Saturday, 31 March 2012

A quick visit to Marsh Lane.

Al though it was pretty chilly I went over to Marsh Lane Friday lunchtime for a quick visit.As it happened it turned out to be a quicker visit than planned because my route to the Oak hide was blocked by 4 black cattle who looked to me like they were resting up before being transported to Spain for some fun and games in a bullring.Not wishing to give them some goring practice I retreated back to the car park.What a wimp!!!!

I did spot this Meadow Pipit (?) flying round the car park.

From the causeway screen this Reed Bunting was enjoying some candyfloss and I couldn't resist taking a shot or two of this Blue Tit who looked good in the sunshine.

I then had some fun down the old road trying for some shots of a Chiffchaff that was very mobile and insisted in singing from the very top of various trees.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Common Buzzards.

Not up to the magic of the Red Kites seen earlier in the week I have managed this week a few shots of some Common Buzzards.I do have a great deal of trouble getting near these chaps and on many occasions I've spotted one perched but when I try and get closer they always fly off.

Earlier in the week there was one fairly close to the Steetly hide at Brandon Marsh and of course when it flew off it went directly away from me.

The best took place on Wednesday afternoon when I was treated to an aerial ballet that took place high over my back garden.The stars of the ballet were a pair of Crows and a Common Buzzard.Great to watch.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Red Kites.

Before I get onto the Red Kites I must report on an ID incident concerning the Med. Gull I took shots of last Sunday morning at Marsh Lane (see last blog).

Late in the afternoon on Sunday I received a text saying that the Med. Gull seen at Marsh Lane was a hybrid.This surprised me because in the hide with me that morning were 3 birders who are very experienced and surely would have spotted that the bird they were viewing was a hybrid.Later that evening I received another text saying that there were 2 birds at Marsh lane that day and that the morning bird was a Med.Gull and that the afternoon bird was the hybrid.

Now onto the Red Kites.Every year I pop down the M40 to the Chilterns to see and get shots of my favourite raptor so as the weather was so nice on Tuesday off I went.Everyone I know has their favourite spot in the Chilterns to see these cracking birds and I'm no different.I've been to loads of different spots so my favourite one may be a bit of a surprise but for me it cannot be beaten for the number of birds on show and the fact they often come very close.Where is it then? The small town of Watlington.Not Watlington Common but the actual town itself.

I got there just before 11.00AM and parked in the town car park.I didn't need to move from the car because the Kites were flying over the car park sometimes coming very low.What cracking birds!!! I stayed there till lunchtime and then had a walk round the very nice town where the Kites sometimes fly down the road at shop window level.One flew over my shoulder and I felt the wind from it's wings as it swooped down for a bit of roadkill.

Took loads of shots but I messed up lots of them as I misjudged how bright the sky was and didn't allow enough exposure compensation.Must have got too excited watching these great birds.Here are a few that didn't end up as silhouettes.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Sunday morning at Marsh Lane.

Popped over early on Sunday morning to Marsh Lane.It was a chilly but fine spring morning when I entered the Car Park hide.There were a few Common Snipe in front of the hide and a couple of Redshank and a lone Lapwing.

I joined a couple of friends and we walked down to the Oak hide.As we entered I said to Brian Harris " Brian find me a Med Gull " less than a minute later he'd found one.Here are a few shots I managed which are  record shots only but very nice to see.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Shots from a few local trips.

Tuesday lunchtime I popped over to Marsh Lane for an hour and was pleased to see 3 Little Ringed Plovers on the car park pool my first of the year.A bit gloomy for decent shots.

In had not planned to go out birding on Wednesday but when the sun came out in the afternoon I again went over to Marsh Lane.On route I spotted this Kestrel and managed a shot from the car window before it flew off.

When I was by the causeway screens I received an exciting text "Osprey just flew over Balsall Common heading north" ie. coming my way.I scanned the skies for a while but all I saw was a Common Buzzard.

Thursday morning saw me heading off to Brandon Marsh which whilst it was a pleasure to walk round in the excellent weather I could find nothing to point the camera at other than a Kestrel.

When I was looking at the nearly finished new viewing screen past the Carlton hide (which looks like it might be a decent spot) I received a text "Med. Gull showing well at Marsh Lane" I decided to shoot over there.However when I got there I was told it had just flown North. Bugger!!!!

I was feeling grumpy as I sat in the Oak hide having missed out on the Med. Gull but not long later as I scanned round I found something rather good.A Sandwich Tern !!!!! I was chuffed to bits because I very rarely find anything and it was a Local Patch Life Tick for me.I immediately put it out and a few people came down to see it before it flew off.Too far off for a decent pics but pleased to get a few record shots.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Another battle with a Goldcrest.

As soon as I saw that Monday looked like being a sunny day I finished off some household chores and raced off to Brandon Marsh getting there at 9.30AM.My plan was to try for shots of Cetti's Warblers,Goldcrests and  of the recently reported Ciffchaffs.

Did very well to start with as I located a Chiffchaff calling out high up in tree not far from the Wright hide but it was very lively and soon flew off.Did manage a distant so so shot but I don't think I've ever got a shot of one this early in the year.

I then checked out most of the hides but couldn't find anything of interest to point the camera at.Particularly annoying was a Cetti's near the EM hide that kept calling out close by but did not show itself.

Mid way along the path to the Carlton hide I spotted a Goldcrest.These chaps are a bogey bird for me and I've had loads of battles with them trying to get some shots and I usually fail badly.They always seem to be deep in the gloom of a tree,they never keep still and often hide behind twigs and branches but cracking little birds and great fun trying get some shots of.

This one hung around for 20 minutes and I took loads of shots mostly of twigs or empty spaces.As usual it spent most of the time in the gloom but I did manage a few shots this time so the battle ended in a draw.

Sunday, 18 March 2012


Not having enjoyed any of my recent local trips out with the camera because of the gloomy damp conditions I promised myself I would not go out again unless there was some brightness about.

So what did I do this morning exactly what I promised not to do and went out on a bad day.In fairness when I left Knowle early in the morning it was bright but as soon as I got to Marsh Lane the clouds had come over,the wind got up and it soon became very gloomy.I didn't stay long and as it started to rain I raced home.

There was some compensation because just a few minutes ago the local Sparrowhawk landed in the tree not far from my rear bedroom window.Luckily I took a couple of shots through the glass because when I opened the window  to get some better shots it flew off.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

A visit to Whitacre Heath.

On Friday morning I went over to the Whitacre Heath reserve but I was a bit concerned that the recent gloomy weather would continue and if you ever need bright conditions to take decent shots Whitacre Heath is the place.It can be a very dark place.

Went to the three hides on the western side of the reserve first and all were dead with no birds on view.I did see a distant Common Buzzard in the gloom calling out for all his worth.

I then headed to the feeder hide were there was a bit of action but it was hard to get the speed up on the camera due to the gloom.Oh for some sunshine!!!! A few birds popped down to the pond for a drink including a Lesser Redpoll and a Wren.

A Woodie dropped in briefly unfortunately not the Lesser.

There was a bit of action in the wood pile to the left of the hide where this mouse (a wood mouse ?) and a couple of his mates were whizzing about.

A Willow Tit (well I think it was a Willow and not a Marsh Tit) paid a few visits to the feeders but it was too quick for me to get a decent shot.

I left just after lunch so I could see my horse win the Cheltenham gold cup (it didn't).It was nice to be out but how I need some brightness to get some decent shots.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A couple of trips but no luck.

I've been out a couple of times this week but have had no luck at seeing anything decent to point the camera at.On Tuesday afternoon I popped over to Marsh Lane for a couple of hours and whilst waiting patiently for the Jack Snipe to show (it didn't) I did get a couple of shots of a Little Grebe but as you can see from the shots the light was all wrong.

The only other shot I got was a very distant shot of a Ringed Plover but it was the first one of the year.

Wednesday I had a very depressing morning at Brandon Marsh.Like a fool I believed the weather man when he said it would soon brighten up.I decided to walk the path that goes past the wind pump and round to the golf course and found that instead of brightening up it was getting gloomier.There was also a damp mist and it was damn cold.Wonderful!!!

For an hour I saw no birds and no other people even the golf course was empty.I thought for a bit that everyone had died and I was the only person still alive it was that quiet.I did get a shot of the new Osprey nest that has been built on the Newlands let's hope it's successful.

An hour later sitting alone in the Carlton hide with no birds on show and with the gloomy damp conditions not having improved I found it so depressing that I was about to start to cry.Realising that I'd better get out of there quickly I left and headed off to the cafe where I knew a smile from the attractive waitress would cheer me up.

As I neared the cafe it dawned on me why I was failing to impress the the pretty waitress.Male birds at this time of year change into summer plumage to attract mates and this is what I have not done.This is where I am going wrong!!!!