Thursday, 30 March 2017

Stithians today

There were a couple of birds present at Stithians southern cut-off hide today that I had not worked with at this location before. The first was a very shy Jay that seemed to arrive at the same time as the male Great Spotted Woodpecker which was not impressed and departed post haste,  The Jay seemed concerned about the hide so I closed all but one small viewing slot and waited quietly and it slowly moved out of cover enough for a clear image and eventually on to the ground to forage under the feeders. Nice bird !

My second new photo opportunity came from a very active Wren which I have seen here before but this was the first time that it spent long enough to achieve the  portrait image below.
There was no sight or sound of our usually busy and often noisy Little Grebes out on the water but there was a lone Cormorant fishing and I wondered was there a connection or a threat by the Cormorant's presence to the Little Grebes,  Checking along the margins I found the answer in a very quiet Little grebe hiding within the reeds
As soon as the Cormorant had finished fishing and departed the grebes were back on the case and soon catching plenty of Sticklebacks again

Other resident birds were showing as usual and it was nice to see a Goldfinch feeding on Pussy Willow instead of sunflower hearts

Of which the Reed Bunting below seems to have had more than his share

This image of the male Great Spotted Woodpecker was taken as it was stretching its neck to check out the unappreciated  arrival of the above Jay

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Mute Swan Rules OK !

The Pair of Mute Swan on the section of  marsh between the beach causeway and British Rail main line are fine birds and worthy of the territory that they command,  Often described as tame or semi-domestic the Mute Swan's aggressive territorial behaviour is anything but.  Today I witnessed this aggression towards a young male Swan that made the mistake of landing within their territory.

The powerful male swan pictured above chased down the young inexperienced swan both in the air and eventually along the ground of the warren at the front of the marsh,  This larger, stronger and more experienced resident bird hounded the young bird until it was cornered up against the causeway boundary wall.
At this point it set about the young bird jabbing and biting at its head and trampling over its body,  The young bird made little or no attempt to fight back other than trying to escape only to be trampled and jabbed again for several minutes at which time I could not stand by and watch this one sided attack any longer,  Running along the causeway I intervened and separated the birds,  The youngster made another bid to escape and fly off but was to shocked and exhausted to make it off the ground

The resident male took advantage and went straight back on the attack finally catching the youngster 100 yards back along the warren close to my original camera position,  I tried to wait it out to see how things developed but the young bird was taking a beating and fading fast,
The young bird eventually stopped stuggling and the resident male had started continuous jabbing at its head,  I feared for its life and perhaps rightly or wrongly I interfered in this one sided battle once again, 
Thirty minutes later the resident male was patrolling back on the water 50 meters or so away and the young swan still sat looking shocked and beaten on the warren,  I had to go but felt uneasy and feared that the show of  territorial aggression that I had just witnessed would erupt again before the young swan had recovered enough to escape.  'Nature in the raw'

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Cornish Kestrel part 14

     As I walked down through the coastal fields this morning I could see Kate our female Kestrel long before I arrived,  She was using the cliff face updraught to hang on the wing for some energy saving  hunting in a light southerly wind.
I went down through the cliffs to a lower level to gain some shelter and worked my way to one of my preferred viewing points and Kate came down and perched close by,  I thought she was just being sociable until I realised that she was not watching me but a busy little Rock pipit hunting for insects among washed up kelp snipes on the shore,
It is quite rare to see many small birds in this area and also to see the local kestrels predating on them  when vole, lizard and slow worms are in such abundance  I could also tell by the blood stain on Kate's chest that she had already eaten very recently but I guess there is no harm in stashing more prey for later,  she decided against it and I enjoyed watching the delicate feeding habits of the Rock pipit for a while,

Kate settled for a bit of a wash and brush-up until a couple of low flying local Buzzard circled effortlessly around the cove several times with Kate watching their every move,

One moved on along the coast but the other decided to go around one more circuit which was obviously one to many for Kate and up she went to harass it out of her patch,  The buzzard had seen it all before but grudgingly decided to move on with its mate.

I have been getting a bit frustrated at missing possible images of the interactions of our two kestrels at times of prey handover and mating,  Even yesterday My wife and I witnessed a noisy prey hand over while working on another project in the same area so I checked my records for the last couple of years and it seems to be that around four weeks of waiting to be in the right place at the right time is par for the coarse to capture these somewhat spontaneous activities.  I guess only time will tell ! 

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Wheal Prosper Star Trail

This image of Wheal Prosper near Rinsey car park was taken between 11pm and 0.40 am on what was a clear dark night without any moonlight. The only artificial light used came from my mobil phone torch within the picture composition and was captured on a single time exposure of thirty seconds.  The star trail is formed by 188 registered thirty second images which have been stacked and merged along with the first image using Startrail 2.3 software The total exposure time was one hour forty minutes,  I love the challenge of producing an interesting image in such dark conditions and in this particular image the aim was to seek out the northern pole star so as to place the axis point over the top of Wheal Prosper chimney stack. There is a crank in the star trail registration as I had to wipe away early morning due collecting on my 14-24mm wide angle lens optics part way through the exercise but I can live with that  rather than a fogged image  It is now 3.45am and way past time I was in bed   Good Night!

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!