Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Land of Ice, Fire ........ Cloud and Rain - North-East 2

Not all our time was spent at Lake Myvatn and the ponds.  The other water based spot we visited a number of times was the Laxa river.  Flowing out of Myvatn this is a powerful river - plenty of white water

and crystal clear as you can see from this snap into a waterfall. 

In one spot I could watch the Harlequin duck diving down, appearing to just effortlessly hang underwater. It is reported to be the home of large trout - I never saw one rise clearly but did at one point watch a large tail lazily emerge and flick under again.

Birds-wise the main targets were Harlequin duck, white water lovers (in more ways than one!)


and Barrow's Goldeneye.

I knew the shots I wanted of the Harlequins but never quite achieved the combination of a male in sun in white water.  The colours in the right light are great but I just didn't catch it. 
 This tufted duck shot down the rapids - is it just me or does it looked a bit shocked?

The goldeneye merited more time than I gave them, a lesson for next time. I did catch a male displaying, but it was unexpected, poorly framed and a bit far off.  Perhaps best labelled a record shot - the well known code  for a bit crap!
Phalarope were here too and I had a clear demonstration of their classically reported 'confiding' nature when I held my pocket camera just a few feet from a pair resting on a small island next to the bank.  The odd long-tailed duck drifted along, this one posing quite nicely mid-preen
and a female with a red carpet glance over the shoulder in the rain.

Up a slower flowing tributary more goldeneye and a female goosander.  A golden plover chose to bathe there too.
Further afield we visited one of Iceland's many waterfalls - Godafoss.  A wet, wet day I gave up after wiping my graduated filter for the umpteenth time and never came near doing it justice.

A brief visit to Husavik did offer a chance to snap another great northern diver, but again a relatively fleeting opportunity with grey sky reflected as grey water.
Again more pics can be seen in the web albums via the link on the right.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Land of Ice, Fire ........ Cloud and Rain - North-East 1


It's a fair few weeks now since my trip to Iceland.  Leaving the UK it looked promising with the west coast of Scotland largely in sun. However the forecast for Iceland hadn't looked so promising and as we came into Kefkavik it was all too evident their Met Office had it right.

A quick(ish) change of airport and by the skin of our teeth off to Akureyri in a smaller plane that bucking broncoed through the wind on its way down to land,

and finally the drive to Lake Myvatn and the white walled red roofed villlage of Reykjalid.

We had a few days in the north-east and other than the rather frustrating cloud cover the area lived up to my expectations; the one spell of evening light we did have showed just what the bird photography potential really is if you can strike it lucky.

Lake Myvatn itself is big, and photographically most of the time it's the many small ponds around it that offer the best potential.
There was a good mix of the subarctic birds we had come to see - the Slavonian grebe that started this post I have snapped before in the Highlands, and it was intriguing to me to see they were feeding on sticklebacks here. 

But see the difference on the one nice evening we did get - really brought out the plumage - they just glowed ..

The long tailed duck looked pretty good too

and the scoter's bill and eye picked up the evening glow from the rushes.

Red necked phalarope was one of the birds I was looking forward to seeing, and they were around - but so small!

Less colourful was the first scaup I have ever had in front of the lens, but the backlighting meant we didn't get the best from that particular site.

I did snap a few birds on the main lake - merganser
 and one of my big hopes for the trip, great northern diver - again the light was really tricky and I had to pullback my over compensated exposure quite hard in processing these shots.  The divers have this knack of appearing not have seen you but just drifting away, and soon being out of range.

To see more pics and larger views follow the Photo Gallery link on the right to the web albums.  More Iceland to come.

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.