Sunday 26 October 2008

Venus Pool - Swan Wars II

I captured agression amongst Mute Swans in Nov 2007 as 'Swan Wars' - that was effectively a naval encounter with minimal casualties. Today was certainly a land battle royal, resulting in one shaken, stirred and stunned Mute Swan.....

Read on if you don't mind seeing the images, which upset a few of the onlookers! I must admit, I was initially concentrating on the Med Gull but could see a little 'argie bargie' developing on the island. Eventually, this escalated into a full blown fight and the Med Gull, along with every other bird on the water (two GC Grebes were an exception) scarpered!

Taking up the story.....

A Common Buzzard, crop bulging, clearly having recently fed, circled keeping an eye on events?

Round one seemed to be a grapple with bodies and necks locked together, seeing how many wing feathers could be removed......

Having asserted dominance, the victorious male clambered on the loser's back and proceeded to go for a complete submission. This looked to be a 'drowning' tactic but with the water a short distance away, no real harm was done.

The role of the onlooking Swans was unclear. One seemed to be giving a sympathy vote, as if to say 'you're beaten - clear off while you can'....'

Others seemed to be taking a 'glad it's not me', looking away approach!

Eventually, the loser broke free, only to be chased, spray flying everwhere to the smaller island in front of the Memorial hide. Amazingly, he didn't actually fly off but the victor stood his ground as hostilities were brought to a conclusion....

Don't mess with me!!

The Med Gull didn't come back either!!

Venus Pool - Med Gull

I narrowly missed the first winter Med Gull at VP yesterday so on arrival at 1.00 today, my first task was to scan the 100+ flock of Gulls! My luck was in, the unmistakable form of a first winter Mediterranean Gull.....

And a few moments later, it flew the short distance to the muddy island revealing those dark legs.

I waited for more action, eventually it flew over to the main island

Posing nicely.....

It disappeared about 40 minutes later, spooked together with just about every other bird on the pool by one of the most violent tussles I've ever witnessed! I'll upload some images soon in a separate posting.......

Thursday 23 October 2008

Venus Pool - Grey phalarope!!!!

For once I wasn't sat having my tea when the 'hot line' from Andy Latham began visibly glowing! In fact, I was on my way home from work to be diverted with the news 'Grey Phalarope at VP'!!
What is going on in that birding desert known as Shropshire?? Another great bird for Shropshire (County year and lifetime tick).

It was almost dark and wouldn't normally share the following grainy images but at least they act as a record of yet another amazing 2008 Shropshire bird!!

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Venus Pool - the elusive Bittern

What should appear at Venus Pool, the day I left for Norfolk? A Bittern! Obviously content to set up residence in the reedbed over on the far side, it remained loath to emerge at any time other than dawn or dusk.

*** Warning - bad photograph alert ***

Just for the record, here is a shot of the VP Bittern doing what Bitterns do - remaining unseen when in full view!!

What do you mean, you can't see it??

OK, here it is.....

Still not convinced? It is there honest!

I'll try and get a reasonable shot but I'm not promising.......

Sunday 19 October 2008

Titchwell - Purple Sandpiper

The Norfolk weekend was spent with a party of SOS (Shropshire Ornithological Society) friends and will be written up (eventually) for their website. Birding highlights included: Water Pipit, Curlew Sandpiper, Velvet Scoter Snow Bunting and Woodcock but there was no doubt which bird was the 'celebrity' of the weekend - a very obliging Purple Sandpiper!

Here's a few examples showing just how obliging it was.....

Mussels were definitely on the menu - now, how do you get into them?

A couple of Sanderling got in on the act....

Meanwhile, a stop at Thornham harbour on the way back featured a mudbath opportunity for Grey Plover.

And if you've ever wondered how useful a Bar-tailed Godwit's long bill can be:

It's 4.30 pm, tired and with a long journey in prospect - wonder if that Venus Pool Bittern will still be there?

Friday 17 October 2008

Holkham Hobby - another encounter

Well, it would have been rude to have stood up my new friend! I had wondered if events of the previous day had been a fluke? Evidently not - and this time I had the shorter 300mm lens with me! Flight shots were still a tricky propostion with underexposure and motion blur the prime culprits for the many 'binned' shots. There were some I was pleased with though.....

Perhaps the most satisfying sequence was the demise of a Migrant Hawker (one of many falling prey). If you want to see the full sequence, book me for a talk......

A portrait and close up to round off of my most memorable close encounters.....

There were other birds about of course - these two male Crossbills dropped in on one of the neighbouring pines!

I'll leave you with perhaps my favourite pose? The angles, feather detail, pose and catchlight - it all comes together occasionally!!