Saturday, 17 October 2015

Another interesting weekend

As is usually the way, that weekend feeling began to sweep over me as soon as I left work on Friday. I am trying to photograph some badgers with normal photographic equipment rather that a trail camera. It is proving to be a bit of a challenge, but I am enjoying trying to get some results. As I drove home, my thoughts turned to which of the Setts we are aware of would give me the best chance of getting some better quality pictures. 

By 7pm I had made my decision and set off armed with my camera and a plan. I arrived at the location at about 7.45pm and straight away had mixed feelings about the success of this evenings plans. Although it was now dark, it was still light enough to make out a large badger that was already going about its business about 90 yards out in a field of stubble. I enjoyed watching it amble about, but I knew that if it spooked, it would be unlightly to return anytime soon to have its picture taken.  I attempted to set up my camera as quietly at possible, but this badger knew something was amiss and dashed back towards the sett. It stopped short of the sett and turned to face in my direction. It was very unlightly it could see me, their eyesight is pretty poor, but maybe it could smell me, and it had definitely heard me. 

It didn't go to ground, but sloped off with no sense of urgency in a direction that put distance between us until it vanished into the shadows. As it hadn't rushed to ground in panic, I hoped it may return, or maybe, hopefully, some of its sett mates, but I kind of knew an appearance this side of midnight was going to be unlightly. It never works out well when the badgers are out and about before you arrive. 

At around 8.30pm a movement caught my eye and I turned to see a Barn Owl hunting along the field edge. I was sat well back under a large Oak tree with my back to the trunk still hoping for the return of the badger. The Owl flew out into the stubble field and even in the dark my binoculars gathered enough light to allow me to watch it hunt. It dropped into the stubble and then rose up a foot of so, dropping back down hard onto the stubble. It did this twice more then stayed on the ground, its wings slightly spread. After a few seconds it flapped, took flight and rose up from the ground. It moved quickly and I soon lost it in the darkness. Imagine my surprise when it suddenly reappeared right in front of me! If silently flew under the canopy of the tree I was sitting under and perched on a branch about 6ft above my head. It stayed for a few minutes, but I feel it sensed something wasn't quite right. It took flight again and as it silhouetted against the skyline, I could see the rodent it held in its left talons. 

At around 10.30pm the Barn Owl returned and perched on a fence post about 70 yards from where I sat. I kept checking with the binoculars as I scanned the area for the hoped for approaching badgers and it stayed on this perch for at least 30 mins. At just gone 11pm while checking for badgers I noticed it had dissapered. 
As expected, no further badger activity was observed and at around midnight I quietly packed up and headed for home. 

I already had plans for Saturday morning. Pete had found a spot on one of our local patches that shows signs of feeding activity each morning. It isn't close to any sett we are aware of, but it looks like badgers are foraging in the area. We had set a trail camera up last weekend and it had been in situ for a week. We were looking forward to seeing what if anything it had captured

 Trail Camera and the peanut burying trowel. 
IMG 0253

Well, the trail camera had taken 160 pictures. Most of them were mice and squirrels! However, a Fox put in an appearance one night, and a solitary badger visited the area every evening. 



We were surprised to have captured a pair of Muntjac one evening too. 


So now it's back to trying to photograph a badger with my actual camera rather than my trail camera. Succeed or fail, I will no doubt enjoy trying. 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Spoonbills at Middleton

A tweet came through late Saturday afternoon reporting three Spoonbills at RSPB Middleton. Further information stated they were still there at last light. So, early Sunday morning Jon and I arrived at Middleton and with a few other early birders, were lucky enough to find the Spoonbills still resident.

We all attempted to get record shots on this dull start to the day with the early morning sun refusing to put in an appearance. My best record shots came from phonescoping the birds.

IMG 6989

A few of my record shots.


IMG 0145



At around 8.20am, all three birds took flight and started to circle the Jubilee Wetlands. Slowly they started gaining height and eventually exited high, and in a North East direction.

I tried to capture this using the bridge camera.


Within minutes of the Spoonbills leaving, the sun put in an appearance and a couple of Long Horn cattle came over to check out what all the fuss had been about.

IMG 6990

Using the leg colour rings, the birds were relocated, arriving at Conwy RSPB, North Wales at 1.50pm.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

An interesting weekend

Friday after work, the weekend started in earnest. Pete and I set up near one of our local badger setts and hoped that one or two of the local badgers would put in an appearance. I’m trying to get a decent picture with my camera and flash, rather than just the black and white pictures from the IR trail camera. It wasn’t to be, but an interesting evening nevertheless.

Saturday morning and we had a wander about a local woodland, this is a great time of year for fungi, and I had a go at a few photographs.

IMG 6282

IMG 6270

IMG 6268

IMG 6316

Then, Saturday afternoon and a Great White Egret was reported on one of the local nature reserves. I rushed off to try and get what would be a site tick for me. I searched the reserve and even went to another nearby lake where I felt it may have sought refuge, but no luck. I did however take an interesting picture of a Little Egret by intentionally under exposing the picture.

IMG 6504

I suspected the Great White Egret would put another appearance in, and it was reported again at last light. I was back at the nature reserve for first light on Sunday morning and there it was, making the effort worthwhile. It was still quite dull as it was just getting light so I put the camera on the tripod. Before I was set up, a large flock of Canadas decided to vacate the pool. They made such as racket as they left, it spooked the GWE, and it too left the pool. 

I met up with Jon and we had a good walk around the area, eventually relocating the GWE back at the original sighting area. Light had now improved, but the bird was in a poor position between us and the Sun. It was so spooky and we knew approaching closer would again cause it to take flight, so we just attempted pictures from where we were.


I couldn’t let this opportunity for a picture pass either. It shows clearly the difference in size between Little and Great White Egrets, and the Heron was just an added bonus.

IMG 6642

These were about the best pictures I managed, the GWE remained very skittish and left the reserve many times spooked by Geese, dog walkers, traffic, photographers and light aircraft, returning back to the reserve many times. 

Spooked again!

IMG 6600