Saturday, 31 January 2015

Arctic Blast

It's Wednesday evening as I write these opening sentences. The weather forecast is predicting an arctic blast and snow. Let's see what materialises? 

Well, there was some snow, but nothing too bad. Saturday morning was overcast and the wind was bitterly cold. I ended up taking a trip to Kingsbury Water Park as yesterday a Red Crested Pochard was reported on Broomey Croft. As I drove along the entrance lane, a small Vixen appeared from the roadside scrub and stopped looking directly at me. She was in immaculate condition with a thick, glossy and well conditioned coat. The moment the thought of trying to reach across to the back seat for a camera crossed my mind, she vanished.

 I had a good look around Broomey Croft, but no sign of the Red Crested Pochard this morning. I took refuge from the wind in one of the bird hides to drink my coffee and warm up a little. All was quiet in front of the hide apart from a few Drake Teal displaying to the females. 
 As I took my boots out of their boot bag this morning, they looked a right state. In fact, they looked like I had let cement set on them. Absolutely caked in mud and dirt. I do like to look after my kit, so I decided they would get some TLC on my return home. A few people have asked me about my "Wellies" and to be honest, calling them Wellies does them a massive disservice. These aren't wellies, they are boots. Muckboots, and I would recommend them without hesitation. Comfortable to walk in, absolutely waterproof, warm and breathable. Anyway, they are clean now and ready for whatever I throw at them next. 

As I ended up writing about my boots, you can tell its been a quiet weekend.

Sunday morning was very cold in the wind. The cold snap may have been responsible for the biggest mixed flock of Redwing and Fieldfare I have seen locally this winter. Easily c400 birds feeding in the Sheep fields. Also some great views of a Green Woodpecker. It was the opposite side of a fence post to the wind direction using it as a wind shield. I tried to get in position to take a photo, but the Woodpecker had other ideas.

I also hadn’t realised just how high our local rivers and pools are. Well above normal levels. The footpath along the side of one of the lakes was submerged in a few places.

The last point of note was the number of Coots on one of the smaller pools. I spent about 15 Minutes watching them dispute reed bed territories and Males vying for dominance. They really were going for it. Due to it being dull and windy, I didn’t take the digiscoping set up today, I took my Canon SX40 HS along with me. These were taken hand held at full optical zoom at a distance of about 90 yards. 


Sunday, 25 January 2015

Glad it's the Weekend.

I am hoping to revisit and capture to camera the pair of Barn Owls I reported last week. It won't be an easy task using a digiscoping set up. I feel my best chance is to attempt to capture the birds on video and rip stills from the footage. 

I'm also trying out a new blogging APP on the iPad, so I hope this turns out ok?

After a hectic week at work, and a few late evenings, I decided that Friday, I would leave early and use the remaining light to try and see the Barn Owls. I was out of work for 3.30pm and observing the Owl field by 4.00pm. The pair showed by 4.10pm, but one quickly disappeared. I believe it is hunting a little further afield. One Barn Owl however decided to keep the hunting local and stayed in the meadow. It was distant, never coming closer than 100 yards. The light was fading, it was a dull day anyway and now it was starting to rain. Not great conditions for digiscoping. I attached the camera to the scope, and attempted to record a hunting Barn Owl.

Considering the poor light and distances involved, I'm quite pleased with these. The stills were taken from a HD video using the Nikon P300 through the scope. 

Saturday morning and a walk along the river Tame. Low temperatures, but a nice bright morning. 

Although the conditions for walking were great, it was very quiet bird wise. I did see a Yellow Legged Gull on one of the lakes, and a couple of Common Gulls amongst the Black Headed Gulls. There were plenty of Robins showing this morning though, all vocally advertising their presence.

Sunday morning and another quiet walk around the patch. A Little Egret was working the edge of the lake, it flew off when it saw Jon and I approaching. We sighted it again later as it flew overhead, returning no doubt to where we had disturbed it from. The highlight of the morning was spotting what we thought was a Whooper Swan grazing in a field with a herd of Mutes. It was only as we got closer we realised it was a Anker Valley regular. A Whooper/Mute hybrid that has made this area it's home for many years now. Oh well, one day!

Sunday late afternoon and another visit to see the Barn Owls. At 4.45pm, there was still no sign. Just before 5.00pm one put in a very brief appearance, and just a quickly disappeared. No views of them hunting today. 

So, my weekend ended where it started, Owl watching. No doubt I will visit them again soon. 

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Not much to report

I've not really had much time to do a lot of birding since the New Year, and as a result, there hasn't been much to write about. Birding is restricted to weekend mornings only at the moment, and the last two weekends have involved high winds and poor weather. This weekend was the first with bright conditions, though the temperatures were cold.

The highlights on the patch this morning were a flock of Canada geese about 80 strong with a couple of Greylag amongst them grazing in the water meadows next to the River Anker. Then, a little later as we reached the fields of longer grass, a flock of around c50 Linnet were circling the field. They landed and disappered into the grass.

Kestrels were also on the move this morning with three being spotted. So, it was just common stuff about this morning, but it's still nice to see them.

As I wandered around this morning, I used the phone to take a few pictures of the areas I was walking through.

We have a couple of feeders in one of the Birch copses. They are seeing plenty of use. It's nice to see Coal Tit using the feeders. The light wasn't good enough for fast shutter speeds this morning. I tried to capture a Long Tailed Tit from a visiting flock on camera.
Some of the grazing geese.
A very distant Buzzard. I'm still experimenting with the Nikon P300 through the scope.
A bit of this mornings scenery.
Pete checking birds in flight.
It is about this time of year that a Mandarin Duck starts putting in an appearance on the local canals. I hope to cross paths with it again. A couple of years ago, it had an American Wood Duck drake with it. It's always nice to see them. These were taken in previous encounters with these stunning looking ducks.
Footnote - The last hour of daylight on Sunday was spent watching a pair of Barn Owl hunt and quarter a meadow. An amazing sight, and a great way to end a weekend.