Monday 30 June 2014

Inner Farne - Puffins at rest

I left the previous post with Puffins avoiding the perils of running the Black-headed Gull gauntlet - here's a couple of fishy resting images....

A few individual portraits......

Not a fish in sight - and not speaking?

Preening gives some cute or 'different' poses?

And demonstrate their suppleness!

I was tempted to apply a caption to some of the more 'of beat' moments!

Yeah, it was a HOT day! I salute you!

Could this one be shedding a tear or two?

But the simplicity and colourful poise of Puffins make them subjects you just can't stop photographing?

That's all for now.....

Inner Farne - Puffins at work

The previous day was a mixture of cloud and squally showers - not the best of conditions on the Farnes (the only highlight from a long seawatch amongst 100's of common residents was two Arctic Skuas from a watchpoint near Cresswell). With blue skies and beckoning, an 'all day' session was planned!

Landing was not possible on Staple Island so it was a three hour session on Inner Farne (plus an extended boat trip which turned up brilliant views of Bottlenose Dolphins!) I might get round to sorting the pics one day?

The emphasis today was on getting flight images - fast shutter speeds in the 1/2000 - 1/4000 range mandatory. Here's a composite sequence of the possibilities.....

Head on and approaching VERY fast, you need to pick one out and lock the auto focus way before it reaches you!

This one was setting a new record for the number of fish held in the bill?

If you've kept with the Puffin, the action speeds up dramatically as it flies by / overhead!

They never drop a fish!

This one has figured that the calorific value of a big un = that of several tiddlers :-)

Going in closer - this is where you find out if you've held the focus!

And hopefully the fish are aligned with the eyes facing you!

All the above were taken with the Canon  300mm f2.8 lens, a shorter zoom c100mm enables the hustle and bustle of the scene to be captured......

The biggest hazard for the returning Puffins is 'running the gauntlet' of Black-headed Gulls - intent on mugging them for the fish before they get to the safety of the burrow!

See what I mean!

This one is intent on an easy feed......

But managed to come away with just a fish tail  as the Puffin hot-footed its way to safety :-)

They do occasionally fight amongst themselves too!

If all else fails, a rest on the rocks, displaying their catch keeps all the crowds happy!

And I'm sure some of them play to the crowd :-)

Slowing the tempo down, a look at Puffins at rest coming next.......

Saturday 28 June 2014

Inner Farne- Bridled Tern

What fantastic timing!! I had a planned trip to the Farne Islands and by a stroke of luck, the Bridled Tern present during much of the Summer in 2013 had returned 'home'. That is after a brief interlude on Fair Isle - followed by a flight (some 420km!!) to the Farnes in less than 24 hours! Given the normal (Caribbean, Red Sea etc) summer breeding grounds of Bridled Tern, it's amazing and fortunate that it seems to be embracing the tropical climate of the North East UK!!

Arriving on the Friday eve, a boat was booked for the following morning and with a pretty big swell, landing wasn't guaranteed (no landings on Staple Island were possible all week!) A drop in the wind overnight meant it was all systems go.... and then the other uncertainty - would it be present within the time scale of restricted landing times??

A couple of minutes after landing on Inner Farne, it was time to tuck into a Tunnock's teacake :-) Here's why.....

You can see a hint of the really dark upper parts but on turning sideways, it really is a Tern to stand out from the crowd!

A moment to savour!!

But destined not to last! It flew out twice during the stay.....

but ultimately returned......

A wingflap at it's closest perching point!

I never moved from the jetty all afternoon - those Puffins will just have to wait!
I'll leave you with this one! It was raining at the time - I didn't even notice it......

There was also another year tick - Roseate Tern!! With four Tern species in the image below, I couldn't coax the Bridled to join in :-( Oh well....

Half way through the year and a glance at the year list - now at a respectable 240! One thing's for sure, my previous best of 252 is going to be eclipsed and it's going to get tough! I'm making no predictions or targets (and sticking to my original aims of travelling where my talks and other planned trips take me) - what will be, will be!

I might just do the odd twitch too? :-)

Oh and there are many GBs of Puffins / Terns etc etc to sort.....

Saturday 21 June 2014

Ashdown Forest - Short-toed Eagle

With Stone Curlew out of the way at Weeting Heath...... (shimmery record shots herewith)

...... my journey back to Shropshire took an unlikely diversion! The M11, followed by the M25 (snarled up at the Dartford crossing for 30 mins) meant that I arrived in the Wych Cross area of Sussex at 12.15! The Short-toed Eagle had been showing from Gills Lap car park but not any more......  I had to wait over two hours for a  very distant fly over (verging on the untickable) so when news of it ending up perched down the track from Long car park came out, I was off........

And so were quite a few others!

Ian Grant, Dave Blakeman, Martin Whalley and Pete Jordan had also made the trip from Shrops/Staffs and whilst they had already had decent views, this was probably the best showing so far for us all? Here's the back of Ian's head as the arrow marks the pine tree some 200m away!

The best I could do! This was not going to be a day for photography!

A consolation distant underwing shot as it circled to depart.....

I guessed it may return to the usual haunt across from Gills Lap so reversed my last journey?

The guess was correct and  another record shot of the upperwing followed (which shows quite nicely how large it is!) as it was being mobbed by corvids.

A walk along the track, hoping it might reappear was all in vain and eventually I called it a day - at least the motorways were quieter on a Sunday evening :-) I was back and a quiet week beckoned, to recharge my batteries - before more travelling the following (long) weekend - to Seahouses and the Farnes - and guess what's returned there!!