Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Struggling to get any decent shots.

Although I've had a couple of trips to Marsh Lane and another visit to Brandon Marsh in the last few days I have struggled to see any decent birds to take shots of.Some of my friends have done well recently but they have been prepared to travel to distant parts to get their shots which I suppose is what I should do instead of moaning.

What has saved me to some extent is that my new nyger feeder has been a great success often bringing in several Lesser Redpolls most days.This is a good thing because I've had very few sightings elsewhere of these chaps.Here are a few shots taken earlier this week including one of "Pinkie"

I've had a few go's now of trying for the Jack Snipe that has been showing well in the marsh at the side of the Oak hide at Marsh lane.Well it's being showing well for others certainly not for me.Another 2 hour session yesterday ended in failure although another birder in the hide did see it scuttle across the channel whilst I was looking elsewhere of course.All I got was this shot of Mr. and Mrs. Teal.

To prove I have got a shot of a Jack Snipe here is one I took in April 2009 funnily enough from the same hide.

Friday, 24 February 2012

A couple of local trips.

I woke up Thursday morning feeling very grotty but when the weather man said it would be a sunny and warm spring day I came out of wimp mode and headed off out with the camera to Brandon Marsh.

It was a bit dull when I got there but it was warm for a change.I headed to the west marsh pool first which was a good move as it happened because almost immediately I saw the Bittern fly in from the left and drop into the reeds.Like a good birder I sent a text to Birdguides but while I was doing it the Bittern flew off and I only managed this crappograph.

On the walk to the other hides I did spot a flock of Bullfinches but struggled with the light to get a decent shot.

From the other hides all I saw of note were the pair of Pintails which were out in the middle of the East Marsh pool.

By this time I had slipped back into wimp mode and was feeling grotty so I headed off home which was a shame as it was turning out to be a warm and sunny spring day.

This morning I set out to Marsh lane were I thought I'd have a go for the Jack Snipe which friends had told me that earlier in the week had been "Out in the open by the Oak hide for well over an hour"

I went straight to the Oak hide but friends there told me the Jack Snipe had not showed for a couple of days now.We did see 10 Common Snipe in the Marsh but no Jack.However I was pleased to see my first Oystercatchers of the year when a couple flew in from the right.

We did study this Gull for a while and thought it was a juvenile Herring Gull.My contribution to the conversation was nil as I struggle with juvenile Gulls.

The only other interesting thing we spotted from the Oak hide was this LBB Gull which caught a decent size fish and very much upset his mate.

From the car park I witnessed  a distant but lengthy battle between some Crows and a Common Buzzard.Pity they weren't a lot closer so I could have got some decent shots.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Marsh Lane.

The usual unwanted visitor to my backgarden is a ginger tom who I cannot prevent from chasing the birds that visit my feeders but yesterday morning there was a new kid on the block.It was this chap who sat on the top of my neighbours 10ft high conifer hedge deciding which bird to attack.Damn things!!!

All was not lost because I managed to get another shot of this cracking Lesser Redpoll.

This morning after finishing some early morning shopping I saw that the sun was out so I dashed over to Marsh Lane arriving just after 9.00AM.Unfortunately the clouds had rolled in and it was pretty dull.I went to the Car Park hide first and was just in time to catch this Curlew as it flew off.

I then teamed up with some of the regulars there but despite visiting all the hides we failed to spot anything decent although there was a very high flying Skylark over the car park when we left.At best a crappograph but still the first I've seen for ages.

Monday, 20 February 2012

An early morning visit to Brandon Marsh.

Having stayed in on Friday and Saturday I was keen to go out with the camera on Sunday morning so I opted to go over to Brandon Marsh.Got there not long after 8.00AM to find a bright and frosty morning ideal for getting shots if I could find some birds to point the camera at.

Went to the Steetly hide first but after half an hour nothing of note turned up so I left and headed for the Baldwin hide where a pair of Goldeneyes were in a romantic mood but better still I spotted the pair of Pintails that had been around for a couple of days.They were way off in the distance at first but when they took flight and landed near the EM hide I set off there hoping to get a few shots.

The EM hide had several of the Brandon regulars there when I entered and they were trying to see a Bittern that was deep in the reeds to the right of the hide.Although I tried from different spots all along the hide I'm blowed if I could see it and this was despite getting lots of advice on it's location  "See the log on the island on the right,come down to the reeds,go left 3 feet,drop down to the reed that's orange and you can see the end of it's beak just to the left".I gave up after half an hour not having got even a glimpse and tried for some shots of the Pintails that I could actually see.

The only other spot of note was of a Water Rail that showed itself briefly in the reeds to the left of the hide but it soon scurried back into cover.

Surprisingly it soon reappeared but shot across the gap at great speed and I only managed this blurred shot.

The place was now becoming very busy so at 11.30AM I decided to head home.The car park was full with people waiting to park and there were even two coaches parked up.What had they come to see.What had I missed.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

A trip to Brandon Marsh.

After Sunday's dipping on the three drake Smew at Marsh Lane I was keen to go out with the camera and try to get some shots so off I shot on Tuesday morning to Brandon marsh.

Went to the Steetly hide first to see if I could spot the Bittern seen there a couple of days ago but after nearly an hour not only had I not seen the Bittern I hadn't seen any birds at all.Keith Yates entered the hide then with a couple of other birders and they advised me not to go to the other hides as the whole place was swarming with kids.I'd forgotten it was half term !!!!

Put off going to the other hides I joined Keith and the others as they walked the western and northern boundaries of the reserve well away from the crowds.I'd never been to these areas before so I found it very interesting the only downside was that we saw no decent birds.

I then went to the cafe for a cup of tea but I'd timed my visit very badly because I arrived just as the final of the noisiest children contest had just started.As I drunk my tea I don't know if it was the presence of the attractive waitress (who looked more stunning than ever) or the fact the radiators were on full blast but I was overheating badly and didn't stay too long.

I then gave up and went home with no decent shots at all.All was not lost because a couple of Lesser Redpolls were on my feeders.

I also managed a shot of a rare visitor to my back garden a Long Tailed Tit.

Monday, 13 February 2012

A lesson in how to dip on a bird.

I have dipped many times when birding but on Sunday morning I endured a particularly annoying dip which as usual was entirely down to me.This is what happened.

   *  Just after breakfast I received a text from Nic Barlow  Three drake Smew on Railway pool  .I decided not to go as I was still knackered after yesterday's efforts at Brandon plus it was too gloomy for decent shots and I'd already got some decent Smew shots.

   *  10 minutes later I received a Birdguides text telling me about the Smew.

   *  20 minutes later a phone call from Brian Harris in the Oak hide   The Smew are showing well come down with your camera  .

   *  Another 20 minutes later a phone call from Nic Barlow  It would be nice if you get some shots of these rare visitors to Marsh Lane  .I cracked at this point and thought I'd better get over there.

   *  10 minutes later I was on my way (at this point I'd wasted an hour).Half way there I stopped to see an incoming text from Nic Barlow  They have flown off   Bugger !! I found a place to turn round and headed back home.

   *  5 minutes later nearly back home the mobile went off.It was a call from Nic Barlow  They have come back  Bugger Bugger !!  I turned the car round and set off again for Marsh Lane.

   *  15 minutes later I finally entered the hide and I'm sure you have guessed the end  Max they have just flown.You have only just missed them.

Serves me right.What a ditherer.I must learn either you go straight away or don't go at all.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

A visit to a frozen Brandon Marsh.

As it was sunny for a change on Saturday morning I decided to brave the icy conditions and pay a visit to Brandon Marsh knowing I would be lucky to get any shots with all the ponds being frozen up.

Got a shot of this chap near the centre but I'm not sure what it is.A Reed Bunting ?

Had a long walk past the golf course which although enjoyable in the sunshine did not produce any birds at all.I was a bit surprised to see some open water near Willow island when I entered the EM hide.It was full of birds including a pair of Goosanders.Too far for my lens so all I could get is this heavily cropped crappograph.

I then went to the Carlton hide to have a couple of rolls I'd prepared.They had partly frozen in my pocket and were not very nice and the Twix bar was like biting into concrete.Whilst I was battling through my lunch a Water Rail appeared very briefly to the left of the hide.

Thinking it had gone for good it suddenly appeared in front of the hide and scuttled away on the ice.

Not to be outdone a Pheasant tried his luck walking on the ice but didn't like it much and flew off.

By this time frostbite was settling in so I decided to set off for home.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Shots from the back garden.

Worried that the camera would seize up with lack of use I decided on Thursday morning to have a go at taking some shots of any birds that turned up in my small suburban garden.It was a bit gloomy but I'd thought I would give it a go for an hour.

I have been lucky that putting up a nyger feeder has been successful and has attracted quite a few Lesser Redpolls recently.

Goldfinches are a rare visitor to my garden  but a couple did drop in for a short while.

The male Blackcap did show on the fence but he shot off almost immediately and I got no shots.The local Robin was more forthcoming and I managed to catch him in full song.

On my way home from a bit of afternoon shopping I couldn't resist stopping near some berry trees again and getting some more shots of Fieldfares and Redwings.I think Fieldfares are cracking looking birds.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

A local tour.

Having not been out with the camera for a few days I was desperate  to go out so after lunch today I went on a local tour round Knowle and Dorridge.

I headed to a road which has trees along it with loads of berries still and sure enough there were quite a few Redwings and Fieldfares there eating their hearts out.I am pleased with the shots I got because it was very gloomy.

After this I headed to the local riding school complex were I had seen a Common Buzzard a few times recently but always at distance.I'm blowed if I can get near these chaps.I found it sitting on some fencing but as usual it was a fair way off and to make matters worse it had got even gloomier.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Bad weather keeping me indoors.

As president of the fair weather birders club I of course have not ventured out in the recent bad conditions but all was not lost because I finally managed to get a shot of the female Blackcap that has been visiting my back garden this winter.

Both a male and a female overwintering Blackcaps have made several appearances but they only come when the light is dreadful,they don't come very often and they stay only a few seconds.I managed a shot of the male a few days ago and included a shot in a recent blog so I was pleased to get some shots of the female this morning although they are not very good (it was raining).

I've just had a horrible thought.I made an ID error last year (one of many) when a shot I posted of a female Blackcap was in fact a juvenile !!!! I am not sure if this shot is of a female or a juvenile.Anyone help?