Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The irony - only a few miles from home (and 61 million seconds)

In a recent post about my trip to David Whistlecraft's photo hide I called crossbills a bogey bird.  My views had been mainly in Scotland, and always in the high treetops, so whilst I was realistic about the chances I did hope to finally see them more closely in Norfolk.  Not to be, though.
After driving all that way it came as a true delight then just 8 days later to have 3 appear in front of my lens at my old favourite woodland puddles.  When I first went to the puddles crossbills and hawfinch were the hoped for species.  Hawfinch I saw in year 1, but it's taken 708 days, 16992 hours, 61 million seconds (don't you love websites) for the crossbills to appear.
 I think they are cracking birds, although Kay was less impressed - "Is that it?"
 As always the light was a bit awkward, but it's a start.
 This is a quite heavy crop, but it looks good enough on the web.

More views in the woodland puddles album HERE.  Now 24 species snapped and one which evaded the memory cards (a group of young crows).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Norfolk coast

The woodland hide was great, but the day before I had a few hours to kill in the afternoon.  I went to see the snow buntings at Salthouse, and found a range of waders at the beach car park which seemed quite habituated to people, coming in to feed on bird seed.  Redshank, turnstone, knot.  I also got my first half decent shots of teal, a species I often find quite shy.

The snow buntings took a while to arrive, but when they did I was taken aback by the large size of the flock, tens of birds at least.  They were mainly feeding on a grassy bank - convenient for some eye level shots from the car, although I could really have done with some pruning time.  The range of colour variation was clear as you looked at the flock.

The sun took a while to appear, and then I was torn as  to whether to stay at Salthouse or have a look at another spot David had steered me towards.  In the end the option of exploring further won out and I headed further up the coast to take pictures of ....... horses? 
Look in the background to the left!  There were several barn owls out hunting in the late afternoon, something we never see before late dusk down here.  Sadly they didn't come too close, but still lovely to watch.

 More views and better detail in the web alums here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Norfolk woods

 I keep my eye on quite a lot of blogs, websites and photo sites (mostly Flickr it seems).   It's a good way to learn what works, see what's around locally and get ideas for photo projects.  One person who has consistently posted good shots on Flickr is David Whistlecraft - in addition to some cracking barn owl shots he has set up a woodland hide and over this winter has posted a good range of species. 
 What really caught my eye were some shots of crossbill drinking at a small pool.  Crossbill are one of my bogey birds and as past readers will know I have also have a bit of a thing about pictures of birds at pools or puddles.  David rents out his hide for photo workshops, so the idea of going to see his set-up, get some ideas and have a chance of some good photo's (maybe even a crossbill) seemed to good to miss.
 Then again it's in Norwich and I'm in South Wales!  I had left on a list of 'somedays', but a week off work led to some plans to head up north, and I persuaded myself Norwich wasn't too big a diversion for me to make on the way home (OK I know, but it's an hour nearer!).
 So plans were made, and although they all went wrong I still made it to Norfolk through a bit of snow for a day and a half of pure bird snapping.  I'll come back to the half a day, but the day in the hide was great.  A bit of snow, some lovely warm light and good views of the birds, along with good company.  I learnt a lot about setting up a photo hide, including a drinking/bathing pool, and just hope I can find somewhere to do something similar.
 No crossbill, but I'll come back to them soon in another post.  I did get some good shots of GS woodpeckers, nuthatch and a range of tit species.  You can see an album of more pictures here , and see some of David's excellent pictures here