Sunday, 20 November 2011

Quick walk along the Coly

Yes, it's been nearly 2 months since my last blog post. The shortening days have left me with literally no opportunity to go out birding. Ahh the joys of leaving for work in the dark, and getting back in the dark 6 days a week, and other commitments filling time on the remaining day... So with a free hour of daylight today (yes, really, this was my first free hour in the daytime since September!!!) I went for a walk along the River Coly. Well, I say daylight, but it was already pretty gloomy by 15:00. There wasn't much to see with the most interesting birds being a probable Peregrine (80% sure as it was distant), a Grey Heron, a couple of Fieldfare and a Kingfisher. All pics were pretty shoddy but I'll put up a couple of the heron as it's been so long since I blogged.
To give you an idea of the lack of light (it was in a fairly sheltered area which didn't help my cause), I had to drop the camera to ISO 800 despite using a flash (high power at Guide No. 42 & +3 on exp. comp.) and the shutter speeds were still wallowing around the 1/100sec mark. Any fellow camera buff will appreciate how far from ideal this is considering that the camera/lens arrangement gives 672mm of umph (inc. 1.6x sensor crop factor of the 7D). Anyway, enough of the excuses:

I laid down on the ground to try and get an uncluttered background
 with this shot but couldn't quite get low enough

Here are a few pics from September which I didn't have time to post at the time. Wheatear, Redshank and a Little Grebe; all in front of the Tower Hide:
Yum yum

A photogenic bird for a change!

Yum yum

I will try and keep posting but it will be infrequent. I may have to resort to posting some pics from this summers holiday to Austria which I didn't find time to do in July...

Thursday, 29 September 2011

River Axe Osprey pics

Really tired so I'll make this snappy. Got up at 6am to try and see the two Great White Egrets. I was by the Axe at 6.50am but the mist was VERY extensive and dense. Annoyingly I left before they were visible. I left at around 8.30 and they were reported to have been seen at around 9am. GRR!!
The Semi-p could be seen from Coronation Corner for much of the day. Not very close though.
At 15:51, an OSPREY showed up. Hopefully it'll decide to stay for a bit... Here's a few shots to prove the claim. Lighting was ATROCIOUS, with the sun being behind the bird for nearly every shot. Frustrating.

Shows how close to the Tower Hide this was!

If only the Osprey would pose in nice light like this Buzzard did.

OSPREY, River Axe!!

Just a quick post to spread the news. Pics will follow later. An Osprey flew in at 15:51 this afternoon, headed straight out to sea, but then came back and dived into the river STRAIGHT in front of the Tower Hide. Unfortunately I wasn't in the hide at the time (I was at Coronation Corner, Axmouth).

Sunday, 25 September 2011

More of the (probable) Semi-palmated Sandpiper

Here are a few of todays pics of what is thought to be a Semi-palmated Sandpiper, at Black Hole Marsh. Yes, the colours do look strangely different from yesterdays pics... I'm putting that down to the lighting though as today was far brighter!

If only it would come closer for a better view!

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Black Hole Marsh

Given the nice weather, I ventured to Black Hole Marsh after work. There were a lot of people there and a lot of buzzing about a possible Semi-palmated Sandpiper. There was confusion about whether it was a Semi-p Sandpiper or a Little Stint due to their very similar appearance. Although I think it's now more or less been confirmed as being a semi-p. Here are a couple of pics. The bird was VERY distant (a hundred metres plus most of the time) so I've cropped them in a bit. Please excuse the inevitable picture quality degradation!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Good day for birds of prey!

Yes, it's a thursday and I never post on thursdays; I took the day off work (holiday to burn). I spent a couple of hours in the morning over at Black Hole Marsh. The area around the island hide is still REALLY quiet after the recent works there. All that could be seen was a Greenshank and 4 Little Egrets... far from exciting. I did spot a Peregrine fly over distantly. And managed a very lame pic. Looked like an adult bird this time:

There was also the usual Kestrel near the car park. He looked very smart in the early morning sun!

I'd edit the lines out of this if I had time, they kinda ruin the shot!

The was some Kingfisher activity in front of the Tower Hide, with two young birds playing and being very vocal! I managed a photo of one of them but the light was awful as I was shooting into the direction of the sun:

One of these also parked briefly on the line in front of the Tower Hide:

Come the afternoon, I went for a brief walk by the River Coly for a change. I felt as though I should, after all, my blog is called 'Colyton Wildlife' but greater diversity of life at BHM has recently taken priority! It was worth the trip though; I saw a Hobby flying over very quickly. That's my third in Colyton this year, whereas my previous annual record was nil. I took a quick (rubbish) photo of it, it is just about recognisable as being a Hobby:

There was also a Buzzard on the usual post. And one flew over fairly close for a change:

There were also THOUSANDS of these on pretty much all parts of the river; I've never seen them like it before!
Strange wee-beasties

Saturday, 10 September 2011


Unfortunately not on patch. But an Osprey none-the-less. There's been one (now two) in the Exmouth/Topsham area for a couple of weeks now. I rarely twitch but I miss these birds, only usually seeing them for a few days each year! The trip there today was attempt number two, prompted by me dipping when I took the afternoon of work to go a couple weeks ago. Here are a few pics. The quality is pretty poor as the bird wasn't anywhere near close enough to take decent shots. But who cares, it's still an Osprey!

Hopefully there'll be an on-patch Osprey soon!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Curlew Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Little Stint, action shots and ruthless murder... (BHM)

I'll keep this brief due to a lack of time.
I spent some of yesterday afternoon and most of today at BHM to see if the Curlew Sand was around (I learned that one had been seen, courtesy of Steve Waite's blog. Thanks Steve). It was showing distantly and light was atrocious as the sun was behind the bird. Needless to say the pics were backlit so I compensated with the exposure. I figure having some faded-looking colour detail (not really representative of the actual colour) is better than having a bird which appears black! So please excuse some of the pics looking odd. There are a couple of pics of the bird in sun (taken today) but they were even more distant... I can't win! I had an equally tough time taking pics of the Little Stint which was there too.
Now for a little explanation of the blog post title... The Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint parts will be apparent in the pics to follow this waffle. Action shots refers to some Greenshanks which put on some flying displays (being bullied by gulls and other Greenshanks!!). The pics of these came out okay as they were feeling relatively brave regarding coming near to the island hide! Now for the ruthless murder... well in my last post, or the one before, I can't remember but can't be bothered to check; I wrote about Peregrines leaving a bird (presumed to be a small gull) dead on the BHM reserve. Well yesterday there was a similar event as all the gulls on the estuary and BHM flew up, and then I spotted a Peregrine flying close in front of the island hide. After the fuss had ended and the peregrine had departed, there was a dead mallard on a scrape near to the island hide which I'm SURE wasn't there before the Peregrine attacked. I asked the people in the hide and they agreed that the dead bird hadn't been there beforehand. Not trying to give these lovely birds of prey bad press, but they could at least eat their kills rather than leaving them to rot on the reserve!
So here are some recent pics. Quality is mediocre due to the shooting distances involved, perhaps with the exception of some of the Greenshank pics. Enjoy :-)
Peregrine Falcon


Little Stint

Dunlin, Little Stint.


Green Sandpiper

Green Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper

Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint


Black-headed Gull, Greenshank

Greenshank x 2

Greenshank x 2


Black-headed Gull, Greenshank. Quite like this one.