Bird Photography

It’s been a while since I got out and sat in a bird hide – but finally I’ve been able to manage a half day – well actually not even a full half day – really just a few hours.

Bluetit-1Having said that – it was frustrating to travel down to my favourite hide, as the Christmas traffic was terrible.   Arriving though was a great relief, and the pools and hides were as fantastic as I remember them – it seems a long time, but in reality it’s only been about 2 months.  The birds were co-operative, and it was good to watch as well as photograph them.

I was most impressed by the Great Spotted Woodpecker, a youngster turned up a couple of times whilst I was there, and didn’t even immediately fly off when I came out of the hide.  He was full of confidence, and so handsome.

DSED8263There are around 140,000 breeding pairs of woodpeckers in the UK, though I don’t see them very often, and this one was a delight.

The cold of the day, and the knowledge that I had an appointment in the evening, and ‘work’ to do eventually made me leave, though reluctantly.  Hoping to return between Christmas and the New Year.  Already I can’t wait….

Martin Mere, and the Ruff

It’s been a while since I got out to shoot birds, and nothing else… this last weekend we made a trip out to Martin Mere – we’ve not been there for a long time, and it was good to meet up with some friends, including some I’d spoken to on Facebook, but never actually met.  Although the day was a bit overcast, the light was nice in the morning.
We spent a good part of the morning in the SwanLink hide, and the Ruff showed particularly well.

The ruff is a medium-sized wading bird. It has a long neck, a small head, a rather short slightly droopy bill and medium-long orange or reddish leg. In flight it shows a faint wing-stripe and oval white patches either side of the tail. It breeds in a very few lowland sites in eastern England, and it appears that numbers are dropping. It is a migrant but in the UK some birds are present all year round. Many young birds from Scandinavia visit the UK in late summer, then migrating on to Africa.

Overview – Information from RSPB

Latin name

Philomachus pugnax

Family

Sandpipers and allies (Scolopacidae)

Where to see them

Best looked for on passage in spring and autumn in suitable habitat, particularly on the east and south coasts of the UK. Some birds overwinter, generally near the coast. Try some of the RSPB coastal wetland reserves, where there are lagoons, such as Titchwell, Norfolk.

When to see them

All year round

What they eat

Insects, larvae, frogs, small fish, seeds

Population

Europe UK breeding* UK wintering* UK passage*
37 males 800 birds

Back to Birding

It’s been a long while since my last post – we’ve had such a lot going on here, with some good and some bad stuff.  I’ve carried on working, but not done much photography for myself.  Last week though, a big effort was made, and I headed over to a bird hide, and sat there for a good few hours contemplating nature, the world, and chatting with friends.

It was a great morning to be out – soft light, loads of birds, and some splendid shots….

Loved this chap for the aggression he was showing… get out of my territory !  So small yet so feisty.

Good to see a Nutthatch make an appearance too

And a woodpecker….. all in all a great day out….

From Photographs to Paintings

Some two years ago – I met a lady called Diane Huxley.  I was out with the dog, and my camera, and we fell to talking, as you do.  She told me that she was a local artist, who painted animals – mostly pets, and was looking to paint more birds; but was having some small difficulty getting good images to paint from.

After some further talk, I said that I would send her some of my bird images for her to look at, which I did – and then – to my embarrassment, forgot all about it…..

Fast forward those 24 odd months, and she sent me an email to say that two pictures had been completed.  I’ve been trying to track down the original photo files, and have only found one (though I’ve not looked on my backup drives  yet to be honest)

Here’s the first, of a heron, taken at Reddish Vale Country Park


And below, is a copy of her painting of the same bird

I did also send her a photograph of a white tailed fish eagle, taken at our local bird of prey centre – and whilst I have photographed this particular bird on a number of occasions, I can’t quite track down the original file – I’ll post it when I can – but in the meantime here is her wonderful painting.

Diane has her own website – http://www.animal-portrait.co.uk/

The detail is amazing, and the paintings attest to her great talent.  Have a look at her site – she comes highly recommended.

More Welsh Wetness…

Quite apart from the glorious trip to Skomer a few weeks ago, the other parts of the week away were just as good.  A trip to the red kite feeding station yielded some excellent images – with the birds picking up not only from the bank but from the water too.

They are fast, and it took considerable time to get the birds exactly as I wanted them.  The day being overcast, but without rain did actually help, as the light was good – very bright, but beautifully diffused with the overhead cloud.

Sometimes the rain and the damp of England can be a blessing.

Hopefully more to follow.

A Wet Week in Wales

We’ve returned from what was probably the wettest break we’ve ever been on.  I’ve never known rain quite like it, but I suppose that this is what keeps England forever green.  Weather notwithstanding, we headed out every day for wildlife, and birds in particular.

Up towards the North for Kites, Mid Wales for Falcons, and out to the Island of Skomer for the Puffins. Skomer is a 2.92 km² island off the coast of southwest Wales, one of a chain lying within a kilometre off the Pembrokeshire coast and separated from the mainland by the treacherous waters of Jack Sound. Skomer Island measures approximately 2.4 km (1.5 mi) north-south and 3.2 km (2 mi) east-west. We visited on a wet (predicably) and very windy day, with lots of cloud, which ironically is ideal for puffin photography, and with the winds being high, it was ideal for getting them in flight.

The high winds also made landing difficult, and so some birds were forced to land where they could, and then make a frantic scurry to their holes – sometimes, as in the image above, making quite a long run before arriving home safely with their catch of fish.

If you’ve never been to Skomer, it comes highly recommended.  Get the earliest boat out that you can, so you can maximise your stay.  Ours was cut short somewhat due to the high winds, and the boat back was early afternoon to get everyone off the island before the really bad weather set in.

More on this trip in another blog post.

Wildlife – Birds at RSPB

On a very rare sunny day (and they are rare at the moment) – we made the most of it and headed out to the RSPB site at Southport – and were rewarded with some great images of Avocet, Redshank, Oystercatcher, and Godwit.  Not bad for a first visit.  Once the weather improves (if it ever does) we’ll be out there again.

We were exited to see the Avocet, on her nest, guarding four eggs… the couple swapped over every half hour or so, allowing the one  not on the nest to  stretch, preen and feed.

The Avocet is the emblem of the RSPB and symbolises the bird protection movement in the UK more than any other species. Its return in the 1940s and subsequent increase in numbers represents one of the most successful conservation and protection projects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was fascinating to see them mate, after a very short display from the female.

More images to follow once I’ve processed them……  thanks for looking, please take a moment to pass a comment…

Back to Basics – Ducks and Coots

It’s been great to have a few days to myself  – although we did cover the opening of ‘Avenue Q’ down at the Lowry theatre this week, it’s otherwise been fairly quiet.  And with the weather being somewhat excellent, I headed off to the local wildlife park to see what was on.

First off – it’s obviously bath time, and the warm sunshine has got all the ducks up and moving around.

I’m a sucker for a duck, (especially with orange sauce!) and it’s actually harder to take good duck shots than a lot of photographers think.  I love this one.  He’s obviously having so much fun.

Plus, the Coots were knocking seven bells out of each other, as the fight for territory and females escalates into serious fighting.  Three Coots were fighting for some time, but eventually just seemed to stop, give up, and swim off like nothing had happened.

The more I watch, the more I realise just how brutal nature really is.  The bird on the left in the shot below, was eventually pushed completely under the water, and was stood on.  Briefly I wondered if it was going to drown, but up it popped and peace fell once more upon the pond.