Thursday 30 April 2020

On this day (April 30th)... 2014 Wood Warbler

To my mind, there's no finer sound in spring than the haunting song of Wood Warbler... Here's one of my favourite sessions from 30th April 2014... They are gorgeous warblers too!

Wood Warblers have to be right up there (usually in the canopy!) as one of my favourite mid spring birds and there is no shortage of them in their traditional haunts this year - it was time to try and get a picture or two? Record shots have normally been the norm and it seemed this tradition would be carrying on?

By watching  individual bird movements, you can learn and start to predict the next one - they are creatures of habit and have favourite perches! I had one particular image in mind.....

These were better but having connected, the next thing was to try and avoid the white sky background....

And then hope for some full on portrait shots?

Close ups even?

One fleeting but very flattering rear view!

And then I had just one aim... One I've had for a long time - a decent shot of Wood Warbler giving it all in song. The image I had in mind!

Except I wanted in closer, without twiggy clutter!

Nearly there?

Yes, this was nearly the image I had in mind!

I think I'm satisfied for once - until next year anyway!

On this day (April 30th)... Black Terns Colemere

I love Black Terns, maybe moreso because you only get two or three opportunities a year to catch up with them locally and April 30th 2017 was the best encounter I can recall...

The prospects for today were awesome, low cloud and a fresh south easterly wind (after a week or more of northerlies) ... it looked as if a cracking Ternsday was looming?? Question was, where to go? Not for the first time I put my faith misguidedly in an early start at Venus Pool,  but by 9.30, NOTHING! So I decided to head North and check the Meres. Colemere was my first destination and whilst literally 10 mins came out from Rob Dowley... TWO Black Terns!

I joined him and spent the next few hours trying to do justice to these two beauties (not easy!) 

Over white water they looked awful so I concentrated on getting them against the distant green background and it was manual focus all the way!

Here we go, with head on opportunities within 50m!

This individual looks like it's primaries have seen better days! Looks like it's in moult which (according to an old paper I've just read) does happen in 2cy birds which (rarely) replace all their primaries in May?

And seemingly getting most of my attention!

Here's the other, neater bird - just as obliging!

And perhaps my favourite moment - once in a while, banking and briefly hovering...

First Hobby of the year over the trees and a Common Tern had also passed through 9.30ish and another (or the same bird) was present until mid afternoon too! A few record shots to follow...

Wednesday 29 April 2020

On this day (April 29th)... 2013 Shropshire BEE-EATER!!

OMG, wow, bloody hell or whatever. It's April 29th 2013 and Tom Lowe is doing a bit of shopping near Condover, the rest is an important part of Shropshire birding history!

OMG what a local mega, a Bee-eater no less  - a first 'proven' find for the County and it was Tom Lowe, calling on domestic duties at the Condover Industrial Estate late afternoon, who found it. Once again, he manages to routinely find great birds when he isn't birding! :-)

It was settled near to the Industrial Estate, perching in two Oak trees in the neighbouring Rape field prior to launching off pursuit of bees and wasps.

Occasionally it took to the nearby wires!

One or two flight images followed......

And of course, all those Bees create a lot of indigestable matter - I watched as the Bee-eater gagged eventually expelling a sizeable pellet of bee-bits!

Tom found it at 4.20 pm, (well done mate!!) it was last seen at 6.45 by the main gallery and remained pretty elusive thereafter?

Tuesday 28 April 2020

On this day (April 28th)... 2014 Pied Flycatchers

I've plucked this unedited post from the blog back on April 28th 2014...

A bird race is normally pure birding and photography is not normally the norm but at least it gets you out - looking for a future opportunity! So, two days later.... I was walking the Darnford Brook - much later in the day and maybe that was why the Pied Flycatchers weren't quite so showy? They were still pretty obliging subjects!

Here's a female first.  They prefer to perch amongst cluttered branches!

Just occasionally against a clean background?

Show us your rear.....

Similar composition issues with a male!

And a leafy background works but was not the norm sadly.

The male's rear view.

And a selection of straightforward poses.....

This was a 'natural' studio in places with mossy branches aplenty. These are NOT props :-)  With less cropping, here's a photograph rather than an image!

versus the standard web cropped view?

There was a male Redstart which sadly eluded us on Saturday. Only ONE five second chance today though.....

This is the perfect time of year for the photography of woodland birds with minimal leaf cover. Wood Warblers will be next - hopefully??

Monday 27 April 2020

On this day (April 27th)... 2009 and 2018 A tale of two Ospreys

A tale of two Ospreys, the first at Venus Pool on April 27th 2009...  

What an evening to remember? I was at Venus Pool hoping for a wader or a Tern and checking out the small Gull flock - for once there was an interesting bird present - a Herring Gull type but with distinct small beady black eye and  bloody long bill! I'd given Andy a call to discuss and for want of something better to do (Mire lake was dead) he was on his way to have a look.....

Meanwhile, out of view to the South of VP and also on their way was....... an Osprey......!

As ever, the first locals to pick up the intruder were the Corvids and then immediately after - the Gull flock - including the interesting Herring type! They were all up mobbing the unfortunate bird who seemed totally unconcerned and giving those which got too close a playful 'slap' with those powerful wings.

Most Ospreys I'd seen at VP circled and dived from great height - this was working at a much lower level, stooping at 45 degree angle on at least four occasions into the water and emerging fishless!

The wingflap shedding of water soon got the bird airborne again before the next plunge!

Photography was difficult (excuses I know) but getting technical..... The poor light meant too slow a shutter speed for flight photography - merely 1/100-200 at 640ISO and the changing background of dark trees (-1 stop) to milky sky (+2 stops) meant I was constantly adjusting the in camera exposure settings.

Amazingly I did get a few 'keepers' as the bird was circling

It was THIS close at one stage!!

Eventually (at roughly the furthest point of the pool from the hide!) success was achieved in the form of a large Roach for supper.

Then, off to consume the meal....

Hmm, surprisingly I'd forgotten all about that Gull.....

...And then fast forward to another encounter in much better light (out of County!) with an Opsrey catching a flounder in the Lossie Estuary! April 27th 2018

After briefly seeing two Ospreys in quick succession distantly down the river, it wasn't long before the tell-tale flushing of the gulls indicated one was returning and this time - much closer!!

After hovering briefly, it drifted downriver...

Before turning and once more hovering right in front of me!

Is this really happening?

It drifted upriver a bit before taking me by surprise and plunging in the now quite shallow water! Emerging with a flatfish, probably a Flounder which are commonly caught here...

I was hoping it would double back and fly over me but no such luck, it carried the fish over the river!

And eventually out of sight over the dunes...

Catch of the day and an excellent moment to witness!