Thursday, January 19, 2017

To catch a skimming bird

My main aim on the beach this year was to snap a black skimmer skimming.  I don't think they really feed here, but it was evident some would have a quick skim as they flew in.  Cleaning their bill?
They are fairly cool looking birds anyway so I was happy to snap away in the hope that every so often there would be a chance of that low flying one dipping that  bit lower still. 

The morning light enhanced the experience but for the smaller in frame shots a letterbox crop looked best.

They should look better bigger so click on one of the pics for a larger view.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Beach wildlife

Back on track after a protracted laptop problem I am working through a bit of a processing backlog, although the autumn wasn't as productive as I might have wished.  This year I took a proper camera on our annual south-west Florida trip, and for the first time the updated canon 100-400 II lens.  The original lens was always a bit disappointing but I was much more impressed with this - definitely sharper.  It can be used for macro too, so is great for holiday travel when I don't want to take a long prime lens.

A lot of this years shots were taken first thing in the morning at the beach - snap the golden hour, then fish for an hour or two and back home for breakfast.

Although the beach is relatively quiet before 9 there can be frustrations, with day-glo joggers, anglers and shell seekers the main threats to the roosting shorebirds.

Mind you it does provide some habituation, and with care some of the locals wander through the flocks. 

Once, the gulls and terns were spooked up and then settled down all around me, leading to some more wide angle type views than normal.

The local snowy (little) egrets are a pest when you are fishing.  They will literally start rooting through your bags looking for food - I tend to use prawns as bait.  Mind you whilst I don't generally condone feeding wildlife by hand like this it did make for some good snaps when an angler was getting rid of the last of his bait in the late afternoon sun.

Some more Florida snaps to come.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Egret entropy

I've written before about our local wetland - the Nedern.  In the winter the fields flood bringing in a range of winter wildfowl and waders, and look like a lake rather than the huge puddle it is.
Through spring and summer the land dries out to a variable extent, some years like this one becoming completely dry.  There comes a time when the lake has reduced to a series of small pools and that is when the opportunity to snap the local egrets presents itself.  I am amazed at the sheer number of sticklebacks that end up concentrated in these pools, bringing in the birds.

So it was a few weeks ago the accessible pools were 'just right' and I went down early morning to see what might come in.

First visitor a wagtail, followed closely I was pleased to see by a pair of lapwing. 
The the first of 2 egrets drifted in.  As I wasn't using a hide, just lying under some scrim I wondered if they would spook, but at times they were too close for me to focus. 

There was quite a bit of plant material determined to spoil the view, but I got a few shots of the birds stalking ........

and then striking.  Interesting to see the eyes still open mid-strike.

I've always loved the concept of entropy.  If you ignore the thermodynamic definition the easiest way to think of this is the inevitable process of order descending into chaos.  If you leave them alone things fall apart - always. My favourite shot of the session shows an egret appearing to do just that, as it shakes post preen.

You can see why the milliners loved the plumes.

Monday, August 01, 2016

The redcaps are here

A regular visitor to the woodland feeding station and pool recently is one or more young great spotted woodpecker.

I wrote a while ago about finding the nest - not so hard given how noisy the young are.  I got some shots of the adults visiting with food, the male slightly more wary at first, pausing first before going to the nest hole
and carrying away what I presume were faecal sacs, apparently mixed with sawdust!
but what I really wanted was the shot of the youngsters themselves.  Eventually there was a glimpse of a red head

and over the next few days increasingly confident birds appeared more often.

The ultimate shot I suppose is the feeding shot of an adult with a youngster leaning well out of the hole.  Never quite saw that but didn't want to trouble them too much and was happy enough with this view.

In truth the birds at the feeding station are in a second copse a few hundred yards away, so probably from another nest, but still nice to see.
More to come from the feeding station pool in the future.