Saturday, 31 January 2009

Haughmond - Lesser Pecker ton up!!

The forecast was pretty dire for the weekend and with nothing of real note to tempt a 'travel', it was to be a Shropshire based day. Teamed up with Andy and Yvonne at Venus Pool to decide on where to go? After a brief discussion with Geoff Holmes we hit on the crazy idea of supposing there could be Lesser-spotted Woodpecker on Haughmond Hill??

I haven't been birding here for several years and I hadn't seen a Lesser in the County for three years either. Speaking of which, the County list has crept quietly but surely to 99 - wouldn't it be nice to get a good bird for the 'ton up' eh!

The Haughmond Abbey area was favoured and after crossing the road and walking for 200m or so - we hit very very lucky! A call and fleeting glimpse high above led to the best views of Lesser Pecker I've had to date! A cracking little male bird but sadly against a milky white sky, nothing better than these record shots was possible. It was a neck aching stuggle to get these but they'll do though!!

Whatever happened now would be irrelevant, this was surely the bird of the day (or even month!!) Good numbers of Tits about too and you would expect to find a Treecreeper here, wouldn't you?

Job done and the next target bird was Willow Tit never an easy bird to find in Shropshire! Until now that is. The butty bar at the woodland car park was quite tempting with hot food and drink on offer. Even better, also on offer near here were several Willow Tits!! This was a bird I had yet to get decent images of and bearing in mind the flighty nature of these guys, I was happy with the results!

Treecreeper style playing peekaboo....

Brief appearance when not obscured by countless twigs!

This one is my favourite pose!

Seeing the camera, a Marsh Tit tried to get included in the gallery!!

(Non- photographers might be wise to skip the following comment)

All these images were taken with the 50D and after a brief period with the 'faithful' picture style setting, I've now reverted to 'Standard' mode. Also, thanks to a tip on Bird forum, I've disabled the 'Auto lighting optimiser' which comes enabled as 'standard' out of the box. It does seem to aggravate noise and at 400ASA, most of the images taken today appeared to have much lower noise levels considering the low light. The levels are certainly comparable to that routinely achieved with the 40D. I haven't applied any noise reduction post processing! Early days, but optimising a camera and how it can work for you takes time and getting used to settings as yet unfamiliar - I've got to say I'm well pleased with it.

The rest of the day was as suspected a hard act to follow but a big flock of Corn Buntings, the elusive County Curlew at last and a Barn Owl finale at Venus Pool went some way to making it all worthwhile!