Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Spring is sprung (2) .................

It's a few years since I went wood warbler snapping in the Forest of Dean so I suppose it wasn't a surprise I took a bit of a wrong turn.  As the path disappeared I realised my mistake, but just then I heard the unmistakable call of a warbler up ahead.  After a moment's hesitation I decided to scramble up the steep slope amidst the birch trees to see what I could make of it.  More overcast than I would have preferred but the advantage that does bring in the woods is to reduce the contrast that can be so tricky to deal with.
The bird was pretty mobile and didn't come close too often but when it did the advantage of this site was evident - rather than my usual experience of looking up it was around eye level.  It's funny, looking at these twigs and branches the broken ends, etc make them look like props, but all were firmly attached to trees.  I have to be honest there has been a bit of twig removal in some of these shots, although only to the fairly basic extent that lightroom can achieve.

Rather than spend the whole morning on the ww I went to look at my favourite hawthorn tree, to see if I could add to the 4 species I've seen nesting there before.  Sadly no sign of anything using the holes this time.  However a few trees along a treecreeper was repeatedly working up and down (well actually up and up) an oak, progressively adding to it's beakful of insects.  I tried moving closer and it basically ignored me so I was quite pleased with the shots I got in the end, even with the green cast from the leaf canopy.

To close a few snaps of one of our local orchids - common twayblade.  I didn't take the tripod (yes dogwalking again) which was a mistake as my framing was off at the bottom, but at least it's a few in the bank as it were.
 A few more pics of the birds in the picasa web albums.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Spring is sprung ......

My grebe project has come to an unexpected stop, and I'm not sure it will restart this year.  More to follow in due course.  I haven't done too much photography otherwise, except when I have been out walking the dog which is a shame because I had planned to try and work on my flower photography this year.  I've even bought some cheap LED lights to play around with rather than use flash.
The thing is I think I lack some patience for plant snapping.  I like the buzz of catching a bird before it moves on, but with plants you need to think about composition, lighting and have the time to do so - which isn't when you are walking the dog!  Some folks do it well - I especially like Sandra Bartocha and Radomir Jakubowski as well as Jodie Randall.  I bet none of them were trailing a whippet though.
Still a few shots below, many with the pocket camera:
 I haven't forgotten the mammals though, just not found time to go after them.  Later I hope to have a go for the badgers that have established a latrine in a local field,

but I hope I get my lens choice better than I did when trying to squeeze the fox into frame.

Look at those pearly white's though.

More orchids expected to come - determined to work out how to snap the twayblades this year.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Bring the birds to you

My grebe project continues, but one of the frustrations is that I have absolutely no control over where the birds are - and sadly they could try harder!
In contrast my couple of feeding / drinking sites in the local woods mean I can tuck in and see what drops by.  Sadly the hide or camo set up at both sites has been nicked.  At the far site I have left in place a rather shabby looking little screen, but it means the birds are used to something there.

When I go along I take some netting and the birds do still come in. It's not the prettiest set up although from a distance you see nothing

 - don't really know how anyone found the camo gear.
Niger and sunflower seed are placed on various flat surfaces as well as on the ground, to encourage birds to land on the prop branches, etc. 

The water feature here is really too small and I struggle to get a good angle, but it does work and being smaller I can easily flush through regularly.

A few recent snaps below - found a nice piece of wood - including 2 different goldcrests - only one had the hint of orange.
In years gone by I have watched a number of times an adult feeding another adult during the breeding season -  most notably hawfinches. This snap of a robin pair is the first I've got though - tongues and all!

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Bumbarrels in the brambles

The grebes have been on eggs for a couple of weeks now, so action is slow and largely restricted to changeovers every hour or two.  Still worth some time, but my mind drifted to the long tailed tit nest in the briar patch behind me.  As the grebe activity has been at long range I had resorted to 1200mm of lens and my 1DIII with it's 1.3 crop factor to try and get something worthwhile. 
I could hear the tits churring as they worked through tree branches above and wondered if I could turn the lens at this high magnification to see the nest without going near and running the risk of disturbing them - or attracting attention to them, as many nests get predated.  Sure enough by moving a few feet to one side there was a window through the brambles.
The birds were going in and out periodically.  Not award winning images, but fascinating to watch.  The nest hole is snug and the birds squeezed through, almost popping out as the nest walls flexed, the mix of webs, lichen moss and feathers springing back into shape behind them.
 Fingers crossed they make it.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Canadian bycatch

What is your view of introduced species?  I could live without pheasants (and the adders would thank us), but  love to see little owls.  If there were ring-necked parakeets locally I'd go and have a look.  Canada geese? In truth I probably see them as more of a nuisance species, and I've never headed out to snap them.
However my new project for this year is planned around an old estate lake and it is not short of CG's at present.  The access is limited but the accessible part of the lake is ideal for morning work, although to date the weather has largely messed up my plans.  I did get one morning a while ago when the weather and a free morning coincided, and I do think the site holds promise.
I'll hold back on posting my main targets as I think (hope) I will be able to build a better collection of shots (that pre-visualisation again) to post at a later date, but looking back at the snaps from that first session I really quite like the goose shots (although it's amazing/frustrating how the far shoreline is just at head height)

...... and one of a tufted duck.
From the calls I could hear in the background I also found a spot that might prove productive - know what it is?

Hopefully the main project will work out.  Here's one snap to start.

And the nest?  Long-tailed tit.  One for a remotely operated camera I think, but will need to make sure not to draw undue attention to it as I gather they are frequently predated.