Monday, 26 May 2014


Fed up with staying in on Sunday afternoon I popped down to Marsh Lane for a bit of exercise.

When sitting in the Oak hide Paul Johnson spotted a Cuckoo right across the pool on some fencing by the bridge.Hoping that it would be a bit nearer I raced to the railway hide spurred on by the fact that I hadn't got a decent shot of a Cuckoo for a couple of years now. 

Well I still haven't because although it was a bit nearer it was still way out of range of my lens for a decent shot but very nice to see.Without warning it took off and flew at the back of the hide coming pretty close.I managed to rattle off 5 shots but when I checked they were all of blurred trees.Wonderful ! ! If I'd been on the ball I could have got a decent flight shot. 

The only other time I woke the camera up was having a go at some Med. Gull flight shots.Shouldn't have bothered as I didn't do too well there either.

Saturday, 24 May 2014


After all the fun and games I had in Wales last week I did pay a couple of flying visits to Marsh Lane this week to get some more shots of the Med Gulls that have been there for a few days now.One of the three seems to favour the railway pool and the other two favour the car park pool. A bit too far off for me to get great shots but very nice to see down the Lane.

The two on the car park pool appear to be a couple.

Had no chances at all to get flight shots just some with wing flapping.

Although they are young birds they take no crap from the BH Gulls that harass them a bit.

Friday, 23 May 2014


After I had paid the hotel bill and packed all my stuff and as it was again very nice weather I headed the few miles east to the Red Kite feeding site where I intended to stay till early afternoon before setting off home.

Got there just after 9.00 AM and had the place to myself (the centre doesn't open till 10.00 AM) so I thought I'd go into landscape mode and take a few shots in the glorious morning sunshine.The first shot is looking west towards Aberystwyth and the sea the others are from around the lake.It's a very nice spot.Pity about the trees that had to be cut down on the hill at the back in the Winter (Larches that were diseased). 

After an early morning coffee in cafe I decided to walk along the lakeside path to see if I could find anything to point the camera at.How far had I got after 90 minutes ? Precisely 50m.Why was this then ? Because I'd found a female Pied Flycatcher and battle was joined to try and get some shots of this little beauty.

The battle was uneven to say the least.The battle ground had been picked by the Flycatcher and she had picked very well with bright backgrounds and loads of twigs,leaves,branches to hide behind and deep shadow all on her side.All I'd got was my photography skills.I was in trouble then.

She disappeared for a while quite often but always came back in a different spot.These are my best shots amongst scores of dreadful ones.It would have been very nice if she had come out of the gloom just once but she wanted to win so she didn't. Women ! !

The really annoying thing about this battle was that the only decent shot I got was when she had her back to me. Deliberate ? Oh Yes ! ! Tremendous fun though. 

After an early lunch in the cafe I did manage a walk round the lake which was very pleasant.I then tried to find the Goldcrests from a couple of days ago but failed.I did find the Tree Pipit again but after a few shots the camera packed up.Card Full ! ! Went back to the car and got the SX 50 but that wouldn't work either.Battery empty ! ! Good planning there.

With no cameras working and as it was 2.00 PM I headed home.A very good trip with great weather.  

Thursday, 22 May 2014


It was a very nice morning again on Friday as I set off for Ynyslas beach a few miles North of Borth.I'd never been there before but it showed on my map that it was a place for seeing birds.Got there just before high tide at 9.45 AM and parked on the beach car park (only £1) next to the only other car there.

As I set off towards the headland the views across the Dovey estuary were spectacular.Well worth the visit for the views alone.When I got to the headland I noticed another birder who was scoping the shoreline and when I followed suit I was amazed at the amount of waders that were there.I later found out there were up to a 1000 each of Ringed Plovers and Dunlin.More than I'd ever seen together before.

Not great for shots as I was careful not to disturb the birds by getting close but great to see so many.

Stayed for ages on the beach as it was so nice there.The only other waders I spotted were a few Turnstones and up to 5 Sanderlings some nearly in Summer plumage.I could only get this shot of one.

Back to the car for some coffee I noticed a female Stonechat gathering nesting materials.

I then had a walk round the dunes at the back of the car park which were alive with birds singing mainly the more common birds we get in our gardens but there were a few Meadow Pipits.I don't see so many of these chaps at home like I used to so I took a few shots including some efforts of flight shots with food.Didn't do too well with those.

The best birds in the dunes were Stonechats.I struggled to get close particularly with the males but in the end got some decent shots of a female and a youngster which at one time was pleading with dad for some food. 

At 3.00 PM I drove the short distance down the road to the Ynys Hir reserve to try and get some female Pied Flycatcher shots that I could not get on my last visit.Whilst getting my kit together in the car park I noticed that the card on my 7D camera only had 150 shots left and as I needed those for tomorrow I took the Canon SX50 bridge camera with me instead.

The hide was empty when got there and it wasn't too long before my good friend turned up and did his stuff.I am pretty good with the SX50 if the bird is perched pretty close and is still.If it's like the female Pied Flycatcher was that afternoon nipping about I am useless and failed to get a decent shot.Homing in on the bird is very hard on full optical zoom and focussing is very slow compared with the 7D camera.

Having said that the SX50 produced some very good shots of the posing male specially as it's a camera costing less than £250.As good as the ones I got with the 7D and 400 lens a couple of days before.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


On Thursday morning I made a couple of wrong decisions which meant the day started poorly.

Someone told me that on the Aberystwyth beach you get a few Purple Sandpipers near the jetties so after breakfast I parked up and walked along the promenade.Not only were there no Purple Sandpipers there were no birds at all and to make matters worse the walk was very depressing.It was as though there had been a major environmental disaster 20 years ago and the area had been abandoned and left to fall into ruin.The beach must be the worst beach in GB.

At the far end of the promenade I made another error I caught a ride on the cliff railway to get me to the top of Constitution Hill.Why ? Because the same person who told me about the Sandpipers told me you can get Choughs up there.Of course there were none there nor much else and no people either.I cannot remember who gave me this info pity really as I would have had a word with them.

I then left earlier than I had planned and drove over to Bwich Nant yr Arian which is a Red Kite feeding reserve about 10 miles east of Aberystwyth.I was very impressed with the place as I drove into the car park there was a very impressive lake,several walks and spectacular views.There was also a great centre with a very nice cafe.The fact that it was free didn't come into it (you have to pay to park mind you).

As I sat on the sunny terrace with a cup of coffee I had 3 hours to wait till the Kites were to be fed.As I looked around I thought the place might be a one trick pony with only the Kites to see.Luckily I was wrong on that score.

I decided to take the lake walk and I hadn't gone very far when I spotted some Siskins including juveniles on or near some feeders.There were some Lesser Redpolls as well.

As I walked only a little further there were loads of birds in some trees between the path and the lake including Siskins,Common Whitethroats,Willow Warblers and a Garden Warbler which I yet again failed to get a decent shot of.However what was more surprising was a male Pied Flycatcher that was singing out not that far away.

I went back to the centre and told a warder I'd chatted to earlier about the Flycatcher in case he didn't know.He did of course and said that there were 3 males and one female on site.He then asked had I caught up with the Tree Pipit and when I said no he took me to where it visits.What a good chap.I had only ever seen one before on Cannock Chase some years ago.   

As I waited for the Pipit to show I saw some movement in a nearby conifer.It was a pair of Goldcrests.The Pipit forgotten I went after the Goldies but as usual they kept pinging around and I couldn't get a shot off.Suddenly one flew right past me and landed on a sapling close by and by some miracle I got onto it and although I only got two shots off they are both very good particularly as one shot had the crest showing so well.

Not long after the Goldcrests had flown off the Tree Pipit arrived and started singing it's heart out but as usual it was high up in the tree tops.

I watched the Pipit on and off for the best part of an hour but couldn't get close enough for a decent shot so what I did to pass the time was to do what top photographers or complete idiots do.Try for some flight shots of a Tree Pipit doing it's parachute flights.Did sort of OK.

With not long to go before Kite feeding time (3.00 PM) just as I popped into the cafe again for afternoon tea and cake four friends from Brandon Marsh called me over to join them.They had come down for the day armed with their big lenses and as they were regulars they knew where to go to get some decent shots.

At 2.45 PM we went and stood on a headland along the North side of the lake.Feeding takes place on a grassed area on the South side of the lake only 50 odd metres from where we were.There were about 5 Kites in the air at this time and by 2.55 PM there were about 40.Then at 3.00 PM as the guy with the food appeared there were well over a hundred.How do they do this ? Have they all got Rolex watches ?

Wonderful to watch these fabulous birds gliding around so close.Got plenty of shots it is pretty easy but didn't get a shot of one picking up the food from the lake which is a shame.I've tried to pick out some shots that are a bit different but it's not easy.