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Sunday, 23 October 2011

A Day at Leighton Moss

The early light was not very good

Marsh Tit at the feeding station, but very dark underneath the tree canopy

...a splash of colour

a distant Kingfisher

Spotted Redshank

Spotted Redshank – elegant

Spotted Redshank with a Redshank for comparison

Rough justice


11 Snipe were feeding at the margins

First decent views of Bearded Tit

View from the Public Hide
Distant deer

Dragonfly... anyone?
View from the Lower Hide

I am afraid many of my posts don't include fabulous photography and this is one of them – it is however a recollection of a day at RSPB Leighton Moss, anyone who has been will wonder why, but for those that have not been it may provide a personal view. I have to say I am not a great fan of sitting in hides to see wildlife.

As I hadn't slept well, I made an early start, thinking it didn't matter and there was plenty in the vicinity to see even if I didn't go on site. There was always the hope in an early start catching, deer otter and other movement as the sun rose... unfortunately not on this occasion. As day broke it didn't really get very light and was grey and overcast for a long time – so much so it was impossible to get any speed reading on the camera at low f-stops.

So early morning was spent in the Jackson Hide listening to deer grunting and the odd bellow but no sign of any deer who must have been reasonably close. A number of Teal and a few Wigeon were either sleeping or dappling around.

Back at the car park for breakfast and a brew and at the bird feeding station all the regulars were there and it was nice to see, Nuthatch, Bullfinch and a Marsh Tit. As the tide was supposed to be around lunchtime I then moved on to the Eric Morecambe Hide where a couple of chums might be in-situ. Sure enough Martin and Brian were in the hide when I arrived and had been watching and photographing the waders out in front. 

A number of Knot were out on the marsh but too far away as were a number of Redshank. Kingfisher appeared briefly while a Grey Heron hunted a quite piece of water. Four Crows set about having a real barney and Martin managed to capture the action (see this link). A Spotted Redshank decided to come within range and I managed a couple of photographs. (A first for me). I was surprised to see 11 Snipe feeding in the margins but they were just too far away and the light too poor for me to score anything other than record photos... nice to see though – it is quite a while since I have seen Snipe (I used to see them regularly when I was a kid [on what is now Bispham Marsh, when it was a marsh] – but that is a long time ago).

It was then decided to move on in the hope of seeing what else was on the main reserve. On the way to the Public Hide, small flocks of Fieldfare passed overhead, I think the three of us were taken aback to see two Bearded Tit on the grit trays as we walked up the the viewing point. (Another first for me... well apart from a brief fly-over in the past). We picked up a Peregrine an awful long way off perched on a dead tree before being moved on by two Crows. A Sparrowhawk flew across too fast for anyone to react other than watch and identify it.

As the Public Hide was quiet, on to the the Lower Hide; a number of Dragonflies were coursing the causeway in the shelter of the trees and reeds. and at the bottom of the causeway, a small flock of Siskins did a circuit before landing in the trees overhead before moving on. In the field at the back of the reserve we spotted two deer looking to enter the woodland where a fallen tree had landed on the fence. 

In the Lower Hide again we saw the Peregrine in the dead tree before it flew off north but no sign of otter and generally quiet. A male and female Gadwall fed in front of the hide. A Sparrowhawk flew past carrying food. And eventually a reversal, back to the Public Hide (where over 100 Coot suddenley left the reeds and passed by in front of the hide) and to the car park and Tim Jackson Hide with nothing to report that I haven't already stated. And so Zebedee said time for bed. Boiinng...

All the usual suspects were on show if not mentioned – Little Egret, Mute Swans, Robin, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Mallard, Goldeneye, Shoveler, Shelduck, and I may have missed a few. And a word of thanks to Martin and Brian for their generous, informative and enjoyable company. (14 October 2011)

AND FINALLY – Best Wishes to Pete Woodroof, thanks for sharing so much informtion – I have learned so much and best wishes for the future.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Slavonian Grebe revisited

My previous visits to Fairhaven had been under sullen, grey, miserable, 'orrible dark grey skies and while bird watching and the company was welcome and enjoyable, photography was not really an option... you have seen the previous results. Here's the scenario...

For those that know the area, that is the lake, looking towards the 'baggin cabin' on the car park
at the south east corner of the lake and the toilet block with the White Church in the background!
That's 'horizontal rain' on a strong wind creating the lack of definition, battering the water!

So when the skies broke, a little blue sky and decent light, I returned briefly on Thursday 13 October.

and fare thee well

the local resident male Mute Swn was not too impressed with the arrival of a newcomer....

'ave it

...come back if you think you're 'ard enough

the victor... all peace and light... or wolf in a swan's disguise?

Mediterranean Gull (1st winter)
As you can see, the Slavonian Grebe was pretty mobile and I was fortunate for once to get the light behind me (no pantomine jokes, thank you); and came pretty close at times.

The local resident Mute Swan took exception to a new visitor before some sort of serenity appeared to return. It is amazing how vicious Mute Swans can be and many moons ago, I watched a real barney at Newton Marsh for over an hour but had to leave while they were still at it; see this link.

It is, as always, while studying the subject worth keeping your eyes open, as once again I picked up this Mediterranean Gull – another first for me (at Fairhaven again!).

(if you are wondering why so many 'firsts' – I haven't been at this birding too long and don't get out much).

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Fairhaven again! Slavonian Grebe

I was extolling the virtues of Fairhaven Lake on my last post, and yet again Fairhaven has come up trumps with another first for me – a winter plummage Slavonian Grebe. The weather was awful and so was the light. It is worth wading through as the best photos, as always are at the end. As with all my photography, I try to capture the 'essence' of the bird and this beauty was moving around at a fair old pace, frequently diving for food – as you will see – even if the photos are very dodgy!

diving left and right and every direction!

missed the focal point (gggrrrggghhh humbug!) but you can see shrimp on the menu
better when the sun comes out!

The last two are the same image, but a test for me, as you know struggling to find the best way to upload images.

Anyone wish to coment on the new format?

As no comments I have reverted back to the old layout.