfortunately that was the best of my trip to the Elan. I was very disappointed.

Back at home and back to work we had an unexpected visitor to the Workshop. This poor little thing flew into one of the office windows and stunned itself.

I'm happy to report that this gorgeous little Goldcrest sat on the pallet where I put him to rest for about 30 minutes or so before opening his eyes and eventually flying off, seemingly non the worse for wear. I have never been so close to a Goldcrest before, but I can definately say they are truly tiny little birds. It proved to be an interesting little distraction from the day's toil.

Another chance encounter led to another grabbed opportunity. Whilst driving home after work on Thursday I came a cross two men flying falcons over the fields between Allensmore and the Callow. I stopped and chatted to them. They had four birds with them, 2 Peregrine/Saker cross breeds, a Peregrine/ Lanner cross and a Harris Hawk. The Peregrine Lanner was only a young bird and they were training it up. I have very mixed views about captive birds. Part of me does not like the idea of birds being caged. I would much rather see them free. But birds such as these are bred for captivity and in this case it became clear that they were a) very well cared for and b) regularly exercised. The two chaps seemed to know a lot about the subject. They claimed they did not have the birds for any other reason than personal enjoyment. They did work the birds occasionally if asked to help with a pigeon problem by a disgruntled farmer, but mostly they did it for the enjoyment of being up close and personal with beautiful killing machines. I have never been so close to Falcons and Hawks. I was amazed by the way they sat quietly with their hoods on. A trick I wish I'd used on my kids as they grew up.

The Harris Hawk

The Peregrine/ Lanner cross.

Beautiful birds and a welcomed chance encounter.

My last grabbed opportunity for this post is a chance encounter with a Common Toad that has taken up residence in my garden. It was a grabbed opportunity only in so much that it was a clear evening and ideal for a grabbed shot or two of a critter that totally bemuses my dog Roxy. When she finds it in the garden, as she does most evenings, she is totally focused on it. She stands with her nose only inches from it, and gently growls at it. but never once have I seen her try to grab it. She must know that it will cause her no pleasure if she does. I literally have to drag her away from it. I took my opportunity to grab a few shots of it, it didnt want to play though and after getting a half dozen shots I allowed it to hop off the log on which I'd placed it and back into the bushes.

Not sure how I feel about toads. Different though and quite entertaining.

Come back again soon and see what else has taken my fancy.