Monday, August 25, 2008

Gone fishin'?

I did some gardening yesterday. Not as much some as I might have because (somehow) the camera and macro lens found their way outside. These aren't any more than snaps - all hand held, and largely at wide open apertures (cloud, wind, blah, blah, blah) - but I thought I'd post a few. Click here and look in the latest folder for better quality views.

The pink sedum flowers were most popular,
although linaria,
and verbena all did their bit.

The rather cool toon army garbed fly is not, I think, a flesh fly - my first guess - as the abdominal markings look more like Eustalomyia festiva (if you care!).
P.S. Anyone know how to get clay off your camera gear?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beside the seaside, beside the sea ..........

A Sunday mornings 'work' saw maybe 15 minutes sunshine, but it was enough to get a few shots of the ringed plover/dunlin flock at Severn Beach before the tide retreated and the clouds and rain closed in again.

When I took the shot I thought the last bird was holding seaweed, but after some cropping it turns out it was a cricket. (Beach cricket?!)

As always click here or on the link
for better quality photo's in the 'latest' web album

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Why is it the younger the moorhen, the older it appears? You could only call that haircut a combover. Interestingly the middle generation juvenile was also feeding the chick.

As always for better quality pictures click on my
'latest' photo album here

Monday, August 11, 2008

Marshy Peas

If I was to say these pictures represented the best part of a fair day out you probably think I'm barking mad, but they do represent at least half of it.

A while ago I decided to stop moaning about this year's weather. I just sounded like a miserable old git, going on weekend after weekend. But really, .......... this is August, for God's sake, so I guess that's what I am. The better day of the weekend saw me at Slimbridge briefly, looking at dot-like waders in the distance and a few members of the munster family (post to follow), and then out at Marshfield in south South Gloucestershire, about which I'd read tales of corn bumting and whinchat in a pea field.

I nearly drove past the field in the jet propelled rain, but saw a parking spot and when the rain settled and I got out, I found the pea field I wanted was conveniently parked behind the car. The motorbike scrambling event two fields away added a certain ambience, as did the constant gale and the intermittent, but drenching rain. Nonetheless the birds did show, albeit at a bit of a distance - even crawling through the soggy mess along a field margin didn't get me that close. With a bit of judicious cropping you can see they were there, and on a nicer day who knows. One to revisit.(Talk about a record shot!)

Still, I can't remember when I last saw either bird, so it's a result of sorts.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It's not just the colour

There's an interesting article in this quarter's copy of Birds magazine (RSPB). Written by an artist it describes how colour is relative to the other colours around it. In some circumstances to make a blackbird look 'true' you would use violet to paint it. It goes on to talk about the use of drawings and photo's in field guides, and describes the effects light can have on how a bird is represented. Anyone who does read this blog more than once may know that a couple of posts ago I misidentified a juvenile stonechat. I was relieved by the correction - I knew the wings weren't right, but couldn't place the bird and to all other intents - movement and profile I thought it was a juvenile robin. Time has confirmed the identification ......
but looking back through my field guides the only picture of a young stonechat would still not have led me to the correct identification. You can't beat experience. Bill Oddie says jays are the most misidentified UK birds - depending on the posture - flight or sitting, and the light the prominent colours can appear to be black and white, pink or beige, or even blue. Yet most guides will have a nice profile view where all are appropriately presented and the identification may not be obvious.
This weekend this rather cute reed bunting was posing in the wind.

From a second angle there is far more white visible on it's back than in any of my field guides, but I don't think I'm wrong again!
Google images can be a good option if you have an idea of the bird - assuming others posting pictures have it right - and the stonechat is certainly better seen there than in my books.
Insects are the bane of my life - just too many! Some flowers were swarming this weekend with what I suspect are some kind of sawfly, but no joy at labelling yet.
Hoverflies - again books of limited value I find - not worked this one out yet. Possibly Meliscaeva cinctella?The gallery on the Hoverfly recording scheme website has helped in the past, but not so far with this one. Still - trying to work it out is half the fun isn't it?

The wetlands are in full flow with second broods, and some of the birds seem to be habituating a bit more to visitors. The coot was still a bit cagey,
but my favourite little footy arses (check out one of my very early posts, or read Birds Britannica) were showing quite well, and even feeding in the open - just a little far off, and sadly into the sun.

As always check out the photo gallery - see links -
for larger and better quality views