Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Mostly Weather

It's truly amazing the weather difference between England and Ireland.  I returned from a week of grey skies, rain and the oh so rare glimpse of sun, to what can only be described as a heatwave.  I got back yesterday afternoon and have already had more sun that in the whole week in Ireland.  I'm not sure which I prefer...
 Nonetheless Ireland was enjoyable, despite only being able to make it out birding on two days.  On both days we had Arctic Tern, which had been a lifer. With how many I've now seen I'm surprised it took so long.  Other than the Arctic Terns it was a quiet trip for birding, save for a group of Manx Shearwaters.  My first from dry land, but still hectic to keep up with.
 Though most privileging, and likely most exciting, was coming across dozens of Natterjack Toadlets.  When I first found them I will admit I was ignorant of their identity, and for the sake of the species I will keep the location secret.  It was good to see such an incredibly rare species doing so well.  Strange to think that I've now seen every species of Amphibian naturally found in Ireland, something I'm far from achieving over here.
 With the addition of just a little more rain that pretty much sums the trip up.  How long until I'm fed up with the sun though?  Until I want to photograph something I would imagine.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Cormorant Conundrum

During the last couple of visits to the patch I've been greeted with the sight of a Cormorant on the main lake.  Yes I know what you're thinking, what's so interesting about a Cormorant?  Well generally speaking, over a year I'll only have a handful records on the patch.  And none of these have really stuck around long!  Usually only for a day, some for just a few days and even ones for a matter of hours.  These visits are interspersed with the slightly more frequent  - yet still unusual - fly overs.  Last week I had both in one day... shocking.
 As I'm sure you've gathered, where the park's concerned Cormorants are pretty exciting.  So three records over two visits is borderline mega.  Of course, it is possible, and highly probable that two were the same bird returning.  Are they now going to be a regular sight on the patch?  Who knows.

On a side note I'm off for a week in green old Ireland tomorrow, before returning there again in August for a further month.  So a busy summer ahead!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

What Happens in July...

As is to be expected at this time of year, it's been pretty quiet on the birding front of late. We'll ignore the Black-Browed Albatross, oh, and the Bridled Tern.  But save those two it's been quiet as you like, even our old friend the Short-toed Eagle's been absent for a few days.  So yes, it's that time again, the time to turn to butterflies.  Nature's way of filling this often blank period.  For me it's easy - yesterday I got excited at finding a Small Skipper.. it was a lifer.  As you can see the easy isn't meaning I'm (at all) good with butterflies... Even so I've joined up with gusto.  It also gives me another load of subjects to photograph in the unflattering light generously given to us by summer afternoons.  Yes, I should get out earlier.
 I've only managed sixteen species so far this year, the most noteworthy likely being Green Hairstreak. So yes there's a lot of work to do yet, but at least I haven't turned to Moths...

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Back in the Game

After over a month, last Wednesday my lens was back from the repairs.  What a relief. And what a dilemma.  As you may well know, I had originally believed it to be the displacement of a lens element. A fairly costly repair yes, but ah, if only that's what it had been.  No, what had broken was the Optical Stabiliser.  Which belongs to quite a different spectrum of price - in short over twice as much.  Eegh, painful just about comes close to it.
 So after weeks of macro photography, it was nice to be back in the field with a telephoto again.  I dread to think of the shots I may have missed in that time.
 On Sunday I headed over to Kensington Gardens to fill my memory card up with picture of birds, to make a change from insects.  Indeed I was also keen to see the Tawny Owlets as I hadn't had a chance to get over there for them this year. After a bit of searching two did show pretty well, even flying in broad daylight!  Although only to a new tree.  By now they've been out of the nest for quite a while, and already look more like adult birds.  Not many downy feathers left!

So that's the last matter of the slump resolved, I'm back in the game.  Now with the weather we've been having await many images with blown highlights....
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