Posts Tagged ‘Wildlife Photography

30
Aug
22

Migration

Swallows are not our birds; we only borrow them. Soon to be lost to foreign shores. Drink these beauties in while you can.

17
Aug
22

Hawkeye

15
Jun
22

Wood you?

One of the best birds on Scillies this year was this Wood Sandpiper. Not for its rarity value but for its complete lack of concern for our presence.

03
Jun
22

Manic Magic

When you go to the Isles of Scilly birding it can be very weather dependent.

Before we arrived at the end of May it seemed all and sundry was arriving on the islands. Then landing alongside our cargo of excited guests arrived a stiff Northerly. It immediately blocked any further migrating birds. That is until the last day.

We had resigned ourselves to the fact we were not going to see much last Tuesday; our last day on the islands. Although the weather had been pleasantly warm and blue skies had prevailed it wasn’t the weather we were hoping for. We had seen the islands at their very best; full of flowers and colour. Even a few good birds did put in an appearance although they were few and far between. Places on aircraft and ship had been booked to relocate us all back to reality and we were making our way to Juliet’s Garden (known to those in the know as Juliet’s Panties) for a final lunch. As we walked along Porthloo Lane I was recounting tales of Yellow Billed Cuckoo’s and traffic jam creating twitches, when I heard a sound; a call of a bird that I knew well, but for a minute I couldn’t place it. The penny then dropped. I searched the top of the elms from where the sound emanated and there they were; four Bee Eaters.

The mood instantly changed in the group. News was immediately put out and people began to arrive. As I stared at the colourful Europeans something in the distance caught my focus. We had not seen a raptor all week and there was one now sailing across my field of view. A long tail and narrow wings confirmed a harrier. All grey; a male. Scillies, end of May. This should have been a Pallid or at worst a Montague’s. No. The wings were too broad and the dark wedges in the primaries too thick. The structure and flight were all wrong for a ‘rare’ harrier. This was a Hen Harrier. A Hen Harrier that had no right to be here at this time of the year. We watched it float high over Hugh town and out to St Agnes.

The Bee Eaters floated off high to the North. This was jat as well. I wouldn’t have liked to have left four Bee Eaters showing well … even for lunch.

Lunch was good. It always is at Juliet’s. We bade goodbye to some catching flights while others stayed to chat waiting for the Scillonian III to beckon. I relaxed in the warm sunshine and stretched out my legs and bathed my face in the heat. Staring at the sky I spotted another raptor. A small falcon. This was a bird on a mission. It was climbing, and climbing high. Compact, pale and as un-kestrel like as any small falcon could be. A probable Red Footed Falcon was leaving Scilly … vertically. No scope (packed away), the light and distance not on our side, it has to stay a probable.

The day however wasn’t done.

Leaving on the ship, a Minke Whale put in an appearance just outside the islands. Later a Harbour Porpoise rolled through a flat calm sea. At half way, marked by the Wolf light, a pod of Common Dolphin gave a ‘leaping show’ like no others can. However, what happened next had my jaw dropping.

As the ship steamed up the South coast of Cornwall we started to see flocks of Manx Shearwaters. Small flocks to start with, then bigger ones of a hundred or more birds. Then great ribbons of birds strewn across the sea in great discarded strings. Flocks encircled the Scillionian and at times it seemed as if the ship was sailing through shearwater soup. We estimated that in the last hour of sailing we saw Circa 10,000 Manx Shearwaters. the largest number I have seen of this species anywhere.

It all goes to show it ain’t over ’till the fat lady sings’.

01
Jun
22

Well … how could you ignore it?

When you have a couple of ‘orchid days’ planned with Tania and your mate Tony since last Christmas and an Eleanora’s Falcon turns up within five miles of where you planned to be … well you just can’t ignore it … can you?

08
Apr
22

Let’s just Gloss over that

When Bob told me he’d been photographing Glossy Ibis he said it was possible to get close. He talked in terms of the width of a living room. I was intrigued. I though it was worth investigating. He drew me a map. I needed it. The route to the bird was convoluted over rough ground and not at all easy carrying a 400mm 2.8 prime lens.

His directions were spot on. I no sooner arrived at the site and the bird was right where he said it would be. However, I couldn’t get close. The bird spooked at over 60m. Passing kayakers, dog walkers and nearby kite flyers were flushing the bird and it wouldn’t settle in my presence. I sat down, had a drink of water, and thought the situation through.

I zipped up my jacket so the white t shirt I was wearing wasn’t on show, walked away from the bird, around it, and approached with the light behind me so the sun wouldn’t flash on the lens. This paid dividends and thankfully the ‘motorway’ of morning dog walkers abated, the kayakers disappeared and the kite flyers got called in for lunch.

Reeds and vegetation were always an issue, but as I crouched on the river bank the bird made it’s way slowly to me. The light was excellent. For what is superficially a dull brown bird Glossy Ibis have a wonderfully coloured plumage.

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.

12
Feb
22

A Howl

Another shot of one of those amazing Short eared Owls that are gracing many of Norfolk’s marshes and dunes at the moment.

09
Feb
22

Thief

I’ve seen bold kestrels fly up to Barn Owls and steal their catch. Until yesterday I’ve never seen a Kestrel do the same thing with a Short-eared Owl.

It was as if the marsh was giving birth to owls. They just kept springing up. First one, then two. Three, four five and maybe a sixth. They offered superb photo opportunities. I followed one through the viewfinder of the camera and watched it swing in an arc down to the ground. It jumped as a vole lept forward in a desperate attempt for freedom. The shortie cut off the escape route. A kestrel swung down from above and took the vole from under the owls very nose! … but not without a bit of a fight.




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