Archive for the 'birds' Category



02
Apr
22

Let’s go Fly a Kite

Tania had never been to Powys in Wales. Never seen a Kite feed. Last week, the weather was good so why wouldn’t we take a break in central Wales.

Once we (or rather one of us) had got over the temptation to photograph every lamb in Wales we made it to Gigrin.

Advertised as the world’s biggest bird table, Kite feeds are quite something. A site to watch open jawed as birds flock to be fed. A photographers delight.

28
Mar
22

Some you win … some you lose

I’ve been working at Wild Ken Hill for around seven months now leading some of the ‘Big Picture’ tours. The tours cover the coastal marsh, the regenerative agricultural implementations on the estate and also the 1000 acre rewilding area. At WKH they are doing some amazing things which I passionately believe we should be doing.

I don’t take my camera with me on the walks as it’s quite a heavy beast of a thing and can be a little strength sapping when on foot all day.

Tania came with me last Saturday, as she sometimes does. About 2 hours into the morning tour we were just starting to climb the hill that is ‘Wild Ken Hill’ within the rewilding area when I saw something flitting half-way up one of the Scots Pines. I raised my binoculars expecting to see a Robin. In fact what I saw floored me. The red wasn’t on the breast but down the flanks of the bird and as it turned I saw an ivory white throat and a beautiful blue tail. It was a female/first winter type Red flanked Bluetail. I forget what I actually said … but it was something quite exclamatory! The bird flew down to a pile of scrubby removed Rhododendrons and promptly disappeared.

I think this is the second March record for Norfolk. None of the twelve guests with us were bird watchers and I had a timetable to observe. However, I explained the significance of the sighting and reluctantly left the area, with more than a single backward glance, to continue the tour. In the short time we had available to look on the afternoon tour it was nowhere to be seen.

The following day, on Sunday, we decided to see if we could see any of the Garganey that had been reported at Cley NWT over the preceding week. Garganey, our only summer visiting duck, are normally elusive; preferring the shelter of vegetation and reedbeds to open water. After waiting unsuccessfully in one hide most of the morning we decided to have lunch back at the centre and try the centre group of hides in the afternoon.

As we got to the hides friends Greg and Andrew were departing and announced they had seen a pair going up and down the drain close in front of them. Well, they weren’t wrong. The birds were ridiculously close. I had to take off the extender and reset the minimum focusing distance. In fact I could have easily have taken photos on a mobile phone.

Sometimes you win by taking the camera … sometimes you lose when you don’t.

26
Mar
22

Suffolk

We had a great tour down to Minsmere last weekend with excellent sightings of Hen Harrier, Lesser Yellowlegs, Bittern, Bearded Tit at point blank range, displaying Great crested Grebes, Great White Egret, a couple of Whooper Swans, a pair of absolutely pristine Pintails and Mediterranean Gulls and more Dartford Warblers than I’ve ever seen in a single day.

Wrap all that lot up, and more, with the good company of my guests and it made for an excellent day.

23
Mar
22

WHAT?

This Little Owl popped up on a Farm Tour at Wild Ken Hill the other day. To me they always have that angry expression … as if they are shouting ‘WHAT?’

20
Mar
22

Just a Duck

We called at Leighton Moss RSPB on our way up to Southern Scotland a couple of weeks ago. Why wouldn’t yoy? It’s a great reserve. A duck was in front of one of the hides that I didn’t immediately recognise. Based on the size of the bill it was a shoveler species. An obvious escape. I thought initially Cape Shoveler but no, it was more like something I was much more familiar with … Australian Shoveler.

However, it didn’t match exactly the birds I’d seen on my many visits to the former colony. The breast and flanks seemed to be the wrong colour/patterning and the facial crescent was much more prominent. A 2018 paper in Dutch Birding describes the quest of several Dutch birders to identify a similar hybrid duck on the island of Schiermonnikoog. The article is here. What do you think?

16
Mar
22

Just the best place

The Solway has to be just the best place in the UK for photographing Goosanders. Photo taken on the latest trip to Southern Scotland. Next years tour dates are pending.

13
Mar
22

Where’s Wally?

Have a go. Where’s Wally?

08
Mar
22

Headstart

Curlew numbers have declined dramatically over recent years. It is now classified as a red data species. The headstart scheme is a way of attempting to redress that trend. Taking eggs from nonviable locations on airfields and rearing to ‘release-age’ is putting more of these magnificent waders out on our marshes.

This flock I recently photographed at Wild Ken Hill contained ‘flagged and ringed’ birds that were part of the headstart scheme there. More power to their elbow! Click on the link to read their full story.

01
Mar
22

It’s all about Owls

I revisited the Short eared Owl site last week with one of my guests. We had to wait for a while but the marsh eventually gave up a few Short-eared Owls and a Barn Owl. One of the Shorties pushed up a rather alarmed Skylark as I pressed the shutter.

25
Feb
22

plastic owl

I had an exchange of emails with Liam Smith last week. Liam is an active cinematographer and works for NBIS. If you don’t know what NBIS is or does you can educate yourself here.

Liam had seen photographs of the Eagle Owl at Oulton St Margaret’s Churchyard and had convinced himself that they showed signs of something around the legs. This was more of an impression that anything else. To show Liam what the owl may have been wearing had it been an escapee I showed him a photo I took of a falcon I photographed at Horsey some years ago.

I had gone to Horsey to find a Rough legged Buzzard that was floating around the area. I did indeed find the buzzard at some distance, and it was being stooped upon by a large falcon which I couldn’t put a name to, not with any confidence anyway. As the falcon relieved itself of frustration and ceased its attack on the hapless buzzard it flew towards me and passed within a few metres before alighting on the wooden steps leading over the dunes. As it cruised past, I could hear tinkling! The bird was wearing jesses and a bell. It was a falconer’s bird.

I crept up on the bird and took the photo below photograph which clearly showed leather aylmeri with brass eyelets.

Liam later came back to me and said he could possibly see a similar eyelet in one of my photos of the eagle owl. I must admit I think he’s right. What I’d taken to be a hind claw looks to me the more I look at it like a brass eyelet. Kudos to him. As suspected by many the eagle owl is indeed most likely an escaped falconer’s bird.

We’ll just have to keep looking for that true vagrant. :0)




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