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....

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Patching Things Up...

As you may have remembered I posted a few days ago that my patch had re-opened.  And I'm sure you remember why it closed.  And yes, my worries were to some extent confirmed.  You see I was curious whether a 3 week absence of people in a usually busy park would affect the wildlife at all.  It did.  Nothing major and definitely nothing lasting long.  If only it had lasted longer.  You see on the first day that the patch reopened a Little Egret turned up.  Yes I know nothing too exciting, but on my patch, pretty mega and when I found out it was too late to even bother trying to tick it.  And naturally it wasn't reported again.  Just fantastic.
 The disappointment didn't last long though.  It seemed that the patch wanted to make it up to me.  First with this....

Although I won't deny a little bit of light wouldn't have gone amiss here.  But it's always nice to get close to one of these.

I've visited twice since it has re-opened.  On the first visit I had the Woodpecker, and on the second it was a lake bird which made my day.  Well not just one bird but five.  You see on my patch I've never seen more than two Little Grebes at any given time, so to have two at one side and three at the other....well, everyone's patch is different.  To many this may seem trivial but I've been coming to the park for nearly two years birdwatching, and this is the first time I've seen that many Little Grebes.  So quite a day in my patching history.
 I'm now almost over the Little Egret, but it' still lurking there at the back of my mind, one day I will see one here.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Monday, 18 November 2013

G.I. Blues

I'm afraid that I may have broken my rule.  You remember the one about twitching?  How I wasn't a twitcher.  Well of course I stand by the fact I am not, but I have to get this off my chest.  I twitched, no, worse. I dipped.  The embarrassment.
 What did I dip?  One of the many Glossy Ibis around at the moment, this particular individual being at Bowers Marsh.  And as I should have known from previous twitching (cough cough) experiences it wasn't there.  I should have learnt my lesson already.  But no, I have to add another dip to my ever growing list.  Well honestly it's not that big, but it outnumbers successful twitches.  Which isn't many.  Because of course I don't do that kind of thing do I?
 These more than made up for the G.I's absence....

To me, seeing the Corn Bunting means much more than the Glossy Ibis, you see, where they come from they're not rare.  Over here they are, yes.  Corn Buntings however are much rarer, they are declining at an incredible rate.  So seeing nearly half-a-dozen flying together means a lot more than a singular Glossy Ibis.  Though I'm not saying I would say no to seeing one.
 But Corn Buntings, this Corn Bunting, just fantastic to see.

According to the map of the place there were three hides, these turned out to be non-existent.  Unless they're that camouflaged.  But surely they can't have developed hides that good yet, especially ones big enough for more than two people.

 We had a couple of Kestrels, a Marsh Harrier, Stonechat and Skylark of note, but not too much to photograph, so I'm terribly sorry to say the two Corn Buntings are all I have for you.  But then again they are Corn Buntings.
 So no Ibis, but not a disappointing day at all.
 The G.I blues didn't last for long...

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Slightly Late Storm Damage

My patch is closed.  It has been for seven days now, one whole week.  Can you guess why?  Well remember that storm eleven days ago? That's who's to blame.  Strangely, I visited the park about twice after the storm before the park closed.  So I have no idea why they waited so long.  While I was there I did see a couple of fallen trees, and there was a lot of branches everywhere.  But why keep it open a couple of days before closing it if there was any danger? Personally, I would have thought the park should have been checked out the day after the storm.  That would be more logical.  Right?  Oh well there is nothing I can do but wait.
 Recently I've been working on photographing Grey Wagtails. surprisingly  they seem to be tolerant of my presence (at last), so it doesn't go too well with me to be away from photographing them for so long.    It's just so nice to spend time with a particular species.
I may have taken a few shots of them so far.  One day I did take about 400 images of one bird.  So I do need more, and I do have more. But for now this is all  you can have of my collection.  Once I've got more shots I will do a full write up, but until then that's it.  Just to keep you in suspense, they do come close...

So I am hoping they get their gear together over in the parks department, the park has been closed way too long.  Surely it won't take any longer to clear up?  Only time will tell.  But I live in hope...

Wednesday, 30 October 2013


The story behind Ilford's most famous gull.  It starts on an October day way back in the year 2000, when I was still but a baby.  Local birder Peter Hopkins was having what I'm sure was a nice walk around the lakes when he spotted a Mediterranean Gull.  The Gull we now know as Valentino.  Already in adult plumage, so at least two years old.  This fantastic little bird was then ringed in 2002.  And would you like to guess where?  Belgium, in the city of Antwerp.  He was ringed as part of the European Mediterranean Gull Ringing Scheme, and when they were told of his presence in the UK  they said -and here I quote: 'Really Astonished!'  I don't blame them.  A 200 mile journey at least.  I suppose migration of most birds is longer, but still to my eyes it's quite a trek.

After a bit of simple  (extremely simple) calculations, I estimated that this gull is at least fifteen years of age.  Older than me.  But the most interesting thing, in my opinion, is that according to the BTO's study the oldest recorded Med Gull so far lived until it was fifteen years three months and seven days old.  This means Valentino is in for a chance of snatching that title.  The funny thing is -well not exactly amusing - as far as gulls go, and they do go a long way, fifteen years is quite a short period.  Even Black-headed Gulls have reached twenty nine years.  Although this could be due to there being many more of this more common species, so more chance of a re-catch.  It would be incredible though if Valentino did set the age record.
 Considering his age he seems in good shape still, though I have yet to work out out if he is more or less dominant than the Black-headed Gulls?  Well he'll be here for a fair while longer, so I should have time to find out.

I'm not sure how it is in Belgium, but over here as I'm sure you know, some people seem to take feeding birds to the extreme - I have myself witnessed people come with shopping bags filled with bread, Usually very off bread- and the antics of birds like the Black-headed Gulls who are very partial to it seems to have rubbed off onto Valentino.  He's now got a taste for it himself.

Although, he usually is the last bird to take up from the lake to come to the bread he still shoulders his way in when he's decided he's hungry.  Although trying to keep track of him is no walk in the park. OK yes it does involve walking in a park but you know what I mean, don't you?
  And finally to top off this fantastic bird's story, Valentino seems to me to be a bird of habit. You see, the lake on which he resides is a bit bigger in scale to a football pitch.  However you would usually be wasting your time to scan the whole lake for him.  You see, save one occasion, every time I've seen Valentino on the lake he is on the east side.  And the last time he was within a twenty foot radius of where he was the time before. Even once taking bread he would return to the same spot.  Must be an age thing, I really hope I'm not like that when I'm fifteen.

 So now you know (hopefully) much more about Valentino, almost all there is to know. I would like to thank Peter Hopkins for the information he's provided.  It's been invaluable. I sincerely hope that you did not find this all that boring a read.  I rather enjoyed writing it.  It gave me a fantastic insight into Valentino's life.
 Now I just need some good images.

Friday, 25 October 2013

The Joys of Patch Birding.

As I have often mentioned on this blog my patch is not the kind of place birders would usually choose to go.  There have been many days when I have seen nothing more attention grabbing than a Little Grebe.  But on the days it comes together it is all worth it.  I have had few of those days, but I will let on now that today was one of them.
 The joys of a local patch is that you know what to expect in certain areas, you know generally what you can hope to see.  If you were - like me, a wildlife photographer and visited Valentines Park for the first time, you might not choose to come back.  That however is your loss.  Not mine, because I do choose to come back.  And if you know the right areas some great opportunities can be had.  Valentines, being an urban park, sees a lot of people.  The wildlife also sees a lot of people.  Thus it becomes somewhat accustomed to their presence.  Not enough to tolerate people walking directly at it (save in the case of Squirrels) or too close but still, more tolerable than their cousins in the true wilds.
 I've been particularly lucky on my patch with Green Woodpeckers.  They still are shy and flighty, but not as bad as elsewhere I must admit.  I've managed a couple of pleasing images, nothing too spectacular, but I'm working on it.

Anyway, back to today.  We thought we would pop around to see if we could spot Valentino.  The all famous Med Gull back for his/her 14th Winter.  First look at the lake and we didn't spot it.  So we moved on and at the fish pond we had our first stroke of luck - the first two Shoveler's of the season!  This came as a surprise as I don't usually see them until winter usually.  The lighting was quite nice on the lake so I fired off a few shots.

We then moved on to see if we could find the Green Woodpeckers (that shot was from a couple of weeks back) but they were not to be seen, so it was that we moved to the canal.  Where I had just a little bit of luck with a Grey Wagger....

 To top it all off we finished the day with fantastic views of Valentino, the best I've yet had!  A day total of 32 was reached, which is pretty good for the patch.  Also some fairly pleasing images.  So a very good day at the patch.
 It proves that you really don't need to travel far to find amazing wildlife.  Valentines Park is just a couple of hundred meters from my house!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Red Alert

Calling all units, there has been a wildlife overload. That, to say the least was what happened on Wednesday whilst plans were being made for the next day.  A wildlife overload.  Now I knew we were going to Richmond Park for the Deer Rut, but little did I know of the other plan, and I'm sure little do you know of that plan also.  So it is that I must keep you in suspense until it will be revealed.  Which will naturally be after I have written a, small bit on the Deer. They did after all come first.

We left out at  6 O'clock -nearly on the dot, but not quite.  For the time of morning there was a rather surprising amount of traffic. Considerably more than I would have expected. Am I being naive to think that it was too early for your average worker to be on their way?
 By the time we arrived the sun was coming up, but was concealed behind cloud.  So the red mist of dawn was a no go.  However the early morning light is a treat.  I haven't really been out photographing that early before, well at least not with a subject to stand in it.  And I would say I had a fairly willing subject....

Unless my (somewhat small) skills of observation have failed, I will tell you with all sincerity that the above and below Deer at one point while we were there, rutted.  I will also allow you the knowledge that neither won the fight.  It was as far as a human could tell a draw. Both stood their ground. The same could not be said for the spectators of this fight -I among them.  The stags were pacing full of testosterone at fairly close range. We beat a hasty retreat.  I say spectators, for that we were, but that doesn't mean that there was a large group surrounding them. No. Just five photographers.

To make up for he lack of mist I tried some back-lit shots to show up the breath, better than nothing, and kind of mist.  This stag didn't seem to do anything but roar, so he wasn't bothered by me taking a couple of pictures of him.

The title of this blog was not just in relation to me having a wildlife overload.  There's more to it than that.  Another hours drive and now it is time to reveal what else I was up to.

Oh yes.  Just look at that.  A real sight to take the edge off the cold of an open hillside.  It was still freezing though.  Rather than more words how would you like more pictures?

OK that's only one more, but that's about all I got which I still kept.  The weather you see was not preferable. For the most part the sun was hidden away, so colours were quite muted.  Oh well.

 So now do you see the connection with the title?  If not I will give one more reason.  Just one.  Today I saw my first Redwing of the season, and there were lots.  So you see? Red alert?  Red Deer, Red Kite, Redwing.  Simple.

 Hah, looking at how much I have so far written this looks to be on track for the longest post in a good few months.  So I hope you have actually read it all, or you may not have seen the connection, Code Red.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Ruttin' Weather...

...My Deer Fallow.

 I'm sure that here an apology is needed for that somewhat desperate title. But all in good humour, and more than slightly true.  You see the weather was not the kind which one would hope for, especially when you're not wearing a coat.  I was not. Neither did I have the cover for my lens (see here) and this was far from preferable. But in the name of photography I was out there.
  Ah,  seem to have forgotten to mention where I was, thus you would be excused for being unaware of the location meant when saying 'there'.  To resolve this I will simply answer, Richmond Park.  My reason for being there like so many at this time of year was for the rut.
 I imagine earlier in the morning would certainly be better, but it was a slightly spontaneous trip, decided half-an-hour before we left out. So half an hour had passed since the clocks chimed ten before we arrived.

The clouds were already covering the sky by now, and were even then looking ominous.  Twenty minutes later the rain started. The rutting didn't start though.  Well not for the Red Deer, the Fallow's however were at it. By no means do I want to be considered an anti-Fallowist, but they just don't seem as wild as Red Deer to me, sorry my Fallows.
 Red Deer, they just seem to have something wild about them....

As far as the Red Deer went the closest thing to rutting was some youngsters practicing for the years to come.

The lighting was far from pleasing, but still I managed my best deer shots, so that at least was pleasing.  Plans for another visit this year are in the making, so hopefully before too long I may have some better images to post.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

They may be Humble...

... But Their Population's taking a Tumble.
 House Sparrows are in decline.  Serious decline.  Since the 1970's more than 7 million have gone from the UK alone.  As I'm sure you can imagine this isn't good news.  However, according to BTO studies the decline has just slightly levelled off.  That on the other hand is good news.  But will it last?  The decline has largely been down to a lack of insects for the chicks when they are in the nest.  Primarily a lack of Aphids, a key food source for their nestlings.  Aphids too are having a hard time of it, what with the introduction of pesticides since the 2nd World War.  And, if you think of it, in the long run the House Sparrows decline is also down to these harmful chemicals.  So if you do use them in your garden, I would strongly advise that you stop, or get a more eco friendly one.

 When my grandparents (on my fathers side) moved into their house twenty years ago the garden held a population of House Sparrows.  It did so for a few years after but then they were gone.  Vanished.  I know that there is a small population just a few minutes drive away, but in the close vicinity none.  So it came to a great surprise to all of us when last week we saw a male House Sparrow on the garden feeders.  The first Sparrow here in fifteen years.  Quite something.  The question then popped up though, will it stay?  If it does stay will it find a mate and breed next year?  These questions have yet to be resolved.  Hopefully the answer to both will be yes, but we will wait and see.

OK well the habitat is not perfect, the grass somewhat too short to hold a large enough supply of insects, but there are a lot of hedges for nesting and several gardens around there do feed birds throughout winter.  So there could still be hope for the Sparrows return to this neighbourhood.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Back to the Patch.

Last week you may remember me mentioning that I have, to some degree neglected my patch of late. If you can class the last six weeks under 'of late'.  Today however I decided that it had gone on for too long.  I set foot once again in the park.  It was by no means a bad patch day either.  Valentines Park, being comprised by tarmac paths, man-made lakes and well manicured grass is not exactly the most wildlife friendly of parks.  As such, it makes finding a bird you perhaps would elsewhere have dismissed something to get excited about.
 Today was a rather lucky day.  For only the second time -I think- both Green and Great-Spotted Woodpeckers were seen!  And if that wasn't enough there were two Greens.
 Now I'm sure on many people's patch this is not big deal.  Something to expect even.  But on mine it's a pretty momentous occasion.

A total of 26 species was recorded, which, considering my best patch day list is 37 is not to poor a count.  I find winter to be by far the best time for getting the higher patch lists. Hopefully it won't be long now....

Friday, 13 September 2013

Patch neglect

It is with a heavy heart that I admit I have somewhat neglected - forgotten even, to visit my patch of late.  It has been a good five weeks since I last set foot in park, and to the extent of my knowledge it has stood un-birded for all that time. Now I'm not that much of a patch birder, I don't do patch year-lists or even a patch-list -although I think I should- however I still feel ashamed for having left it for all this time.  To make it worse I visited Wanstead Flats three times over the course of three days last week.  It was worth it though....

Despite the rain.

Bright sunlight.

And amazingly tame Kestrels.

Although I have no problem whatsoever with Kestrels being tame.  Frankly the opposite as I'm sure the case would be with any wildlife photographer.  This individual bird allowed me to slowly make my way around the tree to a better shooting angle and hardly paid any notice to me. The Whinchat was also quite calm with me approaching, but the lighting was abominable so the distant shot was the best.  However I'm not complaining, no sir.  For that wee bird took my year-list to a nice round number of 160.  Definitely worth the rain.

Monday, 9 September 2013


I'm back from Ireland now, and have been for several days.  So again I must apologise for the late coming of this post.  However I have been slightly busy, and as they say better late than never.
 Anyway, while I was in Ireland we decided to visit Cape Clear Islands.  This is apparently a migrant hot-spot.  Well I will confess that I didn't see particularly many migrants -unless you count the thousands of black dots out to see which are apparently Shearwaters.  However that doesn't mean it wasn't a good day out.  After I had assessed the situation I realised that it would be more of a photography day than a bird-watching day.  So I set about photographing Fulmars, or should I say trying to photograph Fulmars.  I did manage some, well, decent shots, nothing to write home about.  Except that I am writing about them.
 Where stopped to do sea-watching there were cliffs on either side, and flying around these cliffs were Fulmars.  So after I realised sea-watching was impossible at that distance we climbed down the steep hill to get closer to the Fulmars.  And get close we did, at times too close.

After you spend a while watching them you can begin to predict there flight patterns.  This helped a bit but I still didn't manage anything great.  Getting a focus on the head with a lens at f/8 isn't easy.  If you're a photographer you'll know what I mean.

There were a few things of note though;  9 Chough, and my third species of Whale this year -Minke.  A distant speck surrounded by the even smaller specks of Shearwaters.  A Minke Whale nonetheless.  My seventeenth mammal species this year -yes, I am mammal year-listing, maybe it'll be the new trend?

 Well, that's one blog done, a few more from Ireland still to come, and I have some new stuff to post too...
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