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.