Friday, 30 June 2017

Venus Pool - Green Sands

This really shouldn't be noteworthy but after the most miserable Spring for waders I can recall at VP, I can use the M-word yes, we have some mud and hopefully the four Green Sandpipers trickling in are the prelude to something better as summer wears on...

Here's two of them...

Hoping to have a peaceful snooze?

No way!

Well it does make a change from mentioning Little Ringed Plovers?

Thursday, 29 June 2017

East Leake - Bee-eaters at work!!

This is probably the first time I've given my Achilles problem a bit of a 'test' since Scotland? It was worth it, despite the awful weather! Constant drizzle and overhead white-out are not exactly the ideal conditions for bird photography! But despite all that - I always relish the challenge of getting a few record shots out of a day like this - as a reminder of how endearing Bee-eaters are!  The habitat, a working quarry next to East Leake, a well organised twtich and obliging birds - in view for pretty much most of the day!

Having paid my fiver for the RSPB parking (£1 an hour or per Bee-eater is not bad value), I made the leisurely walk to the end of the Bridleway where all these images were taken...

The first views were in the hedge viewed across the pool!

But then most of the action was in and around... the most photographed Ash tree in the land? A celebratory toss :-)

And given the 100m + distance, having a bird in flight means less to crop!

Somewhat anaemic flight shots, but they will do as record shots, given the conditions!

The occasional individual did fly a bit closer, within about 50m of the viewing point...

But never close enough!

And how I wish the light had been better, bee much closer for this one? So many 'What ifs'!

There was one moment when I was relieved to be near the end of the viewing area as two birds flew by, pausing for a minute of so in the poolside twiggy stuff!

The two together...

I can't make my mind up for the final image - traditionally my favourite? The colour enhanced against the greenery or a wing flared arrival on the Ash...

I might even be tempted into a return - but not at the weekend!!

Priorslee Lake - Common Scoter

I dashed like a mad thing back from Notts (if such a thing is possible in the rush hour!) Any Scoter is a good Scoter in Shropshire and after thinking the female Common Scoter was a county year-tick, I realised I'd had one in January at Chelmarsh!

Not exactly bearing comparison with the colourful birds I'd been working with all afternoon but I even got some decent record shots,

another nice find by Reevesy... Well done mate! And 40 mins after I'd left a Sandwich Tern breezed through without stopping for Clive Biddlulph and co! grrrrrr....

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Venus Pool - Old 'Red-eyes' is here!

This post actually first starts back on the 8th June whilst on 'Osprey watch'! In addition to the Little Grebes performing then, the odonataphile in me noticed at least one possibly two Damselflies perched on the surface scum. I instinctively knew what they were but didn't expect to see them at Venus Pool! On size, appearance and jizz, they could be only one thing - male Red-eyed Damselflies. And now, they had now flown out of view into the bank-side vegetation!!

It took a while but eventually I caught a flash of blue in my bins and yes, no doubt about it - red eyes gleaming back at me!!

Fast forward to the 24th June and having discussed the sighting with Sue Rees Evans, the Shropshire odonata Tsar, this was the first record reported at VP since the only record 10 years ago - in 2007!!

I'd assumed it was a 'one off' but another one caught my eye today and this was surely a different individual! It's not easy to photograph Damselflies over 15m away but the long lens has its uses and not just for birds!

And the sun put a bit of light on those gleaming eyes...

Despite the lack of Lily pads, there's enough surface vegetation and floating scum as you can see to support them. Now all we need is to ID a female or two or even better a pair in cop to cement a more permanent presence?

Tuesday, 20 June 2017


Considering I don't really 'do' moths, its been a pretty interesting period lately! Firstly I had a female Eyed Hawkmoth doing a pretty good impression of a leaf in my garden on the 9th June!

Finding my Dactylorhiza orchids just as appealing as they are to me!

Didn't even think of trying to tickle the eyes into view? Oh well...

Finding my Dactylorhiza orchids just as appealing as they are to me!

Then today, Tom Lowe kindly tipped me off - he had trapped a Poplar and two Elephant the previous evening. Would I like to photograph them? WOULD I, not half??

Here's the Poplar Hawkmoth, sporting a little wear / damage sadly...

The Elephant Hawkmoths were pristine and I decided to create a bit of a studio, courtesy of some black card, a couple of sticks and the 100mm macro lens!

Time for one or two unusual angles?

Particularly lovin' the head on views :-)

A slippery slope but I haven't quite got smitten to start trapping (yet!) Let's hope some more turn up this summer? Oh and thanks a million Tom!!

And if you never checked out the Scilly 'beast' from October 2016? Here's an impressive Death's Head Hawkmoth courtesy of Mick and Will Scott's trap...

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Prees - Quail and Channel Wagtail!

Howard Prince and Rob Dowley have been putting some hours in lately checking the Prees area for Quail and scored with one calling and showing Saturday night. I spent a couple of hours in the morning to no avail but decided to return in the evening... 

Against a backdrop of Skylarks, Yellowhammer and general birdsong (plus passing cars) it wasn't easy but my luck came good at 8.15 when a Quail started calling across the wheat field. After calling four times in 5 minutes, it was not heard again. I'd seen a likely candidate drop in the field out of the corner of my eye seconds earlier (and it had switched fields from the previous eve).

Even better was to come... With one or two Yellow Wagtails in the area and one carrying food, something drew me to a brighter male flying over! It landed about 100m away and through the viewfinder I could clearly see a 'powder blue' head, first for this year but sadly a 'nothing' hybrid between M. flava and flavissima - Channel Wagtail. It perched up briefly a little nearer...

The paleness of the head and pure white throat rule out Blue-headed Wagtail...

Smarter than both parents and soon lost as it flew over the road, a little stunner!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Venus Pool - Common Tern

A rather 'late' Common Tern dropped in at Venus Pool today (thanks for the heads up Tim!) and was clearly going nowhere in a hurry as it rested on one of the middle islands for much of the afternoon.

Aside from just resting, it had a drink...

Paddled about a bit!

The occasional short flight...

And sometimes came a little closer!

Just one chance against the blue sky!

Still there when I left at 4.15 and still short flight hopping...

Terns and one or two passage birds aside, it's been a miserable wader time at VP due to 'reservoir' conditions throughout Spring... I'm the eternal optimist however and it will hopefully be a more productive Autumn from the new hide extension :-) !

Friday, 9 June 2017

Venus Pool - Little Grebes cute time...

Once the (very brief) Lesser Pecker display had taken place, what else was there for me to do during my unproductive Osprey vigil? I had to turn my attention to the locals... Coots fighting, Herons fighting but the Little Grebes in front of the hide, remained resolutely cute !

Leave me in peace?

"Can you catch us a fish"? "Can I climb on your back"?

This attempt ended in failure!


If at first you don't succeed...

No room for two on here, despite the protestations!

Just try and resist going ahhhhhhhh?

'Not so cute' time coming next... It's yet another fishy photostory!