Friday, February 29, 2008

Martin Mere
Martin Mere is always an interesting place to visit and a trip during the winter will always produce plenty of shots. I took a recent visit with my friends Steve and Andy and we settled into the main Swanlink hide. Greylag geese were busy displaying and mating. It is a shame you cannot see the high res version of this shot as the 'dentition' inside that beak is impressive.
A finally display after mating
One of my favourite ducks, the pintail, were present in large numbers and the drakes in superb plumage.
With such stunning drakes in front of you it is easy to forget the female pintail..but I didn't.
Formation Shelducks frequently passed the hide but the light was not really up to giving enough shutter speed to capture flight action.
There were still a big group of Whooper swans present and I decdied leaving photographing them towards the end of the day to get some shots in softer light.
and finally some silouettes in the setting sun.
I also took a pintail silouette shot as I thought the distinctive shape might be effective.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Private Viewing
I recently took a trip to a private site that has a number of small hides and feeding stations set up. I have previously visited before although the numbers of birds seemed to be lower than usual which probably was related to a very mild spell of weather. However a enjoyable session was still to be had. At this site the birds are at really close range which allows the use of the 300mm F4 lens. Here are a selection of shots from the day.
The sadly rapidly declining tree sparrow
A male bullfinch in some winter sunLong-tailed tit
A jay dropped in for a very brief and close visist
I have a fondness for Reed bunting and I was pleased with this visit from a female
Not a bird often associated with feeding stations a goldcrest was making regular visits to a fat filled log.
To finish this post with a splash of 'imported' colour a pheasant and a red-legged partridge.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bird World

On a recent trip down to London I took a brief afternoon visit to Bird World near Farnham. With captive birds you have to try and work with each enclosure and in some shots are just not possible. I used the 300mm lens for the visit as you need a longer focal lens to 'lose' the mesh of the cages.
Starting with some of those great eyelashes of a hornbill
Staying with the close up views, the business end of an eagle owl
A macaw that was plucking its own shoulder feathers.

Headshot of a crowned crane

Hooded mergansers are beautiful birds especially with the hood fully raised. Hopefully I will get to photograph one in the wild one day.

A dozing Tawny owl
To finish off, a reminded of how Christmas dinner started out !!!. They are strange birds turkeys with the most incredible faces.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Recent Raptors

I seem to have a lot of raptors crossing my path recently. Not that I am complaining as it is always good to watch a bird of prey at close quarters.
Buzzards seem to be everywhere and often on a journey to work I might see six different birds. They are quite predictable and will often perch in the same spot for several days running.
The short-eared owls have not yet headed to the hills and so make a great subject on sunny afternoons.I managed to find two different female kestrels in fairly quick succession the other day under some crisp clear blue skies.
The first bird giving me the eye.
and the second bird later in the day; an interesting comparison of how the quality of the light changes and softens as the sun dips.and another bird in the very last of the afternoon light.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Hares on the Move

Its coming to that time of year when the hares will be entering their 'March Madness ' as breeding and battles of dominance get under way. Having started a bit late last year I intend to give them a good deal of time over the next few weeks to see if I can capture some of the action. I did a short session of with them last weekend but they were quite skittish and obviously their hormones have not yet fully taken over their brains.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Slavonian Grebe

I recently took a trip up to Barrow Lodge near Blackburn, with my friend Steve, to check out a Salvonian grebe that had been staying there these past few weeks. The combination of a small pond and fairly unshy bird made getting some photographs relatively straight foward. Some of the antics of this little bird were very amusing, particulalry when it sits bolt upright in the water, half submerged while still moving around almost gives it the appearance of a tiny penguin.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Not Quite to Plan
Waxwings are a bird that have eluded me a little as the last two winters have only seen the UK get small influxes which have mainly been to the north and east. A couple of birds have been hanging around at Batley near Leeds. So I decided to pop in for a quick visit while passing the other day. Half the battle was won with firstly finding the birds but it quickly became obvious I was going to struggle with the light at an difficult angle in relation to the tree they were sitting in which was at the top of a bank. The problems were further compounded by a gale force wind blowing straight up the road. I managed a couple of shots but not really the ones I was after. Hopefully we will get a big influx next winter :)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

London Wetland Centre

Last weekend I was down in the south of the country and decided to go and check out the London Wetland Centre that has been developed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. The reserve is a good model of the type of habitat creation that can be achieved in urban areas and has become an important area for a diverse range of wildlife. This was my first visit to the site which I enjoyed and certainly will be returning again if I am in that area. The reserve is split in to two areas with a captive collection of waterfowl and 'the wild side'. I concentrated my efforts on the wild areas and some of its birds.
A coot chewing through some water plant

Male shoveler in a quiet backwater. These quiet backwater channels offer good photographic opportunities as you are close to the birds, the waters are still creating good reflections of the birds and also the colouring of the bankside vegetation.
and out in some open water. I have never noticed before how the head plumage can turn from green to purple depending on the light direction. Photographically they are quite a difficult bird to expose in bright sunlight due to the brightness of the breast feathers.
A first for me the Gadwall. This is the first occasion I have managed to get near these birds and a found a few in front of the hide down in the SE corner of the site.
Female gadwall
and the drake with its very intricate feather patterning which is only properly revealed on close inspection.
The bankside vegetation in some areas of the lakes where there are extensive reedbeds creates some good colour reflections.
Great crested grebeand Tufted Duck
To finish off a particular treat for the day was a feeding station area that was attracting numbers of wild Ring-necked parakeets. These birds are rapidly growing in numbers in the west end of London and are now a common bird in parklands and gardens but this was my first opportunity to get some before the lens. Unfortunately by the time I had found them the sun was disappering as their colours must really glow in good light. They are quite a difficult bird to frame in the shot due to that very long tail.


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