Thursday, 23 February 2012

Recent Activity

I have reason to be cheerful and reason to be disappointed. Lets get the negative out of the way first. Today (thurs 23rd) I had to go to Gloucester Hospital to the sleep clinic. I had hoped for a nice day so I could go to Slimbridge beforehand, I've not been for ages. I watched the weather on line at about 8pm weds and the woman said it was going to be a cloudy misty day. So I made up my mind that I would save the petrol and wait for a better day, so I went to bed late and rose at 8.00am, The morning turned out to be a corker and the day just got better. So I was ever so slightly miffed. However I turned wasted into different and don't regret it. I'll come back to that in a minute.

Before that though I have had a mixed few weeks since my last post. The weather has been changeable hasn't it and I had to shoot up to Chester as my mum had a visit to hospital in an ambulance with chest pain. That though turned out to be fortuitous. Whilst waiting to hear if mum would be released on the sunday afternoon I suggested a trip to the new RSPB wetland reserve at Burton Mere with my brother. It opened last autumn and was previously a fishery. I have to say I was impressed. The visitor centre is basic but well set out with huge glass frontage and an outlook over one of the mere's. There are two other main hides to either side of the visitor centre and both have the facility for large lens photography. There are a number of smaller lakes set aside for dragonflies and pond type stuff which will keep visitors interested throughout the year, There are two feeder stations with photo opportunities for smaller lens work. I added over 11 birds to my list for this year including BT Godwit, Redshank, Shelduck, Gadwall and Lapwing. The reserve is about a mile or so from RSPB Inner Marsh Farm and will eventually be connected via a footpath around the reserve. If you find yourself up there then I would strongly suggest a detour to visit the new reserve at Burton. We had stunning views of a Kestrel through the scope provided by the RSPB in the visitor centre. A great way to spend a few hours.

Whilst in Chester I visted the little pond I often look at at Christleton and got a couple of Gull shots.

As you can see it was iced over and not a particularly brilliant day. Nice to get the camera out though.
During the trip to Chester whilst driving along the A49 I had been amazed to see a Red Kite flying low over a field at Onibury. I pulled off the road and watched it, never once thinking to get the camera out of the boot. Isnt it funny how we can sometimes get so engrossed in watching stuff that we forget that a photographic record would be very useful. A good early tick for the year there though.

Driving back from Chester and with the camera and lens on the passenger seat I did not get a repeat unfortunately but as I drove into Hereford there was this Buzzard sitting on a street lamp.

again not a brilliant picture due to grey skies, but a nice record.

I think I may have mentioned that I have been asked to get involved with the idea of having a bird hide/ screen on the ponds above my house, that unfortunately has hit a stumbling block but will hopefully go ahead in 12 months or so. The "wildlife pond" is getting regular visits from a Kingfisher and now has a resident pair of Mandarin Ducks. I'm hoping they will nest and fledge young.
I have also made and located 6 nest boxes in the wood where I walk with Roxy. I had previously been given permission by the council and park ranger. Imagine my delight when only the day after I had put them up I saw a pair of Blue tits at the entrance to one of them, showing great interest. I watched them flitting back and too from a branch to the opening for 5 minutes and am hopeful that they, or another pair, will use it.
You will remember last year I mentioned how the wood had come alive with birdsong, well its happening again. I cannot believe the difference a bit of warm weather makes. I have already found one Long tailed tit, nest site and again stood and watched the pair of birds constructing the nest, I hope they fledge succesfully.

Now to finish off, I will return to today. As it turned out to be such a stunning day I decided that on route to Glos I would call in at the RSPB reserve at Highnam. I took my big lens and walked to the hide which was already occupied by a couple and joined them whilst they watched all the usual suspects feeding at the feeders. I was disappointed to see that the posts on which the feeders used to hang had been vandalised. The feeders were rather disappointedly hanging in the small bushes and trees. I relocated one of them immediately, with the agreement of the other people. I saw a Marsh Tit, another first for the year and a Sparrowhawk which glided across the front of the hide without stopping. The highlight of the day though was a little Rat that kept us entertained. It kept creeping out and collecting seeds displaced off the table by the birds. I dont want them around my house but they are cute.

A cheeky little chap or chapess. The usual suspects showed well too.

This Great tit below isn't actually singing, as it looks, it was actually having a good scratch, if you look you will see only one leg.

All in all a great reminder of why I got into photography in the first place and just the tonic I needed. It was also great to bump into a friend and fellow photographer, albeit in his work capacity on this occasion, Lewis Thomson. Lewis is a Warden for the RSPB and was there to fill the feeders with his boss. It was nice to catch up and congratulate Lewis on some of his recent stuff on his Blog and website, (in my links, check him out).
I think I have the bug again now and will be out and about as much as finances will allow so keep coming back to check on my progress. Thanks for your patience.