Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Session of 2008

I spent the day out and about with the camera yesterday to fit in one last session for the year. Despite some poor light conditions and some freezing temperatures a good number of species found there way in front of the lens and a most enjoyable way to finish an interesting year.
A bullfinch appearing very plump with its fluffed up feathers to try and keep the cold at bay.
Goldfinch feeding on teasel
The tiny and hyeractive Goldcrest which proved very tricky with the lack light
It is always good to see the rapidly declining Tree sparrow
A female Great Spotted Woodpecker hammering into a silver birch

A Fieldfare feeding on some apples
There were two main highlights to the day. Firstly a bird that is difficult to approach and photograph and also sadly disappearing rapidly the Grey PartridgeThe other highlight is a bird that I have not photographed for two years since one landed in my back garden back in January 2006, the Brambling.
Overall it has been a good year with 7 mammal species photographed, including a large library of brown hares, and 139 bird species ranging from the common to very rare such as the Ross's Gull that appeared back in the spring. I would like to thank all of you that have taken the time to read , support and comment on my Blog during this year and wish you all a wonderful and wildlife filled 2009.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Boxing Day Fieldfare

Having been house bound for a couple of days over Christmas it was a joy to wake up to some sun Boxing Day morning and head out with the camera. My original intention was to head to some local woods to gets some photos of woodland birds but while on route I suddenly had a change of plan and decided to head to another site to try and find some Fieldfare. These winter visiting thrushes are a favourite of mine although they are a difficult bird to approach close enough for good photographs. Fortunately the plan came together and I found some and managed to get a few photographs of them foraging areas of short grass for worms.
Staring straight down the lens.
Some characteristic Fieldfare feeding behaviour, listening for the worms below.
A one sided battle between bird and worm.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Local Beach Birds

I stopped for a brief session on the local foreshore recently just as the tide was flooding in towards high water. A number of purple sandpiper had gathered on the rocks and sea defences.
One of the birds was ringed, which apparently was undertaken on the nearby Hilbre Island in the winter of 2000 / 01. I wonder how many thousands of miles this bird has travelled in that time.
I took a few more purple sandpiper photos before shifting my attention to some turnstones.
Some of the birds were showing some very nice plumage.The Turnstones were gathering with the SandpipersSome birds were flying in to escape the advancing tide.Together with some incoming redshankI finished off locating a solitary redshank foraging on a grass bank which gave some opportunities to get some photos in an unusual setting.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In the Mud

I recently took a short-break down to Pembrokeshire to use up the last of my annual leave in work. I also needed to use a voucher for a National Trust Cottage, won in photo competition last Autumn, before the end of the year. The garden of the cottage was a bird photographer's dream, woodland on one side and the garden literally running in to the estuary mud of the Cleddau. However, I was on holiday looking around this area of Wales I have not visited before and combined with the low number of daylight hours, meant camera time was limited.

I managed to get a couple of photos of one of the Jays visiting the garden from the surrounding woodland on a very frosty morning. and obviously intrigued by the lens
However, it was the mud of the estuary at the end of the garden which really drew my attention, especially as I could see waders and waterfowl moving all bathed in golden winter sun. The plan was made to sit hidden at the edge of the very sticky but slippery estuary mud (that I am still trying to clean off various bits items) and wait for the birds to come to me. All I will say for anyone trying this is to proceed with extreme caution on any estuary mud and remember the tide, as it is easy to get caught out and cut off.
The target was redshank and the plan worked with a bit of assistance from the rising tide and some low winter light
Wader trails through the mud
I was in an interesting position, as due to the light angle, the mud appeared brown to my left and blue-grey to the right. This allowed for some marked variation in the background. A photo taken from the rightand one from the left... The waters were slowly rising with the tide, but very still and reflective as they covered the mud.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Preston Waxwings

Given that it is a good year for waxwings, I thought I would try and get some more photos of them. I had a couple of hours spare at the weekend and headed up to Preston where two sizable flocks were being reported. I looked around for a couple of hours at the reported sites without luck and was just about to head off home when a text alert came through on the mobile phone with a recent sighting nearby. I headed straight there and a flock of around 50 birds were feeding on two rowan trees planted against a brick building.
After a bit of moving about I managed to get into a position where the bricks could be blured to form a orange background that really complimented the colour of the birds.
Waxwings are great birds to photograph an the feeding action can be intense with these acrobatic birds.
Hopefully some more of these colourful birds will pass in front of the lens before the winter is over.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Dalston Waxwings

A good number of waxwings have arrived in the UK. They are slowly eating their way south but impatience got the better of me and I decided to head north to find some. Waxwings have always been a bird that I haven't done very well with on my previous two attempts which was mainly down to where they were and weather conditions. So I was optimistic as I went in search of them on a bright sunny winters day. On arrival, once again the location was not ideal with the birds feeding on two rowan trees just inside a school grounds and next to main road. However, given the 60 or so birds present more photo opportunities were presented than on my previous attempts. The birds were quite nervous and would take flight everytime a lorry thundered down the road. Here are a small selection of images and hopefully the first of many more this winter.
A pleasing sight to greet any photographer of numerous waxwings perched before flying down on mass to the rowan trees.During the feeding periods the action is fast and furious as numerous birds descend upon the tree for a few moments of frenzied feeding.
Down the hatch
This bird is just in the process of swallowing one of the large berries and showing its unusual shaped tongue.


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