Wednesday, 26 August 2009

A Trip To The Seaside.

I hadn't been out and about with the camera as duties at home ( mainly gardening ) had kept me busy for the past week or so. This week I was determined to make the effort and get out there. I had decided on a visit to the Lancashire Coast at Southport as some high tides would mean that it could be good for wader watching as they would be pushed off their feeding grounds out on the Ribble Estuary. This proved to be the case and a couple of afternoon sessions found me waiting for their arrival as the tide rolled in.
There had been some heavy showers but these made way for sunny weather as the afternoons progressed and this of course provided excellent conditions for photography. I found a few small roosts of mainly dunlin and sanderling and a careful approach allowed me to get within forty to fifty yards . I enjoyed myself as there were plenty of birds to photograph and various plumages could be seen as many of the birds were juveniles returning from Arctic breeding grounds and feeding up before heading further south. Eventually most of the waders flew back out towards the fast retreating sea to resume their feeding out on the sands and mud of the estuary. I look forward to my next encounter with these delightful little birds when the next series of high tides brings them within range of the camera lens. The images show a fly past of dunlin and ringed plover and a couple each of sanderling and dunlin, the dunlin showing juvenile and adult plumages.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Sandpiper Trio

I hadn't visited RSPB at Marshside for what seemed many months so Wednesday pm found me at the Junction Pool looking at a very nice Wood Sandpiper. I had seen it reported on the internet and as I hadn't seen one for many years decided on a trip to Southport. The wood /sand was occuping a well vegetated area at the top of the junction pool and of course at the furthest point away from the viewing screen. Still good views were obtained by visiting birders through the telescope and I managed one or two reasonable shots with the long lens. I think the wood sandpiper is one of the most elegant and beautiful of freshwater waders and I understand a handful of pairs breed in remote parts of Scotland.
After enjoying the wood/sand I visited the Sandgrounders Hide where it was extremely quiet as all the breeding avocets have now departed and the wintering wildfowl and geese have not yet arrived. Eventually a common sandpiper flew in and gave very nice views as it fed just in front of the hide. I went back for another look at the wood/sand before heading home. The Green Sandpiper , the third of my trio was seen a few weeks ago at Newton Marsh and was photographed in failing light as it fed on  the roadside pool. I hope to catch up with the green/sand again and obtain some much better images but it could prove to be difficult as they can be very wary and flighty. I have shown my efforts with these three sandpipers and really only the common came close enough to show plumage detail. I look forward to seeing the other two sandpipers again at some  future date.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Leighton Moss...Deer and Bittern.

This is the second installment of my trip to Leighton Moss last week. As I was driving along to the main part of the reserve,following my visit to the Eric Morecambe Hide, I spotted a Roe Deer Buck feeding close to the road. The opportunities to see roe deer so close are rare so I hastily stopped and reversed the car to get a better position for photos. Of course the deer bounded away but fortunately not very far and he stopped to have a good look at me. This gave me the chance to grab the camera and fire off a salvo of shots before the deer departed for the adjacent woodland. A wonderful experience to see this magnificent animal so close and even better to be able to record the meeting,with the camera.Two of the shots grace the beginning of this post.
I carried on to the main reserve where my intention was to see Red Deer,which come out of the reedbeds in the evenings to feed on the lush vegetation surrounding the freshwater pools. My first port of call was the Griesdale Hide. There were a couple of distant deer lying down but soon more deer with a fawn appeared not far from the hide. This family of deer gave some super views in the evening sunshine as they made their way around the edge of the reedbeds. This was turning out to be a super session at Leighton Moss but there was yet another surprise awaiting me at theTim Jackson Hide.
This was to be my last port of call before heading home. As I entered the hide I was made aware that the three others present  were watching something to the left of the hide.I was expecting another red deer but it was in fact a bittern. The bittern stayed close to the reeds in the twenty minutes or so that it was on view,but still gave super views in the evening sun. What a wonderful way to end a magnificent day at Leighton Moss and one that will remain in the memory for a long time to come.

Leighton Moss... Afternoon Peregrine.

Last Friday afternoon found me back at Leighton Moss. I hadn't visited the saltmarsh pools for a long time, so by early afternoon I was seated nicely in the Eric Morecambe Hide. I was joined for the afternoon by a professional photographer, Andy Jones,who works for a national weekly cycling magazine and had recently returned from The Tour de France. We enjoyed a very interesting afternoon together discussing photography,birdwatching and of course the Tour de France.It was fairly quiet birdwise that is until a young peregrine falcon decided to pay a visit.
The peregrine caused panic stations amongst the waders and wildfowl present and everything was up in the air. It made a couple of passes over the pools and landed on one of the fence posts to weigh up the situation. It had another go but departed without actually making a kill and eventually normal service was resumed and the waders settled down to enjoy the afternoon sunshine. Andy and I were obviously trying to capture the action but found it difficult to lock on to the fast flying falcon and the fact that the very bright sun was directly into the lenses didn't help matters. However the whole afternoon had been a very enjoyable experience with great weather,excellent company and the exciting visit of the peregrine falcon. My efforts with the camera are shown above, the peregrine shots are poor and grainy but are a record of it's visit. Those of the waders are a little better, they show a lovely greenshank and a spotted redshank and a small flock of redshanks put up by the peregrine. The remainder of my visit was spent on the main part of the reserve at the Griesdale and Jackson hides and will be the subject of my next posting.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Fishers of Mere Sands

Yesterday found me back again at Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve at Rufford. The weather was good and another warm and pleasant day was promised. Fishing conditions were ideal with good light and little or no wind. The Rufford Hide was well occupied when I arrived with three other photographers already in position but still with room for one or two more. It was a busy day with lots of comings and goings as people enjoyed the late summer weather.
The kingfishers as usual favoured the posts well away from the hide but did come and pose for the assembled lenses from time to time. This time I managed some shots of the birds with fish which seems to make for a better photograph as these beautiful birds live up to their name. Late afternoon the kingfishers departed but a couple of herons appeared on the scene and one young bird came close to the hide giving super views in the late afternoon sunshine. Whilst I was there  the heron failed to capture any fish despite the clear and settled conditions but maybe these young birds are still at the learning stage. I decided to head for home having enjoyed another super sunny afternoon at Mere Sands Wood.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Kingfisher Close

Kingfisher Close..... Sounds a bit like a street name in a new housing development !!! .... but no this was my experience when I visited Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve at Rufford yesterday. I had visited last week ( see previous entry ) when I had enjoyed super views of kingfisher and young, but they never came close and kept their distance some sixty to seventy yards away from the hide.
Yesterday however was better in that the kingfishers did come much closer and briefly gave outstanding views as they perched on posts close to the Rufford Hide. I spent a total of five and a half hours in the hide and in that time the kingfishers only came close about five times and you had to be constantly at the ready with trigger finger on the camera. Other birdwatchers and photographers arrived through the afternoon and as always were delighted for views of the kingfisher. For one gentleman it was his very first sighting and he went away a happy man.
The time seems to pass very quickly when engrossed in watching and photographing kingfishers but  it had been very worthwhile with some great views of this most colourful of birds. It is always nice to share these experiences with others and I am sure I will return soon and once again enjoy one of Britain's most sought after and photographed birds.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

An afternoon with kingfishers

It had been a very long time since I had visited Mere Sands Wood Nature Reserve at Rufford. So yesterday afternoon found me walking the familiar path to the Rufford Hide. The Rufford Hide can usually be relied on for sightings of kingfisher which seem to prefer this part of the reserve and the hide is usually occupied by one or more photographers. When I arrived I found I had it to myself and settled down to await the arrival of a kingfisher. A few minutes later one did arrive but it was perched on a fencing post some distance from the hide. There are a couple of perches which the kingfishers use which are sited much closer to the hide but they were not used whilst I was there.
However there was much action over the next couple of hours or so as the kingfishers have obviously had a second brood and were feeding a youngster throughout the afternoon. This young bird also tried fishing for itself but hasn't quite got the hang of things just yet. By now I had been joined by others and we all enjoyed watching and photographing the comings and goings throughout the afternoon. Unfortunately the kingfishers didn't come close but I managed some reasonable shots using the 500mm lens with 1x4 convertor attached. All in all it was an excellent afternoon with super views of kingfisher and good banter from the frequent visitors to the hide. Eventually the promised rain arrived and I packed up and headed home. I look forward to my next visit when perhaps the kingfishers will come that bit closer to the hide. The images show some of the action seen from the Rufford Hide.