Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Small Stuff

After Uni yesterday I did my usual Monday afternoon pastime of watching Short eared Owls but unlike last week when it was sunny and the owls came close this week it wasn't sunny and the owls didnt come close. As a result I didn't get any images of note, this being the best new image I could get:

Still, it'll only be about a month now until they're gone again from this area so I'm determined to enjoy seeing these birds whilst it lasts, it really has been a cracking winter for them.

So this morning I had planned to go back armed with a full day in which to get some better images - a final flourish if you will. Unfortunately it was dull, misty and most importantly freezing cold this morning and I baulked at the prospect of spending a whole day outside as I reasoned I wouldnt get any images anyway.....that and the fact im a wimp. So a change of tactics were in order and instead I hopped over the border into Warwickshire to a feeding station I know near Brinklow. Well the term feeding station is a bit rich, its simply a few trays fixed to a few trees in a car park next to a canal. This description is deceiving however as the car park and canal are next to a sizeable chunk of mature (im not sure if its old enough to be termed "ancient" or not) woodland and im not sure if the station is maintained or regularly replenished but if you bring along some seed and nuts from home you can attract all sorts of species. So I did just that and a few minutes after filling the trays all sorts of goodies were turning up to feed just a few feet away from the car which I was sat in with the heaters on, lovely it was!

Coal Tit

Coal Tit

Marsh Tit

Marsh Tit

"Britains ancient woodlands need YOU!




Brown Rat

In addition to the photographed beasties a pack of Long tailed Tits were around although I bungled all my attempts at photographing them, stuff like Dunnock, Robins, Blue Tits and Great Tits were also present, a Greater Spotted Woodpecker never quite plucked up enough courage to visit the feeders and a Jay flashed past once. Not a bad mornings birding all from the comfy warmness of the car!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Oh go on then

Just a few more!

Now this image is actually one of my favourites from this particular shoot, its not the best image i'll ever take and nor is it of high quality, I just like the captured moment of one owl hunting away, minding its own business whilst another bird has fixed it with a death stare and is about to fly over and engage in one of those aerial dogfights I enjoy so much!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Second Batch

Now I've had a while longer to go through and edit some more of the images I took yesterday I shall post some more:

I did manage to get one half decent image of an Owl with a prey item:

This image is my entrant for the "Artsy Fartsy image of the day":

And this image is to mix things up. To stop things getting repetetive!

Monday, 23 January 2012

A few Owls quickly

Gotta make this post a short one as im off out soon to shout profanities at the television whilst the mighty Foxes smash up Southampton. One can only hope!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Lincolnshire. Innit.

Every year around the time of mother dearest's Birthday the pair of us take a day out and go for a jolly birdwatching somewhere different - e.g. not Rutland Water! Today we headed to Lincolnshire, the home of Skegvegas and where potatoes are known as "tates".

To be precise we went to the two F's - Frampton Marsh and Freiston Shore. Frampton Marsh was the first port of call and although it let me down by having precisely zero Pratincoles the reserve itself looked very good, the hides were modern and the staff in the visitors centre were most helpful in telling us what was around. Unfortunately the Spoonbill appeared to have done a runner but spirits were lifted by such things as two Bewicks Swans, a few Whitefronted Geese, single Barnacle Goose and heaps of Brent Geese.  Most of the expected waders and wildfowl were present also so I wont bore you with a long list of common species so instead look at the images:



Brent Geese anyone?

Close flyover
Ah, the posting of the flyover image reminds me of an amusing anecdote from today which I shall now share with you lucky, lucky people. It was during one of these close flyovers from a group of geese that I felt a large drop of liquid hit me just above my left eye. I was sure I had been shat on as there wasn't a cloud in the sky but luckily I hadn't - all I can think of is that a water droplet fell off one of the geese and smashed me in the face. At least it wasn't a poo.

So after a spot of luncheon we headed onto Freiston shore where a walk down to where the sea defences have been intentionally breached produced a trio of raptors (Peregrine, Marsh Harrier and Merlin) and helped nail a few waders for the day list that had been hiding until this point (Grey Plover, Turnstone, Oystercatcher). Infact, the only downside of the place was the injured Pink footed Goose that was lingering close to the car park in the hope of bread based nourishment:

Monday, 16 January 2012

An unexpected sequence of events

Made some time this afternoon for a visit to see the Owls and did my usual trick of parking next to the "main" field, realising there were no owls showing, not wanting to stand with the horde of photographers and so went for a walk around the rest of the complex. The Short eared Owls weren't exactly playing ball today - for the most part they were keeping down tucked away in the grass but a walk up the hill on the far side of the complex produced between four and five Owls, one of which perched relatively close and allowed the best images of the day to be obtained.

It was only when I got home and reviewed some of the other images I'd taken today that I realised that I had captured a sequence of events I'd heard about previously but never witnessed before - a Kestrel stealing prey from an Owl! The Owl in the following images is actually the same bird as the one in the above photo's so I can't help feeling sorry for it as it posed so nicely for me!

Sorry about the extreme croppage but the prey item can just be made out in the Owl's talons (click for bigger)


"i'll be having that"
Cheeky bugger!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Gullfest at Jubilee Park

As the title of this post suggests, I went to Jubilee today and saw some gulls. Normally there are gulls of one species (Black Headed) but today yielded four! The ever present Black Headed Gulls were joined by a few Common Gulls, two Herring Gulls and a Lesser Black Backed Gull that I originally incorrectly identified as Yellow Legged (oh, the shame) but after being pointed in the right direction by the Llama is definately a LBB (patch tick all the same!).

Dont know which fool thought this was yellow legged....that would be me.

The Wigeon numbers have exploded too, up from 7 last time to a whopping 60 today. The hoped for Goosander were absent from the pool however, perhaps because the levels are so low. As I was scanning the pool a familiar sound reached my ears for the first time in ages here - Kingfishers calling! Two birds quickly stormed past, chasing each other but didn't linger for photographs, it was nice enough to see them back here after the recent harsh winters. A few other decent patch birds showed around the park including Sparrowhawk, Green Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail and Coal Tit but otherwise there wasn't much about except for a dog that was the size of a small, actually make that a large, horse.

these twig-in-the-way shots are really starting to harsh my mellow

no twigs but terrible light.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

From sunrise to sunset

I was a mite over-eager this morning, arriving at Eyebrook a full 30 minutes before it was light enough to see any birds. Unbeknownst to me this would work out in my favour for the first target bird of the day: the returning Green winged Teal that was just gagging to get onto my year list. Anyway as it was still dark I drove around to the Stoke Dry carpark to waste time more than anything else and was delighted to find the Teal almost straightaway once it was light enough to see things.

 With crappy light-starved record shots in the bag I turned to the gargantuan task of trying to pick the single drake Smew out of the literal thousands of other birds on the water. I was immediately drawn to a small mixed group of ducks about 80 yards away that were doing that thing that ducks do where they all pile into one tiny spot and feed in a frenzied sort of fashion. The Smew wasn't present but I must have been looking for approximately 3 seconds when it flew into the centre of the group and started feeding. Win! This allowed me to relax with both target birds in the bag and have a peek at what was visiting the feeders in the car park:

I soon moved onto my next stop: the Fishermans car park on the Hambleton Peninsular where I didnt see the Long tailed Duck and then onto the Old Hall area where I didn't see the Snow Bunting but did manage to pick out a few Scaup snoozing with the Tufted Ducks and couldn't resist taking a terrible phonescoped image of them:

Or when this monstrosity walked within range of the new camera, had to be done im afraid:

With time as always at a premium at Rutland I gave in with the Bunting (we did see a flock of 80 last week in Norfolk!) and headed over to the Egleton reserve. Ah, Egleton Reserve, how i've missed you. It must have been over 2 months since my last visit and that is frankly uncouth behaviour! So off I went straight to Lagoon 3, only stopping off briefly at Osprey Hide on Lagoon 2 to bag a Green Sandpiper.
Lagoon 3 was pretty productive with one of these ridiculously close to the hide:

Along with plenty of ducks, the best of which being 3 redhead Smew which sadly were out of effective camera range. These Gadwall came just about close enough though:

The bird I most wanted to see at Rutland today hadn't shown itself yet though... the Jack Snipe! Jack's are notoriously difficult to see and having only ever seen one other I was keen to see this one after it had been reported with some regularity from Shoveler Hide recently. After a good while spent grilling the nearest islands several Snipe sp. could be just about seen hunkered down in the vegetation, asleep. One by one they shifted or moved to reveal Common Snipe, damn!

I decided to take a break from all the excitement and took a stroll down to Smew Hide where this Mute Swan was just begging to be photographed:

Well, that was until this chap turned up and stole my attention away!

damned twig!
Once the Kingfisher relocated over to the other side of the Lagoon I carried on down to Lapwing Hide, now re-open, and feasted my ocular devices on an enormous Golden Plover flock, mixed in with about 30 Dunlin and several hundred Lapwing.

Walking back past Shoveler hide I resolved to give the Jack Snipe another go and it paid off almost immediately! A movement caught my eye and it transpired to be the Jack doing its trademark hopping routine in amongst the Snipe I had been grilling earlier! The problem was that with the extensive vegetation only a small part of the bird was visible at any one time - a bit like LEO watching! And thus that made getting an image of the bird rather challenging. Behold:

There is a crappily drawn red circle, honest. In the middle was........

Eventually the little scamp bobbed out of sight and as time was getting on I hightailed it back to the visitors centre and over towards Lax Hill, bagging a Treecreeper, two Curlew and the 4 long staying Bewicks Swans on the way.

Nothing else was new for the day until Robin Hide when unbelievingly my first Pheasants of the day were under the feeders and a Marsh Tit flitted around in the bushes:

But the best was saved for last as I walked back in the gathering gloom, hoping for a Tawny Owl encounter if im honest but I certainly wasn't complaining when this Short eared Owl was hunting over Lax Hill in the twilight: