Friday, May 30, 2008

Reedbed Fun

I set myself a mini project of trying to get some better reed warbler photos this year. They are such tricky birds to photograph as they offer tantilising glimpses between reed stems but getting a clear shot of them require either luck or putting in some hours. As luck was not on my seide the only option was to put in some time.

Whilst messing around near the reedbeds I also came across a sedge warbler. This bird was ringed. I often find that ringed birds are much more confiding, which I suppose maybe a result of the human contact that the birds have had during the ringing process.
and on top of a reedmace head in seed.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Meet the Redstarts

A pair of redstarts have appeared in the same place as last year, so I intend to spend some time with them over the next few weeks. I believe the female may be sitting on eggs at the moment as her appearances are brief, and both birds are not frantically collecting insects to feed those insaitable gaping mouths back at the nest.

My first visit was very early in the morning, creating some strong side lighting on the female perched one of my target branches.
Later the sun moved round and started to light the background.
Curious as usual. The male has been less confident with my presence at first, but seems to have totally settled down now. Always great pleasure to have one of these stunning birds in front of the lens at close quarters.
Hopefully I will be able to post more photos of the pair, and with luck some young, over the coming weeks.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ladies Day
Generally it is the male bird that has the more impressive colours and when given a choice the lens is automatically attracted towards the colourful. So when it comes to photography the females birds can sometimes be a little neglected. This is coupled with the fact that females can be less bold than the males and so be more wary and difficult to photograph.

I was out the other day and came across a female stonechat in great condition and cooperative mood.
Onwards to the next perch

Last week I set up a mini feeding station hoping for some redstarts. I paid it a brief visit the other morning and pleased to see pair of birds visiting. The male bird was still cautious but the female was visiting regularly enough to get a few photographs.

Hopefully I should get some photos of a very colourful male bird next week. At the feeding station, I also set up a seed feeder close by and was pleased to see some siskin visiting, which I have not photographed for a while. As you can imagine I am looking foward to my next session there.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Seeking Yellow Wagtails

I have a mini project going at the moment trying to get some photos of yellow wagtails. These are always remained elusive to me but managed to find a couple of pairs recently. They are in a difficult situation to photograph and tricky birds to approach, but I am starting to get some pictures now. What I really need now is some good soft light to photograph them in rather than harsh sunlight. The main problem with the site where they are is that it seems to suffer from heat haze that starts about 9:30am on a sunny day and prevent any further photography as the camera struggles to focus.
This male bird was gaining some good camouflage by using this black and yellow painted post as a perch. A problem with photographing at this site is the sun quickly swings round to produce images with too much contrast and side lighting.
Both male and female birds make occasional forays to feed along one of the tracks. This is the male bird which absolutely glows in full sun.
I still have not achieved the photos that I am after but have not finished with them yet.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wood Warbler

The other day I took a trip out with my friend Steve to some oak woods in North Wales looking for summer migrant species. The focus of the trip was mainly wood warbler and pied flycatcher. The latter must still be sitting on eggs as activity was low and I just managed a shot of this female.
The wood warblers were in the same place that they were last year. This site is unusual as the birds use low trees as song perches, rather than the tree canopy where they are normally found. This makes it possible to to photograph a normally very difficult but beautiful species. The electric song really lights up the atmosphere of the woods. For those interested in how the song sounds it can be found here:

I concentrated the majority of the visit on one bird that was moving in fluttering song flight around its territory. It was difficult shooting conditions with dappled woodland light and lots of obscuring vegetation.
The bird moving round gave a good variety of perches, lighting and bachgrounds to the photographs.
and spent virtually the whole day in song.
I will be returning soon for the pied flycatchers.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More Local Wanderings
I always consider myself lucky to have such a great variety of bird habitat on my doorstep, which gives me plenty of different birds to go and photograph. My only wish was that my back garden was of a bigger size and better location to attract a wider variety of birds. The main stay of the visitors are the constantly squabbling Goldfinch which are a welcome and colourful addition to the garden.I have been recently concentrating on some warblers, although the grasshopper warbler have remained elusive. The warblers present a real challenge to photograph mainly due to their preference for lurking deep in vegetation. Here are a few recent photos.
Sedge warbler
Reed warbler, unsurprisngly in some reeds!!Common whitethroat
and Willow Warbler at first lightI am still coming across the occasional migrant wheatear on passage. For this bird I was lying in full camo gear on top of a limestone outcrop close to where a few of these nervous birds were feeding. Fortune shined when one came and landed on a rock right next me.

To finish off this post I found a treecreeper nest the other day. This is a species I have not photographed much so was not going to pass up the opportunity of photographing the birds on their approach into the nest site with beaks full on insects.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Local Little Egret

One of these birds seems to have taken up residence on the shore close to my home. I have been paying it an occasional visit when my time there coincided with the right tidals conditions.
It has taken up home on the mud and sand banks of the estuary and tends to forage along the gulley areas at low water.Those yellow feet don't stay that way for long when wading through estuary mud.
Moving in for the killAn elegant bird in flight.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Day Break on the Marshes

I recently took a visit at first light to some local marshes. This site usually offers some good potential to encounter some spring migrants. The first bird I encountered was a Northern Wheatear, back lit by the early light. Glad to see I am not the only one who looks ruffled when they first wake up!!!
This meadow pipit was also half asleep
A reed warbler kept me busy for quite a while in a small patch of reeds, as it was playing hard to get a clear shot amongst he reed stems.
A few swallows were buzzing around collecting nesting material. Amongst them I spotted a distinctly different looking bird which had a bright orange breast, compared to the normal cream colouration. This was either a well coloured bird or possibly one from the eastern Mediterranean which show this type of colouration.The search for the elusive yellow wagtail? Well I managed to find one and to get one in front of the camera which is a start but still not have achieved the photo that I am after.
and collecting nesting material


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