Friday, 9 August 2019

Marsh Harrier & brief update

Sorry for the lack of wildlife pics, I haven't had a camera with me for much of my birding lately! I've done parts of Beer Head a couple of times recently and checked BHM and the estuary most days but the most interesting bird I've seen has been a Marsh Harrier which I picked up at distance from Tower Hide on the 7th. The best I could see in the heavy rain on the evening of the 8th were 3 Greenshanks and a Greylag. Dad and I didn't see a single other person there; most presumably had the more comfortable plan of staying somewhere dry!

Over recent weeks we've had a few of the usual/expected waders for this time of year with Wood, Common and Green Sands, as well as LRPs & Greenshanks etc. I'm hopeful that we'll get something more interesting soon.

The weather for Friday and Saturday certainly looks like it's going to be dramatic...

Talking of dramatic, here's a pic from the electrical storm we had here a couple of weeks back. It was a very impressive few hours with thousands and thousands of strikes!

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

A rather colourful Cattle Egret

I've seen quite a few Cattle Egrets on patch, but the one that landed on Black Hole Marsh briefly on the evening of the 17th was easily the best looking! It wasn't really twitchable as it was fairly late when I saw it and it flew south moments later. Perhaps it'll still be around the Seaton area in the morning.

I was trying out my new Sony camera with one of my bigger Canon lenses, a combination which isn't meant to be able to cope with wildlife pics very well (have to do a lot of the work manually, but I tend to anyway). Then again, my Canon body is primarily a studio and landscape type camera rather than an action/wildlife camera, but I make do with it!

The only other birds of note from the evening were 4 Med Gulls, also on BHM.

Late news but worth mentioning given my relative lack of blogging this year (my Twitter feed isn't quite so neglected):

Hobby over Colyton on May 15th and June 5th.
Another Red Kite over Colyton on May 22nd. Not quite the same numbers as I had here last year...
Knot, Grey Plover & 4 Greenshanks on the Axe estuary on May 16th.
Even later news, and there are pics to follow at some point, is that there was a Wood Warbler near Lower Bruckland Ponds on May 5th.

Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Osprey, Garganey and Marsh Harrier

Well that was almost as good as the Hen Harrier two days ago! Not for rarity value, but to get three (locally) good birds in one afternoon was very nice indeed. Paul Cook phoned me mid-afternoon saying he had a drake Garganey showing well on Black Hole Marsh. I saw 3 here last year but it's always worth twitching a drake Garganey on patch; they are less than annual here. Upon arrival I couldn't see the Garganey but soon spotted a Marsh Harrier over the estuary, our first of the year here. Some others came to look for the Garganey and Harrier but we all initially drew a blank for the former. I persisted and checked the Colyford end of the reserves and eventually re-found the Garganey in the Reed Bed Loop (highly probable that it's the same bird). It was often out of sight but the effort paid off and a few other locals connected with it.

I hung around for a bit to make sure people arriving got on the bird and it was at this point when I spotted an Osprey floating in, low and slow. It's a shame that the views were looking into the Sun; the bird was really close, perhaps only 100-150ft above me. I managed to miss all of the Ospreys here last year and I've missed a few this year as well (not sure on the exact number, 3 or 4 I think) so it was nice to see this one.

An excellent afternoon.

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Hen Harrier on patch April 22nd

River Coly, Colyton.
What an afternoon that was! Hen Harrier is a raptor I had been wanting to see on patch for a rather long time, especially after having already seen two of the rarer Montagu's locally. The sighting reminded me of the 1st Monty, with the view being both distant and brief, and confirmed (beyond doubt) from dodgy pics after the event. The Hen Harrier was so distant that I might have missed it had a Buzzard not flown up to mob it. I've been spending a lot of time looking up during the warm weather lately but this was mainly with the hope of seeing some more Red Kites, so you can imagine the excitement when a ringtail Harrier showed up. Hen Harrier was my initial impression with this bird but I wasn't confident enough to rule out Pallid until I'd got the pics home, at which point it became pretty obvious (thanks to Steve and Brendan for their views on some lousy BOC pics whilst I was still out). Some of the pics were overexposed so it looked artificially pale on BOC, but did appear to show 5 'fingers' in some (not all) of the pics from the little that I could see on the screens. It was rather bright outside and my experience with Pallid/Hen Harriers is not thorough having not seen either properly, hence the slight lack of confidence initially.

The below (cropped and adjusted) pic makes things look a lot clearer than what I had to work with at the time...

Versus the original, viewed on a dull camera screen whilst I was out in the field:

Now, a Pallid Harrier next would be nice wouldn't it? We can dream.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Red Kite

Blimey it has been a while since my last blog post! 2019 is proving rather challenging and I haven't been able to do much birding so far this year but have managed a couple of short walks this week. Dippers have been showing well on the Coly and providing excellent views; they're easily one of my favourite birds to watch, just so full of character!

A Red Kite heading west over Colyton at 16:59 on the 18th was also nice to see (not the best pic mind). I wonder if we'll get anything like the 100+ Kites we had over Colyton in 2 days last year  < SEE HERE >.

Monday, 21 January 2019

Total lunar eclipse

Clouds. Lots and lots of clouds. I did manage to get some (fairly bad) pics during the eclipse, but to give an idea of how challenging it was here in Colyton, the total eclipse phase lasted approximately an hour, and during that hour there were perhaps 3 or 4 seconds of moon viewing time. That doesn't mean clear skies for 3 or 4 seconds, it means I was able to take a couple of dodgy pics through the cloud for those 3 or 4 seconds only.

Worth the effort, but still a very disappointing night/morning.

Just under 11 years to wait until the next one! Well, one that's visible from the UK at least.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

---GIVEAWAY--- Milky Way from Seaton Beach

It has been a while! I'm very sorry to those of you who check this blog regularly; I've had a busy few months. This page will hopefully get back to regular birding stuff soon!

In the meantime, I'm doing another giveaway on my photography page on Facebook. It's worth a plug here as it's to do with the natural World!

A bit of story on the image itself. I was initially disappointed to see the cloud coming in so soon after setting up the camera equipment, but fortunately the wisps were thin and showed some warm colours, presumably from light pollution around nearby towns.

This image is a stack/blend of 5 long exposures with a total exposure time of slightly over 10 minutes. This allows all areas of the image to be detailed without showing much image noise.

This link < HERE > should take you to the post.

GIVEAWAY CLOSES ON SUNDAY 25TH NOVEMBER AT 20:00 (local time) - see the Facebook post for more information if you're interested. There are approx. 100 entries so far.