Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Struggling to get any shots.

I've struggled this last week to get any decent shots to put on this blog.It's not for want of trying as I've been out and about locally several times but have not had need use the camera at all.Mind you I have got pretty cold a few times and am thinking of doubling up on the thermals.

I've been to Marsh lane a couple of times but have been unlucky and not seen anything of note.I did miss the Med. Gull that was there on Sunday.

I went over to Dostill Lakes mid week.I thought I'd been shrewd on going there after overnight rain hoping the SEO's would be hungry and would be out but did not get a glimpse.

A long visit to Brandon Marsh was also a dead loss and although I walked round everywhere I did not use the camera once.I was told about the Waxwings at Cubbington on Sunday but couldn't go which was probably a good thing as it was very gloomy there and I don't think any decent shots were taken.

The only shots I've taken are of the Lesser Redpolls that visit my nyger feeder.Things will get better although probably not this week as the forecast is pretty grim.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Another visit to Brandon Marsh.

I slipped up a bit on Saturday morning by not going after the Night Heron in Atherstone.I was in wimp mode and thought it too windy and wet to go over there.In any case I'd seen the one that visited Earlwood last year but when I saw the shots that Pete Walkden and Dave Hutton got that very morning I was regretting not going over there even though it was an escapee.

I should not have boasted about the pair of Blackcaps that were visiting my back garden because since I did I've not seen them at all.Redpolls are still paying an occasional visit but I have not seen the possible Mealy Redpoll again.

As soon as I saw that there might be a bit of brightness about on Monday I went over to Brandon Marsh.I headed to the Baldwin hide first but it was very quiet with only a couple of Goldeneye showing in the distance.A Great Crested Grebe did come close to the hide.

Things then livened up a lot when a pair of Great Crested Grebes started up a mating ritual.I was keen to watch this so I could pick up some tips to use on the attractive waitress in the cafe later on.Things went well for the male to start with but when he offered the female the "gift" his choice of a rotting leaf did not go down well and she swam off.I think she was after a Mulberry bag at least.

Things went downhill rapidly after that excitement because nothing decent was seen from all the other hides.There was a bit of excitement later on the Swallow Pool where I found a male Goosander.A bit far off for my lens but very nice to see one at Brandon.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Things still a bit poor locally.

Not only has the weather gone a bit gloomy lately but very little is being reported locally so things on the shot taking front are not too good.

My nyger feeders in my back garden are faring better lately as a couple of Redpolls are feeding there occasionally during the day.Not having any luck so far in getting shots of a pair of Blackcaps that are also paying visits to my back garden the miserable so and so's only come when it's very gloomy.

On Thursday lunchtime I braved the showers and had a quick visit to Marsh Lane.I was pleased to see the ice had gone from the pools but it was still very quiet so no shots.The old lane was more productive but I failed badly to get a shot of the hand full of Yellowhammers in the trees.There were still several Redwings about to point the camera at however one of them didn't take too kindly to this and gave me the evil eye.

STOP PRESS  Whilst writing this blog my eagle eye spotted the male Blackcap had come into my garden again.Quite pleased with the shots as it was raining and I had to hang the camera out of a narrow top hung window.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Out with the camera in the freezing cold.

On Monday morning I was very brave and went out in the bitter cold to Brandon Marsh.I very wisely had put on loads of layers but I soon found it was a bit of a struggle to walk around and don't ask me how long it took to answer a call of nature.

After an hour walking around I'd not used the camera at all but did spot 5 Common Buzzards high above the path from the west marsh to the river hide.Too high for a decent shot but nice to see something.

Most of the ponds were frozen up so there was very little around but a female Bullfinch briefly paid a visit to bushes to the left of the Carlton hide.

After a long walk past the Newlands and the sheep field produced no birds at all I gave up and went home.

After some early morning shopping on Tuesday morning I nipped over to Marsh Lane.If anything it was even colder probably because the sun was very hazy.It didn't take long for my thermals to be penetrated so it was going to be a short visit.

The car park pools was iced up and there were no birds at all in view.The railway pool did have some open water but I couldn't spot anything unusual on show.About a dozen Golden Plovers landed on one of the islands but stayed for one second before flying off.

The channel in the marsh did have some running water and a lone Common Snipe was feeding there so I was able to get some shots.

By now I was frozen solid and had to race home before frostbite set in.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

A trip to Dosthill Lakes.

Keen to go to a site other than my usual haunts on Friday morning I went up to Dosthill Lakes to try for the Short Eared Owls that had been seen there again recently.

Got there at 11.00AM to find a cold but very bright winter's morning.I decided to walk along the bund next to the river but after an hour and a half I had seen no SEO's and had not used the camera at all.However all was not lost because the views across the RSPB reserve from the top of the hill (known as the pyramid) on this crispy clear morning were breathtaking and well worth the walk.Anyone with a powerful scope could sit there and scan the whole of the reserve.

I then retreated back to the car to eat lunch.I had finished my sandwiches and had just poured myself a drink when a couple of birds flying above the bund alongside the river caught my eye.Sort Eared Owls ? As I gabbed the bins to confirm the ID I spilt my drink all over my jeans.Absolutely wonderful!!!!!

Having cleaned my self down and trotted back to the place I'd seen them I was able to confirm that they were indeed SEO's.I was then joined by my friend Andy and we had pretty good but distant views of both the Owls as they hunted along the two westerly bunds and around the pyramid area for the next 30 minutes (1.00 to 1.30 PM).After this they became elusive and were only seen occasionally up to 3.00PM when I left.

If you are a birder and just want to see SEO's this is the place but if you are a photographer and want some good shots the place to go is Hanging Horton in Northants where there are up to 15 and they do come close.At Dosthill you have to be very lucky for them to get close but who cares because they are cracking birds.Here are a few shots take on Friday heavily cropped I'm afraid.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A bit of local birding.

On Friday morning I shot over to Marsh Lane hoping that the 5 Pintails reported the day before were still on the Railway Pool.

It was a bright morning ideal for getting some shots when I arrived at just after 9.00AM but the Pintails had not stayed.Bugger Bugger !!!!!

I stayed for a couple of hours and visited most of the hides but could find nothing to point the camera at.Even Mr. Reliable the KF did not show.I found out later I made a major mistake in not joining a friend when he went over to the Railway hide because he had great views of a Merlin not too far from the hide.Bugger Bugger !!!!

On Saturday morning I went over to Brandon Marsh and again it was a bright morning ideal for taking some shots but would there be anything around.Luckily for me there was.There were a couple of Whooper Swans on the East Marsh pool.

After that things went downhill rapidly and the only decent bird seen the rest of the morning was a female Goldeneye.

By midday the clouds came rolling in and it became very gloomy so after a cup of tea I gave up and went home.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

A quick visit to Marsh Lane.

On Wednesday morning after I'd done some domestic chores and seen there was a little brightness in the sky I shot over to Marsh Lane hoping to beat the forecast bad weather.

Only one other car in the car park as I entered the car park hide.Couldn't see anything special from here although I did check out the Greylag Geese in case any of the White-fronted reported locally were amongst them but no luck.

Checked out the Northern causeway screen and found this Grey Heron pretending to be a Bittern.What a pity it wasn't.

Soon saw Mr.Reliable (the Kingfisher) but he was in the distance and it did not look happy as another Grey Heron was on the fencing where he usually batters his catch before eating it.

By the time I got to the Oak hide the clouds had rolled in and the wind was getting up.Saw a Water Rail straight away in the marsh but it soon shot back into the reeds when a Mallard arrived.The only shots I got in the gloom  were a shots of one of the two Nuthatches on the feeders and one of a Reed Bunting.Pretty poor then.

Racing back to the car park I had another check on Mr.Reliable and it was a good job I did because he came pretty close to the screen and posed for some shots.What a pity that the light by this time was so crap!!!!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A couple of local trips.

Spent most of Sunday morning down at Marsh Lane with the camera but although there were loads of Geese,Ducks and Gulls around particularly on the Car Park pool I could find nothing special to point the camera at.

The Kingfisher was again seen from the causeway screen but it seems to have found a new perch which is far too far off for a decent shot.

It was nice to see quite a few regulars down there starting off their year ticks so the chat was good in the hides.Most got up to 40 ticks which considering how poor this winter has been locally is a pretty good start.

When I saw that Monday morning was bright I decided to shoot over to Brandon Marsh to try my luck there and hopefully get some shots.I couldn't go over straight away because I had to go into Solihull to return a fleece lined jacket bought in the sales that looked so good in the stores mirror but was crap when I got it home.I wonder if stores mirrors are special and make you look good whatever you've got on!!!!

This delay prevented me from getting Brandon till nearly 11.00AM.When I saw the car park jam packed already I thought there must be a great rarity there but friends soon put me right the place was heaving with bank holiday walkers.As the place was so busy I spent all the time there round by the back gate and on the tip area with friends who were keen to avoid the crowds.

On the tip area where the bitter cold wind soon penetrated my thermals there were a few Common Buzzards about but to spot them soon enough when they came close to get a shot off was not easy as they appeared suddenly from nowhere.Here are my best efforts.

So what else was about.Not a lot really.Never saw a single Siskin or Redpoll and the Fieldfares were very thin on the ground.A Sparrowhawk suddenly appeared right above us but no one got onto quick enough for a shot.There were a few Redwings about but even they were thin on the ground.A tough day for photographers and extremely cold.Here are a couple of Redwing shots.