Thursday, 29 July 2010

Another trip to Brandon Marsh.

Having done no birding for a few days I was pretty keen to go out with the camera on Wednesday morning although the forecast was not too good.As nothing decent had been reported locally I went over to Brandon Marsh.

Spent most of the time in the Carlton hide mainly because other then the Little Egret there was nothing of note anywhere else on the reserve and a few friends had encamped there for the day after the"best ever KF shot".Fat chance!!!!!!

I joined in of course and,although we all have got loads of KF shots, it's still great when one turns up and settles on a perch for some fishing.We were quite lucky today as at least one paid frequent visits and at one time three were present.It must be one of the best spots in the country for getting KF shots.

So how did I do amongst all this competition.Well not too good.I was experimenting with new settings designed to give fast shutter speeds to freeze the action when they dive into the water.All I ended up with was a load of crappographs although one shot nearly was great.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

A Juvenile Water Rail.

Popped down to Marsh Lane early Sunday morning for a quick look round.Other than the usual suspects it was pretty quiet with a lone Common Sandpiper and a very young Little Ringed Plover being the better birds on view.

On the way back to the car park we had a quick look through the causeway screens and spotted a juvenile Water Rail perched on the reeds.I must confess I was not sure what it was at first but still rattled off a few shots before it shot off.

At the same spot a Sedge Warbler came up for some close ups.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Not a bad day with the camera.

As I walked along the main path at Brandon Marsh on Friday morning I was not confident of getting any shots as it was overcast,a bit cool and it was spitting rain.As it turned out it was one of the better days.

I had a quick look in the Teal hide and besides the 3 Green Sandpipers there was nothing else about.As soon as I opened a flap in the East Marsh hide I saw a Little Egret on the far bank which turned out to be a decent bird because it flew over to land in front of the hide.Here are a few shots.

Also present and close to where I first saw the Little Egret was a cracking looking Black-tailed Godwit.Now it wasn't such a decent bird because it remained a long way off all day often hiding in the undergrowth.This is all I could manage.

A quick look in the Carlton hide was well timed as a Kingfisher was flitting about including a visit to the new post to the right of the hide.Here are a few shots (yawn yawn).

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A hovering Kingfisher.

As the weather on Monday was very good I went over to Brandon Marsh again mainly because no decent birds had been reported anywhere else locally.

I enjoyed walking around in the excellent weather but by early afternoon all I'd taken shots of were a Green Sandpiper and a Heron flashing.Not much return 3 hours birding.

I was about to give up but decided to have a quick look at the Steetly hide.It turned out to be a good move!!!!! Soon a Kingfisher turned up and perched on the nearby pole which I was pleased to see considering how few shots I'd been able to take in the morning.

The KF had been flitting around for a few minutes when suddenly it rose up in the air and decided to hover right in front of the hide.I smoothly went into panic mode as I struggled to focus on it but luckily it kept hovering and I was able to rattle off a few shots.Of course all the settings on the camera were wrong having been set for a stationary bird against a bright background but who on earth can change their camera settings,focus on the bird and get good shots when you have only got a few seconds to do it in.

Here are my best (I mean less bad shots really).I can't help feeling I was presented with a unique opportunity to get some great shots and cocked up!!!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Coming down to earth with a bang.

Having recently spent four great days birding in Norfolk with so many superb places to visit I knew I would have to come down to earth and do some local birding sometime so off I went early Saturday morning.

I hadn't been out birding for nearly a week after returning from Norfolk not only because of the weather but also because last Sunday I managed to put my back out bending down to pick a pen up.Not carrying a 3 seater settee up the stairs but picking up a pen!!!!!

Anyhow I arrived at Brandon Marsh pretty early in the morning and did OK to start with as there were 3 Green Sandpipers and 1 Common Sandpiper on the Teal Pool but then things went downhill from then on.

I spent over 3 hours in the Carlton hide (mainly because it was very showery and windy outside) and during that time all I saw was a brief visit from a male Bullfinch,some Common Whitethroats and a Song Thrush which gave an entertaining concert for a while.Not very inspiring and it was too dull to get any decent shots.

Luckily for me there were two birding friends in the hide (George and Bob) and the chat was very entertaining particularly when George told us about his other hobby of collecting autographed photos of celebrities.He had a couple of folders with him and looking through shots of models and pop stars took our mind off the poor birding going on outside the hide.You wouldn't need to do this at Cley or Titchwell!!!

Here are some shots which illustrate how dire things were.Mind you if I'd had the stamina to last out in the hide till evening people are getting great shots of Barn Owls that hunt close by.

Monday, 12 July 2010

A few more shots from Norfolk.

I didn't go looking for Bearded Tits on this trip as I'd been lucky enough on a previous visit to get some decent shots but a male was flitting around in the grass stubble close up to the Island hide at Titchwell one lunchtime so I had to have a go.

It was not easy because this chap had got a first class honours degree in dashing across open ground at the Water Rail school because he would always be hiding behind a tuft of grass and then dashing to the next bit of cover.There was a lot of swearing from other photographers as they missed shots (not me of course).

A Spoonbill flew across the main path at Titchwell one afternoon and I just managed a so so shot before it disappeared.

There were a few very tatty Ruffs on the freshmarsh giving a indication of what they look like in Summer plumage.

I've been taking shots of birds for four years now but in that time I've struggled badly to get shots of Jays so I was very chuffed to get these shots of a family group.I'm well pleased with the shots as it was late in the evening and the light was not good.They were near the feeders at the back of the centre at Titchwell.

Spent one evening cruising around for Barn Owls and went to 3 of the usual spots and never saw one at all which is not easy to do in Norfolk but I did get this Little Owl.

One morning a Bittern suddenly appeared from nowhere and flew across the main path at Titchwell so I was pleased to get some flight shots at last especially as all my mates at Brandon Marsh all managed excellent flight shots of one last winter and I had failed to.

Chasing rarities in Norfolk.

Whilst in Norfolk last week I kept my eye on bird text alert for any rarities that might be around.There were surprisingly,considering it was July,two rarities reported.

The first one was a River Warbler in a place called Thorpe but when I found out this was at the other end of Norfolk to where I was based and that it was on private land with tightly controlled access times I chickened out.The wimp strikes again!!!!

The other bird being reported was at Titchwell and was a bird I'd never seen before.A Buff Breasted Sandpiper. This is the one I'd go after.

I went every day I was in Norfolk to Titchwell to try and see this bird sometimes in the evening as well but never saw it at all.People who had seen it had only very brief glimpses but a lot of birders had put in several hours of searching without success.So when I arrived early on Saturday morning before I left for home I was not confident of seeing it and getting a life tick.

I need not have worried because for some reason it showed very well most of the morning albeit a long way off but what a cracking looking bird (seen through other birders scopes) and a very small one as well.It was dwarfed when other waders were near.Here are some record shots.Pity I couldn't get a decent shot to do justice to a great looking bird.

A bonus was the appearance of a Pectoral Sandpiper in the same spot.Again it was distant so no decent shots (unlike the one at Draycote Water last year that posed for close ups).

Although the shots were poor I did manage to get some shots of the two Sandpipers close together.Two rarities for the price of one.That can't happen to often.

Chasing raptors in Norfolk.

Went to Norfolk last Wednesday for a few days birding.One of my tasks was to try and get some decent shots of any raptors that were about.

Went straight to the Montagu's Harrier site and while I was stretching tired muscles after a long drive a male flew over my head.I quickly grabbed the camera and reeled off a few shots before it disappeared from view.I was chuffed to at last get some close shots of a MH but (there is always a but) but when I checked the shots it turned out to be a male Marsh Harrier.Bugger!!!!!

I paid a few visits to this site during my stay and always saw the male but way off in the distance.However I did have a bit of luck one day when the female came fairly close and I did get some shots which was pleasing as I'd never seen a female before.

Having heard that the Honey Buzzards were showing well at the Swanaton Novers viewing point I popped over one lunchtime.There were a dozen birders there all scoping the distant woodland but none of them had seen one yet although there were a few Common Buzzards about.

Luckily I'd bought a chair,my lunch,a book and a newspaper with me to ease the pain of waiting for one to appear.In the 2 hours I was there there were 3 sightings by the experts present but my god they were a long way off (see my pic).This reminded me of a visit to the Fancy viewing point in the forest of dean where you watch the Goshawks about 3 miles away.

Went to Cley to get some Marsh Harrier shots which for some reason I struggle with and this visit was no different as in a 2 hour wait only one bird came any where near me.