Friday, 19 January 2018

Peregrine take -off Sequence

With the wind coming from the northwest the south coast was the place to be today to make the most of the winter sunshine,  I caught sight of a Peregrine at one of its stashes high on a cliff face at quite a distance but when I watched through my lens I could see that it was without prey and probably just warming up in the sunshine,

The bird was" Watching me like a Hawk" and  I could see by its body language that it was getting ready to go so with a few shots in the can I moved just a little closer to try to make the most of its take -off  in the sequence posted below.

It seemed  like this very fine looking killing machine was off on the hunt once again as it climbed high into the sky above the cliff line and out of sight of all but the most observant birds.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Tehidy Country Park

Tehidy Country Park is well known in Cornwall for its friendly Grey Squirrels and birdlife,  The Squirrels will meet you at the entrance to accept a hand fed payment of peanuts,  { If you don't pay they will probably just take the bag out of your pocket anyway !! }

But I didn't go there for the Squirrels and nuthatches etc today,  I was there to capture images of the Kingfisher catching fish which she does quite often in the small car park pond outside of the entrance so I didn't really have to 'Pay' to get in but the squirrels came out and collected  'Their'  nuts anyway,

Capturing images of a Kingfisher fishing is a bit of a waiting game so I decided to snap away at everything that visited the pond including the Squirrel posted above,  There were eleven adult swan in this small pond which looked uncomfortable busy for its size and I wondered if the Kingfisher would put up with this volume of large birds while trying to catch fish,

My first subject was a very busy Goldcrest which flitted about in the birch trees overhanging the pond,  The pair showed four times during the three hours that I was there,

Next up was a fairly cautious Song Thrush which stayed up in the trees and Ivy looking for berries

The two resident Robins at this pond will like the Squirrels eat out of your hand,  They constantly closely remind you that they are there with their calls and you have to watch out when you move as they tend to get under your tripod or feet,

This young Pied Wagtail was foraging around the car park puddles and seemed to be doing quite well perhaps from people emptying pockets and bags as they came and went from their cars,

A semi-loucistic Raven was one of a pair that seemed to have adopted a mother and child as they exited the park on a side walkway,  They all walked over to the small pond and the mother fed the Swan's that were both in and out of the water and the Raven joined in taking their share of the handout presumably just as they had been doing inside the park,

Several Goldfinch stayed up in the Birch tree canopy preferring what was on offer naturally rather than the hand-outs that were so readily available.

A pair of Mallard ducks and a Black Headed Gull flew in from the park a little to late to take advantage of this new food source and soon departed again.

One of the resident Moorhen made a brief appearance but looked a bit teasy with the volume of Swan on the water

A busy little Wren took no notice of the other birds or hand-outs and carried on foraging the waterline for fresh water shrimps and insects producing for me a nice feeding reflection

There was no show from the Kingfisher today but I will be back to try my luck again when all of the Swan have departed,  They all appear to have been driven off of the main park ponds by a particularly dominant Male,

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Jay Today

 To say that the resident Jay at Stithians southern cut-off were camera shy would have to go down on record as an understatement,  Often seen flying by but not stopping if there is even a single window open on the hide and until this morning I have never snapped one here before..... ( IF you want to work with Jay go to Tehidy where they are abundant and reasonably approachable)

Well there has to be a first time for everything and today was to be the day that the Jay gradually moved in branch by branch until it was within range to make a short flight down onto the ground under the feeders to grab a couple of peanuts and was then immediately away over the tree canopy not to be seen again.

I had been busy watching the trees behind the feeders for approaching Woodpecker that were showing well again today so I got an early view of the Jay inching its way forward and was able to pick off shots as it moved between the branches using a Nikon 500mm lens fitted with a 2x Tele-converter which increased my focal length to 1000mm to improve the subject size in the full  frame images.

Other subjects worked on with the same lens assembly included a male Reed Bunting, Blue tit, Sparrow and a lively Robin posted below

Monday, 15 January 2018

Close focus on a grey Wagtail

While waiting for a show from the Dipper at Kennell Vale this morning I was sat quietly between two roots of a beach tree having a cup of tea and admiring the stunning view of derelict dynamite mills, the woodland and the river in full flood crashing its way over granite boulders as it thundered down the steep vale,

I suddenly became aware of something moving in a small boggy pool about five metres to the side of me,  It was a lovely grey Wagtails that I often see flitting about on the river banks  It was usually quite skitty but with the river perhaps being too rough it must have opted for this small pool as a food source,

As I inched to my feet and reached for my camera just in front of me the bird was already starting to find Caddisfly larvae that were rapped in dead leafs for camouflage and protection,  The wagtail had rumbled me as my shutter started to fire but with a good food source available it seemed reluctant to leave.

I ended up with around fifty of my best Grey Wagtail feeding shots taken mostly at less than five metres and some at minimum focal distance of  3.5m on a focal length lens of 850mm with the birds tail running out of the frame,   Happy Days!!

Dipper diving for Dinner

When it comes to collecting dinner the pair of Dipper at Kennell Vale are no faint hearted souls !!  They worked quite close to each other on several occasions today but not quite close enough to get them both in focus.

The River Kennell is in full flood following the rain of the last few days and a large heavy section of tree trunk that the Dipper used to display on has been dragged off over the falls over night,

Yet these lightweight birds are somehow able grip the river bed with their long talons and pull themselves directly under the flood water of a waterfall to find Caddis fly larvae of which they require many to sustain their active life style.

They then have to break back through the surface water without losing their foothold and they don't even get wet as the water is totally rejected by their oily plumage and just runs off.

As you can see by the last image in the sequence below the Brave Dipper is just as dry as when it started and it has reaped the reward for its efforts and I'm sure it will catch many more before the day is over.           Amazing Birds !!

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Foraging Chiffchaff

Yesterday morning was quite bright and sunny when I arrived at Stithians southern cut-off and for the first fifteen minutes I watched this busy little Chiffchaff foraging on semi submerges vegetation along the water margin.
It was picking off insects emerging from beneath the waterline, never stopping for more than a second these birds make a challenging photography subject as they weave in and out of view among the thickets,
One moment in full sunlight and the next in full shadow and occasionally producing a reflection when right on the waterline, This small bird worked the entire area in front of the hide presenting me with a few opportunities before it departed to the next available section ready to start all over again but by now it was to distant to work on,

Recent Stithians flight portraits

Following on from 'The Pecking Order' blog I have added here a few more flight Photo opportunites produced by the attraction of birds to Stithians feeding station,  First up the female Great Spotted Woodpecker is alerted by the sound of my shutter firing and the second image of her immediate departure is merged with the first,  Blue Tit, Chaffinch,  Long tailed Tit and Coal Tit form part of a steady stream of birds flying to and from the feeders, and male and female Bullfinch will often feed under the feeders and on surrounding vegetation seed heads as in the final image.