Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Monday, 30 March 2015

A strutting Grey Heron at Titchmarsh LNR.

Whilst very wary, when they do not feel threatened there is something a bit arrogant about Grey Herons as they slowly move around, each step measured and in slow motion, calculated and premeditated as they seek a suitable target for their next meal which could be a frog, a Duckling, a vole, a mole and even a Water Rail ........ these guys are voracious.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

An upwardly mobile Moorhen ...... social climber ?.

This Moorhen is In fact about ten feet above ground level to be precise picking bloom off a large shrub at the side of a reed bed.

But look at those claws, this bird is well equipped for scaling such hights. 

Its not the first time that I have witnessed this behaviour, I suspect that the bloom is probably quite a nice variation to it's typical diet.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

At last .... practice makes getting towards near perfect when photographing a Titchmarsh LNR Barn Owl.

Firstly  ....... a big thank you to the Barn Owl who came out well before sunset in superb light.

Taken from inside the Reserves Peter Scott hide, these are without doubt the best images I have ever achieved of a Barn Owl. Unfortunately, re-sizing the images for publication does have a slight impact on image quality.

There is not much more however that I can say, I'll let the images do the talking !.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Watching you watching me ...... GSW at Titchmarsh LNR ........

This fencing post close to the South hide at the Reserve is a popular perch for a male Great Spotted Woodpecker. 

At one point I had three of these birds squabbling in a tree at the same time, the woods are increasingly echoing with the sound of drumming as the season advances.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Many happy returns to Titchmarsh LNR's Barn Owls.

I just couldn't resist it ......

Yesterday evening ..... 17.40, not the best of light but the Owl was out and about well before sunset which suits my 300mm + 1.4 T.c. f4 lens combination.

Through observation and presence I am learning a lot about Barn Owl photography, one thing seems to stand out.

Be patient !

Wait until the bird is within your desired range before pressing the shutter release because as soon as the Owl hears the noise it will veer off and you rarely get a second chance once it knows where you are, after the first encounter I move to a completely different position on the reserve..

Titchmarsh LNR has a number of reed beds of various sizes that give these Owls quite a large Territory to hunt over so be as mobile as the bird in pursuit of additional photo opportunities.   

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Early evening floodlighting at Titchmarsh LNR.

This Grey Heron was illuminated by the setting sun bathing its under wings in glorious golden light.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Still working on Barn Owls, this evening at Titchmarsh LNR ....... Yey ! ...... a bit of progress.

...... Sunset due at 6.20 ........ I arrived at 5.30, light quality good, 300mm F4 Nikon with 1.4 T.c.  .... not the best for low light conditions.

I could hardly believe my eyes when this bird appeared immediately .... perfect, it was quartering all over the reed beds, I don't know if my camera settings are the best but the resultant images are getting there .... but not quite there yet !.

It should be easy to identify this bird in future as it has clearly lost a feather or two on its right wing.

What can be better than a Barn Owl hunting over my local reserve ..... fantastic and yet humbling.

With winter on its way out it's worth reflecting on the absence of a stunning winter migrant that didn't make it in any numbers to our shores this year .......

The arrival and number of winter Waxwings gracing our shores annually are dependent on many factors, the main one being the success of the berry harvest in their northern homelands.

Here in Northamptonshire the only heavily reported presence was a single bird in Corby, possibly the most photographed Waxwing in the country !.

What a difference to the winter of 2012 when flocks of one hundred plus were regularly seen in urban environments, funnily enough seeming to favour supermarket car parks with berry laden shrubs like cotoneaster.

This image was taken at Peterborough in 2012,  a veritable Christmas tree decked out with festive baubles.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Chiff Chaff - Chiff Chaff - Chiff Chaff ........ am I repeating myself ?, the bird does .....

Out and about yesterday good numbers of Chiffchaffs were in evidence both visually and vocally.

What smart, clean, birds they are as they hover and flit around the vegetation.

The next couple of weeks should increasingly see the return of our other summer migrant warblers too, can't wait.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

The sound of the sea ........

There are few other birds, perhaps Redshank, whose call sends shivers down my spine and cause the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up.

The Curlew, what a dignified bird this is, I believe that it is the largest of the waders that reside in our Islands.

Off topic, talk of the hairs on the back of your neck remind me of the origination of the British use of the word Rough neck.

Back in the Regency era upper crust '' Gentlemen '' had barbers who apart from shaving their faces also shaved the hair on the back of their necks, manual workers and the '' lower classes '' didn't have their necks shaved thus became Rough necks - nowadays the word is mainly used to describe workers in the oil exploration and drilling Industry.

Funny old world !.

The East Carlton Barn Owls ...... In brilliant, warm, late afternoon sunlight.

Are both fascinating and frustrating.

They are totally unpredictable  ........ but stunning !.

Out early ?, or out at dusk ?  .... where ? which part of this huge set aside field will they quarter ?.

These images were the best I got this eve, one of these evenings I will get it right  ........won't I  ? .......

Saturday, 21 March 2015

The whistler .......

These guys provide a constant background noise on the Reserve during the winter months, it won't be long before they depart these shores and return back to their breeding sites.

Friday, 20 March 2015

What a day ..... Solar eclipse, Spring Equinox, a fine spring day with strong light ......it doesn't get much better .......

So I thought I would go down to the reserve for some in flight images.

Of course its a set up, to the left of all of the images and cropped out is a seed feeder. 

It was a great afternoon to be down on the reserve, Chiff Chaffs calling, Water Rail squealing, Red Kites piercing the still air with their calls, Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming and Green Woodpeckers Yaffling, Dunnocks sorting out their promiscuous pecking order  ....... spring is here but sadly not quite yet our summer migrants. 

I wound up the ISO to give a shutter speed of 1/2500, fast enough to nearly freeze the action without too much detriment to image quality.

Who says that we don't have beautiful birds in the UK, colour galore ...........

What a glorious looking little lady

The female chaffinch, one of my favourite finches and a highly photogenic little poser.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

First rendez vous with a Rail .......

The reed beds at Titchmarsh LNR have traditionally always hosted a fair number of Water Rails, often heard but rarely seen these skulking little birds have a very private life style.

Imagine my surprise today, I had heard the reeds in front of the hide rustling on a number of occasions during my visit, I suspected that it was a Water Rail but had no expectations of seeing it ..... that sums up my track record with this species.

The temperature was dropping, the light was bad as the mist started to form, I was just about to call it a day when I looked down at a muddy puddle next to the reed beds right in front of the South hide.

No time to rub my eyes, straight onto the camera perched on a bean bag ....... 420mm lens combination full frame, I rattled off numerous shots, the bird kept on disappearing and then re-appearing over a five minute period at one point it had an energetic wing stretch before continuing to probe the mud with its bill.

Shooting from above is not ideal, but on the positive side it allowed me to get its legs and impressive claws into the images.

A regular viewer of my Blog and an excellent photographer, Douglas McFarlane, described the fourth image as the '' Ballet Dancer '' ... great title. 

A first and very special addition to the list of birds that I have photographed, a cracking red letter day for me.


Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Dunnock singing sweetly ........

This chap was putting his heart and soul into his performance atop a bramble patch but with plenty of competition in and around his selected territory.

Over the last few days it is noticeable that pre-nesting and breeding activity is significantly more visible among our resident birds ..... roll on the arrival of our summer migrants.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Oystercatcher .......... not many oysters here though.

These birds always bring a smile to my face in the same way that Puffins do, there is something about them that on the one hand is ungainly but on the other cries out character.

Either way always a joy to see at an inland site.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Cleared for take off ............

What a great sight and noise it is when a Mute Swan decides to get airborne, apart from the flapping noise as its wings beat against the surface of the water it has to sprint like Linford Cristie to get up to take off speed.

This image shows the splashes as its webbed feet flail the surface of the water to assist overcoming gravity and getting airborne which is not easy for one of our biggest birds, magnificent.   

Sunday, 15 March 2015

This bird has neck ......

..... and a lot of it.

This image was taken from the wooden bridge over the Moulton Grange Bay inlet at Pitsford Reservoir.

I was taking shots of a Little Egret when a young lady with a bridge camera approached me and asked me what it was.

I explained the history of the Little Egret in the UK and had just started telling her about the Great White when this fella flew in. An amazing coincidence.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

In the thick of it ......

Common as they are Wrens, in my experience, are very secretive and difficult to photograph as they flit about and dive into cover at the first sign of potential threat.

Lovely little birds.

Tchackdaw .....

The Jackdaw gets its name from its call.

A very successful generalist member of the Corvid family, population numbers are very much on the up.

We spend a lot of our time seeking out less common birds and tend to overlook everyday species  ( only recently did It occur to me that I do not have one image of a Magpie in my archives ! ), the Jackdaw is nevertheless quite a pretty bird with its pale grey eyes and grey '' hood ''.

Friday, 13 March 2015

One of, if not, our most widespread geese in the UK

Greylag geese are present at TLNR in numbers, whilst not my favourite birds I must admit that it is quite a spectacle as they leave at dusk for their overnight roost and the noise of their calls is very much evocative of winter to my ears.

A cheeky sideways glance ......

Marsh Tits have so much character and presence, I am lucky to have access to so many of them at my local feeding station at Grafton Park.

They are now so confiding that I am going to try a little experiment and see if they will feed from my hand ...... watch this space !.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Female Chaffinch standing to attention ........

Chaffinches are at home in so many different habitats, they really are very versatile birds.

Here this female was rummaging amongst the leaf litter when I caught  her eye, immediately she adopted an upright posture and weighed up any threat that I may pose, whilst not as colourful as the cock Chaffinch she is nevertheless a beautiful and subtly plumaged little lady.   

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

This chap is showing really well at Titchmarsh LNR

What clean lines the Great Spotted Woodpecker has, by this I mean the clear cut definition between the colours of its plumage.

This chap is being very showy at the moment, however I am not hearing any significant drumming. 

There are a number of regulars who visit the reserve, one of them, Rod, has recently put up some feeders next to the south hide, peanuts, mixed seed and Niger.

It hasn't taken the local birds long to find these sources of supplementary food. 

I don't usually do feeder images as I believe that they look unnatural, so I always select  birds before and after they arrive, it works for me.,                  

If you want close up views of a GSW, you now know where to go.

                               Easy, I can do this climbing stuff with my eyes shut.
                                          ....... I can also do it standing on one leg

A classic ..........

............ pose for a male Reed Bunting in early Spring, high and handsome establishing its territory and singing to make potential mates aware of its presence ........ Spring has arrived and so has an early trickle of summer migrants arriving back in the country to lift our seasonal experience, fantastic.

Monday, 9 March 2015


Out and about last weekend I came across a small number of Linnets in a mixed flock with Reed Buntings and Goldfinches.

With over half a million pairs in the United Kingdom they are considered common but nervous birds and difficult to approach thus surprisingly difficult to see and photograph. I doubt that I would have got these fairly close quarter images if I had not been in a hide.

They make a handsome couple though.