Sunday, 31 December 2017

LAST POST OF 2017

 My last post of 2017, so it seems fit to do a bumper "odds 'n' sods" since my last post was such a long time ago.
Just been super busy, mostly work. Delevering plaster board, insulation materials to sites it's our busiest period. And getting shed loads of snow didn't help, yes got stuck in snow on one site and my Moffat (fork truck) sinking in mud on another site it's been stressful
So have crammed as much birding in as the weather would permit, concentrating locally and a few border raids into Norfolk.
The Barn Owl above was once such raid into Norfolk the ride over was a bad omen as fog was getting thicker I almost ran over a Tawny Owl that was sat in the middle of my lane on A419, I swerved round it and stopped put my hazards on and went to see what was wrong with it, typically as soon as I got out it flew off...cheers.  As I arrived an hour before dawn sat and waited the fog cleared quite quickly thanks to the drizzle of rain so was surprised to even catch the Barn Owl hunting. High IS0 (10,000) but couldn't resist.
The day improved as did the birds I pulled into Brancaster my eyes almost immediately locked onto a Long Tailed Duck. Using the car as a hide it came in so close

 Last one, you look closely at the bottom of the frame you can see the ripple of water & shoreline. Never got one so close in

Fly through Curlew, Stonechat and Snow Buntings and a seal pup  were the other notable species on this trip



Locally it has been a bit quiet. Plenty of decent sized Starling murmarations have entertained, I think the best as it enveloped you in the action was Storton Pits, a local wildlife trust site that sits next to the rugby stadium, football stadium and the town centre. Only snag was it happened in near darkness as they roosted in the reed bed. The noise from the reed bed of the chattering starlings was an eerie experience.


OK they're crap, but the sun had actually gone down and was reliant on a combination of street lamps, high iso (12,800) and tweaking like mad in processing, that's how hard I work for you lot lol.
Goldcrest

Kingfisher, was hoping to get better images once the last of the leaves fell off, but the river is too swollen for any action

Redwing, Fieldfare and Green Woodpecker all taken on the industrial estate I work on.


Day after boxing day I mounted another border raid into Norfolk.
A lot of the meadows and marshes I stop off at early a.m. were flooded so opted to head straight over to Salthouse.
I was pleased to see 3 weeks on the seal pup had matured and got fatter and moving around a fair bit.
Again more Snow Buntings of course
And Turnstone
Brancaster was on the bird front quiet with the exception of two distant Merganser's flying through. Had my lunch and plumped into going to Titchwell.
I try (and fail) not going to Titchwell due to my addiction for Sanderling. I love the little wader. I bumped into fellow togger from Northamptonshire, Ricky, who told me about a Barn Owl. I promised to meet up with him after I had my Sanderling hit.
A few images later I joined him, I'm limiting myself to just three for now


And of course a Turnstone
I met up with Ricky. Watched Marsh Harriers coming into a roost and a Bittern, then the Barn Owl. It has to be the closest I ever came across an owl in the wild. Flying past within feet of other birders. At times even on the closest focussing range settings on the lense I struggled to get focus with the annoying flashy green light on the viewfinder telling me so, but wow. So close.



The last one my favourite as it was Side-lit (from the left) and opted for spot metering, got away with it...just.
So that's it from me in 2017.
I wish you all a very happy 2018

Sunday, 22 October 2017

A MIXED BAG

The last two weekends has seen me popping over to Norfolk, the weather hasn't been to kind on both visits but I needed a change of scenery and something to point my camera at with birds either having departed the county or awaiting the arrival of over wintering species.
My first visit was showery to say the least the second was overcast and breezy but a great time was had.
I don't mind nature reserves and are a great fall back option but I really can't stand hides at the moment. I think it has a lot to do with being couped up behind the wheel of a truck all week, I need my weekends to stretch the legs and burn off the calories of all those bacon butties :-)
Despite the lousy conditions I took the opportunity to really test out the ISO on the 1dmk4,cranked it to 6400 and wasn't expecting much but couldn't miss out on the Curlew flying about
 Little wing blurring thanks to lower shutter speed then I'd like and some odd thing happening to the background which I'm going to put down to vegetation unless someone has a more plausible idea.
I'll say it now to avoid repetition but the whole two visits my iso was stuck between 2000 and 3200 most of the time.
I walked around what's left of Salthouse a few times as it's good for catching up with passerine.
I was hoping for a Water Pipit or Rock Pipit but got mostly Skylark and Meadow Pipit which I enjoy.
Not sure why but wherever the pipits were there seemed to be Stonechats, which obviously peeked my interest being a personal favourite of mine. So obviously spent a long time trying to get close enough.

The female seemed quite approachable. The male wasn't so obliging and was either to far away, too dark or just annoying :-)
Also got a distant Wheatear
The pools also hold good numbers of Widgeon and Tealing and common waders such as Redshank and a lot of Little Egrets

My lunch and watering hole is always Brancaster, the baguettes from the seafood shack are a personal favourite and watching that mornings catch being freshly prepared for baguettes is the best food province ever. It's also a cracking place to get some more waders as they're a bit more tolerant towards humans here due to all the activity.
A solitary Grey Plover
Plenty of Black Tail Godwits

And obviously the most numerous are Turnstones. And often walk past within inches without a care in the world

Plenty of dunlin and ringed plover but stayed to far away. Curlew were temptingly close though.

The surprise wader as I've not really seen them here before and it didn't stay long either was a Greenshank
I always stop of at Snettisham on the way back home. It holds a lot of memories for me, so love visiting even if there isn't a spring tide due.
Big flocks of waders and big skylines and sometimes dramatic skies, I got lucky with a setting sun, the only appearance the whole two weekends.
Oystercatchers and Godwits were the biggest flocks at the moment, Oystercatchers
 No colour editing form the sun bursting through, as shot
The movement on the distant shoreline of Godwits (I think anyway) was like that of one those metal slinky toys going down a flight of stairs

Really love flocks of birds and the murmartion
 I think the last pattern are the birds indicating their direction whilst one person reckons it looks like a Stingray, Hmmmm.
Not ignoring local birds I found 6 Stonechats (typical lol) at Holowell and a nice influx of pipits on the shoreline, didn't spot the Wheatear, which I should have but my attention was obviously on the Stonechats and failed to see the Rock Pipit amongst the flock, too lazy :-)
Again the male eluded me and settled for the female

Seems to be a good year for Stonechats around here, I'm at a 10 individuals spread across 3 sites so far, this is the post I want them on but the Wren scares them off it.