Friday, 24 March 2017

Greylag portraits

I called in at Newtown lane on my way to St Erth to pick up my wife this evening, Two female Roe Deer were feeding in the far corner but it was a bit of a long shot,  Perhaps more of interest was a fine pair of Greylag Geese within twenty meters of the road hedgerow where I had just parked before realising they were there,  I quietly removed my camera assemble from the boot, set it up and took a few quick images to adjust my settings while expecting some response from the birds as my shutter fired,  not a bit of it, sure they looked up to see what I was all about and then carried on feeding on the lush green grass,

Several full frame portraits later they were still quite relaxed so I decided to push my luck by moving  closer by moving along the hedgerow and the birds keep on feeding as I got more shots taken
I moved on along to the very closest point where the hedgerow was much lower meaning that I was in full view down to my waist at which time I certainly expected some response from the birds and I would like to have taken a few  Greylag take-off images which is when their attractive plumage is shown at its best. 

Far from being disturbed the closest bird above just stopped feeding and stared at me while presenting the opportunity for some close up head portraits with lovely neck feather formations and when I turned my attention to the second bird below I was just in time to see it nodding-off to sleep,  No stress there then !  And certainly no take-off images but I did before I was late for my pick-up.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Woodpeckers close call

The BBC's local forecast got it all wrong Am today showing unbroken sunshine from sunrise until rain moved in from the East around 1 PM,  The sunny morning just did not even get started so I headed for Stithians southern cut-off hide in a cold easterly wind that brought nothing but cloud and drizzle,  Within 30 minutes of my arrival all local birds suddenly scattered by the Sparrowhawk that featured in one of my earlier blogs:

It suddenly made a classic long ground level swoop through the feeder assemblies and on out over the water to disappear behind the tree line,   I had noticed in the past that the Great Spotted Woodpeckers seemed to judge safety around the feeders by the number of other birds present and in general this seemed to show that they saw some safety in numbers or perhaps a sign that all was well,  Today was different for the female Woodpecker that was not present during the Sparrowhawk attack was now the first bird to show on a moss covered tree trunk near the far peanut feeder,  The sparrowhawk suddenly swooped through again this time coming in across the water on a direct line towards the woodpecker which appeared to freeze but then it suddenly made a split second rotation by 90 degrees around and up the trunk that was now between the two birds,  Smart move!  and the rumbled Sparrowhawk just flew on by as if to say  ' I was just Passing ! '    It might have been a different story had the woodpecker been busy feeding

The two local pairs of Little Grebe were as noisy as ever and busy hunting,  No Newts caught today but several Sticklebacks were taken some of which were passed between the pairs,  What amazingly efficient little hunters these birds are

Below are a few 500mm lens close portraits of the smaller bird life that visit these feeders on a daily basis
                                                                  Long Tailed Tit

                                                                   Male Chaffinch

                                                                  Female Chaffinch

                                                                   Male Reed Bunting

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Longrock Buck Roe Deer

It was good to start the day with a sighting of a Buck Roe deer at Longrock, It has been many months since I last saw one there,  It was feeding on the lush grass at the far side of the field which is a bit of a challenge for my 500mm lens and cloud cover didn't help with poor light levels,  I snapped away using single shots as the deer's movement created interest while waiting for blue sky coming from the west behind the clouds to clear the sun for better lighting,  It seemed a bit like watching paint dry but it did eventually clear the sky just about the same time as the buck cleared the hedge row to disappear behind the tree line,   Charming !  but I have posted a couple of high ISO images below anyway.

With my subject gone I was left with a lovely blue sky and conditions were improving all the while so off I went to Trewavas Head with thoughts of warn sunshine and possibly mating adders on my mind.  Well I didn't get any mating adders this time but the same two that I saw yesterday put in an appearance in fairly open basking points to provide a few more images posted below until a coach load of guided students walking the coast path arrived on mass,  Hi students  Bye adders!

I had first heard and then sighted a pair of Chough while working with the adders So I wandered off in the direction that I had last seem them fly,  I found them both feeding among Thrift vegetation on cliff ledges below and they keep me busy for the next hour trying to achieve images that didn't just look like silhouettes but its not easy with the sun against you.

I spent the last hour of my day back down at Marazion marsh where I was sure to have the sun on my back and the marsh is always so photogenic when lit by the late afternoon sun,  Nothing outstanding or rare today but the locals managed to put on a bit of a show,

The weather forecast and wind direction are looking good for the south coast tomorrow so it looks like I will just have to do it all again,  It a tough life !

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Winter storms and Spring Adders

      The weather on the south coast was decidedly chilly today with intermitant wintery Hail storms driving in on brisk south westerly winds,  During one such storm the hail was the size of marbles and settling an inch or so on the ground as can be seen in the image below which was taken between Trewavas Head and Porthleven, 

So this is hardly the time you would expect to see adders out to bask in the sun to warm their blood, But the fact is that between the storms the sun did come out for quite long periods and the adders being past masters at selecting south facing slopes that are protected from onshore winds came out along with it,

The first adder I found was curled in a classic spiral to retain its existing body heat while seeking the suns rays to increase it,

The second was about a meter away from the first and curled up tightly to the side of granite for warmth and wind protection,  I worked on these two adders for around twenty minutes using a 500mm prime lens at a working distance of 3.5m so as not to disturb them and I was a little surprised then the first one sighted started to move in the direction of the second,  The two appeared to be old friends and quite prepared to coil up together as another means of retaining their existing body temperature while presenting me with an excellent dual adder opportunity as in the images below.

I believe these two adder to be male but it is now about the right time for female adder to be emerging from hibernation with a view to mating to produce this years young so I intend to keep my eye on this area hoping to record the event again this year,  A cold sometimes wet but interesting day!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Stithians today

It was a wet and windy start to the day but as I was dropping my wife off in Camborne early AM I decided to spend some time at Stithians southern cut-off,  My first sighting was a noisy pair of Little Grebes,  These birds are incredible efficient predators and once again I watched as they dispatched four Palemate Newt and two Three Spin Sticklebacks in a short space of time

Next to show was a female Pintail that foraged close to the margins
Followed by the pair of resident Magpie that were busy cleaning up around the feeders
Last but not least to show was a rather wet male Great Spotted Woodpecker that decided to play a classic game  of  'Hide and Seek'  as it worked its way up on of the feeder frame supports,

Friday, 17 March 2017

Cornish Kestrels part 13

The day started off just fine,  A calm morning with a colourful dawn and sunrise so I started early with the intention of revising my approach to capturing images of our currently camera shy Male Kestrel on the south coast, The female Kestrel 'Kate' was in residence preening and posing as usual, but the illusive Male 'Kevin' was not on the scene but I carried on setting up for a remote shutter firing exercise and retreated farther back to test it,  Did it fire, Did it hell! I checked all the connections, Checked the settings and changed the batteries all round but could not get any response, So the best laid plans etc all went to the wall and I reverted back to my standard methods and took some more images of a very obliging Kate before retreating home for a little repair work on my remote assembly.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Cornish Kestrels part 12

It was a nice calm day on the south coast cliffs today and this afternoon pictures of Kate around the nest site were abundant and posted below.  Kevin the male seems far more difficult than in previous years to the extent that I believe that my presence and distance though acceptable to Kate seems to be causing him some concern and I missed at least one prey hand-over this afternoon due to him abandoning the exercise.  It seems that it is time for a change in field skills by increasing my working distance and using remote shutter control on a single pre-focused favourable prey hand -over location which can be tricky and frustrating when the action happens perhaps as little as a foot out of frame,

So I will give it a try tomorrow and  lets hope we can post more images of Kevin in the Next blog or two !