Thursday, 17 May 2012

Sunshine Came Softly

Mixed weather since my last post has left me grabbing chances when I've had them. I think I've got my mojo back where my photography is involved and I'm kinda enjoying it.

Herefordshire is a bit light on "hide" type photography, so it is more a case of grabbing stuff on the hoof. When you have a bad back and are a fatty, carrying a 600mm and tripod on your shoulder can be difficult so it's nice to get the opportunity to sit and watch some stuff, albeit on a cold lump of concrete.

Such an opportunity presented itself on wednesday. I was at one of my nearest locations early in the morning. The swans nest that I mentioned the other day was still full of eggs and still not being sat on by a swan. I am now convinced that the nest has been deserted and I think it's such a shame.

Nearby the swans nest there is an area that has been used as a bit of a dumping ground by the land owners, broken rock ripped up trees and concrete and brick have been left to be ravaged by bracken and nettles. The Sedge Warblers love the area. I sat on said lump of concrete and just watched. A male Sedge was simultaneously singing his head off and chasing off any males who happened across his patch. when he sat still he tended to sit in two places, neither of which were brilliant for photography but excellent for just watching. I did grab a shot or two though.

I hope you agree he is a stunner. I was so still and quiet that even the rabbits started to come out within a few metres.

bit of a backlit bunny isn't he?

I reported in a post a few back that I had, had an amazing close up encounter with an LRP. Do you recall? Well I honestly thought that was a once in a lifetime happening. Wrong, I came across this little beaut whilst walking around the reserve. He/she was on the bank of a former gravel scrape hunting for some morsel of food.

I knelt down and watched it for five mins and took in excess of 50 frames. It came within 8 metres of me at one point, it was neither scared or concerned with what I was doing. It was no where near a nest and it eventually moved on in its own time to hunt for food further along the bank.

During a period of heavy cloud I came across a Reed Bunting singing for all it was worth, again I sat and watched, then during a break in the cloud I managed to grab a few shots.

A great morning but as far as photography goes I don't doubt that someone somewhere sitting in a hide got lots more interesting shots. I wouldn't swap though.

That same evening I shot off to the other side of Herefordshire and sat waiting for the Shortie I had seen earlier in the week. He showed briefly and was joined by a Barnie.

It was a great experience. I had an even greater surprise last evening (weds) whilst waiting for the Barnie, which didn't show, with my son Lee, he saw and alerted me to a deer in a field that the Barnie sometime uses. I could not believe my eyes and I'm still struggling to come to terms with it. A Roe Deer in the middle of nowhere. Definately a Roe, I do have a pic but haven't processed it yet, and miles from the nearest possible Deer farm at Moccas. If I hadn't seen it myself I would struggle to believe it. Whilst driving a long route back home we also saw a Hare and 2 little Owls and a first for my boy in a Red legged Partridge.

Back in the back garden I have also done a bit more macro. I believe that the first is a Drone fly and the second possibly a Hornet, although it doesnt have the yellow on its head. Oh and whilst I'm on the subject of Macro I emailed the knowledgeable folk at UK Safari about the St Marks fly with the growth on the back.  A nice chap advises me that it is a fungus which will eventually kill the host Fly. He gave me some more specifics than that but as there were long words involved I have forgotten them.

Keep coming back. Click on the pic for larger pictures.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Birdies and Bunnies

What a wonderful weekend this has been. As I write this blog on sunday afternoon I cannot believe that its been so nice. I have divided my time between Herefordshire and Powys.

Saturday morning saw an early start for me and my son, Lee. We were at the Elan valley just before 7am. The weather was absolutely stunning although there was a biting wind. Our first sighting was a group of three Red Kite, I managed a distant shot over a hedge.

We saw quite a few Kite during the morning but none came close enough for a better shot. For those who know where the Kites normally nest in the Elan it appears that they are not this year.

The next thing we saw and heard were Skylarks, lots of them singing and one or two on the ground.

There were the usual amount of Meadow Pipits. Although they were surprisingly jittery and we couldnt get too close to them

We saw Pied Flycatcher also which was nice. Didn't get a shot though. Wheatear were seen, as was a lovely Kestrel. No Stonechat, whinchat, or Grasshopper Warbler, which is really surprising.

We decided to shoot over to Gilfach Nature reserve, its the worst kept secret in the photography world. It started with just a few photographers going there year or three ago, but now its innundated every weekend.
we got there just after 9.30 and there were already half a dozen photographists there. Amongst them was a chap I've met before called Steve Seal. I have seen Steve's pics on BG regularly and he is a great photographer. Pip and his wife were there as you would expect and even though Its been over 12 months since I've been there Pip recognised me immediately and gave me a top that I had left there on my previous visit, washed and ironed I might add. Pip was his usual informative self and was supplying mealworm for those who hadn't brought any. The redstart don't appear to have chicks yet so the visits to the food were few and far between. I didnt get a shot. I did get Pied flycatchers though at the Otter hide as well as at the centre.


I also got my best shot of a Lesser Redpoll. I am most pleased with this.

So that was the trip to Powys, very enjoyable and hopefully to be repeated again soon.

This morning I treated myself to a slight lie in, I was up at 6.30am and at the gravel pits outside of Hereford before 8.00am I was concerned by my first sight at the reserve,

This is a Mute Swans nest, the two swans were some 100 yards or so away from it and did not seem to be at all concerned about it. You cannot see it from this shot but a close up shows the eggs all wet, I presume covered in dew. Unfortunately when I walked back to my car about 2 hours later the nest was still not being sat on. I remember last week when I was there that there was another swan on the pond and two of the birds were chasing each other all over the place, I wonder if it was a take over by a rogue male?
I hope the nest has not been deserted.

Nearby was this Dunnock, have you ever listened to Dunnocks singing? Its a beautiful sound, as good as any other song bird. they take a good photo as well.

There were a large number of Sedge Warblers around also singing their heads off.

and Common Whitethroat.

The stars of the day though were these little beauties. I sat and watched these for a few minutes, cursing that there was a bramble branch casting a shadow on them.

The reserve is recovering from flooding, I saw one pair of Canada Geese on a nest, so they are trying again.
The Willow Warblers were there and flitting around all over the place.

All in all 2 fabulous days of birding and photography, following on from an evening earlier in the week when I saw three different types of Owl. Shortie, Barn, and Little. Finally here is a pic of the little.

Thanks for looking and click for bigger pics.