Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Another cold morning at Ice Station Draycote.

Fed up with walking all the way over to the inlet to try for some shots of the Smew and then finding it too far off to get decent ones I bit the bullet and contacted it's agent and booked a photoshoot. Alright it cost me a few bob but it was guaranteed to be near the centre,close in and would catch some fish.

Arrived at centre and found the Smew about 50 metres away along Farborough bank and fairly close in.Mind you I still had to use the teleconverter which is not wise when hand holding a 400 lens.Got some fairly decent shots including some with fish as booked!!!!!!




A Great Crested Grebe nearby also caught a fish which was so large I didn't think it would be able to swallow it.My shout of "No way man" was ignored.



Near the centre I became a voyeur when I spotted a female Goldeneye trying to seduce a male.



I then walked over to the Draycote bank and managed to get some better shots of the 2 Great Northern Divers that were near the inlet.Not long before I found these two GND's I'd seen one way over in Biggen Bay so there might be three there.



Saturday, 26 December 2009

Another winter trip to Brandon Marsh.

Waking up this morning feeling a bit grotty no doubt due to too much rich food and wine I bravely decided to race over to Brandon Marsh.It looked like I was not the only one struggling because the car park was nearly empty.

The big surprise was that a lot of the paths were covered in sheets of ice and were absolutely lethal especially when you are carrying a camera.Where were Health and Safety when you need them.Ice skates were definitely essential.!!!!!

When I heard one of the Bitterns had been seen from the Carlton hide I slithered my way down there to by told by a couple of birders it had disappeared into some distant reeds.Whilst waiting for it to show again a limping fox made an appearance and during it's stay it made an impressive hunting leap which of course most of us photographers missed.




After about an hour in the hide I spotted the Bittern in front of the reeds in the adjacent pond to the Carlton hide so I was able to shout out "the Bittern is out".Everyone,now about 8 people, all dashed down my end with their cameras and it become very crowded with shutters clicking away right next to me.A bit far off for decent shots but I bet the big lens club got some decent shots.



Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Out again in the bitterly cold weather.

I must be a glutton for punishment because I ventured out again in this bitterly cold weather.I went to Brandon Marsh knowing that the ponds would probably be frozen over but I secretly hoped this would force one of the Bitterns onto the ice.

The ponds were frozen over when I walked round and of course the Bitterns did not venture out onto the ice at least not while I was there.It was so cold that,when I tried to eat a Snickers bar in the Carlton hide,it had frozen and turned into concrete. I nearly broke a tooth.

As expected I saw nothing at all on the walk round but did manage a Bullfinch near the car park.






Although the light was by now failing I thought on the way home I'd have a quick look down the old road at Marsh Lane.It was very lively again with at least 50 Yellowhammers in the roadside trees and bushes plus some Reed Buntings,Redwings and Fieldfare etc.Not good for pics as it was a bit gloomy by now but I think I got a shot of a female Brambling (see below ? is it a Brambling.I hope so because it would be the first I've seen this year).





Monday, 21 December 2009

Midwinter at Ice Station Draycote.

As I hadn't been out for a few days due to the cold weather I gambled this morning against getting frostbite and went over to Ice Station Draycote.It was still sunny when I got there and I was greeted by an almost empty car park but more importantly there was little wind so I might survive a walk round to the valve tower.I was wearing so many layers to keep out the cold that when I had to make a call of nature it took nearly 20 minutes

Near the outlet I spotted a Kingfisher and as it flew about I managed some flight shots.A bit out of focus but better than my previous efforts.



At the outlet I had a look for the leucistic Lapwing but there was no sign.The only decent bird there was a female Goosander .



Just past the inlet I spotted one of the Great Northern Divers but ,although it hung around for a while in the same spot it refused to come close in.One of the female Scoters was in view but far too far off for a pic.



I was pleased to see the drake Smew half way to the valve tower but a little too far out for a decent shot but nice to see at last.



Sunday, 20 December 2009

A go at producing a video.

Forced to stay in because of the cold weather I have dabbled with Windows Movie Maker that's on my computer and produduced this effort.

Pretty crap isn't it?Still it's my first go.What's disappointing is the reduction in picture quality from the stills.

Must get better if I'm going to use the video facility on my new 7D camera but my efforts so far of taking videos of birds has been worse than dreadful.
video

Thursday, 17 December 2009

A visit to Draycote Water.

The sun was shining for a change Thursday morning so off I went to Ice Station Draycote calling on the way to Long Lawford for the Great White Egret. So how did the day go? Very poorly in deed considering it was ideal weather for taking shots.

Failure 1. I found the little stream at Long Lawford where the GWE can be seen but it wasn't there for me.I was probably too late (I was there at 9.30AM) and I did see some dog walkers in the area.After turning the car round in the narrow muddy lane I drove to Draycote.

Failure 2. Went straight to Toft to look for my favourite Duck a drake Smew which had been reported there yesterday but I'm blowed if I could see it.By this time a bitterly cold wind was blowing and quite quickly my thermals were penetrated so in order to prevent frostbite setting in I made a hurried exit.

Failure 3. As the sun was still shining I decided to call in at Marsh Lane on the way home and try and get some shots as I hadn't used the camera yet.Not long down the old road I found a male Bullfinch feeding in the roadside leaf litter but just as I started to get some shots it suddenly clouded over and a blizzard came in from nowhere.Visibility had gone from bright sunshine to almost nil in a matter of seconds so yet again I made a hurried exit.

So a poor day.No pics, got both very cold and wet and had a tricky drive home in a blizzard.I might have to wait till spring before I venture out again.What a wimp !!!!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Another Draycote Visit.

Thursday morning I went over to Draycote Water hoping to see a Great Northern Diver for the first time this year.It was sunny with only a gentle breeze blowing and not too cold for a change.

I decided to walk round to the valve tower as this is where yesterday's GND had been seen.Now for me the valve tower is at the extreme range of my legs any further I go past the point of no return and would have to rest up overnight at rainbow corner!!!!

When I got to the outlet I had only seen some Meadow Pipits and had a brief encounter with a Kestrel




However when I scanned from the jetty over to the inlet I saw a GND quite close in .I raced over there because these chaps can disappear into the distance quite quickly.Unfortunately I was forced to take a rest at rainbow corner so when I finally got to the inlet it had gone from view.Got a bit of a bonus though when I found a Goosander quite close in.



Before I got to the valve tower I met up with Bob Hazell and Francoise and joined them for the walk back.Bob pointed out a couple of female Common Scoters which were too far off for a shot but the GND suddenly showed a bit far off for a decent shot but very nice to see.




We had just passed the inlet when I spotted a leucostic Lapwing amongst a flock of Lapwings coming in to land on the inlet beach.All right I'll be honest no one would believe I'd spotted it it was Bob of course how he did I don't know.I not sure I've spelt leucostic correctly!!!! Anyhow what a great bird to see amongst his mates.Some pretty poor pics taken it was a long way off.






Tuesday, 8 December 2009

A morning out with the camera.

After some early morning shopping I dashed over to Marsh lane on Tuesday morning to take advantage of the bright sunny conditions and try out the new camera again.As soon as I found some Yellowhammers along the old road the bloody sun went in and it clouded over.

It was no good for taking decent shots now so I had to go into the reserve and do some birdwatching.How bad is that!!!!

Luckily I met up with Kath in the Oak hide to chat to because there was not much around other than a couple of Common Snipe and a very furtive Water Rail that showed itself often on the marsh but for only a split second each time.




Back home at lunchtime I was able to continue my battle with the pair of Blackcaps that visit regularly and which turned up again today but as usual they appear only when it's dull and it's a struggle to get a decent shot.



Sunday, 6 December 2009

A morning at Brandon Marsh.

The sun was out at last and badly needing practice with the new camera I shot over to Brandon Marsh on Saturday morning.

The good thing about Brandon on a Saturday morning is,that even if there is nothing to point the camera at, there are always some fellow birders to chat to and pass the time with. I soon met up with Jeff Rankin and we found some Redwings,Redpolls and Siskins at the end of the main path to the car park.

We had a bit of trouble as we tried to walk down the path to the hides as our route was blocked by several members of the big lens club.They are always surly,have large packs on their backs and of course huge tripods attached to their lenses but we know that if you complement them about their lenses you can placate them.

Teamed up with Kath et al in the hides for most of the morning but all we saw were Goldeneye,Water Rail and the Barn Owl (at distance from the Carlton Hide) but no Bitterns.

Some so so pics attached.