Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Morden Bog

After a poor morning last Monday we visited the above site for the first time in the hope of seeing a few Dragonflies and Butterflies.

The weather brightened and it was quite nice although a little windy so I did fear that we would see nothing but there was a pair of darters ovipositing in a smallish puddle and I saw blue damselflies.

Then a Hobby flew over a lifer for Sue, Pat's sister. I photographed a Grayling (not sure I have ever seen one before).

There wasn't many birds around, wren, blackbird, blue tits, splendid Stonechat and a young Yellow Hammer.

After the morning it was a really nice walk, maybe rarer species of insect another time.


Very much record shot of Juvenile Yellow Hammer
Record shot of Hobby

Sunday, 29 August 2010

A week in Dorset

We have just returned from the south, unfortunately the weather was rather disappointing and I did not get as many photographs as I hoped but when it was fine the weather was quite pleasant and never cold.

We visited Arne one of our favourite RSPB reserves twice, Tuesday and Friday morning and these pictures are from the first visit. I did find out something about Arne and that is families go for walks in the holidays hence the earlier than anticipated departure on the second day, really its good that they take the kids out but I am not sure how much they see!

The Tuesday produced large numbers of Sika Deer near the north hide (hope I have the name right), the males are fantastic looking at the moment but the angles were wrong for photography, apart from one inquisitive doe who again was partly hidden but I could not resist the shot with its mouth open even though some vegetation does spoil slightly the top of the shot. A Little Egret was out front and flew closer obligingly fluffing its feathers for a slightly different couple of pictures. We saw Raft Spiders for the first time, famous from BBC's Springwatch (please see previous post).

The RSPB guy at the information point said up to 3 Ospreys were present on site, they visit Poole Harbour at this time each year and fuel up before their long migration, they had been seen feeding and one bird catching a fish earlier in the morning. They were frequently in some dead trees that you could not see from the hide but were often seen from Shipstall View Point a little further away. Whilst we were there a large flock of Curlew went up and Pat saw a buzzard sized bird, dark on top and white underneath which could definitely have been an Osprey moving them. Me I was looking the other way!

I also saw a female Black Darter, which I photographed, definitely a highlight though was on the walk back to the car park where we saw a young small grass snake making its way across the path, unmistakable with its yellow band around its neck. It went under a log where we did not disturb it.

The photograph tally was poor but I will post from visits to RSPB Radipole, Portland Bill and Morden Bog.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Raft Spider

We have been to Arne in Dorset this week and I photographed this beastie for the first time. Partly obscured by a Pine Cone but it helps give a size to the spider.

This is the uk's largest spider with the female very much larger than the male who has more distinctive markings. They will eat large flies, damselflies and even very small fish!
The female is up to 22mm whilst the male 10-13mm.
The female lays up to 1,000 eggs in two or more greenish sacs, the spiderlings are brownish at first but get darker as they grow.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Mating Common Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa)

I pictured these mating damselflies at the weekend which I believe are Common emeralds, please feel free to leave a comment if I have this wrong.

Dragonflies have a unique way of copulating for which the males have specialised secondary genitalia, they have indirectt insemination and delayed fertilisation. The males sperm is passed from the abdomen tip to the secondary genitalia where it is passed onto the female.

 On closer inspection the tip of the abdomen tip seems to be seen under the thorax of the higher damselfly or am I getting carried away?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Black Darter (Sympetrum danae)

On a walk at the weekend we saw several species of Dragonfly including, Golden Ringed and a hawker species high in the top of some small birch trees, in the bright sun all were flying fast except for the Black Darters which we found in the snme place as previous years.

The male is especially difficult to photograph being almost totally black on the light sandy earthen bank and this years efforts seem a little better. The female was on a grass stem, a little difficult difficult for other stems, the wings looked as if they were still forming but that might just be the light reflections on them.


Sunday, 15 August 2010


A superb walk yesterday but the highlight had to be seeing this beautiful hawk.

We heard a raptor species that was slightly different to us, several birds calling to one another, we presume a nest site was close. Then on a number of occasions one of the birds flew over the track way in the distance and we were pretty sure they were Goshawks.

The chance for a picture came when two birds flew over the top of the trees and above our heads for a short distance. These birds have regular slow wing beats followed by a glide where they do not loose height unlike a Sparrowhawk. They were flying low over the tree tops, calling to one another, as these birds are in the habit of.

I was chuffed to get the shots, you can always do better and I had difficulty locating in the view finder when directly overhead, and one or two were out of focus but these two are not too bad with a bit of sharpening.

I believe there was at least three Goshawks in this area because there was the two that flew over plus one calling to them, I suspect in this vicinity there was more than three. Excellent. 

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

A little smidgen of colour and not much more!

I have had a couple of days off to do an assignment for a course I am doing for work but yesterday morning was nice and bright so I set off for Filey Brigg.

I did not have a lot of time and did not get too far, there were lots of Swallows and Martins flying low over the Brigg collecting insects just above the grasses and seed heads. Lots of Linnets about in the gulley's but so skittish one movement from me and they were gone. Not to successful a morning I only managed this young Grey Wagtail with a splash of yellow and a distant male Linnet showing a smidgen of orange.

Afterwards I popped into Filey Dams and got a young House Sparrow, Pigeon and young Cormorant, the browns and greys _ _ _ _

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Kingfisher x2 (Converter)

These shots of the male King fisher were taken when I had removed my lens from the camera, fixed my 2 x converter on, refixed lens. All shots are manually focused.

Not a great success as doing this I missed the action shots when a fish was caught. My advice is to concentrate and get the best shots you can with the gear in use. I then finally changed back and removed the converter and obtained some better shots.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Electric Blue (Kingfisher at Top Hill Low)

We visited THL yesterday and in the morning visited North Marsh East Hide a new replacement hide last year and where work has been undertaken to attract King Fishers. We have spent 30 - 40 minutes previously hoping to see a KF. Yesterday after 10 minutes I was looking out the south facing window trying to see Reed warblers when I turned round and saw this on one of the perching rails.

We then got treated to about 30 minutes of this male KF perching in the same spot, listening to overhead aircraft (really), catching and dispatching a fish before moving onto another pole briefly before flying away a real treat. Well done to the warden and staff at THL who have made such great improvements these last couple of years.

I had time to fit my 2x converter, and remove it again as the bird was slightly too far of for my lens at 500mm, my converter means you have to manually focus, unfortunately when the fish was being dealt with I had the converter on and had the shutter speed far too slow. These first shots are at 500mm, I will post the 'better' of my pictures through the converter separately but the sharpest were those at 500mm, the camera on the tripod for the best part of the time. This was a great experience and opportunities like this are all too rare.