Monday, 31 May 2010

Norfolk holiday-day 1, a day at cley

Hooray!! My first full day in Norfolk. It has taken some amount of persuasion to get this holiday. My dad has complained that it was too far and as a result we have not been for some time. But at last my hard work has paid off. Even more significantly I managed to persuade my dad to let us go at may bank holiday, the time of the swallowtails. But also the busiest time in tourist terms. hopefully the swallowtails will show up some time during our 5 day stay.
Not today though. My dad and brother and mum all decided that they wanted to take a trip to a tank museum and so they dumped me at cley on the way. It felt good to step out onto this birding paradise once again. I have to say that my mind was full of temmincks stint! maybe, just maybe they would show up today and be my first tick off the holiday.
I made my way to the first hides (the group off three) and settled in the 1st. birds were, sadly a little sparse. A large flock of black tailed godwits were perched on the other side of the pool but luckily there were a pair of cute little redshank chicks in front of the hide. unfortunately I had not realised that I had left my ISO on really high from the night before so most of the photos were rubbish.

After that, I transferred my self to the middle hide where I found my first avocets of the holiday. sadly, there were less than I had hoped for so I didn't really get the shots I had hoped for. There were however still a few around and so I made the most of what was there.

luckily there was plenty more than avocets. Redshanks and shellducks plus ringed plovers and marsh harriers plus swifts and hirundines flying really low. By low I mean you could see every anatomical detail off the swifts not just that they were less than 1000ft. unfortunately My camera didn't reflexes couldn't keep up with the pace of the birds so I only managed to grab a few quick shots.

I then moved onto the far hide where a small poll of water was. a cute family of mallards was moving pools, towards the big pool. luckily there was plenty more which was staying at this pool although of anything unusual I have to say there was a lack. I manged to spot this male shoveler but that was all.

I moved back to the middle hide where I started chatting to some off the other birdwatchers, in particular a man wearing blue, from Rutland water. That's one of the main things I love about Norfolk, everybody is so friendly and really interesting to talk to. out side the hide a lapwing had just arrived and was entertaining us with its futile fight against the wind. I have not so far mentioned the weather but it seems only relevant now. Mild with overcast cloud with breaks of sunshine and thunderstorms-quite big thunderstorms. It was these frequent heavy rain-showers and storms that made the hide feel all the more homely.

Then I spotted these out of the front hide. At first I wondered what Type of chick this was, but it was soon followed by 3 more of its kind and its mum where it turned out to be.....

......a pheasant. even so the baby's were undeniably cute. And, because they were so close, I managed to get some really close, good shots of them which I am really proud off.

Eventually though they were spooked and ran off back to where they came. Even so, they were still lovely to see and watch.

Then I got a real shock! Not from any bird life, oh no, but Chris King, a local guy, suddenly walked into the hide. shock, gasp, horror!! actually its not really a horror because it was actually a really nice surprise. Its great to catch up with the local guys like Chris, even if it is about 200 miles away from home!!

Then the godwits got moving, towards us and I manged to identify them by their tail patterns as black tails. About 30 birds were flying around about us until they landed in nearly the same place from whence they had set out.

this photo below gives an idea of the number of black tails about. Its been cropped so because the distance meant that there was a lot of negative space. also notice 5 avocets in the background.

a small handful of the godwits landed on the island closest to the hide and so offered some great photo opportunities. sadly I did not make the most of these opportunities and so am only left with a few poor quality shots.

however it was no longer scrapes that Had got my attention. for all day small inadimate brown birds had been flying over the reeds. I manged to notice that a small number of them were orange and had long tails. Could I finally settle that old score and put a tick by the cheeping hiders! I am talking off course about the bearded tit, a bird that loves to hide in the reeds and cheep just to wind you up. however the first bird that gave its self a good look at was a handsome reed warbler which was great to get a record shot off

Then a bearded tit came out, not to be outdone by the reed warbler. The first real view all day, as most Had just been fleeting glimpses of Orange long tailed things in the reeds. My first new bird of the holiday and I can also put a photo to it.

leaving time eventually came and as I left I couldn't help but notice this handsome male reed bunting singing in a small tree near the path. I took some quick snaps an left cley marshes a very satisfied boy.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Norfolk holiday-the arrival

Set off from good old Yorkshire at 3.50 to head off on holiday to the bird watching central of Britain. In case you hadn't guessed, we are off on holiday to Norfolk. We arrived at 7.45 in the evening. We set up the caravan quite quickly, and so we we decided to go for a evening walk around wells next the sea. However as we drove towards the car park I spotted a marsh harrier and asked my dad to stop so I could try and take some photos. Unfortunately the light was too poor and I have no photos at all. However, at the time I did not known that the light was rubbish and so asked to be dropped off at the marshes near Wells. I also saw two sedge warblers, 2 reed bunting and a little egret. Unfortunately because off poor light there was nothing but still a great start to the holiday

Monday, 24 May 2010

the garden recently-avenged!!

Plenty of garden action over the past week, probably due to the warm weather. luckily it has not been too hot and I have been out in the garden with the camera. I would like to announce the joyous news that there has been a shooting. yes that's right, a shooting, only with a camera. I finally managed to get that picture of a magpie. That given, the light was low, I was too slow and the birdbath was in the way but never-the-less I have finally managed to get that photo.

As you can see, there still not much but at least I have now got one in case I need to use it.
the warm weather meant that many birds and animals were quite sluggish and, as with the deer at hard castle craggs, not very flighty. I think that this picture of our local collard dove pair relaxing on the law sums up just about how everyone was feeling. They were the very essence of the word relaxed!!
The hot weather also had the bonus and bring all the frogs back to the pond so that they could remain cool. Normally the next time that we would see the frogs would be next spring when they return to lay more eggs so its great to catch up with them even now. On Sunday we had at least 5 frogs in the top pond and at least 1 was still around today.
No real reason why i included this apart from the fact that I love click beetles. this one didn't click, primarily because I didn't annoy it. I found this on the house wall resting from the sun. you might be able to see that the beetle is hiding on the side of the wall away from the sun.

speaking of laying eggs, our great tit parents have been working around the clock. I have named them Neat and scratty, mainly for those precise reasons. I think the top bird is the male (Neat) and the bottom bird the female. I'm not quite sure what happened to her but she does look a mess. still, she is doing a great job as a mum and, for that matter, him as a dad. I hope they don't nab the click beetle, see earlier, but if they do, it died in a worthy cause. this is our only remaining pair of birds in the garden since the robins move, their chicks were probably eaten by the wretched cat. This pair are quite safe from cats, almost 5m about the ground. they really are great parents. I stood near the box for about 20 mins and in that time both birds made a total number of about 15 trips. Its great to watch and photograph.

And another great addition to the garden wildlife is the return of our large red damselflies. there was only one but that's still a great sight, just look at the colours.
as you can see its been a great weekend for the garden wildlife. also, the stock dove returned this evening, keeping the bird biodiversity on a high

Sunday, 23 May 2010

hardcastle craggs-a stunning day

the best bird of the day by far!!
I was walking along by the riverside when suddenly a small brown bird emerged from the woods and landed on a branch quite near. I followed it as it moved and I soon identified it as a spotted flycatcher. I was really pleased but it got better, I managed to find second flycatcher in the wood adn then I spotted a nest in the fork of a tree. neither bird showed any interest in the nest but based on the description in my bird egg and nest book I think it might be. "untidy, sometimes in the fork of a tree, made of pretty muich anything including grass......"

the birds were pretty showy but quite camera shy. overall though, it wa great to find

we went to hardcastle craggs today, in the scorching sun, to try and get some dipper photos. when we got there it was really quiet with only three cars in the car park. At first we saw nothing and as we walked I began to wonder if the heat had meant that everything was hidding. As we approched the dipper spot however, a roe deer walked straight out in front of us and casually walked across the path and the river before going up the bank on the other side. It was really great to see.
but as we approached the dipper site It became clear that something had happened as there were no dippers. I had a look up and down the river and managed to find a dipper further downstream hidden by a tree. I crept up to him and managed to get really close. unfortunatly the light was really low so this photo has been photoshoped a lot.

the dipper seemed quite sad and depressed, and there was only one adult bird and the nest was empty!!! eventually I got a bit too close and he moved downstream slightly. I decided to try and take some photos from across the river. I went back to find a way across when my mum called me over to take a look at a bee which was digging in the sand. It was a really efficient animal and was doing a fine job of digging whatever he was digging.

when I got across the river the light was even worse, not even photoshop could save these. never-the-less the green backlight has created quite an effect on the bird so I have included them anyway-I would not include it because I managed to get my feet wet whichmade the rest of the journey quite uncomfortable.

it was about here that i found the spotted flycatchers but because I'm a forgetful klutz and because it is the most significant they are at the top of the post. eventually we got to the mill where my mum had a coffee and I had an exploration of the mill pond. After looking at some of darrells great dragonfly photos I decided that I should try to get some better dragonfly photos instead of just profile shots. Unfortunately, so far i had not seen any dragonflys. However at the mill pond I managed to find a large red damselfly. I tried to take some unusual shots but I'm not really sure if it worked

the just as we past the dipper spot for the last time I spotted a grey wagtail. this is another bird that I have yet to photograph so i was glad for the chance to take this photo. It was quite a bold bird and diddnt mind as I crept up close. I managed to get some shots before it flew away

as you can see, overall it was a great day

Saturday, 22 May 2010

the way to hardcastle craggs, oxenhope moor

went to hardcastle craggs today, to hopefully photograph some dippers, we went over oxenhope moor in the hope of spotting a short eared owl. unfortunately we didn't but we did spot some other nice things. as we drove over I spotted a red grouse pair. I asked my mum to pull over so I could try and photograph it. I took one or two snaps out of the window, (as an insurance in case they flew away when the car door opened). unfortunately the spotted me and ducked. I waited at the barbed wire fence and spotted a curlew some way away. I took some snaps of this but they are not very good. I was just about to wrap up when I spotted a small green butterfly on the other side of the fence. A green hairstreak I though and jumped over the fence to take some photos off it. It was a very obliging butterfly, it kept landing and had no objection to me being so close. I have only ever seen one of these butterflies once before so it was a real treat to be able to see another.

look at the lovely colour of this butterfly-a stunning insect
the curlew I talked about
red grouse taken from the car
on the way back my mum wanted me to take a photo off a Field full off Lady's smock (that's a pink flower to you and me) so we pulled over and I tried. It is quite hard to take landscape photos with my lens but I managed to snap a few, then, out of the blue, a lapwing came and landed really close to the car. I managed to get a few shots but the grass was long so it managed to keep hiding. it flew off eventually but not Before I managed to snap this shot which I am really proud off!