Broad-Bodied Chaser

Broad-Bodied Chaser
Wing Mosaic (Broad-bodied Chaser): Winner, Nikon In-Frame Competition August 2010

Spoonbill

Spoonbill
Spoonbill: Birdguides Photo of the Year 2012 Runner-up

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Saturday, 19 March 2011

'Supermoon' - Saturday 19th March

With working all weeked on Red Nose Day, there was no opportunity to take advantage of the glorious sun on Saturday - not a cloud in the sky all day.  Just remembered to take a look at the 'Supermoon' which was glowing in its full glory of a clear night sky. 

To be honest it didnt look particularly different, but its the closest to the earth in 18 years.


More spectacular and a little closer to home are two Jays that have started to visit the garden.  A few nuts usually draw them in which they quickly stash in their crops before making a swift departure in typical Jay fashion.

Monday, 14 March 2011

White-tailed Eagle in Hampshire - March 2nd

Arriving at Old Basing just after dawn, so began a long wait. It became apparent that it was a large area, and a group of around 30 eventually gathered on the side of a field overlooking the valley. A cold six hours followed in a freezing northerly wind, whilst the Eagle didn't look like it was going to put in an appearance.  The haunting dead Magpies and Crows placed by farmers on the adjacent fence seemed to sum up the situation - grim:




Then suddenly the mood changed; word came that it was showing in a tree opposite one of the nearby farms, so a five minute mass dash ensued. Arriving at the new location was like being in a different world - the sun came out, it was warm, there was no wind, and the icing on the cake was the White-tailed Eagle sat in a tree about 200 meters away. 

It was a close call though as it soon took flight, straight across a field in front of the small crowd before heading back and gaining height. As the juvenile bird rose two Buzzards mobbed it, the Eagle making them look tiny in comparison; not surprising as this is one of the largest birds in the world.  It drifted off behind some trees and wasn't seen again that day.

Not a great shot due to distance:


Worth the wait though!

Oxfordshire - Oriental Turtle Dove and Other Good Stuff - 26th February

I finally found time to head over to Chipping Norton to see the much publicised Oriental Turtle Dove. Arriving at 7.15am I joined a small group already queuing outside the house at 41 the Leys.  The accommodating owner Steve let us in early, and we packed into the kitchen to look out as it got a little lighter outside. This was a rather bizarre experience, although I can now recommend under floor heating and an Arga for winter warmth.  Steve said it would appear from 7.45, and it was bang on cue!  It appeared in a tree next to a Woodpigeon, and sat and preened for around 30 mins in the rain.

One point on ID, I was expecting a larger bird, although if anything this seemed smaller than European Turtle Dove.

Unfortunately the dreadful weather and cramped conditions put paid to any decent shots, but here's one for the record:


Over £2,500 raised so far for Birdlife Malta - a great result. 

The rain finally cleared later in the morning, so I headed over to a site near Oxford where an American Wigeon had been hanging out. It was located quickly but distant at the far end of one of the lakes, with 6 Eurasian Wigeon.

On to Otmoor, where more rain finally gave way to some nice sun.  The highlight of the afternoon was a female Merlin, watching for some time hunting out on the fields.  A Marsh Tit was a nice visitor to the feeding station, one of ten species taking advantage:



Thursday, 10 March 2011

North Norfolk Weekend - February! Raptors!

Despite a weekend of very grey cloud, managed to get some great birds on the list.  After missing the Northern Harrier at Titchwell on the Saturday by about five minutes, managed to locate it on Sunday morning at Thornham Harbour.  It flew east along the dunes then towards the small group watching, before heading out across the marsh again.  Within minutes the highlight of the weekend was reported round the corner - a Long-eared Owl roosting in a hedge on Thornham Green.  It soon attracted quite a crowd, half of which were curious passers-by, as it was right next to the road. The light was awful, although some decent shots were obtained:




Other weekend highlights - Rough-Legged Buzzard at Holkham, Twite & Snow Buntings at Titchwell and a Spoonbill at Cley.


Wednesday, 9 March 2011

London WWT Saturday 12th February

On a very dull day the sun finally came out in the afternoon. I spent a lot of time with a pair of Egyptian Geese which are a regular fixture at the moment.


Just before the sun quickly dropped I got the shot I was looking for.  A group of ducks generally rest in a small bay in front of one of the hides.  I had made several attempts to get this type of shot, but got lucky today as a Tufted Duck flew right at me. I just caught it with some late afternoon sun before it landed in the shade.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Winners Day! London WWT with Chris Packham - 24th January 2011

A great start to the new year with my Shoveler image below being selected by the WWT as the Regional Winner in the main category of the 2010 competition.  The image was taken at Barnes in March 2010.



This was a terrific day with other category winners at the London Wetland Centre. During the morning in the theatre Chris Packham presented a very honest critique of every shortlisted image. This was followed by presentations, lunch and a couple of hours on the reserve with an assignment to capture images of conflict, harmony and 'something new'.  Despite a typical grey winters day, it was good to get outside. One attendee aptly described the scene as looking like a pack of zombies stalking the area with cameras poised in every direction.