Monday, 30 May 2011

It's been a struggle to get any bird shots.

For over a week now I've struggled to see any decent birds locally to point the camera at with the exception of a few minutes with a Greenshank at Brandon Marsh.The weather hasn't helped with it being windy all the time and usually pretty dull.I do hate windy weather when going birding.

I see there is (or was) a Red-necked Phalarope at Upton Warren but the weather is so crap this morning I won't go for it.I hope it's there tomorrow but that might be asking too much.

Last week I had three more goes at the Earlswood Night Heron but I went in the early afternoon hoping to spot it roosting in a tree at the edge of the lakes which was a very long shot to say the least and ended in failure.

Popped along to Marsh Lane early Sunday morning.It was dull,windy of course and surprisingly very cold.The reserve was pretty quiet and I didn't stay long but I did get a few shots of a Common Buzzard.

The only other bird I pointed the camera at was of a surviving Oystercatcher chick.I hope it survives.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

A Visit to Brandon Marsh.

Went to Brandon Marsh on Tuesday morning for the first time in ages.Headed straight for the Teal Pool hide as there had been a Greenshank visiting the Teal Pool lately.As I entered the hide and sat down this is the site that greeted me.

A patient wait was rewarded with it flying back over and I was able to get some shots.This was the first Greenshank I'd seen at a local patch for ages and I was chuffed because it was another Warks year tick.

Things went downhill after that because in a four hour stay I saw nothing of interest (except a distant view of a Dunlin on the main pool) and didn't use the camera again at all.The weather didn't help because the wind that was supposed to calm down had increased if anything and it was quite chilly.You can tell how strong the wind was in the morning it blew my hat off when I was in the Teal pool hide.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Middleton Hall Bird Fair.

Other than the Night Heron at Earlswood Lakes I knew of no other decent birds about locally so I thought I'd pay a visit to the bird fair at Middleton Hall.

Almost straight away I bumped into that midlands birding legend Steve Seal together with his friend Anne.Always nice to bump into Steve.

We had a good look round the fair and saw some interesting things but the trouble is you can see everything in an not much over an hour and what you do fancy buying is always too expensive.The good thing about the fair is you bump into some friends so it was nice to see Dave Hutton and Bob Duckhouse again.

After a quick bite I decided as I was here I would have a look at the reserve for the first time.I'd missed the organised walk so I had to make my own way round which was pretty easy as the the paths were well signposted.

So what did I think of the new reserve.Well it's a pretty long walk if you do the Wetlands walk circuit,there are no hides and only one screen.A big worry was that all the way round you are exposed to the birds and this will scare them off.

I and all the birders I met on my walk saw nothing decent at all.No one had seen a wader.One old regular I met up with was not at all impressed with the changes and said "The bast**** have fu***** ruined the place". I think it was just a one off bad day.I will give it another go soon.

The only time I used the camera was when a few Swifts were zooming about.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Searching for the Night Heron.

I hadn't been out with the camera for a few days because I was trying to transfer stuff from my old and nearly clapped out laptop to a new one I was forced to buy.For a chap that is dumbfounded by his mobile phone most of the time this is a major task for me and it took me ages even after I bought a very misnamed "Easy Transfer Cable" at £45.

Anyhow by Thursday afternoon I was really fed up so I decided to go over to Earlswood Lakes and try and find the Night Heron that had been reported there recently.I first went to the causeway between the two lakes but couldn't find it after a 30 minute search so I kept myself amused by taking shots of the resident drake Mandarin and trying to get shots of some Common Terns.

I then decamped and went over to Springbrook Lane getting there at 5.30PM.Although the bird had been seen there the day before there was only one birder searching which was not encouraging.Just after 6.30PM when I was thinking of giving up my new best friend called out "That's it flying over there".

We found out later it had been in a tree in the scrubland area behind us and had then flown across the lane in a SW direction and that's where we saw it.I was so slow getting on it with the camera it was at least three fields away when I got a shot off but for once I didn't worry about the shot as it was a lifer for me.My new friend rang a mate that we had found it and within 10 minutes there were at least 20 birders in the lane.I believe it was seen again at 9.00PM.

Here is my shot so don't laugh too loud.It could be anything I know.If you want to see some decent shots of this bird go to Dave Hutton's blog (seeswoodpoolsandbeyond).

Sunday, 15 May 2011


Went to Marsh Lane early this morning.It was breezy and surprisingly cold.

A quick look in the hides revealed nothing new so I decided to have a go at getting some shots of the dozens of Swifts flying around.What a game that is they're not called Swifts for nothing.I soon amassed a large collection of empty sky shots and the occasional black blob shot.

Here are my best efforts.

Friday, 13 May 2011

A glass half empty man learns a lesson.

Well the glass is always half empty man is me because whenever I go after a bird the day after it was reported I always think it has gone before I've even started to search.Not a good thing for a birder.

So early this morning when I went over to Shustoke Reservoir to try and see if the Black-throated Diver reported yesterday was still about I was certain it must have had moved on.

When I arrived at not long after 8.00AM there was not a sole about.Not a single birder was present.I stood by the disabled car park and did a thorough search of the reservoir and did not see it.It's not here!!!!

Two other birders turned up and they did a thorough search and couldn't find it.They decided to move on.It's not here!!!!

Two more birders arrived.They also did a thorough search and couldn't find it.It's not here!!!!

I was thinking of moving on when one of the birders said "Hey that's a diver out there" My god he was right and it wasn't too far away.It is here!!!! I learned a valuable lesson here to be more optimistic and to keep searching.

The Diver was about 100 metres out and near to buoy 9.For the next 30 minutes all it did was to have a good wash and preen.It must have been very dirty.These are a couple of shots when it was first spotted.

There were five of us now watching it preen when suddenly it dived.Keen to find it again we were all searching out on the reservoir when it popped up right in front of us only a few metres away.We were all so shocked no one got a shot of it before it dived again.For the next 30 minutes it slowly made it's way to the west end sometimes coming in fairly close before finally heading to the centre of the reservoir.

Cracking bird although it's a juvenile and not showing summer plumage.Also a Warks year tick for me.Here are some of my better shots.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A few flight shots from Norfolk.

Here are a few flight shots I took on the recent trip to Norfolk.Nothing special but very enjoyable trying for them.It can also be very frustrating and you end up with a vast collection of empty sky shots.Well I certainly do.

Here is another shot of one of the Shorelarks I was pleased to find at the end of the East Bank on the shingle at Cley.

Very surprised to find these Brent Geese still here on the muddy creeks at Morston quay.

Took these Oystercatcher shots at Thornham harbour.These are the closest flight shots I've got of these chaps.

Another Marsh Harrier shot.This one taken well inland at the N. Creake craft centre.

Had loads of goes at getting a Skylark flight shot but they are always too high in the sky for my lens.This one was a little lower but not low enough.

Only included this shot because I think it's a Whimbrel and as such my only flight shot of one.I got the shot as it flew over Arnold's marsh at Cley.If it's not a Whimbrel ignore.

For an hour I struggled to get any shots of the Terns flying just out at sea from the shoreline at the beach car park at Cley.The darned things dart around too much for me to lock on the focus.

Also in the Cley beach car park I tried to get some shots of the Swallows that were whizzing around.What a game that is !!! Make sure there is no one else around if you have a go as you will swear a lot.I certainly did when I missed shot after shot.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Norfolk Trip Day Three.

Decided on Friday morning to stay local and give Cley a good checkout.Parked in the car park at the end of the east bank and headed straight to the Bishop hide.It was better than Wednesday there with a few Black-tailed Godwits, a couple of Common Sandpipers and a few Ringed Plovers showing but nothing really exciting.

I soon left the hide and decided to try my luck with getting some Marsh Harrier shots so I plonked myself down on my stool along the path that runs alongside the main road.Luck was with me as one showed up with 10 minutes and I managed a few shots but everytime it threatened to come close it veered away.Not complaining though.

I then decided to walk round to the North scrape hide.It was a lonely walk because although it was a fine morning I never met a sole.It was quiet birdwise as well and all I managed was a shot of a Sedgie and a Meadow Pipit.

Just before I reached the hide I came across a Turnstone and a Ringed Plover both feeding round the dried up pools at the back of the shingle bank.

The North hide is not good for taking shots as the sun is usually in your face and you are a long way from the action but I did managed a long ranged shot of the Temmincks Stints that had been there for a few days.

Also on the scrape was a lone Spoonbill which I think was a juvenile.Managed a couple of distant shots.Always nice to see.

By now I was getting hungry so off on the long walk back to the Centre.I decided to have a simple lunch and ordered a couple of cakes and tea for one.This somehow came to just under seven quid.Bloody Hell !!! When I was young you could buy a two bedroom semi for this.

I headed next to the Cley beach car park and had a walk eastwards to the Eye field as a Blue-headed Wagtail had been seen there earlier.I didn't see it but did see at least 10 Yellow Wagtails, at least a dozen Wheatears and quite a few Golden Plovers.All too distant for my lens.

I then went down the shingle bank to try and get some shots of the Sandwich Terns flying along the beach.This turned out to be a major mistake as I struggled to climb back up the steep shingle bank but just when I was going to call Air Sea Rescue I finally managed to reach the car park.By this time I'd got a bad case of shingle leg (your legs go numb walking to much on shingle) so I thought sod this birding lark I'm going to the pub.

Went to the Dun Cow in Salthouse.Left the bins and camera in the boot and took my book for a bit of reading.Sat down in the garden at the front of the pub.I'd only read half a page when I overheard a couple (not birders) sitting right by the road discussing a fantastic looking bird they could see across the road.I couldn't resist a look so I walked over to the road wall and saw a cracking looking Whinchat on the top of a bramble.

A quick dash to get the camera from the car and I managed a few shots before it flew off.It really was a stunning looking bird in summer plumage which was very pleasing as I'd only seen them before in the Autumn.