Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Looking for Hobbies at Brandon Marsh.

Popped out birding for the first time for a few days today.Well the weather was nice!!!!

Headed for Brandon Marsh where for the first hour I took on the Cetti's Warblers again and not for the first time I lost badly and only got one half decent shot.They are either getting quicker or I am slowing up!!!!!Did get a reasonable shot of a Sedge Warbler but failed to do any good with the Common and Lesser Whitethroats or the Garden Warblers that were singing out.

Headed to the Carlton Hide to see if any Hobbies were about.There was one in the dead tree to the right of the hide but it only stayed for a few minutes while I was there before flying off west.It made only one pass anywhere near the hide but I managed a few shots.

Later teamed up with Jeff Rankin and Kath but we didn't find anything of note.We did test our skills from the Baldwin Hide trying to get decent shots of the Common Terns flying around.I hope their shots were better than mine but I did get some good shots of the sky.

Click on the pics to enlarge. 

Looking for Hobbies at randon

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Trip to Brandon Marsh.

On Friday morning I went over to Brandon to get some shots of anything that might be around.My hopes were dashed a bit when I arrived to find a pretty strong breeze blowing.

This proved to be the case as everything seemed to be keeping a low profile out of the wind.I watched a Sedge Warbler singing out trying to climb up a reed but being blown off it's perch.Even the Whitethroats were singing out hidden well in the brambles.I was a bit surprised to see that a pair of GS Woodpeckers were setting up home very close to the main path in the woods again this year.

I had my usual loosing battles with the Cetti's Warblers and got a slightly better shot this time but still pretty poor.A couple of good spots were a lone Swift and a couple of Garden Warblers.

Best spot of the day was seeing the first Hobby of the year that was flying around at high level over the Newlands.Got some shots but none any good.Far too high up but very nice to see them back.

A few pics attached.Click on them for a larger version. 

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Little Paxton Pits Trip.

Early on Wednesday morning went to Little Paxton Pits near St.Neots which is the top spot if you want to see Nightingales in the open singing their heads off.

After negotiating the M6 and the A14 successfully I did what I did last time I went to this spot and cocked up the last mile and ended up driving through St.Neots at rush hour.I always miss the turn to Little Paxton.

Anyhow I eventually got there and having parked up I went to a good spot for these chaps which is near the carpark only to find Dave Hutton there already.He told me the best spot to wait for them and he wasn't wrong for in the next couple of hours, although they were very mobile, I had some good views and of course was entertained by their fabulous song.Also in that area were plenty of Chiichaffs,Willow Warblers and some Lesser Whitethroats the latter being to flighty for me to get a shoy though.

Had a walk round the reserve at mid morning and found at least 4 more Nightingales.I was told later that there were 14 on the site at the moment so if you want some shots get over there now before they hide away in the bushes.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Marsh Lane Visit.

Early Sunday morning I went down to Marsh Lane.It was dull and very cold indeed.There was only one car in the car park so everyone else was being sensible.

The car park pool was very quiet so I headed off to the Oak hide.There was a guy at the right hand end of the hide and he had spread out all his gear on the benches so I went up the other end.Despite several attempts I failed to get him into conversation and then I saw very surprisingly he was painting.

I then had a scan round the pool and noted several Common Terns,3 Redshanks,2 Little Ringed Plovers,3 Ringed Plovers,2 Oystercatchers,3 Common Snipe,2 Common Buzzards,a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel amongst the usual suspects.

After half an hour I got curious to see what he was painting so I crept up behind him and scanned the marsh only to spot a bird I had been looking out for for ages now and had so far failed completely to see it and here it was in the open.The Jack Snipe!!!!!!.My painter friend had not told me.What a miserable so and so I thought sod it and leaned past him and rattled off a few shots.

Another Brandon Marsh Visit.

Early Saturday morning I went across to Brandon Marsh and this time I took no notice of the weatherman who said it would be warm and sunny and I took some warm clothing.Good job I did because it wasn't untill lunchtime that it got sunny and warmed up a bit.

Teamed up with a good friend and we decided to stick to the wooded areas and try for some Warbler shots.Allthough there were plenty of Blackcaps,Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers and some Whitethroats,Sedge and Reed Warblers about  we struggled to get decent shots mainly because it was a bit dull,quite breezy and the leaves had started to come out.All I managed were some decent shots of a Blackcap and loads of crappographs of the others.

A Common Buzzard showed well in the sunshine for a while before climbing high in the sky.

I spent the last couple of hours trying to get the first shot of the year of a Cetti's Warbler.There were several spots where they were singing but they were very flighty and very rarely stayed out in the open.Only got one pretty poor shot but it's a start.


Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Easter Monday trip round local sites.

Having been trapped indoors with the family yesterday I was keen to go out on Easter Monday so I set off pretty early to Coton Lakes to see if the Black-necked Grebes were still there.

I had not got a clue how to get better views of the birds on the balancing lake so I was just about to give up when a knight in shining armour or rather in a silver Skoda turned up.Pete Walkden who knew exactly where to go.After going through a  secret passage we were able to walk round the lake and soon find all four of the BN Grebes on the far side.

Just as we began to take some "record only shots" tradgedy struck.Pete's Canon 40D camera was reporting the dreaded "err 99".When your camera reports this message you've got 3 choices (1)Remove the lenses and throw the camera in the lake (2) Throw yourself in the lake and (3)Take out another mortgage and get it repaired.I've got a 40D and worry all the time.

I left with Pete and I went off to Whitacre Heath.Spent a couple of hours in the feeder hide where 40+ Lesser Redpolls were present  plus a lone Willow Tit and an occasional GS Woodpecker.I told the other two people in the hide that the Mealy Redpolls reported the day before were not amongst the Lesser Redpolls we were looking at however when I posted the shot (above) of the two Redpolls on the net I was informed that they are Mealy Redpolls.What a clown!!!!!!!

Click on the pics to enlarge.


Sunday, 12 April 2009

Another Brandon Trip.

As the weather was forecast as fine I decided to go to Brandon Marsh on Saturday morning to spend some time in the woods to get some shots of the Warblers.

The day turned out to be not only gloomy but also there was some light rain about and definately pretty crap for getting decent shots.Don't you love the weather forecasters.

It realy turned out to be a day of failures on the photo front which was a shame as there were plenty of Willow Warblers,Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs about.Also there was a lone Whitethroat and a couple of Sedge Warblers present but very elusive.Along the main path a Song Thrush was giving a free outdoor concert high up in a tree.

A two hour long battle with several Cetti's Warblers ended in complete failure and I didn't even manage a crappograph.The final score was Cetti's 6 Max 0

I should have gone to Coton as the Black necked Grebes were showing well.   

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Draycote Water trip.

As it looks like the weather for the rest of the week maybe poor I decided to go to Draycote Water early on Monday morning.

Decided to go the the valve tower to get some more shots of the GN Divers before they leave.This is a long trek for me just on the edge of my range so I was well choked when I got there that the miserable so and so's were about 3 miles away in the middle of the pond.I'd been attacked all the way there by clouds of flies so I was not a happy bunny when I arrived back at the centre for a coffee having seen nothing.Also my legs had been complaining all the way back and were threatening to stop working!!!!!!

To try and cheer myself up I headed down the Farborough bank to see my good friend the RN Grebe.He never lets me down and so it proved again today because as soon as he recognised me he came over for a photo shoot.He's looking handsome now.

The legs started complaining again as I headed off to the hide to see if the GW Teal was still about.The hide was empty.Oh Dear had it gone?No because after 10 minutes it appeared to the right of the hide.

As I neared the centre again the Farborough bank was buzzing with birds including a male Wheatear,loads of Pied Wagtails,10+ Meadow Pipits and best of all 3 Yellow Wagtails.

Click on pics for a larger version.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

My God.Another life tick.

I've had a golden birding week with three life ticks.First the Green-winged Teal at Draycote,then a Dipper at Lathkill Dale and yesterday the Cattle Egret at Middleton Hall.The magic 400 ticks is now getting very close only 170 to go.

As I approached Middleton Hall yesterday I was worried that the Cattle Egret had gone as it was first seen a few days earlier.There was only one other birder there when I arrived which was not good news but as luck would have it it was still there feeding happily amongst the cattle.A bit far off for a decent shot but I was not complaining.

Click on shots for a larger version. 

Thursday, 2 April 2009

After Dippers again.

I've been photographing birds for nearly 3 years and it's been an embarassment that I've not seen a Dipper let alone getting a shot of one.I've lost count of the number of times I've been sent to places that "You cannot fail to see Dippers at *********" and never seen one.To try and beat this curse I sought advice from Dave Hutton and in particular Pete Walkden who both sent me to Lathkill Dale.

Pete's instructions were to park in Over Haddon and walk down the hill,turn right and walk for 20 minutes till you come to a large waterfall.20 minutes??? It took me an hour!!!! Mind you as an old goat I walk much slower than the sporty Mr.Walkden and I encamped twice at the wrong waterfall(there are loads of them).

When I got to the right one there were 3 people there and I soon discovered that one had been there for 3 hours and had only had a glimpse of a Dipper and the other two had been there an hour and had not seen one at all.Oh Dear was I going to dip on the Dippers again.After 10 minutes the first guy gave up and left and soon after the other two also left leaving me on my own.

Within seconds of the last two people leaving all hell broke loose there was calling all over the place as 2 Dippers appeared on the waterfall and two Grey Wagtails appeared and started looking for nesting material.Yippppeeeee!!!!! Success at last.A life tick and some decent shots.

Stayed for about an hour and then headed back to the car but the joy of seeing some Dippers didn't prepare me for the mother of all climbs from the river upto the car park at Over Haddon.I swear my heart nearly burst.I only discovered later that the SAS come here to try and break the spirit of their recruits by making them walk the hill from hell.

Click on the pics for a bigger version.