Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday and waxwings!

Trip to Folkestone.
Waxwings and coffee at friends who are so struck by the pretty waxwings they will be seeing them tomorrow on the way to work!

The above is a cropped pic, I will need to look at the others....

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Birding!

Went to Cornwall to see a Snowy Owl!
Stayed over just outside Penzance and returned on Boxing Day via a Hooded Marganser.

Two lifers (if the Hooded is recognised as a wild one!)...302 year list!

(further details to follow)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday 23rd December

A trip to Barnes, nice quiet day as far as people went!

Birds were a bit quiet too - still we went primarily to take photos, I had a little surprise up my sleeve for my friend...some newly arrived birds. Ok so they are in the collection...but what birds! Brilliant!
Here are 3 Demoiselle Cranes - they arrrived from Martin Mere and will spend the next three years at Barnes - going back to breed as part of the captive breeding programme.They arrived on the 26th November - this was the first time I went to see them- thinking Pat will really enjoy these. She did and took lots of photo's _ I didn't take that many - Pat had my 100- 400 lens - I had her - up to 300 lens which ius brill but you can get as close!
Sometime in 2009 Barnes may also get some Eurasian Cranes...I prefer to see them in Norfolk!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Well I went on a dip today!
Non showing Penduline Tits at Rainham Marshes!
Yes I really wanted to go round the M25 today - still what we do for our art!

So to cheer myself up I had a look at my SA pics and thought ahh i give you

Later this week I will visit Barnes to see what might be about with cameras and friend...who wants to see a Kingfisher. We never see one - altho I have seen them at Barnes when she isn't with me and there are other local places where I see 'em and guess what? Yup they hide when she is around.

So lets see.

Oh yes Waxwings are on their way to West London (I hope!! Talons crossed!)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Swan at Slimbridge in December

Well lets have another go!

I took this Swan at Slimbridge about 4.20pm on Saturday 6th Dec in the last rays of the light.I have cropped the swimming swan as I was trying for reflection.
The flying swan was just lucky - a bird just happened to flying in from the fields and I tracked it I took two shots, this was the one I liked best.
As ever I forgot to start with the last photo so these are not in the right order...I will do better next time.
I have a couple of Goldeneye photo's but I need to do something with one of the male as it is too dark. Have to wait until I can sort out photoshop! (Thats scary as I usually only crop!)

Anyway any good shots and its thanks to a few helpful hints from Andy Rouse (in the seminar) any rubbish shots thats down to me!

Monday, December 15, 2008

A couple of Swans

Well there will be when I can sort out my pics...arrrghhh!

They wont load on blogger at i edited the post.

Will be back soon!

There will also be more SA photo's!!

Rare Gull on Shetland

A 1st winter Ivory Gull has been found on Fetlar, Shetland.

For Hugh Harrops photo's see here

The finder posted pics on Nature Shetland here

his name escapes me at mo.....Brydon Thomason his comment
"Rather astonishingly it turned up on a small beach I've been intentionally baiting since mid November!"

Thats a stunner.......

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Bagpuss Clanger with Noggin

Oliver Postgate who entertained me as a school then college student and a young teacher, has died. I am sure nobody in the UK has missed this news. Strangley - well perhaps not after my initial "oh, thats sad" - I immediately smiled as I remembered my favourites "The Clangers".
Their little knitted bodies and their perfectly understandable "whistles" with expressions - ears and noses can say the most wonderful things!I thoroughly enjoyed them.
Then I remembered Noggin the Nog - that was at Secondary school. So very clever!

Now I saw very little TV at college itself - little time but The Clangers!
a lovely obituary here

pics here

A UTUBE tribute here
That was the very first then came

I'd forgotten Pingwings!

Bagpuss came much later to my notice than the TV series.There is a small Bagpuss sitting in my car keeping an eye on me when I drive!

They all make me smile! with a little tear in the corner of my eye!
Thank you Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin

I will edit this later so the links click through but I have to go now!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Visions of Light Seminar - Andy Rouse

Well I went to Slimbridge on Saturday. Of course I was birding!
On route Red Kites in the Chilterns - and Buzzards from the Chilterns to Slimbridge.
Corvids but no Ravens -sigh.
On arrival in the fields outside the centre - Bewick's and what a racket they were making...a lovely racquet!(LOL) I just love Bewick Swans.
Later I took some pics of some Bewicks and Mute Swans.Also BHGulls and lots of Ducks.
I tried taking a Water Rail but it was too far away.
There was a lovely perching Peregrine a great way off visible in the scope!
I dont have my list with me -will edit this later.

But we went there for a Seminar with top Wildlife Photographer Andy Rouse.

Biog if you need one!-

but you will recognise his photographs....front cover of BBC Wildlife Mag this month! Tiger.
on first page.

Well remember I am an amateur with the old pics....but I have now been on a couple of Photography workshops involving animals with John Wright of Photographers on Safari - which were good as I had some hands on help.
Still too technical for my brain but John saw I loved my Birds and Big Cats and gave just the right help with my limited knowledge for meto get some good shots-well one or two, of course Pat being a brill photographer (IMO) picked up loads and had some stunning images.

So when I was asked would I like to go on this seminar I said yes, then thought afterwards help - its a seminar and i will get talked at and I will not understand the technical!
Pat instructed me to take notes to help me get better photos and write down anything you need to ask me afterwards.

Well if you get the opportunity to go on a seminar or even to a talk by Andy Rouse - just do it - to quote a famous phrase.(Actually, thinking about it - dont all of you book up - in fact dont go- he mentioned that there was a waiting list for our seminar of 300 -yes 300!- I might never get on the next seminar that I do want to go on!)
He was brilliant and funny, very funny and so totally fresh. He has opinions - strong ones and expresses them with a refreshing enthusiasm.
Now all of you who know me, know I like enthusiasm!
He also debunks a lot of the myth of the "professional" photographer.
I shall leave you if interested to read an interview I found on the net he gave a while back and the message is in there too!

see here

He illustrates his seminar with his photographs. He explains what he was doing, he answers questions fired at him including technical stuff.

A lot is simple stuff.
Warehouse Express were there as well - they sponsor Andy (he does a lot of the reviews of new stuff....cameras/ lens)
One of the staff a guy called Ben who has helped me order stuff in the past was there -" I dont do technical" - used to be my cry when I was teaching ITC - "thats why I have a Network Manager!" Ben used the expression KISS - Keep it simple stupid.
Now I like that.
Andy knows all that stuff but he does keep it simple. The questions from a lot of the men there was full of technical jargon, I didn't understand a lot of the questions - but I certainly understood a lot more of the answers!

I learnt a lot - simple phrases are running round my head.

We were so fortunate that the weather was clear and the light was good no, great!So we had a 2 hour break in the afternoon to go take some pics!

Andy was going off to some remote area of the reserve with James Lees one of the Reserve Wardens- to do some photography.He was highly complimentary of James photography.

I took Pat to the Flamingo's- we saw the Cranes but they are so carefully
shielded from the public that no opps there. We walked through the collection...Pat said - if you want to go and look at your birds I'll catch you up - so off I went to the Zeiss Hide.

We returned to the seminar (I'll put some comments on Corinna's pages about the birds seen) and Andy showed us his technique for photo shop....very basic stuff that even I followed most of!
By now I was very tired in my brain.

A fantastic experience - Andy Rouse rocks! Yes I like the guy -he tells it like it is and I do like that!

S'funny another wildlife photographer I like is another guy who can be controversial - Hugh Harrop.
What do these two have in common?
A passion for wildlife and doing everything that puts wildlife first.
They also spend time with amateurs and pass on their knowledge.

I spoke with James at the end of the seminar - Andy was surrounded by people- he said "He is different in the field, nothing about camera's just wildlife!" I expect he can talk cameras but clearly the Wildlife comes first!

I had a great time.

Guess what? When we got back Pat asked me if I had taken many photos.
No said I not many at all. Yesterday I down loaded over 50!
I surprised myself. Some are actually quite good...I think I was influenced by what I had heard.
Cant say fairer than that!

I will post a couple later, these have had nothing done to them except I might crop one or two. But they have my copyright. (I learnt that from the seminar).

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Elephants and almost a close shave!

After the mudbathing Elephant, some more Elephants doing what they do! 20 hours a day well a very long time anyway...leaves and shoots! So trees with new shoots on get knocked down and the new leaves and shoots - ah delicious get eaten!

Well we came across a group doing just this and a lovely baby ahhhhhhh!
Then I realised that another Adult was coming straight at us and as you see trumpeted! We removed ourselves, clearly this Ellie wasn't in the mood for photographers!
As we left I managed a final ahhhh pic!


Friday, December 05, 2008

More Elephants (mud bathing)

We then came across this group of Elephants having the time of their lives! They were mud bathing and having great fun!

Unfortunately most of my pics were on my compact and they didn't come out well on the pc - they look ok on the camera screen but not converted!


The first group of Elephants I saw in the Kruger - were fantastic
every sighting had that wow factor!
I like Elephants!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Some pics from Kruger

I will never get used to the fact that the pics go on backwards in the wrong order.

First Giraffe I saw, the first Elephants and the view from the little plane from Jo'burg to Phalaborwa.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I realise that i just havent got the time at the moment to write up my trip report in detail so i am going to do a quick version and then do it in more detail later!

Its very interesting when you return from as action packed a trip as the one to SA.There are memories that are at the top of your list, there are others that lie dormant until something triggers them and others that I expect will only arise when speaking to one or two of the other trip birders!

Well as I have gone through the photo's I remember things.

In the Kruger - just how tired I was on our arrival as we travelled overnight so didn't get much sleep - SAS have some of the least comfy seats in Economy and that was having two seats to myself! its the design of the armrests they do not go right back so which ever way you attempt to get comfy some part of you has a hard armrest digging into you!Then we reach SA and excitement - at the airport at Jo'burg watching the first southern african birds.....the small plane to Phalaborwa...was interesting - with its propellers!
My luggage didn't arrive - drat to not putting a long sleeve shirt into my hand luggage - the last min T-shirst was good!Mike also didn't have his luggage! However it came on the next fliht which we didn't know until the next morning - as the gates to the HP closed after that flight comes in ...but not having suntan lotion or anti bug stuff was a bit disconcerting and I had to buy stuff - that a) i only needed for a short while and b) was not the same quality! THe long sleeve lightweight jacket I bought was a really good buy tho - so not all bad.

Some pics!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Sean the Sheep

Sean the Sheep has won a major prize

An International Emmy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Just thinking about SA Birds.

This is a Grey-winged Francolin. We saw several together in Lesotho not long after we entered that Country from the Sani Pass.

The story of the Sani pass will wait for another day.
It was interesting to say the least!

Now the pic above (or where ever it will be on the page, was only a half recovered pic but I was able to crop it. I have a limited range of tools at my dispersal at present. Until ican down load more software on my new pc.

So mainly pics will be raw except they are not technically RAW.

I am particularly pleased about this pic. The birds were spotted and then called in nearer to the 4x4 and one came really close.
Well the real urpose of 4x4 was brought home on the Sani pass both going up and coming down. Fog we would call it here in UK there its cloud cover!

LOL! I was in the passenger front seat and had to keep an eye out for Lorries as at each hair-pin bend there is little room for manouvre - sometimes there is a bit but you go very near the edge!

oh and a Hornbill - I grew quite attached to the antics of the Hornbills.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

South African photos recovered!

Well what clever software we can now purchase! My deleted photos are now recovered - mostly!

Some are lost but majority are now on my hard drive and being copied. They are all read only but I can sort that out and then maybe some will need cropping ...whatever!

Very happy Eagle!

Monday, November 24, 2008

300th Bird UK 2008 year list

I was going to Folkestone for lunch whats about? Do I see the bird before or after lunch? Before would be good.

A Night Heron at Hythe - well the same place as the Green Heron!

So in the weather that was Sunday I drove to Kent. Snow, rain, sleet, hail, fog and wind where there was not fog! Great driving conditions but it was forecast to clear up late afternoon so on I pressed!

I stopped on route for the coffee and petrol required for moi and car.I looked at pager
Bird had flown south! Oh not in this weather wonder where its gone. So lets get to the turn off and see if its relocated?

At the turn off not been seen since.By now I was going to be late if i went to seek out the bird so i decided that the bird was an extra add on and my friends were expecting me so on I drove to Folkstone. Here I had a delicious dinner and chat.
Recalling my South Africa trip with pics from the compact camera seen through the camera! Look good there!

I got into my car for the drive home in the light and thought is anything about? Pager - showed the Heron was back!

Well I just had to stop to see and yes there was the 300 for my year list!Great.But how interesting that the same canal held both a Green and a Night Heron within a month of each other!

Home was rain and rain but we were able to travel at a faster pace than the morning trip!


Steppe Grey Shrike - what an impressive bird it has been wowing birders since 7th November (when I was in SA). I got back shattered and unable to go due to committments until the sat evening for early sunday morning viewing (talons crossed) I also wanted to go to Donna Nook to see the seals!

Photos to be posted here later......

Friday, November 21, 2008

Birding in South Africa

Well where to start?

Truely amazing trip with over 300 lifers. Not as overwhelming as you might first think as i had done lots of research and tried to learn as much as I could from videos before I went. Being in the field is where its at and i was soon learning faster than a cheetah runs!
We saw over 350 birds - and that helped, seeing birds I was familiar with.

(I learnt my lessons from my trip to peru in 2005 - I was overwhelmed there - but since I thought there was a bird called a College Cleaner are you surprised? It was of course Foliage Gleaner! I was very tired when it was called and I did spot it!LOL!)

As well as the birds we saw lots of Mammals - well not lots of different species but lots of individual species...lots of Elephants, Lions, Buffalo's and a fair amount of White Rhino's (1 Black Rhino) + 2 Cheetah's (defo the stars of the trip!), all those "deer" now I know they are "Antelopes" ...I had given up trying to learn which was which before I left but now i can tell a Kudu (I grew to be impressed by this ante) from a Sable ( and as for the fast food for all that is the Impala.(or pyjama bottoms)

My big regret was not seeing a Leopard. They were everywhere apparently. We missed one in Kruger by 5 mins or so....where we stayed in St Lucia - there was resident male who frequented the garage roof, not when I was there alas!

But Giraffe are as elegant (and very pretty) in the wild as I thought and Rhino are scary! Elephants just cant help but be endearing.....except when they sway at you......get out quick...they didn't at me but....respect!
It was surreal though looking out of the minibus to see Giraffe by the window and then later a Rhino looking at the front of the minibus and spraying!

Hippo's lie about, submerge and reappear with no noise at all, we did see one trotting off about his business, on a Game Drive, this was just outside a camp.Moving remarkably quickly!

Crocs - yes there were a few - some huge ones - I must admit I as happiest when they were not to be seen , altho come to think of it actually it was better when you could see them!

Warthogs I found surprisingly endearing!

Gnu/wildebeest were there...might find something to say about them......

but ah yes the Duiker -( Red the most attractive little Ante. and the best of all - really liked this little ante- the Steenbok ( how could you not be when they look like this?

Thats it for this afternoon!

Monday, October 27, 2008

1st for Kent

Finally a mega I could go and twitch!

News of the Green Heron came up on my pager on Saturday. Well I thought its worth the risk of going tomorrow whatever the weather and I knew I wouldn't be able to go until Monday afternoon (and that would be tight if I didn't go on Sunday morning.

Would the bird still be there? I wanted to see it for my Kent list and also for my year list.Sometimes these megas just vanish overnight.

The weather was not fact it was rainy and windy and the weather forecasts kept saying how 'orrible it was out there.Clocks went back in the night.
So off to Hythe I went in the wet morning - a very well known path as I go to Dungeness frequently.

Not nice on the motorway with surface water but I arrived to find not huge crowds so that was good!

The Heron had been hiding away not from birders just its natural way. There was rain and rain and wind and wind and I thought this bird is not going to show!
I love sideways rain!(not)

Eventually the Green Heron (who actually didn't mind the rain one bit) decided to show itself. Great. Where's the camera and click a miserable record shot of an out of focus Heron!
Too much foliage! Not enough Heron, but then i had seen a first for Kent. Bird safely on the Kent list.

Thanks to Robin Mace for permission to use one of his photographs that he took today (Monday) in bright sunlight! I think he enjoyed the fact that he probably enjoyed better sights than those of us yesterday!
He also saw a Kingfisher.
I had a flock of raindrops!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Moon in the daytime

The other day I spotted the Moon in the daytime and I took these pics.
Experimental with my compact hand held.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Red-back Shrike in Kent and Serins in Rainham Essex

Well a little outing to my old haunts along the spy a Red-backed Shrike for my Kent list and then a trip up the motorways to Rainham Marshes for a Serin or two or three!

I had almost forgotten that 1 hadn't seen a Serin in UK this year having seen them in Espana!

Went to a secret location on Sunday and discovered that there were at least 2 Willow Tits still there. claw back for the year list.

On Saturday I got a new patch tick for Redlees Park a Grey Wagtail - 1st winter feeding happily among the leaves on the ground!
Redwings flew overhead and Fieldfares were in Syon Park.

Meanwhile I couldn't go to the Scillies/Ireland/Yorkshire for various birds several which would have been UK ticks and a couple lifers. Thats the ups and downs of birding!

Still I am still studying Southern African birds for the big trip!!
Field guide marked up with potential birds and a really helpful crew of South African Birders on Bird Forum who have been educating me about SA birding and Mammals!

(Just think of all those birds that might turn up next October when I am in Shetland for a fortnight, thats why they are not seeing so many there this October!!)Ever the optimist!

There is a Sabine's Gull out there with my name on it!

Nethy the Osprey in West Africa

Taken from the RSPB site.
Ok then, I've just checked the satellite data and as of 9am this morning (22nd October) Nethy had reached the river Richard mentioned yesterday and has followed it up to Lac de Guiers. Yesterday she travelled about 77km (48 miles), so she's just taking her time and enjoying the fishing.

Nethy's story is possibly set to hit the national press tomorrow.

Meanwhile back here at the reserve, the first wintering fieldfares have arrived. At this time of year when we get crisp, still, frosty mornings the like of which we get in Spring, we can sometimes see an out of season resumption of lekking activity by black grouse. Sure enough, this morning we came across 8 males strutting their stuff.

Tuesday 21/10
The latest data we have, up to 10am this morning, shows Nethy to now be in northern Senegal, just 12km (8 miles) from a large river close to Lac de Guiers, south of the Senegal River. Over the last two days she has covered approx. 203km (126 miles).

She seems to be relaxing, taking some well-earned rest and enjoying the presumably plentiful supplies of fish available to her now, as the data shows her to be spending time, resting for prolonged spells - clearly no great urgency for her to be constantly searching for food or pressing on anywhere in particular.

Nethy must be enjoying the warmth of the region too, unlike Loch Garten today where we had snow and sleet. The gale force winds over the weekend, have stripped the leaves form the broadleaf trees and strewn yellow pine needles everywhere.

You might want to watch The One Show on BBC TV next week on Tuesday 28th October at 7pm, as Operation Osprey at Loch Garten will feature - an historical piece about the early days of osprey protection.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cornwall Day 2 Part 5 well after the gulls!

Now what with all the downloading of photo's I cant remember where i am, except it was Cornwall and a beautiful day!

Oh yes after Hayle I went down to Sennan Cove to find a Yellow legged Gull, which i did after a while of studying lots of lesser black backs, Herrings and the occasional Greater BB - they are enormous when you accidentally stand near one!
There was at least one Common Gull here but as it flew off the other one i saw might have been it back! Boy it would have been good to have been with another birder as you can lose which bird is which when there are so many!

Paul would have been in his element! So many gulls so little time. Anyway i left the Cove which was a bit too full of tourists and birders (another lot who were keeping themselves to grockles to a boy!- Actually I might be doing them a disservice as they did appear to have coffee and teas! One deligent birder was scoping for his I guessed the YLG was elesewhere and it was. It was in a field as I discovered a little later!(this was a refound or refind bird!)

Then it was on to discover a few self found birds - oh I also saw a Whinchat and a Raven which I didn't write down on my list!No Choughs though which was a shame.
The Self found birds that ought to be reported? (Which I have btw along with the Red Kite as Peregrines are not noted here...I think they get so many!)

Red-breasted Flycatcher at the lighthouse at Pendeen Point which i just had to go to look at in the sun!Never seen it out of rain and wind! I also tried to refind a Rosy starling but I failed but now i have seen a pic of the little thing I'm hardly surprised as it looks different to the other Rosy I have seen this year in Wales. Still awaiting a stonking adult male though. (got a lovely photo by Kit Day of one as an incentive which I won in a Bird guides competition a couple of years ago!)
Oh have I mentioned Buzzards? Probably not sawa really pale morph along the main road to Lands End/Sennen. I also saw a another couple of dark birds - one I did get a record shot of - nearly got a brilliant shot but as i opened my car and got scope out a young man asked me the way to a place that wasn't on my OS map - but trying to help him meant the bird flew off!

I digress- on to the Ortolan Bunting outside a tiny village M (something)Madron.
Its great on these back road you can stop when you like and the birds take no mnotice if you stay in the car.

Then it was on to Marizon Marshes where I saw some Dragonflies....beautiful!(id later as I still havent decided what they were! 4 seen ......
Here I watched some Meadow Pipits feeding and then realised after they had flown away and then come back that one was not a Meadow but something else and whilst I thought Richard's I had to look into the field guide again to check!
Then the little blighter's flew over a hedge and I couldn't find them again...well i found some other Mipits! Richard's Pipit very nice!

The best thing about these birds was that they were all year ticks and two were UK ticks and one the RBF was a lifer! So that was all jolly well brilliant!

I went off to find a loo (this being important for a woman birder) and was going to get an ice cream as it was so hot but the que was too long so I left to try to find
Stithians Reservoir .....however I was rudely interrupted by the pager bleeping - MEGA.... and there no not the Alder Flycatcher back or relocated but a Red eyed Vireo! Well there should be no doubt about that id I thought and i will know what it looks like without having to check the Sibley or NA Field guide (that is at home!)as I saw my first in Canada in 2004! So it was about turn double check the OS map as to where the bird was and where I had to go to park! and off I went - on a Twitch!

Well what a cracking little bird! If you havent already seen it on Surfbirds or Birdguides then look on Cornwall Birding

What a little cracker!

(the Alder Flycatcher is also pictured )

I meant to say there were lots of birders about near Sennen Cove - mainly in three's and four's must all have been looking for that RARE.


Something had been here...was it the Whinchat?

Oh and after all this I then went and found the reservoir I was looking for and found the Nature Reserve part and the hide!

There was not really time to have a real search of all the gulls on the other part(also sailing people were a bit of a nuisance - in that they get in my way!
Nothing against sailors.

But not much on the other bit - I gather its the fault of the grey heron!

Looks an interesting place for a weekday! Now I have found it will visit next time I am in Cornwall.

website is here