Friday, February 28, 2014

Iolo Williams State of nature Speech

I meant to post about this in the past, but it got lost amongst everything else.

If you missed this first time around and you want to hear a powerful, passionate speech about the changes we have wrought on our environment listen to this ..... and don't worry the Welsh bit only lasts a minute or so!  In total it lasts about 15 minutes, but it's worth it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Missing out - but not!

Mixed fortunes in recent weeks.  Not just the lousy weather, but a couple of dips (look at me pretending to be a birder!).  One was failing to snap the purple sandpipers at Portishead.  I've been twice in recent years and each time they have chosen that day to move on to pastures new after being there fairly consistently for weeks.  Still it was nice to meet 'Mrs Trellis' of the Avon Birding blog.

Then there was the raven.  We seem to have pair in residence near the village and they have been visiting one of our bird feeding spots - at least occasionally.  After missing the sandpipers I came home and waited to see if I could snap a raven on the food.  Truth is this was extremely unlikely as they are very shy and without a longstanding hide in place I wasn't going to hold my breath.  I was right - no show.  Not a complete waste though because one or two marsh tits were calling in, so I moved in close and tried to find a vaguely pretty twig for them to perch on.  The twig didn't work out so well but the birds did drop by.  One to revisit with better props.

Wandering back to the house for lunch - and one of our new residents effectively gave me the finger! 
I've kept the feeding stations going in the woods, and visited one a few times to see what is showing.  I'm trying a bit harder with perches and background this year, but the site is not brilliant for varied photography - just a small space so blurring out the background is a challenge and I end up with close up shots the whole time.  Some of the props looked less good in the snaps than they did in the hand - bit leprous really.  The siskin in the first shot used a 'natural' fallen branch I've since trimmed out, but maddeningly nothing is using my alternatives.

Far fewer redpoll this year - in fact I haven't seen any the last few weeks, but siskin numbers are picking up and fingers crossed for hawfinch in the next month or two. 

I made a little drinking puddle which the chaffinches and siskins at least are using, so maybe a bigger one in the summer will be worth a try.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Flooded Owls

It seems a bit insensitive to put up a post about going to watch a flood at present, but the owls of Aust Warth are an attraction at the best of times, and I couldn't resist a visit.  I wasn't the only one hoping for some close views - like this snap from a couple of years ago.

Usually the terrain where they roost and hunt is a grassy salt marsh, .......

but a few times in the year a really high tide drowns the marsh, and even the road goes more than welly deep (I know mine were nearly overtopped as I tried to get just one more shot!). 

At first the water seems to rise quite slowly , but the shallow gradient means it soon sweeps in.  The mipits found branches to perch on as did the crows ...........

- but they had an ulterior motive.  As the water comes in the voles that inhabit the land can be seen swimming at full speed inland, and the birds pick them off, chased by the gulls.
I had hoped to get some shots of the other inhabitants flushed out, and one or two owls did show, but sadly not as close as on other occasions.
In hindsight I missed the shot here - really I needed more foreground to show the scene properly.  I still tend to see the shot after my first visit somewhere rather than during.