Monday, 27 February 2017

Cornish Kestrel part 8

Yesterday was a disaster with the Kestrels, The winds, rough seas and a tide times mix-up literally pushed me from my tidal rocky viewpoint in less than an hour,  'The best laid plans of mice and men'  So I came away without a picture taken, the forecast for today looked grim but proved to be drier than expected, so I went off to do battle with nature once again, light levels were good and the strong westerly winds helped to produce some lovely aerial displays from our pair of Kestrel.  Kate in particular showed off her skills at using the up-draughts from the cliffs to put on an amazing show.  In the first image below she is just about to take off after stashing prey,

Due to the up-draughts her graceful take-off required no more than just opening her wings after which she just hung motionless without any wing movement to hover above the stash.

She eventually moved forward still hovering and stopped motionless on the wind above her nest site with a back-drop of Tamerisk for around 30 seconds before making a sharp and graceful turn to streak off along the coastline in just a few seconds. " No effort required !"

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Cornish Kestrel part 7

It has been a cold and blustery morning and set to stay that way for the rest of the day,  Light levels were poor early AM but it was not raining as was forecast for later so I braved the south coast to see how the Kestrels were doing,  No sign of Kevin the male kestrel but Kate returned with prey within ten minutes of my arrival and took it to a stash on the far side of the cove,  She then made what looked like a purposeful flight directly towards me across the cove and settled into the closest cliff ledge above me as if to say  'I'm watching you watching me '

And she sat there for nearly two hours allowing me plenty of time to study her behaviour and pick off many varied portrait images such as the one below during one of her 'bird watching' sessions

I think she was keeping an eye open for her mate as she looks pristine and ready to get on with the job of starting a new brood,  In between preening and stretching she spent quite a lot of time scratching in particular around her head and neck giving me plenty of different angles to chose from to photograph,  I have selected the one below because it showed total commitment to scratching with no eye contact in any direction which is rare for a bird of prey,   I think the sooner her dust bowl is back in action again the better!

Friday, 24 February 2017

Cornish Kestrel part 6

Everything is looking on target with the kestrel's breeding season, I saw Kevin leave as I arrived at their cove this morning and Kate returned with prey which she immediately consumed,

Within ten minutes she flew to her favoured dust bowl location only to find that last nights rain and this mornings sunshine had turned it into a mud cake,

She tried to raise some dust to help clear parasites and fleas but soon gave up, Better luck tomorrow maybe!

Returning to base for a good old fashioned preening of all feathers right down to her tail tips

Time for a little stretching and limbering up before:

Flying off for a little more hunting,

She soon returned with another vole which she made no attempt to eat but took straight to one of her favoured stash points, This is a positive sign that their territory is productive and should help stimulate a will to produce another brood

Kevin should very soon take over the role of supplying Kate with prey to prove his capability as provider when a brood arrives,  Prey hand-over makes an excellent interaction image and I look forward to this years experience,

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Cornish Kestrel part 5

Its been nine days since I last checked our my Kestrel site up until which time there had been no sign of the male kestrel settling or re-bonding with the female, Well I am pleased to report that 'Kevin' is looking good and seems to be taking more interest in the nest site again as shown in this portrait below which was taken this morning,

He was paying more attention to Kate who was also looking on top form and busy preening feathers in the portrait below, 

Kate's location on the cliff was a little awkward but she adopted a submissive low head stance and called to Kevin to mate,  His response was immediate but unfortunately facing away from the camera,

It was good to see that all was back on coarse for another breeding season and I look forward to following their progress on into the summer.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Stithians feeder

I spent a couple of hours at the hide AM without taking many images,  I missed the woodpecker and the Sparrowhawk which I believe made a successful strike because of the awkward current position of the feeders,  I also noted that there was no show from the Water Rail,  The feeder assembly has been moved from a reasonable right hand front position to the side and is now only really viewable from the side window,   It is far to close to the hide for many bird species, birders
and photographers to be at an acceptable distance apart,

I returned my attention to willows on the right hand side to enable working at a reasonable distance and came up with this rather pleasing natural looking Goldfinch portrait below,

I was joined in the hide by Shaun Martin one of the voluntary feeder fillers around lunch time,  Shaun is also a keen wildlife photographer and the positioning of the current feeder assembly came up fairly quickly during our conversation regarding the photo opportunities available at this hide,  He seemed to agree with my comments regarding the feeder frame positioning also stating that he had another peanut feeder available which he filled and placed on old feeder frames that were at a more comfortable distance near a mature tree line to the left of the hide,  During the following hour we had three visits from a male Great Spotted Woodpecker that knew we were in the hide but was reasonably comfortable with our distance from the nuts,  Images of the SparrowHawk, Water Rail  and other more skitty birds would also be more achievable and frequent at this distance,

During our conversation regards to photography in general,  Shaun and I discussed sequence montages relating to various subjects,  The one below is for you Shaun,  It was good to meet you today

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Cattle Egret and Cormorants spooked at roost

I arrived at the Loe Pool roost around 2.30pm yesterday and was surprised that sixteen Cattle egret and twenty four Cormorants were already present,  I had gone early hoping for Cattle Egret group flight images low to the waterline but that seemed to unlikely now considering their presence so I settled down to work on seven Cormorants on a fallen tree on the west side of the pool and two pairs of camera shy Great Crested Grebe that seemed to be on an endless patrol.

The Roost
Cormorant Display

I hid among several close Pampas grasses for a hour to take just one burst of this camera shy grebe five metres from the water margin

At 3.30pm a fast moving noisy jet fighter flew over to be followed by two low flying helicopters and by 3.40pm  there was not a bird to be seen on Loe Pool.  Charming!

This negative incident did as it happens create a photo opportunity for me with all sixteen Cattle Egret in flight together but this time they were travelling north away from the roost

I waited until 4.30pm hoping to see the egrets return but it was not to be,  What a shame that this rare Cornish gathering of Cattle Egrets should be spooked off of this roost sight along with all other local birds by such aggressive helicopter low flight paths directly over the pool,

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Sixteen Cattle Egret to Loe Pool roost

Following last nights CBSPS report posting Fifteen Cattle Egret at Loe Pool Degibna roost  I decided to try my luck for a few group piccies this evening,  Sure the light levels were low and it was quite misty at times but hey we are talking about white birds here,  I allowed some time to find the roost area and select an optimum viewing area and was just about ready when I saw a flock of gulls heading south from the north end but they weren't gulls they were Cattle egret which headed for and settled into the expected roost area,  This exercise was repeated fifteen minutes later when a further six birds flew in from the same direction,  A few minutes later I had multiple images of sixteen Cattle egrets in one tree.     Thanks to T&M Hasdell for the CBSPS sighting and excellent viewing suggestion

The image below is of a group of twelve Cattle Egret taken around 3.40pm the following evening, They were joined by a further four birds at 4.20 pm

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Early Adder at Trewavas Head

I went to Trewavas Head again pm today looking for adders and peregrine but no show on the way towards Porthleven,  But had a good show from a hunting male kestrel then spent some time with the pair of nesting raven looking for mating images,  No joy with that but recorded plenty of interaction images,  The sun was still shining when I started my return walk so I went via my known adder hot spot for one more recky,

On my arrival I could see immediately that my luck had changed,  An adder was out basking in an area that I had cleared for them over a month ago when looking for a January record sighting,  I set to work at a minimum focal distance of 3.5m trying to get the most from what proved to be a tricky adder portrait but at least its head was in the foreground,

With plenty of shots in the can I decided to try to do a little 'gardening' to clear away some annoying undergrowth but when I did so the feisty adder went straight into strike mode so I backed- off and took a few more images instead,  'Thank you Feisty Adder!'

Drift Reservoir

I revisited Drift reservoir yesterday to check for Great Crested Grebe sightings and Mating interaction,  Last year I followed a pair from mating through to bringing on two fledglings and am considering doing the same on a blog this year.

On arrival I could hardly ignore the resident male Manderin duck strutting its stuff  among the mallard looking like a mechanical Piccasso, for surely something other than nature came up with its design
Walking on along the margins I saw my first Great Crested Grebe diving for fish occasionally as it classically kept moving away from me,  To say that they are camera shy would be an understatement as I found out during last years attempts to compile a full photographic record of a summer season,
I decided to set myself up in the hide and try my luck with closer bird passes while keeping the front of my unhooded 500mm lens well back inside the viewing slots,  Around two hours later while keeping very still and quiet I had the reward of a Grebe fishing directly in front of the Hide for around five minutes which produced several portrait images including the two above and below,

Tufted Duck were also quite high in numbers with 20+ sighted fishing in random small groups around the reservoir,  Three Little grebes also came in close to the hid but the low light levels made it difficult to create a pleasing image,
Just before leaving the sound of two hundred or more very loud Canada geese landing on the water shattered the peace of the afternoon so after taking a few flight shots I headed back along the margins reflecting over a very pleasant afternoon at drift which was looking well managed and sporting healthy bird numbers

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Ravens Reign

I returned to Rinsey pm yesterday to check on the local Peregrine and adders,  No show on the Adders and when I checked out a popular Peregrine perch point a fine male calling Raven was in residence,
It was soon joined by its mate and she was making obvious signs that she wanted feeding
He flew off only to return twenty minutes later with a face full of what looked like winkles which she readily accepted before flying off herself
The male picked up a couple of winkles that the female had left and stashed them under some vegetation for later
Watching the Pair it quickly became evident that they had moved in as they both flew into a well chosen rock ledge where they had constructed a fine nest site,  So it looks like 'Peregrine out' and Ravens Rule OK!!  I just hope that the Peregrine don't take their revenge on any future fledglings.  I did see one of the Peregrine at a less popular location a little later

Buzzard Convoy

Walking the coast path fron Rinsey towards Porthleven this afternoon I watched six buzzards in convoys of threes drifting on the south westerly breeze towards Porthleven, They were all a little to far inland for me to photograph and the sunlight to the rear didn't help,  I decided to keep watch to see if they returned and around an hour later they returned passed me over Trewavas Head,  some were still to far inland but two worked their way flying low along the coastline heading into the sun and providing a good photo opportunity,  How graceful they looked while covering several miles of coastline with little or no effort required.

Misty Morning

I left home on a promising bright early morning, off looking for Roe Deer and Bittern at Marazion Marsh,  As I drove down and through Goldsithney hug patches of rolling mist filled the valley down through to Marazion creating a very peaceful scene which I did my best to capture with a fixed 500mm lens which was hardly fit for purpose,

I went on down to the marsh which had its share of rolling mist which gradually lifted,  It was not the best conditions for Bittern so I concentrated my efforts on a Little Egret fishing the Margins and came away with this sequence of take-off reflections posted below.

Back Home for breakfast then off looking for Adder and Peregrine  Happy Days!