Saturday 30 November 2013

Venus Pool - Bewick's Swans

A family group of Bewick's Swans dropped into VP the other day and have settled in the usual field with the Whoopers and Mutes at Cound by day. A nice surprise to find all eight yellow billed swans within the confines of VP and not 400m away this afternoon! Here's some images, concentrating initially on the Bewick's Swans......

The family group in the warm late afternoon light

Singling out the two juveniles.

One of the adults calling.....

Then some close up portraits of adult with juvenile.

A couple of comparison shots to close with a Whooper Swan latching on. Bill pattern and additional bulk quite obvious and useful additions to my identity crisis talk?

Maybe some more Whooper images to follow.....

Monday 25 November 2013

Whoopers - the Cound Eight

I took a record shot of the 'Cound Eight' the other day, they were all of  200m + distant however! Whilst checking out the top field at VP today, I noticed a large group of swans fly in and land on the fishing pool.....

Surprise surprise - guess who was amongst them?

Loosely sticking together.....

 But never in the same field of view!

Eventually, they were all together - at the far end of the pool!  A bit like watching racehorses jostle for the off, it was obvious what would happen next!

The're off!

Five of them seemed to be heading the field and matching each other wingbeat for wingbeat....

Nothing in it.....

Eventually they formed a normal flight line.....

Time to single individuals out?

Eventually against clear blue sky and calling!

Before banking and heading back to the fields!

Always a pleasure to watch!

Saturday 23 November 2013

Whixall Moss - Shorties

A single Short-eared Owl at dusk the previous weekend had raised my interest level in the moss and I returned a bit earlier today to see if it would show earlier? A distant male Hen Harrier at 3pm made the walk worthwhile but it was almost birdless up until then!

It took the efforts of a low flying plane at 3.15 to reveal there were plenty of birds there after all with at least 60 Wigeon, Teal, Gulls, several Snipe and at least one Short-eared Owl including this dark individual (heavy crop) put up!

I was convinced a second Owl was present - seen well right of where this individual kept my attention and chatting to a guy who was nearer the action, there were definitely two shorties airborne! Just as well the plane did its stuff, there was no further sign at dusk!.....

Footnote - another late afternoon session the following day produced the male Hen Harrier, again distant and NO shorties at all!

Friday 15 November 2013

Sturt Pond - Red-breasted Goose

An overnight stay in Newbury saw my satnav throw a monumental wobbly the following morning - heading South for Milford-on-Sea!  I'd even keyed 'New Lane' which was fortunate - immediately onto the Dark-bellied Brent Geese on arrival - with this stranger tagging on.......

It didn't seem to be entirely welcome with the Brents having a go very now and then!

But it was certainly up for a fight, giving it out as well!

At one point it relocated to the pool and given the small size, was never far away!

On returning to the fields, it was a tricky job trying to get a clear shot away from the main flock!

Eventually I managed one......

Feeding quite happily.

With the sun beating down it was all too much!

And eventually, I staked out one area where it rewarded me with a really close pass - these are crops but what a smart Goose!

It's back on my UK list again too! I'd scrubbed a previous dodgy encounter years ago and this bird seems to have good enough credentials for the BBRC?

Monday 11 November 2013

Chelmarsh - Red-breasted Merganser

Just when you get to thinking the Shire is dead, something turns up..... Not just one but two decent birds at Chelmarsh reservoir and thanks to Martyn Owen for alerting me! I'm glad I was quick off the mark too as with the 'Hoorays' blasting as many pheasants as they could on the far bank, it wasn't exactly helpful to good birding!

A really dark drake Common Scoter was the most distant of the two birds and given the drizzle I must have been mad to get a record shot (or is it more of a silouette!)

With the rain easing,  I managed a record shot of the other 'turn up' - a Red-breasted Merganser!! Only my second one in  Shropshire and a devilishly tricky inland bird.

It didn't stay long however, gunshot is not a welcoming noise and it flew out at approx 10.30.  I'm blogging this several days later and assumeI was the last person to see it......

Sunday 10 November 2013

Collingham Pits - Pied Wheatear

To say I was on 'red alert' today would be an understatement but still feeling a little delicate and not fancying a 220 mile round trip, I opted to wait for news of the Collingham Pied Wheatear before heading off! Even then, I really wanted to see 'showing well' so ignored the initial 'viewable from the gate'.....

Lifers are not to be taken lightly and with no more news coming out, by 9.45 I decided to give it a go whatever!  A pretty anxious drive too, with an apparent news blackout. Reevsy was on site though and I was 10 minutes away, when I got the news I was hoping for..... 'showing really well' - I  pressed down on the accelerator ever so slightly :-)

One of the advantages of not being first on the scene, I managed to get a parking spot in prime position - right outside the gate!! Here's the lie of the land......

It was still in view after 'showing well on arrival but about 100m distant, on the shingle ridge just in front of the water! Tell you what - I'd have settled for this record shot at the time :-)

It then started flying about, ending up on the right hand shingle ridge - a little closer!

Even at distance the overall darkness of the upper parts was striking! But then it started to make its way along the nearby ridge - yes that's the one in the first image, right below the gallery!! With lots of vegetation to cause irritation, I stood my ground and just waited for it to find an uncluttered position.....

It was using the vegetation as look out perches.

A suitable launch pad - you can see the black of the tail reaching up the sides

How cute is that - right below me!

Then it flew (sadly side lit) a short distance away and picked a tasty not so little grub!

This was to be the one and only close encounter... to savour and check out the key plumage features, it all pointed to a female. The brown 'earthy' coloured mantle and scaly pattern really standing out! I had to pinch myself - it was such amazing light.

Two images in particular, to remember a spectacular moment!

Days like this don't come all that often and after the Dusky Warbler and Scilly skulkers, it's nice to have a showy bird once more.......