Saturday, 29 September 2012

Mumbles - Mediterranean Sunshine!

I've been birding quite a lot since the Dowitcher but clearly I've lost my luck or more likely 'sixth sense' selectivity?? Back to back dips on a Blue-winged Teal (Marshside) and the Rainham Marshes Baillons Crake, were followed by some of the most dire local Autumn sessions as I can remember!

I also spent plenty of time on the domestic front with Gemma having a break.  Dad's taxi service return to Swansea in bright sunshine inspired me for a sure fire productive session (after I'd visited Tesco with her!) Put it this way, if I didn't find Meds on the Mumbles, there would have been some serious kit for sale on ebay......

I've done this before but probably not with the 7D, so the bigger file size may come in handy? The aim.... a two hour session with all ages to be captured plus upperwing flight shots? Not a big ask?

Posing for starters.....

First Winter

Second Winter


Now the above posture is the cue for flight!

First Winter

Second Winter

Always nice to get a frame filler against a non-sky background :-)

Adult plumage but probably 'third Winter' with just a little residual dark marking on the outer web of p10

Job done, confidence (to bother going out again) back and the shutter back eased back into service :-)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Lodmoor - Short-billed Dowitcher :-)

Having been grounded for the past couple of months, I finally had the chance and felt fit enough to cross the County border (boy oh boy was I glad about that!) with a lifer in my sights down in Dorset - the long staying Short-billed Dowitcher. It was a nervy (PTT set in) drive down, mainly as there was a total news black out on the bird!!  I arrived late morning to be told "been showing well all morning" ...... And it still was - 'well' in the sense that it was constantly out in the open - some 80m or so distant on the West scrape. Without any more ado, I put the news out  :-)

Not exactly 'well enough' for photography but lifers are lifers and the fact it was still there was the main thing! Record shots were the name of the game and as usual I overdid it! Given the distance, it was still possible to pick out the key identification criteria!

Here's one in the gorgeous light....

Similar view with the dark cap and prominent arched supercilium

The sun didn't always shine but I think that helped in getting a little more detail of striping in the tertials ....

The tail barring showing more white than black

The chestnut crown and supercilium once more.

A post preening wingflap!

A bit of company from (surely not!) a confusion species :-)

A few other birds on the scrape included: Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Black-tailed Godwit and a juvenile Sandwich Tern flew in, noisily begging as one parent kept a supply of fish coming..

Speaking of fish, I know everyone is dying to see more Heron images :-) Well, there was one on the scrape and yes - it did catch a fish!

I'll be getting out and about for hopefully one or two more UK ticks during the Autumn and who knows-  more Heron pics to come :-)

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Venus Pool - Heron fishing

It's been quite a while since visiting Little Egrets gave me a chance to practice the 'fish toss' capture and with a juv Heron busy catching fry in front of the hide - the boredom was duly broken! A good chance to assess the species of fish which were obviously doing well after the drought conditions....

A picture of innocence?

And with the 'catch of the day' and proof that Common Carp are breeding successfully!

The smallest catch was this Common Blue Damselfly - not really enough to sustain a growing bird!

Then, somewhere in between, lots of tiny fish queued up to be caught....

Tiny tiny tiny Common Carp - getting to double figure size must be against all the odds!

And stickleback - mind those spines!

 A tear being shed, surely not....

On to the fish toss!

Finally, this horrorshow view - the last thing these small fish see?

Venus Pool - Green Sandpiper

With settled conditions, wader passage was extremely unlikely but I sat it out at VP most of the morning, if nothing else to dust the cobwebs off the camera shutter! There had been a Hobby present during the week (not today).

Apart from five flighty Common Snipe,

One Green Sandpiper  was the only wader of the session!

Flying in...

And then briefly feeding in front of the hide....

Oh and there was a juvenile Heron, busy catching fish nearby - time for some fish toss practice??

Friday, 7 September 2012

A week in Stratford - the last leg....

This post is a little 'off topic' but goes some way to explain why I haven't posted much in the past couple of weeks! 

I'd spent many hours addicted to the London Olympics and was a about to spend many more at the Paralympics with eight days spent in a hotel next to the Olympic Park and fours days spent at the Aquatic centre....

I was there to cheer Gemma on in the swimming of course and thanks so much to many of you out there for the messages of support, emails etc.... The outcome and I quote, was "not exactly what she had hoped for" but reaching two Paralympic finals was the stuff of dreams and she will be better equipped for the future from the experience!

She may not have got amongst the medals but a timely facebook message from her Australian coach reminding her of her climb......  from the fresh faced youngster in the pool ten years ago was spot on - "the victory was entirely hers" !

Speaking of another victory.... The 400m IM, final featured Ellie Simmonds, chasing an American swimmer who had led for some 350m and then, some 16,000 people including me, screamed her on to victory.  I found this vid on youtube (my ears are still ringing!) Pundits dubbed it one of the best races of all time? Seek out the longer version if you wish.....

What do you do at the end of a long day? If you haven't seen it, the 'Last Leg'  at the end of the coverage proper on Channel 4 is well worth a watch. It's an irreverent look at the events / Paralympians and manages to cleverly break down barriers of disability and humour...

It is quite simply very, very funny - give it a watch, there's only a couple more days left!!

To get you in the mood, here's a couple more Paralympic moments....

A table tennis player shows that a stick is no barrier to agility!

A small part of Jody Cundy's infamous rant - he was not very happy at being disqualified!!!

I hope to be back in birding action very soon.......