Whos keeping an eye on me....

Sunday, 30 October 2011


Blue Tit

Caught this fella in a shaded part of the garden. The sunlight coming in perfectly over my shoulder really blackened the foilage behind the bird... (amazingly the foilage is only about 6 inches behind) and as he peeked around the side of the feeder. you get the perfect spotlight effect

Monday, 17 October 2011

rspb Leighton Moss

A visit once a year if I can to rspb Leighton Moss normally gets me a few year ticks but nonetheless is a lovely scenic reserve to visit on the coast at Morcambe bay in Lancashire.
Leighton Moss has Seven bird and wildlife watching hides a well equiped visitor\ Educational centre aswell as a cafe it also has three nature trails within the reserve with plenty more trails out and about the vicinity of the reserve.

A misty morning
(The Causeway to the public and Lower Hides through reed-bed habitat)

This is the largest remaining reedbed in North West England, with shallow meres and fringing sedge and woodland, attracts a wonderful range of wildlife to Leighton Moss. The reserve also has two large pools and scrapes further towards the coast of Morecambe bay.

.....  into the Bay
(Looking from the Eric Morecambe hide out across the pool and wader Scrape)

Among its special birds are breeding Bitterns, Bearded Tits and Marsh Harriers, its mammals include Otter and Roe and Red Deer.

Yesterdays visit was a bit of a whistle stop tour as I could only really afford the morning there. I was hoping for 1 life tick (Bittern..... I have been countless times and never seen one) and a year tick (Marsh Tit).

From the public hide a female Marsh Harrier hovered in the distance over what was probably her old nestsite, she dipped down for a few minutes before reappearing and taking roost in a dead tree, meanwhile in front of the reeds were 3 Otters although very very distant on the far shide of the pool.
I happily Counted 4 or 5 Marsh Tits - not sure how many to expect on a given day but certainly the most I have seen.
Year tick in the bag....
Marsh Tit

I Didnt go onto the reserve proper, so went over to the scrape hides.
I missed the Green Sanpiper that had been seen in front of the Allen hide but other highlights on show were: Perigrine perched for 2hrs preening at the back of the main pool and 400+ Knot (it only seems like chaos)
I love this image... not an ounce of focus but who really cares when you can capture the spectacle of huge numbers of waders taking off in unison.
If you click on the image and look closely you will see some Redshanks right at the bottom

Other waders of note were 1000+ Black Tailed Godwits

in flight

having a scratch

and a ruffling of the feathers

lone Godwit in a Knot

3 Spotted Redshank, 25+ Greenshank, huge Skien of Pink feet over, and the first winter female Goosander dropped into the marsh at the back of the main pool.

I missed the Bearded tits on this occassion but waited and waited between 09.30 and 10.30am however these images are from last years visit.

Female Bearded Tit

Male Bearded Tit

A total of 61 species seen from 08.45 - 13.00hrs (not bad as I spent 60 mins waiting in one place for Beardies and didnt venture on the main part of the reserve due to lack of time)

Yet again I didnt get to see the Bittern but this time of year plenty of Red Deer are about.

Both these images are from a visit in 2009


Sunday, 16 October 2011

October Garden Madness

Friday 14th October at 15.35hrs:

A WOODCOCK made a guest appearance in my non-rural Graden, certainly a first and possibly a last. It flew in and made a very quick landing on one of the flower borders and seemed to try to grab at a pear before taking off again...... Incredible garden visit!

About the Woodcock:
The woodcock is a large bulky wading bird with short legs, and a very long straight tapering bill. It is largely nocturnal, spending most of the day in dense cover. Most of the birds in the UK are residents; in the autumn birds move to the UK from Finland and Russia to winter here. The breeding population has been falling recent years, perhaps because of less habitat as conifer plantations become too mature for woodcocks to find open enough breeding areas.
It can be found in suitable habitat in summer throughout the UK, except for south-west England. In winter, birds are widespread in lowland areas. You would be very lucky to see one, but you may inadvertently disturb one from its resting place, when it flies off, zigzagging between the trees and dropping back into cover.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Oil on Canvas .....a photo effect

Just been playing around... its either that or watching Coronation Street

This is a heavy crop of an Avocet image I took a while ago in Norfolk and have just stylised it to an artists oil painting effect. Its not to everyones taste... not sure its mine to be honest but you dont know until you try!

here is the original image

Comments both good or bad are most welcome on this please

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Garden preditor

He is a beauty!

This male Sparrowhawk has been visiting my garden on and off for a while. A few weeks ago he posed close to the feeders and very near an empty nest box

last week on the feeder branch

and this evening he took a Greenfinch

this is a stunning bird to have around the place

not too long after he had fed a very large female flew over....  obviously weighing up tomorrows menu.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Getting up close

Oriental Pied Hornbill

The last day in Malaysia back in March. To be honest it was nothing more than a day of travel back to the airport. We had seen a few sightings of this species on our travels but usually in flight and distant so when Paul shouted stop (in the fast lane of a dual carriageway) we knew it must be worth stopping for.

We pulled off the carriageway and turned around back towards the bird where it was showing at the back of a small cafe in a banana plantation.

With a little stealth we were able to inch closer (much to the amazement of the people dinning who obviously thought we were a little crazy creeping up on a bird that they had probably spent days and days ignoring)

it turned around and for a moment it looked like it was going to fly off

however it weight us up and decided that he could afford us a little more exposure

full frontal! an unuasual angle

sitting pretty

up close and personal

Field craft? or just a stroke of luck?

I think the latter on this occasion

Friday, 7 October 2011

Flippin heck this is annoying... still cant post comments

Ok its getting frustrating:

I can now post to Adams blog, I think becuse he has a pop up comments box, this is the same problem JM is having ?

However I cant even post a comment on my own blog to answer JMs statement. Really dont know what is going on.

Adam can you put us on the right track?


Thursday, 6 October 2011

Unable to leave comments on some Blogs...

I am struggling to leave comments on some blogs, while others are ok.....For example I have been trying to comment on Adam Tilts blog for ages and keep getting thrown out when it asks me for my Google account info, currently cant leave comments on Springmans either????? What is going on????

This is my error message:

We are sorry, but we were unable to complete your request.

The following errors were found:
Input error: Cookie value is null for FormRestoration

Monday, 3 October 2011

My 2011 Shearwater and Skua cruises

Its always a trade off when anticipating the eagerly awaited Shearwater and Skua cruise off the East coast in late autumn..... A nice North Westerly wind could always push in a few exciting migrants, however its a long drive across country to have the sailing cancelled due to poor weather..... so a calm North Sea awaited Chris E and myself when we arrive into Bridlington Harbour.
This first cruise was in early Septemeber, and as I had lost my camera to a down pour a few weeks prior, I had no option but to just take the binoculars and enjoy the seabirds. Undoubtedly the highlight of the trip was the Sabines Gull that gave astonishing views, not only flying around the boat but also sat on the sea..... most certainly a life bird in the bag. Arctic Skuas showed well, and put on brilliant displays of aggression while chasing the Terns..... and I was lucky enough to bag another life bird when we passed a Grey Phalarope sat on the sea while we chased down yet another Arctic Skua...... plenty of people missed this one, but we got excellent close up views.

Overall the trip gave me 3 life birds (although the Red Throated Divers were very distant... however this would be rectified a few weeks later with far better and nearer views)..... of course there are no images this time but plenty of lasting memories, especially that Sabines.... STUNNING
Sometimes the camera gets in the way of really enjoying the birdwatching, and this was a cracking birdwatching trip.......

......... New Camera to hand and and a new cruise in October.

I prayed for another view of the Sabines Gull. This turned out to be a trip of no lifers but some great action with Shearwaters and Skuas.... As we left the harbour we had our first flocks of Shags, smaller than the Cormorant, they nest at the base of the cliffs... it certainly seems to have been a good breeding season for this species.

As we ticked off the more common species such as Herring, Black Headed, Greater Black Backed and  Lesser Black Backed Gulls we started to pick up large numbers of Little Gulls... our smallest breeding Gull, the juveniles showing stunning plumage.

We also started to attract Common Terns and Common Gulls (which suprisingy are not that common)

...... Gannets

and plenty of Razorbills and Guillemots which are currently flightless due to being a recent fledgling or because the adults are taking on a full flight feather moult

As the cruise progressed so did the sightings of Manx Shearwater, one of which caused a stir as it was initially identified as a balearic, but due to the wonders of digital photography was soon brought back down to earth as a Manx.... still a stunning bird and a wanted bird on any trip.

however the highlight of the trip for me was seeing the daddy of them all.... the Great Skuas. These birds send everything into a panic when they arrive on scene, a few individual birds were seen, this one came right at the boat giving stunning views.