Tuesday 29 March 2016

Iceland Gull - what a stunner!

A text from Steve Waite had me hurrying straight out of the door! His persistence looking through gulls on the Axe Estuary paid off with him finding a gorgeous 1st winter Iceland Gull. I parked up along the road South of Coronation Corner and walked towards where Steve and Ian Mc were viewing the bird from. I hurried towards them so they could help point out the bird but turns out that wasn't necessary; I couldn't believe how obvious the Iceland Gull was! It soon flew and headed towards Tower Hide so I nipped over there to try and see a bit more of it - it's a patch tick for me so it was an educational bird. Unfortunately it was difficult to pick out from there; myself and Ian Mc didn't pick it up until it was flying again. It flew around for a couple of minutes before eventually gaining height and heading off North.

The below pics are pretty heavy crops due to the distance, but what a bird!

Cheers Steve!

Sunday 27 March 2016

SEATON JURASSIC is officially open!

Well it was a pretty miserable day in terms of weather for the opening of a new attraction to Seaton, but the new building was busy and buzzing none-the-less.
It truly is a fantastic building; hopefully it helps bring more people here in the tourism season.

I hear that they are stocking a range of greeting cards and mounted prints featuring some very local wildlife photographs, taken and produced by a certain someone...

Yep - I'm pleased to announce that Seaton Jurassic is now an outlet of my photo products; my first 'store-front' in Seaton. A lot of the designs will have featured on this blog over the last few years, although there are a few 'new' ones which have very intentionally been kept off of social media due to the content. Occasionally you get a unique opportunity to capture a special moment with a camera; this happened in 2011 when I got some extraordinary images of Kingfishers on a local River. All images were taken legally and responsibly - but due to Kingfishers being a Schedule 1 species, I decided to leave the photos off of social media until the site was no longer active, just to guarantee that I didn't indirectly cause disturbance to them through the actions of other people. I found the location of the nest site (along with another 3 nest sites) and these photos were taken at a favoured feeding area, away from the nest site. The site no longer exists as it was destroyed by flooding and erosion a couple of years ago. With the number of outlets of my products increasing, the time has come to release some of my most treasured images.
The main one of interest will be a shot of 5 Kingfishers together with all of them posing beautifully, blissfully unaware that they had landed in front of a man with a camera. One shot did have 6 birds in the frame but there was too much unwanted movement in the pic to make it a commercially viable image.

It is still my intention to leave the aforementioned images off of social media due to the inevitable controversial conversation that it would generate - if you want to see these images of an extraordinary event, then you'll just have to visit Seaton Jurassic... Oh and please purchase a print/card or two ;-)

Thursday 24 March 2016

Robin posing (it's pretty much a pet)

There's loads of Robins around and a couple of them on Seaton Marshes are incredibly tame. I get the impression they've been hand fed at some stage or at least had food left for them. They fly to meet you to see if you have anything for them! It was raining and the light was pretty dull, but when the bird is at point blank range that doesn't present much of a problem. Hopefully the next species to appear on this blog will be a little less common...

Glossy Ibis Posing

A decent look around over the last couple of days hasn't yielded anything new of significant interest, so I made do with taking a few more pics of the long-staying Glossy Ibis. The flight shot was obtained due to two old guys deciding to climb the bank and look over the fence, just outside of the hide, rather than looking through the windows like any sensible/responsible person would. I did photograph the blokes 'in action' flushing the bird, but one of them is a regular local so I'll save him the embarrassment... Flushing something inadvertently is okay and will inevitably happen, but looking over a fence which is there purely to shield people from the birds' views, thereby scaring the bird off, certainly does irritate me. Some birds are tame and then the ethics of trying to get a better view aren't as rigid. Put simply, if it flushes, you shouldn't have done it (a rare exception being if it's coming to the end of the day with poor light, and there's a bird which you are unsure of the ID of).

That's enough ranting for one year I think.

Today certainly felt warm in the Sun; it finally seems as though Winter is completely over and we are well and truly into Spring - both with the weather and the birds.

Saturday 19 March 2016

Very good day on patch - Axe Estuary

Well I wrote today's earlier post thinking that that would be it for the day, but instead I now have a new patch tick! Upon leaving BHM earlier, I met Clive as he was arriving. I reported that there was nothing of interest on BHM so he checked the estuary from Tower Hide and lo-and-behold there were 3 Goldeneye on the estuary! Wish I'd checked there now - would have rounded off a nice day of finds with a much better one. Well done to Clive - I think most of the locals saw them (I apologised to Tim Wright as a meeting at 17:30 was prohibitive of me taking him to see them). There was also a rather smart Yellow-Legged Gull from Tower Hide too; it wasn't a 1w bird for a change!

3 RUFF on Black Hole Marsh + LRP

Well that was a nice surprise! I headed to BHM this morning in case anything new had dropped in but it all looked rather standard. However, after the first half hour or so I spotted 3 birds flying high over BHM; they eventually dropped down onto the scrapes. A quick look through the bins - RUFF! I sent a quick message out before concentrating on taking pics. Spring Ruff on patch are pretty hard to come by - in fact I think these were the first I've seen here that weren't in Autumn. They were also at different stages of moulting into summer plumage so they were rather interesting to observe. All 3 remained distant so the pics are a bit shoddy, but definitely interesting enough to post here:

As is often the case with Spring visitors, these did not hang around long. I observed them for about 5 minutes before they flew up high and headed North. Thankfully Ian Mc and Clive both managed to connect with them as they were flying off!

A small wader flew over BHM just after the Ruff left, but didn't give good enough views to be sure of ID. Fortunately a dodgy pic was convincing enough to confirm that it was a Little Ringed Plover. Phil Abbott later relocated it on Bridge Marsh (unless his was a second bird). Two good birds in one day - now we need something that's genuinely rare please... I went to see the LRP at Bridge Marsh as my flight views earlier were pretty lousy and managed to catch up with a Greylag Goose too, probably one of the two Steve Waite found recently.

A quick visit to Seaton Marshes after the excitement at BHM yielded good views of the GW Teal showing in front of the hide, and also good views of the Glossy Ibis behind The Borrow Pit. By chance I also picked up my first Sand Martin of 2016 here and it lingered for a while, feeding well.

Pretty good day!

Friday 18 March 2016

Spring hits the Patch

The first few Summer migrants have finally reached us! Ian Mc had 2 Wheatears on Bridge Marsh this morning and although not seen again since, Steve Waite later found 2 Green Sands in the same area. I was tied up with conference calls so couldn't get out until mid-afternoon and although I missed the Wheatears and Green Sands, a Goosander on the Estuary and a lone Siskin by the path to Black Hole Marsh were good to see. Siskin used to be so easy on patch; a private site I monitored would have 5-15 on feeders at any one time, and they also bred nearby. I've neglected the site for the last few years so wonder if they are still there.

Here's a couple snaps from BHM this afternoon to bring some colour to this post. Not particularly interesting species, but the Black-tailed Godwit coming into summer plumage is rather striking.

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Bird of the month - March

Well this one was rather predictable - the Pallas's Warbler at Portesham. I was hoping to keep the blog headers restricted to patch birds but unfortunately the patch has been pretty quiet so far this month, apart from the long-staying GW Teal and Glossy Ibis.

It takes a while to make the header and like last month, this month's bird is rather premature to take the spotlight. On the other hand, if something really good does turn up, then I won't hesitate to spend the time on a quick replacement header...

In other news, WHERE IS SPRING?! It's about time there were some nice Summer migrants to find and photograph...

P.s. thanks for all the emails, messages and website views associated with this endearing warbler. My blog views are averaging well over 1000 per day so far this month! I find it interesting to see where the views come from too; there are viewers all over the World, with UK (50%) and US (30%) being the largest two audiences.

Thursday 10 March 2016

Pallas's Portfolio - Best two pics (probably the last)

Here's a couple more pics of the Pallas's Warbler at Portesham, Dorset. The bird is still present as of 10-03-2016 but with the improving weather it is sure to move off soon. Below are my favourite landed and in flight pics. The landed pic was taken on 5th March on my first visit, with the flight shot being on attempt #2. Enjoy.

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Pallas's Portfolio #1

Here's a few more pics of the Pallas's Warbler which continues to show well at Portesham. I will likely do another post if nothing else of interest turns up - there are some more pics in the library and I'll save the best until last... Such a stunning wee bird.

Saturday 5 March 2016


Well I finally caved. I really tried NOT to go and see this bird as it wasn't on patch and also wasn't in Devon, but after seeing that most of the other 'Axe patch' birders had gone to see it I thought I better had as well. Unlike when the others went, it was VERY elusive today, only showing for around 5 minutes in the first 3 or 4 hours. It was flying around the treetops and also hiding near the barns, both very distant from any viewing area. As the afternoon was drawing to a close and the temperature dropped, the Warbler finally came a little closer and I managed a few pics. Hopefully I'll find time to go back; definitely better to go for this bird when it's a cold and dull day - the flies will be lower so the bird will be too! Going on a sunny day proved very difficult indeed, but it was worth it in the end.

This one has to be a contender for the 'March Header Image' for this blog...

Huge crop, but it shows off the feather detail nicely

Nice to get it with a clean background here
A more contextual/environmental pic