Saturday, 30 January 2010

Some decent Bittern shots at last.

Having messed up several decent chances of getting some Bittern shots at Brandon Marsh last Tuesday and not seeing any at all on Thursday I was well chuffed today when I was a long last to get some half decent shots.

I was on my second visit of the morning to the East Marsh hide when,whilst I was looking the other way of course,a fellow birder yelled out "Bittern in the channel".Unlike last Tuesday I was able to get on it before it disappeared into the reeds.It was nice to get it on the ice.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

A day of misses at Brandon Marsh.

Brighter weather was promised for today so I raced over to Brandon Marsh this morning hoping to get some decent shots of whatever was about.

Met a couple of birders on the main path who told me a Black Necked Grebe was showing from the Baldwin hide and the GW Teal was close in on the Teal Pool.Wow!!! I raced to the Baldwin hide but I'm blowed if I could see it.A Little Grebe fooled me for a while but the BN Grebe was not to be seen.

Off to the Teal Pool hide and not only was the GW Teal no where to be seen but there were no birds at all on the pool nor on the distant River Pool.Attempts at getting shots of a Goldcrest and a Cetti's both near the Teal Pool hide were a complete disaster the little blighters being far too fast for me today.

My bad luck continued in the East Marsh hide where there were seven sightings of Bitterns whilst I was there and my camera missed them all.Three times because I left the hide to check out the Teal Pool and four times because I was distracted (talking/looking elsewhere etc.) .What a burk!!!!! I was punished by being shown great shots of what I'd missed.

One bit of luck I did have was when I left the hide a broken man someone pointed out I'd left my bins behind.Thanks Kath.That would have made a bad day a disaster.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Another winter trip to Brandon Marsh.

Decided this morning to go to Brandon Marsh again and try for the Green-winged Teal that so far has been hiding from me and my camera.

It was very gloomy when I got there so not so good for getting decent shots.I headed for the River Pool Hide as it usually is seen there but when I went to walk down the path leading to that hide I was met not with a path but a new tributary of the river Avon.Off to the East Marsh hide then which,as it turned out, was a good move because it was on this pool with some of his mates but unfortunately right across the far bank.Did get some pics but the distance and the gloom made getting decent shots impossible.

As we were trying to get shots of the GW Teal a mate and myself failed to act quick enough when a Bittern flew right across the front of the hide to land in the reeds to the left of the hide.It quickly scurried across the channel to disappear from site.Much later in the day it flew off towards the Newlands and shortly after it was followed by another one that had been in the right hand reed bed without anyone knowing it had been there.Got a couple of shots of one in the channel but failed again to get a flight shot when they both flew off.

A brief visit to the Carlton hide produced very little except a Jay that kept flying around and Pete Walkden with his new super lens.Always nice to see Pete.I hope the Bitterns showed for him.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

A losing battle with some Bitterns.

This morning it was not raining for a change so, despite the foggy conditions, I shot over to Brandon Marsh.I headed straight to the River Pool hide where a Green-winged Teal had been reported earlier.

At the hide I could not find the GW Teal mainly because viewing conditions were very poor with sun glare one end of the pool and dull and misty the other end.However my eagle eye spotted a Bittern well hidden in the reeds right across the pool where it annoyingly stayed until it suddenly came out and flew off.What a miserable so and so.Got some pics but nothing to write home about.

After visiting all the hides trying for the GW Teal and failing badly I entered the East Marsh just in time to see another Bittern scoot across the channel to the left of the hide.For the next couple of hours I and several other birders waited patiently for it to come out again but did it? Did it hell!!!!! All we got was an occasional glimpse of it deep in the reeds.I had to give up and leave the hide because by this time my legs had gone numb with the cold and a further delay may have been fatal.Here are a couple of shots but can you spot the Bittern.

Monday, 18 January 2010

A snow free day out.

Desperate to go out birding now the snow had gone I decided on Monday morning to go to Draycote Water.My cunning plan was also to call in at the Granborough Valley to see if the Great Grey Shrike was still about.

It was dull and misty when I walked along the muddy path to the GG Shrike area but with help from another birder I located it on some wires.Unfortunately it was along way off and it didn't hang around for long before it flew a long way off westwards.Here are a couple of the worst GG Shrike shots ever taken but at least I saw it.

I then took the short trip to Draycote Water where I decided to walk to the inlet.Didn't see much except for 6 Goosanders and a Kestrel in the top of a tree.

Back at the centre I was told the Great Northern Divers were near Toft in the morning so I thought I'd have a quick look before heading home.I soon found them but they were right across the other side but for once I was patient and after half an hour they came in fairly close to the Pectoral Sandpiper beach.Here are a few shots.

After the GND's had moved on a Kestrel appeared not too far above my head.Unfortunately when I was taking shots of the GND's I was using a teleconverter that was still attached to my lens and you lose autofocus so lots of crappographs taken.Here a some of the better shots.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

A Trip to Coton Lakes.

Having had a wonderful day yesterday trying to correct a fault with my internet connection, dealing with my service provider and hearing "Your call is important to us" "You are more than 9th. in the queue" and other rubbish and then,when you finally get through, you are speaking to someone in Asia who you cannot understand.Wonderful!!!!!

Anyhow moan over.So today I was more than keen to get out so just before lunch I went to Coton Lakes to try for the Smew that had been seen from the hide.I was after the females as I'd never seen one before let alone getting some shots.

The roads from Knowle were pretty good but the car park was like a skating rink.On the walk to the hide I met a birder who said the dreaded words " They've just flown over to another lake".The hide was empty when I got there which was not good news but it was nice to see an ice free lake with plenty of birds on it.Luck was with me because a female Smew turned up after about 30 minutes and showed well near the hide but it was very dull and not good for taking pics but I'm not moaning.Cracking looking bird.Well worth the trip.

Friday, 8 January 2010

A Trip out in the Snow.

Fed up with being trapped in doors by the snow on Thursday morning I very bravely got the car out and went off to get some bird shots.So how brave was I? Not very because I only went a couple of miles to Brueton Park.

The pond was completely frozen over and only a few ducks and geese were on the ice.I tried to find the Goldcrests I'd found a few days ago but no luck in fact the only bird I found was a lone Robin in an hour's stay.

On the way back home I called in on a road in Bentley Heath that has many berry trees.Well it did have!!!! The Redwings and Fieldfares have stripped the lot except for part of one tree and this was full of both battling for the remaining berries.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

My Blackcaps have returned.

Having been missing for a couple of weeks the pair of Blackcaps that have been visiting my back garden turned up again this morning which was a surprise because it was snowing heavily.

Managed a few shots in very poor conditions but only of the female.

Two more cold days out.

I always go to Marsh Lane on Sunday mornings to meet up with some of my mates but this Sunday I thought I'd give it a miss as I'd just had a couple of days birding out in the freezing weather.A good move ? No!!!! A dreadful move as a couple of my mates had a Bittern (a first for Marsh Lane ?) in the open for 10 minutes close to the Oak hide in the marsh.When I heard the news there was lots of swearing.

A day late I went to ML early on Monday morning to see if the Bittern was still about.It was bitter cold so I needed to break the world record for the number of layers worn to try and keep warm the trouble with this was it was hard to move around.

The Oak hide was absolutely freezing with your breath coming out in clouds of steam.I fully expected Shakeleton or Scott of the antarctic to come in and ask for supplies.So did I see it ? Of course not!!!!! all I saw in a two hour stay was a Moorhen and a frozen Common Snipe.Luckily some more birders turned up and helped to prise me off the bench which I had frozen to.

After a quick lunch and a thawing out at home I shot out again.I found some Redwings still hanging out locally and was able to get some shots.

I then went to Brueton Park in Solihull.This park is famous because on any day you choose there are more dogs there than there are at the Crufts dog show.When I got there from the car next to me a large Dobberman leapt out and scanned around for someone to bite.I moved into panic mode but luckily it decided to relieve itself and I was able to escape.Also at Brueton park there are more children about than you'd find at a very large school play ground and making just as much noise.I'm not complaining as it is a park and not a nature reserve.

So how did I do there ? Well surprisingly well considering all the dogs and children.In a relatively quiet part not far from the car park I found in an hour's stay three of my favourite birds.First I spotted a pair of Goldcrests (first of the winter for me) in a conifer tree.They were pinging about as much as the ball in a pinball machine that's having a power surge so decent pics difficult but great to see.Then I spotted a Treecreeper but as usual it kept on the shady side of the tree trunk so no pics.Then a Grey Wagtail turned up and was happy to pose for some pics.A lone Grey Heron was amusing to see as it struggled to master the ice.