Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year!

Just a quick post to wish you all a happy new year!  A year in review post will come soon I hope, I left it quite late in January this year and I do not wish to make a habit of it. So within the next couple of days, if I can.
 I'm looking forward to starting a new year-list tomorrow, from my recent trips to the patch I calculate I should manage at least thirty if the weather isn't too bad tomorrow.  I'll also start a patch year-list for the first time this coming year which should be interesting.  My yearlist  for Britain and Ireland this year was 166, I'm hoping to get 180 in 2014, though that may be tricky. So fingers crossed for next year!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Patch Kingfisher....

As I said in my last post it was my plan yesterday morning to have another look for the Kingfisher.  When I first arrived, the waterway where I believe the Kingfisher is currently residing was still in shade as the sun hadn't reached it yet.  So I doubted that the fish would be swimming in the cold water, I wouldn't want to if I was in their place.  However it wasn't long until the sun started reaching the area and only another fifteen minutes until I spotted the Kingfisher flying in from behind us.  It flew into a bush before landing on a perch I had randonly set up the day before.  It sat here for at least twenty seconds while my father and I stood just twenty five feet away on a footpath.  The bird was caught in a single ray of sunlight which brought the colours out superbly against a dark background leading to quite a good photographic opportunity.  Not a moment I will be forgetting anytime soon.

To think that there is a Kingfisher only a 2 minute walk from my house is unbelievable!  The start of a new project I think.
 While I was waiting for the Kingfisher to turn up I saw a fair few more Redwing than yesterday which is a sure sign that winter is coming.  Maybe there'll be Fieldfare soon, I'm ashamed to say I haven't patch-ticked them yet.  I know, dreadful isn't it?  But my patch now has a Kingfisher so I'm far more than happy. I remember a few months ago I was complaining about my patch having nothing of interest, it just shows that perseverance pays off.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Patch Tick

The patch yesterday was fantastic.  I managed to see over thirty species without trying too hard to get all the small ticks, I had the first Redwing of the season and a patch tick.  And all that in only an hour and a half, which for my patch isn't bad.  I don't think I've patch-ticked since the 1st of the year, so it's been a long time, though correct me if I'm wrong.
 Yesterday we were lucky.  A birder from Norfolk had found a Kingfisher on my patch, a Kingfisher! I had no idea the waterways on the patch were so good.  So thanks to that birder we now have Kingfisher on the patch list, one of the patch highlights of the year!
 Although I need to fine tune this shot just a little bit.  So that's this morning planned...

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

It's that time of year again, as I'm sure you've noticed.  So I'd just like to wish everyone a great Christmas, and a fantastic New Year!
 Have a good one!

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Old Faithfuls

Yesterday I took fellow young wildlife photographer Yusuf Akhtar around my patch for a morning of photographing Grey Wagtails.  I'd say that it was quite a successful morning, although I personally didn't get many shots to keep. The light was good but for the most part the birds stayed just a little out of range.   As they were a bit distant to start with I spent some more time noting there behavior, the most noteworthy of my mental notes being that they never leave the canal.  Despite flying in the completely opposite direction when flushed they will always come back  naturally further down from where they were disturbed. The more I know the easier it'll become to get shots -in theory.

 In the end the wagtails started to show quite well for me and Yusuf, not as crazily close as they have, but a more respectable distance, some fifteen foot or so.  At that distance I managed to get one more shot for the archives...

 This is going to be my last visit to the Patch before Christmas I'm afraid, but it was an enjoyable morning nonetheless, it's always good to meet other young wildlife photographers and it's always fun to photograph Grey Wagtails.  I've got quite a few plans for the Wagtails in the new year, from snow shots (if it ever comes) and possibly even wide-angles, so I will try my best to keep you updated.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Happy 'Bird'day

On Saturday I celebrated my fourteenth birthday, I know, I'm getting old.  I should probably buy myself a tweed suit soon.
 But I did not write this blog with the intention of talking about my (old) age or my birthday itself for that matter.  I think you will find the day before my birthday rather more interesting.  I might have gone - 'cough cough' - twitching.  When you see what I twitched you will agree with me, all moral codes against twitching needed to be broken.  It was worth the risk of being called a twitcher (which did actually happen while I was there) to see it.  I twitched this little beauty....

 A Great-grey Shrike at Chanctonbury Ring, what fantastic birds they are too.  To say the least it made my day.  Plans to twitch Spoonbill were scrapped a few minutes after we first got onto the bird, it was about then that we realised just how good this Shrike was.  At one point it came -for half a second- within two foot of where I was standing, just astounding.

I must have spent nearly two hours photographing this bird, it was pretty mobile never staying in one spot for more than a couple of minutes before flying to a new perch.  So it kept me on my feet, I only lost it a couple of times but it was easy enough to re-find.
What a birthday treat, it was a great bird, it showed well and the light was good.  What more could you ask for?

So that was a great to start to the day, we didn't leave the Shrike until about two in afternoon so we only had time for one more quick stop before the light went.  A stop off at Shoreham Fort got me another life-tick -  Purple Sandpiper.  The light was pretty much gone by now, so this record shot will have to suffice for you.  There were seven of them there, a bird I've wanted to see for quite a while.  This one showed pretty well.

I'm not sure about by your standards, but for me that was one heck of a day out, a lifer is always appreciated, two is just amazing!  And when they show as well as they did... I managed some shots which I was fairly pleased with too.  So yes, a great way to celebrate my last day birding as a thirteen year-old.  Do you not agree?  Now how will birding be at fourteen...

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Suffolk Wildlife Trust Photographic Competition.

A few weeks ago I entered the Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Photographic Competition.  To say the least I was pleased, when a short while later I got an email to say that I had been placed Highly Commended in the 'Young Wildlife Photographer' category.  So it was on Friday I was to be found in Suffolk -at Lackford Lakes to be precise- for an awards ceremony.  I must admit, I have never been one for large gatherings of people -20 counts as large- but I won't deny, I had a fantastic evening.  It was great to talk to some of the other photographers and staff at the reserve.  There was also free salted peanuts....

It was this beauty of a Jumping Spider who won Highly Commended, if only it had known...it might have been more of a poser.  They seemed to like running away from the camera if I remember correctly.
 So  a rather enjoyable evening, I was home by half-past-eight.  And I got a certificate....

Monday, 2 December 2013

Tick, Tick, err Tick?

On Friday I was attending an awards ceremony in Suffolk -more of that later- so as I was in the area it would have been rude not to go birding wouldn't it?  And I must confess, it has to be one of the best days birding I've had for a fair while.  Just on the drive to Suffolk I had eight Kestrels, and a Buzzard, so not all that boring a way to spend an hour and a half.  And upon arriving at Lynford Arboretum -our location of choice- I heard my first ever Crossbills flying over.  Ten Minutes later a flock of five landed in a tree, as you may know Crossbill is, if you like, my bogey bird.  I can't believe it took so long to see one.  It did however make seeing one all that more rewarding, and to say the least enjoyable.
 The only problem was, winter light doesn't last long, so I didn't have much time to try and get close to them.  As a result this poor record shot was as much as I could manage.

 A walk to find the Hawfinches here was a waste of time, but when we got back to the area with the Crossbills someone got us on to a pair of these not so small beauties.  Despite the incredibly distant views, to see these chunky finches was incredible, something I doubted I would do for quite a while.  And a second life tick to the day was much appreciated.

 However there is more to this story, it took a rather confusing turn when I saw this.  To an un-trained eye, like mine one would assume this a Two-barred Crossbill.  If only...

You see it's not all as simple as you would think at first glance, and if you have an experienced pair of eyes for this kind of thing you would know that this isn't a Two-Bar Crossbill.  The first reason it isn't is because, well I saw it.  And the chances of life-ticking Common and Two-bar Crossbill in the same day is... for the most part slim.
 As you can probably guess the key feature in a Two-Bar is its wing-bars.  On this individual they were quite dull, not the 'stand out' bars a true Two-Bar would have.  The colour of the bird was also a bit of a give away, not quite the pink-red that it should be, and also the size, just a little bit too big.  I'm sure that there are probably various little details that I forgot to mention, but they're the keys things, I think
 So after much discussion the verdict was that this was probably some sort of hybrid.  Could I tick it?  Certainly not.  However it was a rather interesting bird, and it got the mind working so it doesn't sit all that badly with me.  Although it did lie about its identity....

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