Thursday, 29 December 2016

Cornish Chough

Walked the coast path between Botallack and Kenidjack on the 28th December and worked on a lovely pair of Chough at North Zawn then onto Nanven for what looked like another promising sunset behind The Brizons,

Ringed Chough calling its mate

This chough was brimming with voice and character

Sunset behind the Brizons

Bartinney Down

No Short-eared owl or even Kestrel sightings at Bartinney Down on the 27th of December but I was surprised to see that all of the local ponds and water-logged ditches were full of early frog spawn and the sunset out over the Longships was just amazing,

Ponds full of fertile frog spawn

This lovely sunset behind The Longships was taken on the Down using a 700mm lens from a distance of six kilometres from The Longships

Boxing day Peregrine

Fresh air and exercise was the order of the day for Heather and I on boxing day to work off all those Xmas day excesses,  A walk along the south coast from Rinsey towards Porthleven was just the job, I stopped off at Trewavas farm to clear a favoured stone wall lie of this years bramble growth in anticipation of early Adder during January,  Moving on the local Kestrel were successful hovering and hunting for Vole and we finally caught up with a quite familiar pair of Peregrine,  The male was a little anti-social and departed post hast but the female is always more laid back and retained her Granite perch for around a hour before eventually flying off to join the male.

Ever tried staring out a Peregrine ?

Foot down and tail raised,  it must be time to go

Limbering up she then just drops off the back of the rock and away

So I guess its time to return home for cold meats and Bubble & Squeak !

Friday, 23 December 2016

Marazion Marsh 'Heron Central'

Yesterday morning I made one of my regular visits to Marazion marsh  RSPB looking for a bittern fly-by or perhaps something a little more unusual,   I was joined at the front viewing recess by a lady birder relating to four Heron being on show along the warren with the comment " This must be Heron Central"  No sooner said another Heron flew into the mix,  It was good to hear a visitor being so enthusiastic at the sight of such a large photogenic bird descending into the Marsh,  Bittern 0 Heron 5 so why not take a few more Heron images,

Heron flights over the Marsh are a common sight but it was nice to see a visitor so enthusiastic at the sight of such a large bird descending into the reeds

The early morning sun rises high enough to light this relaxed Heron

With little wind the calm waters of the Marsh create excellent rippled and mirror like reflections

How about just taking the Heron reflection or is this a step to far

While creating this blog I remembered  this heron Landing that I enthused about during 2015 but struggled to select just one of these three images,  my answer was to merge them all into one montage landing sequence,

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Bartinney Dog fox

No Short -eared Owl at Bartinney Down today but my consolation  prize came by way of a fine dog Fox which came into the main rough grass fields to hunt for vole,  I have seen this particular fox work its way up towards the top of the down before but this time I got lucky as it gradually worked its way towards the pond at the bottom of the down where I was concealed in an overgrown corner Hedgerow,  I took plenty of images as the fox moved forward as I realised that the wind direction was from behind me and it would not be long before I was rumbled by the fox's keen sense of smell.

Dog Fox enters the field and is soon on the prowl

The fox gives chase to a vole but misses it on this occasion

Moving closer now but still concentrating on the Vole population

At around forty feet the fox crosses my scent trail and I've been rumbled

Just time for one more Portrait image and then the fox turns and retreats back up the field

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Roe Deer through the year

The first Roe Deer I saw in Cornwall was six years ago which happened while photographing a family of young fox cubs playing in a field opposite the Cheshire Home at Marazion,  A Doe Roe deer suddenly appeared from the hedgerow,  First studied and then slowly walked right up to and smelt the young fox cubs before moving along the hedgerow to browse,  Ever since that day I have worked on many deer at this location and had as many as eleven present in the field on one occasion.  You have to be an 'early bird' and good field skills are required if the deer are not to be quickly spooked,  If they know you are there they will go,  I have learnt to consider wind direction for my scent, Use high hedgerows for cover, Keep still and quiet,  avoid bright clothing and strange as it might sound I take my images as traffic passes,  The Deer take little or no notice of passing traffic and the noise drowns out my shutter action, Adopting this manner I have worked with the deer for up to two hours and photographed them from just four meters away on the opposite side of the hedgerow whilst hardily daring to breath !

These three Doe are sporting their thick grey winter coat and one of them has picked up on the sound of my shutter action,  The trick is not to take any more images until she starts to feed again.
The resident Buck patrolling his patch
A feeding Doe in summer colours Taken from just six meters
Second year young Buck and Doe play mating
Doe Roe deer with day old twin kids

Pair of Peregrine

During Coastal walks over the last few months I have sighted individual Peregrine at many locations including Porthguarra, Lands End, Bottallack, Hayle Estuary and Hells mouth But the only location where I have seen evidence of a mating Pair that remain in close contact on a regular basis through the winter months is the pair near Rinsey which I see quite often on a favoured rocky outcrop,  The images below were taken over three days during the second week in October this year,

Here the larger female is calling prior to taking off from a favoured rocky outcrop where the pair have spent the previous two hours

The female Peregrine protests to the Male as it lands after seeing off a female Kestrel that swooped on them,  The Kestrel certainly held her own in aerial combat with the peregrine lacking the element of surprise,  Their amazing tit for tat swooping flight display went on for around five minutes before the Kestrel eventually lost interest and moved on

As sunset approaches both birds begin to limber-up following an afternoon siesta getting ready for evening hunting, both birds departed a few minutes later

Cornish Kingfisher

The Kingfisher is probably one of the UK's most colourful and photogenic birds and a 'must have' image for keen wildlife Photographers,  We are blessed with a good population in Cornwall with most waterways that support good fish stocks having resident Kingfisher with predictable fishing habits at favoured locations,  

This Kingfisher Portrait was taken at West Quay on the Hayle Estuary during 2014 where this particular bird had taken to using the mooring ropes of boats tied up along the Jetty to fish within the estuary,  I learnt to predict its favoured position on particular mooring ropes to with 30cm,  set my camera up within the estuary at low water,  retreated to the jetty and snapped away using remote control shutter release,   It soon became evident that this territorial bird had also taken to attacking its reflection in a particular boat porthole and on one occasion it did so with such force as to end up Spark-out on its back on the boat deck only to recover and do it all again.
Ryan's field is a popular location for Kingfisher Photography where two or more birds can be seen on some occasions,  The kingfisher often hover and eventually dive for fish directly in front of the hide creating the opportunity for montage sequences such as the above water exit image

Also at Ryan's field this Particular Pampas flower head was so predictable on the kingfisher perch position during 2015 that I was able to pre-set my composition and camera settings, lock my tripod, wait for the bird to arrive with fish and just snap away...

During November/December this year a Kingfisher has been fishing the small pond [about forty foot around ] at the side of the car park and main entrance into Tehidy Country Park on a regular basis, The bird appears to take little or no notice of the park visitors to the extent that when taking this image I was surrounded by a bus load of children that arrived from Marazion School,

Monday, 19 December 2016

Ryans Field RSPB Hayle Estuary

The Eric Grace Memorial Hide at Ryan's Field is a popular meeting place for birders and Photographers on a daily Basis,  Many species pass through here with regular rare sightings  Then you have the local stars such as Kingfisher, Peregrine, Lapwing, Sparrow hawk and Spoonbill and its the later which is illustrated here to show the hides potential for close subjects which are often on calm reflective water,

This  solo Spoonbill has spent much of the last year at various locations around the RSPB  Hayle estuary and regularly fishes for shrimps at Ryan's field

Perhaps a little lonely the Spoonbill shows some fancy footwork and wing structure to a local
Little Egret along with the invitation 'Come Dance with Me.....'

But the Egret Takes a Pass and the lonesome Spoonbill moves on

They say 'everything comes to he who waits ' and on the afternoon of the 8/11/16 another Spoonbill flew in to join the resident and they seemed to get alone just fine dancing just yet

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Stithians Reservoir,

During wet and windy days when lots of wildlife has gone to ground I often head for the cover of local hides which I select according to wind directions, Time of day for subject choice and natural light angles at the viewing area,  During November and December this year I worked at the Southern cut off hide at Stithians reservoir,  The attraction was not the feeders that subsidise a large variety of local birds but the opportunity to work at close quarters off the feeders on many otherwise shy and unapproachable subjects.

This fine male Great-spotted Woodpecker, Its mate (  and their young during summer months ) all visit the feeders regularly providing you keep your head and lenses well back from the viewing slots,  The trick is to be ready and capture your images prior to them moving directly onto the feeders

Water Rail have been high on my hit list for the last two years with only limited success on birds that were always half hidden by reeds etc at water margins,  I heard through the Grape vine that they were sighted at this feeding station regularly which has proved to be reliable information as I have worked on this bird on each of my last four visits

Many finches visit this location including this fine pair of Greenfinch

During my visits here I had seen this Sparrowhawk pass though on several occasions and during my last visit it surprised me as it flew onto the feeder frame assembly out of the blue.   At just five meters from my lens I knew it would be gone if I tried to move to avoid the out of focus foreground feeder framework,  I moved only my shutter finger for forty minutes as I watched it preen every feather it had while occasionally looking up with those piercing yellow eyes at the sound of my shutter firing,  Wonderful !

The composition of this image has been cropped to remove the out of focus foreground feeder frame and  to produce a pleasing close portrait.

Bittern at Marazion Marsh

I always look forward to the yearly challenge of first sighting and perhaps more demanding photographing a Bittern at Marazion Marsh reserve as the winter sets in,  This year the bittern count seems to just one individual that given the size of the marsh reed beds it has little reason to fly while spotting one amid the reeds is an art in itself,  Time and patience seem to be the way forward with a bit of luck thrown in to be in the right place at the right time,  My first image this year came on the 7th November at 9am  after an input of waiting time totalling twenty one hours for a 20 second fly-over but then there was a return flight less than 30 minutes later, 

Bittern flight over the reed beds

Return flight closer to the waterline

No Bittern in the reed beds so far this year but the above image was gifted to me by a bittern that climbed up the reeds directly in front of me on Longrock pond last winter 

Short-eared owls, Bartinney Down Cornwall

December 2016 has been a good month for Short-eared Owl photography on Bartinney Down near St Just, Two of these amazingly photogenic birds have moved onto the down and are currently involved in daily territorial disputes both with each other and a resident pair of Kestrel
Owl take-off montage

Aerial territorial dispute
Short -eared Owl portrait