Sunday 2 December 2012

Jupiter and its four big Moons

Yet another non-wildlife post. Well it's either this or nothing due to lack of time and daylight hours, and I'm hoping this is preferable to nothing! The pic of Jupiter (exposed in such a way to make it vaguely recognisable) is obviously MASSIVELY cropped so please forgive the IQ! That's image quality rather than intelligence quotient... I quite like the shot with Jupiter and its four moons; it took a fair bit of playing around with camera settings to make the moons visible in the pic. Full manual mode of course (I couldn't see the moons with my naked eye).
More on my other blog at:

Thursday 29 November 2012

Stunning Full Moon and Jupiter!!

Just got in from photographing some of the objects of the sky, and it wasn't birds this time! I seem to be making a habit of after-midnight photography... Unfortunately my 300mm lens is about 500mm too short for Moon shots, but I made do. Here's a pic of the Moon; one with the Moon and Jupiter to follow in another post. The pic may seem pixelated as it's been heavily compressed when transferring between camera and phone & converting to JPEG, it should still be worth clicking on to enlarge it though.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Severe River Coly flood with pic

There'll be more to follow on this when I get time. I'm still blogging by phone as mentioned in my previous post. There were a surprising number of people out during the flooding considering the time of its occurrence. I could tell it was going to be bad when I saw it looking fierce at 19:00. I popped back later with a friend and went wading! Water nearly waist deep where I risked it. It was much deeper on another stretch of road but the fast current and collapsing fence deterred me from investigating that area. When I say later I mean 22:00, and the flooding continued to worsen until approx 01:30 when I eventually headed home. Here's a lame pic taken on my phone (very dark conditions obviously as it was well gone midnight).
Like I said, more to follow; I took my 7D despite the rain...
Pic taken from the shelter looking towards Umborne Bridge.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Redwing are here

Just a brief post because I'm having to do everything by smartphone due to a pc problem (hopefully this'll work okay and you won't get any strange formatting)! There have been a group of Redwing near Colyton church for a week or two now. I managed a few (underwhelming) pics of them last weekend. There was also a nice Mistle and Song Thrush there.

Friday 16 November 2012

Pics from a good afternoon birding on the Axe

Despite the gloom and occasional drizzle, I visited Tower Hide for a couple of hours after work. It was all pretty boring on the bird front for the first 1 1/2 hours, I did see a MINK though. I was about 85% sure it was a mink when I saw it (was on the verge on the marsh side the fence by the path up to Tower Hide) so I checked some pics of it on the net when I got home and I'm now 99.9% sure it was a mink. I hadn't seen one before and the view was brief and only of the rear 3/4 of the animal, hence why I wasn't as sure at first. Hopefully the rangers can find it and destroy it.
In the latter half hour of the visit, there was a LOT of interest on the bird front. Two Knot were on the estuary, also a Med Gull and I spotted the Cattle Egret opposed the hide (but distant). One of the Kingfishers showed briefly, and also a lovely Sparrowhawk. Here's a few of the pics:
Little Grebe with a big meal. It later dropped the eel.

Only the 2nd one I've ever seen landed.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Cattle Egret, Goosander and a performing Kingfisher

Once I had some free time by early afternoon, I headed to Tower Hide to see if the Goosander was about. Unfortunately the tide never dropped sufficiently due to rain water. Ian W turned up at the hide and scoped some Egrets which were at Bridge Marsh. We concluded that one of them was the Cattle Egret; it was just about possible to make out the thicker neck and yellow beak through the haze. My stomach was complaining by this time so I headed home to get some lunch, and then rode to the pull in on the A3052 to see if the Cattle Egret was there. It was! Here's a couple of lame pics (it was fairly distant, and the light was on the wrong side leaving the bird almost completely backlit).

The bird was gradually working it's way towards me. I figured the best tactic for getting a close view would be to sit and wait rather than trying to move closer to it and risk scaring it off. This tactic was working well until another birder parked up VERY close to it and scared it off instantly. Nice one! Grrr, this hobby can be frustrating when careless people ruin it for you!

Next stop was Tower Hide to see if the Goosander had decided to show yet. It hadn't. But a nice juvenile female Kingfisher was performing well on the posts to the left of the hide. A heavy shower made the water on the Axe really muddy so I guess the still (and relatively clean) water on Black Hole Marsh became the next best fishing area. Here's a couple of the pics. I tried to take them in shadows as the occasional sunlight would only partially light up the bird, making for a very unattractive photo. I adjusted colour saturation etc in post production to make the scene look as though it was a bit more 'sunny' even though a lot of them were taken in the rain (Kingfisher pics 3, 5 & 6). I also took a pic of one of the Little Grebes:
Worth clicking on to get a larger view

Worth clicking on to get a larger view

Worth clicking on to get a larger view

Just as I was packed up and ready to leave, I took one final look out over the estuary... and there was the Goosander!! It was distant (at least 150m) and dark, but it's the first one I've seen (ever, anywhere) so it'll do!

A couple of the Kingfisher pics are worth clicking on to get a larger view.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Cattle Egret, Kingfisher & a close encounter with a Water Rail

With some unfortunate circumstances preventing me from getting decent views of the Cattle Egret on Sunday, I took this afternoon off work (as holiday hours) in the hope that it was still about. It was! I ended up doing a lot of running around between the A3052 and back to the viewing platform at Colyford marshes as the bird kept changing position and going in/out of view. I did manage some pics where the bird is recognisable as a Cattle Egret, although they were pretty distant. Unfortunately a helicopter scared it away; it headed a LONG way upstream (I lost sight of it through binoculars so it must have been a couple of miles out). Hopefully it's still around. Here's some of the pics (pretty poor but certainly recognisable):

Whilst rushing to the viewing platform for the second time, I got very close to a Water Rail. It's a shame I didn't see it until I scared it off; I was preoccupied with trying to get the Cattle Egret. There was also a Robin posing nicely.

Next up was a visit to Tower Hide. Unfortunately the light remained really poor thanks to the prevalence of dark clouds. I took some naff pics of Lapwing; there were around 60 on show from the hide.

There was also the usual Kingfisher activity, although they didn't come close until around 16:45 by which time it was pretty dark. I took some pics anyway, but as it was so dark, I deliberately underexposed the shots (make everything look black to increase shutter speed of the camera) with the view to rescuing the colours and detail in RAW processing. I also took a couple of shots with my external flash and I was surprised that the Kingfisher wasn't remotely phased by it; not even a flinch or glance in my direction. Here's some of the pics. They're very underwhelming, but I'm pleased with how they came out considering they were taken after sunset, and on a cloudy day...

Holiday hours well spent I think!

Monday 29 October 2012

Redshank in flight pics

Well what a disastrous weekend I had! I missed the Cattle Egret on Saturday as my day at work was longer than anticipated, and I got VERY distant views of it on Sunday by the A3052 from Colyford Hide. I thought I'd quickly visit Tower Hide to see if there was anything of interest about. There wasn't. I took some pics of a Redshank and that was about it. I later got a message from Steve Waite saying that the Cattle Egret was showing on Colyford Marshes, very close to the viewing platform; so I quickly headed back out but something fairly substantial had a firm collision with my left eye. Whatever it was became embedded in my Cornea for a while. I did manage to get home but not without vomiting from the pain (or shock, one of the two). Not something I want to repeat in any hurry. I have booked tomorrow afternoon off of work as holiday so hopefully the Cattle Egret is still about (although I haven't heard any reports of it being seen today). Worth a shot anyway. Here's the Redshank pics:

It's worth clicking on these to enlarge them if you'd like a bigger view, especially the bottom pic.

Also, I've updated my 'new' blog at:

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Exciting couple of days on patch!

...but unfortunately not for me as I didn't have time for the Long-Eared Owl or the Marsh Harrier due to work. Ahh it's demoralising to be almost completely without the luxury of free time (however at the current time it's also sensible). Here's a couple more pics from the weekend which I didn't have time to post previously. They're rather unspectacular as it was really dull late afternoon/early evening on Sunday, and the drizzly conditions that the pics were taken in certainly weren't ideal.

It's slightly annoying that Kingfishers are so 'easy to get' from Tower Hide. I've spent literally hundreds (possibly thousands??) of hours trying to achieve decent shots of them on the River Coly over the last 10 years, where they are incredibly hard to get within 30 or so metres of. The work did pay off last year and the resulting pics were suitably satisfying, especially with all perches being completely natural rather than man-made which is almost unavoidable with the birds on the Axe (I hasten to add that I didn't have bags of time in 2011 either, it was a case of working 7:00-16:00 or 8:00-17:00, rushing dinner, then spending the evenings by the Coly until it was too dark to see the bird(s)). It's just odd how I like Kingfisher's on the Coly but don't hold much excitement for seeing them on the Axe. Totally natural habitat pics from the Coly are always going to be that bit more special (and actually worked for). Oh and adult birds only of course, the juv's are so drab by comparison (like my shoddy pics above!).
Revisiting the Coly birds from last year... These are cropped to show an insignificant proportion of the picture as I've had copy/theft problems with them in the past.

I think I'm always going to have a soft spot for these. If you haven't heard of Malcolm Brown (Malckingfisher) or seen any of his pics, then type him into Google. Some of his shots are simply mind-blowing and make mine look distinctly amateur (which probably isn't an inappropriate classification given the relatively cheap camera gear which I can sensibly afford).