Friday, 27 January 2017

Stithians large and small

There were lots of Canada geese showing at the southern cut-off today, most of them seemed to have separated into small family groups and it was interesting to watch parent birds starting to set up territory in which they vocally and physically tried to repel all invaders,  several Snipe, A Water Rail and a Kingfisher were also seen working the margins,

The feeders were busy with dozens of Chaffinch,  A squadron of invading Long-tailed Tits, many Blue and Great Tits, Four Reed Bunting and half a dozen Goldfinch.

Marazion warren Buzzard

I had spent most of last Sunday waiting for Kingfisher sightings at Tehidy without any luck so I decided to call in at Marazion marsh on my way home hoping to get lucky with the Bittern but again no show,  I did however get lucky with a close encounter with a Buzzard that attacked a crow with carrion on the front warren very near the viewing recess but the crow escaped with its fish and the buzzard moved on looking for greener pastures

Stithians bullfinch

The southern cut-off hide at Stithians reservoir came up with all the usual favourites pm yesterday including Great-spotted Woodpeckers, Water Rail, and Goldfinch, Perhaps a little more unusual
was the sudden influx of three Bullfinch, one female and two males all of which foraged around the feeder bases for around fifteen minutes,  The males seemed quite accepting of each other which provided the opportunity to capture two in one frame,

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Roe Deer at Tehidy Country Park

Having heard that Roe Deer were sighted in the fields at Tehidy Country Park from time to time, I completed a daytime recky to check out the area prior to an early AM visit this morning,  It was a perfect cold frosty morning with little or no wind at dawn as I settled into my chosen watch point, The dawn light and sunrise behind a distant treeline created a magical morning setting within which I waited for Roe Deer sightings.

My first Roe Deer Sighting came within thirty minutes when I spotted a familiar buff coloured rump moving along a far dark hedgerow But low light and distant subjects don't make for good pictures so I held off and waited quietly for a better opportunity,  The first deer seemed to vanish but within ten minutes I could see three doe Roe deer in the same location, light levels were beginning to improve but the deer were still to far away but then something spooked them from the farm buildings behind the treeline and all three came galloping in my direction covering three to four hundred yards very quickly,   Now I was in business and able to fire off twenty to thirty quiet single shots before they ambled back towards the treeline,   Yippee!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Marsh Harrier at Marazion

I popped along to the front viewing area at Marazion Marsh PM yesterday where Jan Ruhrmund enthusiastically told me she had just been watching a Marsh Harrier and she pointed out its current landing location within the reed beds.   It was indeed still there and it lifted off to conduct slow hunting flights in the central marsh area that is backed by the railway line for around fifteen minutes,  It was a bit of a push on focal distance for the Nikon 500mm F4 lens but a delight to watch as it landed and took off several times,  This was only my second sighting of a Marsh Harrier at Marazion so a big 'Thank you' to Jan Ruhrmund for sharing her sighting,

The Ducking Wren

Spent Five hours at Tehidy Country Park yesterday morning looking to complete my 'Kingfisher with fish ' project but no show,  The story goes that it has not been seen since last Monday, Perhaps this female has moved off to a nesting territory earlier than expected,  All I got for my efforts was this ducking Wren feeding on fresh water shrimps which is behaviour that I quite often witness in my Garden Pond.   ( I heard on Sunday 22nd that the Kingfisher was seen several times on Thursday I9th)

What an amazing little bird the wren can be,  On this occasion I watched it duck for three shrimps in quick succession before flitting off around the pond looking for more,

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Taking an evening flight

I got bogged down fitting new kitchen appliances today but just manage to get to the coast to watch a male Kestrel taking an evening flight along the clifftops just before sunset,  The beauty of this particular bird was evenly matched by its casual but skillful flight as it used a light easterly breeze to its advantage,  Its ever changing posture also created dramatic highlights and shadow from the low sunlight as it hunted for a vole for supper before continuing out of sight.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Spoonbill's morning work-out

    I dropped into Ryan's field hide early AM to find the reserves resident Spoonbill asleep in the middle of the lagoon with its bill firmly buried over its back between its wings,  Not much inspiration here but I took a couple of shots as you do and noticed that the Spoonbills reflection was quite strong even in the prevailing low light levels,  I locked my lens and focus onto the bird, turned on my remote shutter control and waited on the assumption that the bird must surely wake up shortly,  

The first sign of life came when the spoonbill started moving with a token preen of its under-feathers

This was followed by more energetic standing on the spot  wing exercises over several minutes

Its strong wing beats and impressive wingspan now created a more exciting image

In the final image below the Spoonbill used the full power of its amazing 1.35m wingspan to make a standing take-off while also creating the opportunity for this pleasing full stretch reflection before flying  off over the estuary

Monday, 16 January 2017

Birds of Prey today

Birds of prey seemed to be the order of the day at Rinsey on the south coast,  Shortly after leaving the car park heading east towards Porthleven my first photo opportunity came by way of a Buzzard using a low level gate post as a vantage point to hunt vole, As I took a few shots it was harassed by a crow that seemed determined to move it on but the buzzard was having none of it and within a minute or so it dropped onto its prey in the field leaving the crow with the post.

Moving on along the coast path I watched a familiar Kestrel hunting over fields for ten minutes, Having no luck it swooped back out over Trewavas cliffs to land at one of its clifftop vantage points about twenty yards in front of me and my second bird of prey was in the bag.

I sat watching the Kestrel for a while waiting for a Take-off shot when the familiar sight of a peregrine flew low over the sea around the cliff face and seemed to rise effortlessly up to a predictable perch point producing a graceful and well controlled landing and my third bird of prey for the day.

The south coast was a joy today being well protected from the Northerly winds,  Add to that wonderful bird life on show and I went home counting my blessings!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Peregrine swoop montage

I have been out along the south coast checking for early adders at a few local hot spots and no I have not lost my marbles,  Last year I found two on the 25th January following a frost and they were recorded as the earliest UK sighting for 2016,  None today but a male Peregrine that I often work with made two shows and on the second it treated me to a swooping dive from a high vantage point on vertical cliffs,
A fine male Peregrine on a high vantage Point

It had spotted potential prey flying down the cliff face and looks ready to Strike

The Peregrine uses its powerful legs to launch itself off of the clifftop

It starts to turn down into a swoop

 and quickly descends out of my line of vision below the cliff line which was a little disappointing but it was an exciting experience to watch how quickly the Peregrine responded to a potential meal,  I felt that my images lacked the full story here so  decided to create a montage of the last three images to emphasise the movement,

Friday, 13 January 2017

Full frame Kingfisher

Since working with the Tehidy Kingfisher on the fifth January and been impressed by the photo opportunities that it creates naturally,  I considered the potential to achieve a full frame uncroped composition which is something that I rarely seem to achieve on small skitty birds etc,  I watched the Kingfishers behaviour noting its many favoured perch points and selected the closest one that the bird brought fish to where I could set up my gear at the lens minimum focal distance of 3.6m with the intention of firing the shutter by remote control from a more acceptable distance,  I also added a 1.4 converter to my system and reduced my usual choice of full frame format of 36x24 to 24x16 to reduce the finished composition at 3.6m to a picture area of just 20 x 14cm for the bird to fly into with a fish which seems like a bit of a compositional challenge!
My first attempt to capture the bird at the right spot took four and a half hours for an eleven second perch,  Framing was fine but No fish and the turned head has lost focus during take-off and in the mean time I was a bit frustrated while watching her diving, catching fish and juggling balls at all the other perch points.

On the second attempt yesterday after just one and a half hours the bird and the composition are fine but still no fish! but watch this space next week to see if I can complete this challenge

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Good day or bad day ?

Good day or bad day ?  Well yesterday was a bad day with regards to the weather,  Longrock and Marazion marsh were looking cold and abandoned and the Hayle estuary was no better, Tried Tehidy for protection from the wind but the rain was coming down like stair rods so do I go home so early in the day or find somewhere with all weather cover,  Half an hour later I arrived at the southern cut-off hide at Stithians where all the recent rainfall had raised the water levels bringing the margins far closer to the hide,   It proved to be a good day for birdlife with local stars like the Water Rail and a pair of Woodpecker visiting the feeders regularly but for me it was the opportunity to capture close images of the 70+ Lapwing and 40+ Snipe feeding at the water margins that made the day.
A rather wet Woodpecker in the rain

The Water Rail looked immaculate as the rain just rolled off of its tight oiled feather formation

The Snipe were very actively feeding, with no regards to the weather conditions  in fact they seemed to be enjoying the rain

The Lapwing were not so impressed with the weather but resigned to waiting it out while providing me with some close images

So It was not such a bad day after all !

Monday, 9 January 2017

Ryan's field

The Eric Grace memorial hide is just a ten minute drive away from my home,  Its a great location for regular rare sightings,  I also use it quite often on wet days when the wind is blowing south-east through to south-west as the hide and the tidal field water remain protected and calm in these conditions,  Today was one of those days and I popped round to the hide at first light, 
Light levels were low but very few locations would have yielded calm water reflections in the current weather conditions on subjects such as this foraging Redshank,

As the light levels improved  a little I worked on this fine black-tailed Godwit as it worked its way along the water margins eventually foraging in front of the hide

A little Egret was the next arrival,  It landed as is quite common place just fifteen meters in front of the hide in fairly heavy rain and went straight into this shake-out  mode to remove water from its very fine and immaculate plumage,  It then went about catching its Breakfast and I went home for mine

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Just Passing

Low cloud and Cornish missal closed in over Bartinney down by 14.30 today bringing an end to any chance of Short-eared owl Photography for the day,  Heading towards home I passed longrock fields and noticed a flock of 35 Curlew feeding,  Light levels were low and evening mist was forming which would demand high ISO and slow shutter speed camera exposure settings but I decided to give it a go,

The Curlew stopped feeding,  A sure sign that my presence was rumbled and as I took my first images the entire flock departed but all was not lost,

As the birds went up so did the head of a Roe deer that I had not previously seen hunkered down in the hedgerow behind them

As the deer stood up I noticed that she had already started to moult her winter coat very early which detracted from gaining a pleasing image but she started to scratch around her neck area where the moulting fur was obviously itching and it was nice to catch the moment when she found the right spot

When she finally moved away fifteen minutes later the results of her scratching were very clearly visible but she seemed quite happy as indeed was I and we both went on our way.