Wednesday 31 December 2008

UK Picture of 2008

Well, for the second year running - a Spotted Flycatcher wins the day!! Quite a special bird for me too as it was also my first Birdguides 'Picture of the week'. Thanks to everyone for voting and following the blog.

Wishing you all a brilliant New Year with plenty of great birds......

Saturday 27 December 2008

Chase for a Hawfinch?

Cannock Chase that is - but I will catch up with one in Shropshire (one day??) A bitterly cold and gloomy day didn't inspire me to wander around Shropshire chasing an unreachable target. So, with the chance of a Staffs Hawfinch - a short drive beckoned.

Coppice Hill on Cannock Chase is a big place but locals have fed birds here, near the car park for years. No need to wander then! Patience was severely tested however with a long wait and much disturbance from cars, dogs, bikes, horses, walkers....

The time was killed watching one or two of the local residents?

I guess birds adapt to the pickings available and there was the quite astonishing sight of a small flock of Long tailed Tits feasting on rather unusual fare - yes - it is a piece of bread!!

Male Bullfinches are always attractive subjects.....

Eventually, the main attraction put in an appearance (such a shame a branch was in the way!)

The only opportunity from nearly six hours of patient waiting - a short mid morning spell of ground based feeding.

What a bill, what a bird, what an end to the year!!

Of course, there was other wildlife there too to break the boredom!

Sunday 21 December 2008

Picture of 2008 (UK final poll)

Here are the final 'Top Twenty' favourite pictures (in no particular order) taken during 2008. This includes the top three Shropshire birds - congratulations to the PEREGRINES who just pipped the Tree Pipit and Spotted Flycatcher by a single vote, it was a close run thing though!

You will find an voting box to the right, to keep things simple and by popular request simply check the FIVE pictures you like most! (click thumbs to open a larger image) FIVE votes maximum only please! (Only one voter is possible per PC sorry!)

I make no excuse for including TWO Hobby and Waxwing pictures!!

I will let this poll run until December 31st and then YOUR No 1 Picture of the Year will be declared on New Years Day....

Have a fantastic Christmas and here's wishing everyone great birding in 2009!

Picture 1 - Lapland Bunting, Salthouse (January)

Picture 2 - Slavonian Grebe, Chasewater, Staffs (January)

Picture 3 - Tree Pipit at Black Hill, Shropshire (April)

Picture 4 - Great Northern Diver at Chasewater, Staffs (April)

Picture 5 - Cattle Egret - Hampshire (March)

Picture 6 - Ring billed Gull - Hampshire (March)

Picture 7 - Spotted Flycatcher - Ruyton XI Towns, Shropshire (May)

Picture 8 - Peregrine juveniles - Shropshire (June)

Picture 9 - Puffin - Farne Islands (May)

Picture 10 - Kittiwake - Farne Islands (May)

Picture 11 - Sparrowhawk - Venus Pool (September)

Picture 12 - Marsh Harrier - Cley Marshes, Norfolk (July)

Picture 13 - Sabine's Gull - Westport lake, Staffs (August)

Picture 14 - Semipalmated Sandpiper - Dawlish Warren (September)

Picture 15 - Purple Sandpiper - Titchwell (October)

Picture 16 - Two-barred Crossbill - Bilsdale, North Yorks (November)

Picture 17 - Hobby - Holkham Pines (October)

Picture 18 - Hobby - Holkham Pines (October)

Picture 19 - Waxwing - Ellesmere (December)

Picture 20 - Waxwing - Hereford (December)

Saturday 20 December 2008

Colemere - Scaup at last

The last but one Saturday of the year. Virtually last chance saloon for Andy L to break the existing record of 175 for County species in a calendar year (starting the day on 174). Yours truly and Yvonne C made up the intrepid team, heading to the North of the County. Target birds were Scaup (surprisingly still needed by all of us), Smew, Lesser Spot and Great Grey Shrike, not much of an ask eh?

The Mere had plenty of birds (counts of just under 200 Wigeon and 40+ Great crested Grebe for starters) but nothing of real note.

Colemere put a spring in our step with two distant Ducks instantly catching the eye. Hey, these weren't female Tufties, just look at that rounded head and plumage pattern. From a distance, easy to be fooled into thinking they were female Scaup too (I was initially). Our luck was certainly in when unbelievably, after we had blanked Lesser Spot in the wood - we found they had moved up by the sailing club!!

Cue photo opportunity and surely the best chance I've had to date in Shropshire to capture this species! Here are the dashing twosome - juvenile males with the emerging adult plumage just beginning to show.

Some closer shots of the individuals.

Next stop was Whixall Moss. To cut a long story short, we split up to maximise our chances but the only highlight of the mosses was a Short eared Owl! Somewhat dejected we had returned to the car park and were loading the car when, as Andy raised his bins looking across the canal, it was one of those 'what happened next' moments!

What happened? Andy shouted "SHRIKE", preceded by a couple of other words I shan't mention here. And where was I when Andy broke the record? I was sprinting over to his telescope to get bird no 173 on my list, that's where I was, a lifer too for Yvonne!

No chance for photography, a Peregrine shot though and that was the end of that but there was a happy ending to the story......

A return session on Sunday morning, when the Shrike turned up again - seen initially next to the access road and then nearly two hours later out on Whixall moss as seen here, very distant but this record shot was very much appreciated!!!

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Hereford - Berried Treasure!

Waxwings - fantastic birds and always wonderful photo opportunities! Maybe if they are here all Winter long I might tire of them. For now though, they are totally unmissable!!

The treasure? An ornamental Sorbus tree on an estate in Hereford and its magnificent crop of white berries which is creating quite a bit of attention!

It was attracting a small flock of 10 - 12 birds daily. I had three objectives.....

The white berry pose....

The plucked Berry....

The berry toss! (The first one reminds me of a performing seal!)

And of course - got to have a go to catch them in flight?? Oh does that make four??

What next? Yellow berry shots maybe - if they return to the Market Drayton, Rowan Road tree???

For now though - how about that male Black Redstart - at the Cathedral!