Friday, 28 February 2014


I am still struggling to get any decent shots which is probably not surprising with this dreadful weather.

Earlier in the week I had another go at the Great Grey Shrike at Hopwood which showed for most of the two hours I spent there but unfortunately it stayed miles away right at the back of the second field as viewed from the road.A typical shot with my lens.

On Thursday I spent a couple of hours at a very cold Marsh Lane.Whilst in the Oak hide the juvenile Peregrine flew right over the hide but I couldn't focus on it.It was much too quick for me and I missed a great chance to get a decent shot.The adult Peregrine was being a miserable so and so as usual and just perched with it's back to us in it's tree in the flood plane

The visit wasn't a total loss as John Oates told us about his forthcoming trip to the Himalayas to see a Snow Leopard.Good luck John I hope you survive the -20C temperatures.I was freezing cold sitting in the car park hide.

I had to drop off one of my sons at the airport this morning and as it's on my way home I dropped into Marsh Lane.This was another in a long line of mistakes because it was pouring with rain and bitterly cold.Only stayed 10 minutes because I was losing feeling of my extremities.Did catch the pair of Oystercatchers who are very keen on lovemaking.Takes me back half a century ! ! 

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


It's been a long time since I took a decent shot of a bird and it's not down to lack of trying.

Last Thursday I went over to Hopwood again to try and get some shots of the Great Grey Shrike but it didn't show at all and all I got was damn cold.Then on Saturday I went over to Draycote Water early enough to beat the crowds but it was very windy the water rough and no birds to point the camera at.Yet again all I got was damn cold.Oh Dear ! ! !

On Monday after my new telly had been installed (shamed by both my sons to get a 42in one which is huge in my smallish lounge) I went over to Marsh Lane getting there at lunchtime.The day before I managed a couple of shots of a couple of visitors to my garden which included my first siting of the Winter of a Siskin.

At Marsh Lane I met up with my good friend Jeff Rankin in the CP hide.Jeff spotted that the Peregrine had left it's tree on the flood plane and was flying off towards Hampton in Arden when it turned back and flew towards us but just when it might come into range it turned and flew over Sidden wood.Managed some distant shots that are heavily cropped but still great to see.

From the Oak hide we found a Ringed Plover which was the first of the year and very nice to see.It looked knackered and had probably just flown in.

Thursday, 20 February 2014


On Wednesday morning after completing some chores I had planned to have a quick look down at Marsh Lane however a major crisis arose and I had to cancel my plans.

My Sky remote was on it's last legs but when I tried to use the new one it wouldn't work.Panic raced through me because if I was without access to a TV for any length of time it might be fatal so I spent all morning on the laptop getting all kinds of advice non of which worked.Oh Dear ! ! Serves me right really because I bought the new remote on line very cheaply.Probably a fake.

So it wasn't till mid day that I got down to the Lane by which time the very nice weather of the morning had changed to gloomy with drizzle in the air.If I did find something to point the camera at it would be hard to get a decent shot.

At the causeway screens I spotted a Little Grebe and when it caught a very large fish I managed a couple of shots.Pity about the gloomy conditions and the reeds.

On the railway pool a couple of Shellducks were flying around.Oh for some sunshine.

I was joined by my good friend Jeff Rankin early afternoon and we agreed the only show in town was a pair of Goosanders on the Railway pool.Trouble was they were in the middle asleep.It's very hard to get a decent shot of a Goosander at Marsh lane as they always stay well away unlike down at Draycote Water where they are more accommodating.

We then had some good fun for the next hour trying to get shots of them whenever they came a little closer.This meant travelling several times between the River and Oak hides hoping they would come closer as they cruised erratically around the pool.Too gloomy and still too distant for me but I did manage a few heavily cropped shots.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Although it was gloomy and there was rain in the air on Tuesday morning I went over to Marsh Lane to give the newly repaired 7D camera a run out.It was a bit of a struggle to find something to point the camera at and after nearly an hour all I got was a shot of the dead Kittiwake and a female Pheasant.Not very good then ! ! 

A Sparrowhawk flew very close to the Oak hide but it moved too quick for me.A Little Egret flew across the front of the Car Park hide but dumbo here had the camera on the wrong settings.

A pair of Goosanders were on the car park pool but as usual they stayed miles away which is a shame because they are great looking birds.

Also on the car park pool and much more accommodating were a pair of Oystercatchers who got very amorous a few times.

Friday, 14 February 2014


Shock Horror ! ! Out at Marsh Lane yesterday I actually found a decent bird and I very rarely find a bird myself.The last one was a few years ago at Draycote Water when I found a Purple Sandpiper near the outlet.This time it was not in that class but still most welcome as they are in short supply this Winter.It was a Bittern.

On my own in the Oak hide at about 1.00 PM I was searching the marsh for a Jack Snipe when a bird dropping down in the reeds on the corner of the railway pool nearest to the causeway caught my eye.I only had a brief glimpse before it disappeared but I knew it was a Bittern.Shortly after I was joined in the hide by Jeff Rankin and together we waited patiently for it to reappear.

At 1.30 PM it did but it had moved along the reeds to much nearer the River hide.It took off cleared the stream line trees and appeared to drop into the reed bed pool.Jeff moved as fast as a young hungry Cobra and rattled off some shots.I moved as slow as an aged Sloth with arthritis and didn't get any.Damn ! ! But I did find it which was very pleasing.

I'd gone out earlier in the week to visit a hide that's in the grounds of a garden centre near Alcester to have a go taking videos with the SX50.The hide is at the edge of a wood and there is food put out for the wildlife.Got some pretty decent videos and a couple of shots of a GS Woody.

The good news is that the 7D my main camera is back from the repairers.The bad news was that it cost me £220.What a rip off ! ! Keen to get out with it to check it out it wasn't till Friday lunchtime that the weather was decent enough to go out and have a go with it and see if it OK.

Went to Marsh Lane which was a good choice because I found the Bittern there.On the shots front I struggled a bit in the conditions but did manage a few. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014


With my main camera a Canon 7D off to the repairers (£220.00 ouch !) I thought I'd have a go with the Canon SX50 bridge camera.

Now don't get me wrong you'll never match the quality of shots taken with a DSLR set up but these little bridge cameras are getting pretty good these days.My own set up the Canon 7D and 400 prime lens will set you back £1500 + and if you want to get a Canon 500 f4 lens with a top Canon camera,decent tripod and teleconverters you will have to cough up £15,000 but this little bridge camera costs £250.Makes you think.

Took these two Lesser Redpolls shots in my back garden a couple of days ago.About 5m away 

On Tuesday morning I took the little camera down to Marsh Lane to test the 50X zoom feature.These Wigeon were about 20m away.

This is a wide angle shot taken from the Railway hide.Nice to see blue skies for a change.

These Cormorants were about 50m away.

This Grey Heron was about 70m away.

This is a shot of the very miserable Peregrine that's often at Marsh Lane which sits in trees for hours on end and does nothing else.It was about 150m away and is pretty poor.The Little Egret was over 200m away. 

Tried to upload a video showing the zoom feature but had to reduce the quality to upload it so it's not very good which is a shame because the video feature on this camera is excellent. The HD version on my computer is really very good.The Swan was about 200m away.

A great little fun camera which I'm looking forward to having a go at the macro feature when butterflies etc, reappear.

Saturday, 1 February 2014


I was not happy to Life Tick the Hume's Leaf Warbler that I saw yesterday at Coleshill because I only had a split second view so I thought I'd have another go this morning.Got there at 9.30 AM and struggled this time to park up on the verge by the bridge because there were lots more birders visiting than yesterday.

Had a good piece of luck almost straight away because as I entered the muddy/flooded field on the left after the bridge I spotted a dozen birders all looking into some trees.They'd got onto the bird which was hopping around in some trees and giving fairly decent views.No problem now adding a Life Tick.

It only stayed a minute or two before disappearing so I had little time for shots.That's one excuse for getting some dreadful shots another one is that because my 7D camera is now clapped out and needs a repair I was using my old 40D camera and I was blowed if I could focus on the bird.Here are a couple of dreadful shots if you can see the bird that is.

I stayed for another couple of hours before the cold wind penetrated my thermals and I had to race off before frostbite set in.It only showed once in that time and then it was way off at the back of the shrubs across the river.Here is a shot of part of the crowd that was scanning the far bank.There were approx. 40 birders there today.