Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Merry Christmas everyone and have a great wildlife watching 2012.

Apologies for these two geese of a domesticated hybrid of some sort or other. I thought they were quite a charming sight to come across at the side of the road opposite a small farm holding.

We had a quick look on Scarborough Marine Drive yesterday, despite the mild temperature the wind made it decidedly chilly and we did not hang about but during that short spell we saw what I think was several Harbour Porpoise swimming quite close in to the sea wall, a great sight.

Have a good one.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


Its a gloomy morning and the forecast is poor so I am preparing this post thinking I will not get out. Oh, and I have to re-varnish a new internal door and get the christmas decorations out the loft and _ _ _ !

This teal was pictured a fortnight ago when we popped into Filey Dams on the way back from Bempton, it was swimming fairly close to the East Hide, the light was brilliant and low maybe too much so.

It's raining hard now so I figured right.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

E Yorks SEO's

I have been wanting to get over the Humber and into N Lincs to see the Short Eared Owls for sometime, recent weeks though have conspired against us so news of some nearer birds in E Yorks was too good an opportunity to miss.

We were very lucky as when we walked down to where the owls have been seen one birds was hunting around the field and then sat on a fence post.

They are fantastic birds to see, beautiful colour patterns. AS we got nearer the bird flew off but was soon back and this happened three or four times. I never got close so with my 500mm lens my photography was purely for the record. It was also very dull so to get the speed I needed I was on high ISO (3,200).

A great day though, we also saw the White Fronted Geese on site, a fox and Pat saw a Kingfisher flying along a ditch whilst I was driving.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)

This Goldeneye was swimming (and diving), diving as much as swimming as tghey do fairly close to the hide, but despite the bright morning at Mereshead RSPB, the water was in the shade of the hide and the wind was quite strong making the extremely tall reads in front of the hide waft very fast accross the bird all the time.

The first shot shows the problem, sometimes it was slightly brighter and the bird sometimes furter away above the reeds. Not the best you will ever see but I like these birds and one or two are ok. A juvenille male bird.

These birds breed in N Europe but only rarely in Scotland. They nest in down-lined tree holes and nest boxes laying 8 - 11 eggs. They have one brood a year between April and June. Thjese birds are widespread in winter on lakes, resevoirs and estuaries.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Desert Wheatear at Bempton

I spent an hour just after midday today at Bempton RSPB, E Yorks (along with a good few others) admiring this beautiful bird. The second I have seen, the other being two or three years ago when we had one at Burniston just outside Scarborough.

My Readers Digest of British Birds (1st edition 1969, reproduced 2001) said there were 54 British records but only 8 before 1949. Things will have certainly moved on since that print but I use this to illustrate how visits are possibly increasing by this species. Another Desert Wheatear is in Shropshire at present.

As with my first experience this bird was extremely confiding.

These birds breed in a narrow band through N Africa, locally in the middle east and more extensively in western central Asia.

They are rare but regular vagrants to Europe. We are getting annual reports now in north western Europe and they are usually seen around now, late autumn early winter time.

It is described as an active feeder using low bushes or perches to scan for insects. It certainly seem to be flying up and catching insects oblivious to the small group of birders when it landed on occasion quite closely.

Pat, my wife observed large numbers of ladybirds in the vegetation, I mean thousands, any coincidence?

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Blackbird & House Sparrow

Also on the same pathway at Mereshead as the Yellow hammers featured in my previous post there were numerous Blackbirds. I have seen fairly large numbers of these birds in places this autumn and think certainly the British population has been increased by migrant birds.

I also liked this House Sparrow with the lichen on the twigs.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)

At Mereshead the approach to the first hide is down a widish path. There was a large number of Sparrows, Blackbirds and Yellowhammers. The ligh was great and this particular bird was quite confiding. Canon 40D with Sigma 50 -500mm lens on tripod.

These birds are abundant throughout the uk apart from some highland areas and north western parts of Scotland. Despite holding some 792,000 estimated territories Yellowhammers are red endangered status.

They can be seen all year round. Seed eaters their declining population gives them red list satus, a real worry.

I got loads of shots and a batch where the birds were more distant but with the lichen and berries I think they are very atmospheric.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

On the Border (or in and out the fog)

We intended to go further afield today but the early morning at home was very misty/foggy so we took our time and set off a bit later mid-morning.

Amazingly two miles up forge Valley and we emerged into sunshine, agh higher ground = sun, so we headed to the eastern entry to Dalby Forest. Near the entrance many chaffinch, sparrows and bullfinch. However, going west into the forest we encountered the mist again, so back we go North East towards the sun. I turned towards Langdale Forest, goldcrest and chaffinch here and a field past Bickley Gate of Fieldfares, Redwing and Starlings unfortunately directly looking into the sun, I spooked them into the trees where in the sunshine I could barely see them.

We turned around and headed east, Hackness Lake holds a Scaup at the moment and a quick look produced half decent views. You have to look over a small fence and through the trees, the Lord would get a better look of the birds on his ornamental lake. Not seen many Scaup before.

Lets go on the coast Long Nab, no Scarborough and Burniston are covered in thick fog and mist, so up to Harwood Dale.

Brilliant sunshine in Harwood although in woods only one side of the track is illuminated and then usually when the trees the other side are sparse but it was great light this afternoon.

Everything was high atop the trees so here for the record. Great flock of Crossbills with resplendent males, coal tits, goldcrest.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Shots of the Day (my!)

Before resuming to publish pictures from our week-end last week in Dumfrieshire. A couple of shots from today.

On my blog I will show the warts and all of my photography not just the better efforts.

Today we had a walk around the 'top fields' from Filey Country Park.

Not a lot of birds seen. A Half dozen Whooper Swans coming in, great light beautiful day and guess what, my dial had moved from Av to manual, should be great shots but they were taken (or not as the case was) to 25th of second.

A Peregrine, swooping along the fields, but I was the other side the hedgerow, so best was a Blackbird in the hedgerow taken with spot focusing and a high Green Finch a top a tree.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Winter Spectacle

We were privalged to go up to Dumfrieshire again last weekend. Traveling up early Sunday in mist and wet drizzly weather we were waiting to come out in the sun as per the weather forcast and we were not dissapointed.

North of Penrith we broke out into the brightness, ariving half ten'ish at Caerlaverock WWT we had a great day, I actually allowed the sun to burn out the highlights of a Whooper Swan (maybe in next post).

Monday morning we spent at Mereshead RSPB, the only people there for a time, great light. These shots are of Barnacle Geese at Mereshead.

The Solway Firth hosts the entire popultaion of Barnacle Geese from Svalbard. The numbers involved make it a wildlife spectacle and here in the uk.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

The Sensible Couple

I really like Red Legged Partridge but they are so skittish I never get close.

At Dunwich Heath one of our early morning walks set a pair of RL Partridge off in flight up the path ahead (see header). What great colours these birds have the deep russet colours on their backs as they fly was very much in keeping with the autumnal colours.

Sensible why? Because this pair live on National Trust land where at least they are safe.

On the morning we left as we were packing the car the pair were near the car park and I could use a gate post to stabilise the camera.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Suffolk Red Deer

We love going to Dunwhich Heath in October when the deer rut is going on. Early mornings out before breakfast a walk across the heath, you can hear the stags bellowing and sometimes the crash of antlers. Females can be seen in the clearings and you might get a glimpse of a stag coming in to view. It is so evocative, a great atmosphere often (not this year) with hard frosts and then a full english breakfast to set you up for the day (I love cooked breakfasts).

Then another walk across the heath or through Minsmere. Very difficult to beat.

This year the weather was great, the deers bellowing, we saw females dashing in an opening. One afternoon we saw this fine fellow and his ladies relaxing close to Minsmere. The second shot was my SLR handheld, the first image my second ever digi shot, compact just held to scope. And the winner is _ _ _ not sure! I cannot admit its the first one!

Th RSPB do some great stuff, watch points for the rut, land rover safaris led by fellow blogger, one day perhaps I will attend.

Laying in the meadow its not quite Monarch of the Glen stuff but how many without an interest in wildlife know what goes on in darkest Suffolk, etc?

1. Digiscoped

2. SLR  500mm lens

A great looking stag with fine multi point antlers.

Monday, 17 October 2011

A Glossy Ibis and a new approach!

We have just returned from a week in Suffolk at Dunwhich Heath, next door to Minsmere RSPB.

A first for us was not one but two Gloss Ibis on 9 October on the scrape from West Hide, always distant but very much a first. My shots are purely for the record, I want to record my photographic highs and lows and show my birding highlights on this blog. I am sorry you only get an idea of this bird in the location.

I have never (sorry to you digiscopers) thought of digiscoping but as the Ibis was so distant and looked good through the scope I hand held a compact to the scope, did'nt really work but that was due to me. The third image is my first digiscoped effort!