Sunday, 31 May 2015

A post from a favourite post.

Resizing this image has unfortunately not done justice to the original, it would be nice to post the original 2.98 mb. version but that would take up too much space on the blog.

Both Male and Female use this perch before flitting across to a peanut feeder placed near to the hide.

They have become very confiding over the last couple of months and, whilst remaining alert, take little or no notice of the bursts of noise from the shutter release.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Lovely little Lady Blackcap.

At this time of year with all of the Shrubbery heavily foliaged getting an opportunity to capture images of these little characters are few and far between.

Sadly the light quality was not helpful but the image is worthy of posting.

A little scruff ......

To me, Coal Tits always look as if they need a bit of a wash and brush up, they certainly don't have the clean lines of their cousins like Great and Blue Tits.

Still ...... I recently saw one looking in a mirror next to my garden feeders so there is hope yet. 

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

A very confiding Chiffchaff ........

.... paused for a few seconds on a nearby twig for just long enough for me to rattle off a few images before it flitted away back on its journey.

We seem to have a lot of Chiffchaffs on the reserve this year.

We also have good numbers of Willow Warblers which brings me to the question of identification, its not foolproof but I tend to go on leg colour, black for Chiffchaffs and pink for Willow Warblers. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Shoveler .......

..... Ducks are present in greater numbers this May than in previous years, these Ducks are designed for upending and filter feeding sieving the water for invertebrates.

There is something ungainly about Shovelers but I do quite like them. 

They are pretty feisty and protect their territories with passion with the Drakes chasing off competition with verve and energy.

I do hope that they will breed successfully in the Peter Scott pit, they certainly seem to be going through the motions.

A classic Reed Warbler pose.

The hide that I use to photograph these chaps is slightly elevated which allows me to look down into the reed beds to take my images rather than having to shoot through the reeds from the side.

This has two benefits.

Firstly, when a bird is close and active I can see the reeds quivering as it moves about which greatly helps me to locate it and be prepared when eventually it shimmies up a reed stem, secondly it reduces the amount of reeds in the foreground which can obscure the bird and confuse the auto-focus.

It works for me.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Take your marks, get set .........

These juvenile Coots were hugely entertaining this morning, the Parents were looking after and feeding their brood of four although clearly the youngsters were more than able to dive and find their own weed and consume.

They really are very attractive little birds, more attractive than their parents in my opinion and they were being very inquisitive and coming within fifteen feet of me with little concern being expressed.

Plenty of swimming and walking about in the margins with some vigorous flapping of their developing wings. 

All in all it was quite an intimate experience.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Reluctant Whitethroat ........

This guy was a very unwilling subject, skulking in the foliage albeit fairly high up and only partially showing most of the time.

This image was as good as it got on a fairly quiet outing overall.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

No, it's not an image of the Titchmarsh bird ........

Reports of a Spotted Flycatcher at the Reserve certainly raise the pulse rate a bit though.

An uncommon visitor for us, I think I'll be paying a visit today to see if I can connect with it depending on the weather !. 

The image above is hopefully what I hope to see.

NB .......... Sadly I dipped,  ah well, that birding for you. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Back to bed ..........

...... well, the reed beds to be precise.

Reed Warblers are at a high level of activity in the reed beds at the moment, flitting about, chasing each other and arguing about territories.

Some birds are still nest building whilst others are feeding their broods.

And they chatter away constantly.

What I have noticed is that on occasions the reed beds suddenly fall silent.

I always look around to see if there is a raptor in the vicinity but have never been able to see one.

Then just as quickly as the silence descended the chattering starts again, very curious.

The South hide at TLNR is slightly elevated which allows you to look down into the beds rather than through them from the side, this greatly assists photography.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Just Driftin'.

We have more than our fair share of Red Kites on the reserve, together with Buzzard, Sparrowhawks, Kestrel, seasonal Hobby Hawks and the occasional Osprey flyover.

Its certainly always worth scanning the sky and electricity pylons on a regular basis.

..... add Barn, Tawny and Little Owls, not a  bad headcount of Raptors for a relatively small local Nature Reserve !

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

A beak full of bugs ..........

Its a very busy time of year for parents feeding their chicks, fortunately we seem to be having a bumper year when it comes to insect life which will hopefully lead to birds having multiple broods.

I can't recall seeing so many Mayfly nymphs on the wing along the banks of the River Nene as there are this year, its really entertaining to watch Chaffinches '' fly catching '' them from the top of nearby shrubs.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Meal time .......

Not the most attractive of offspring with its emerging stumpy wings but nevertheless quite cute.

This young Moorhen and its siblings seem to be doing very well with a busy Mother in constant attendance to their needs.

With Pike in the gravel pits and predators overhead I wish them well.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Love is in the air ........

......... well it certainly is for Swifts who mate on the wing.

I was watching these two Swifts who were flying into the wind and by Swift standards relatively slowly, they flew closer and closer in a synchronised pairing until, with fixed wings, they covered each other.

I can only conclude that they were mating.

I've read about it in the books, but never expected to witness the act. 

Busy birds ........

Seasonal fayre but worthy of maximum exposure.

The plumage of Reed Warblers is totally in harmony with the reed beds in which they live and breed, they melt into the background but at the same time vocalise their presence with attitude.

Some birds are still nest building whilst others are already energetically feeding broods.

Insect life is very apparent at the moment with Mayfly nymphs on the wing in extraordinary numbers.

This season could turn out to be a bumper year with multiple broods, lets hope so.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Back to Basics ......

Well,  after the exotic images of Common Cranes over the reserve yesterday its back to basics.

This Blackbird was totally unfazed by my presence and really was posing for me.

In the catwalk world models certainly go for the '' over the shoulder '' look, and this bird entering the spirit of things albeit looking in the wrong direction.

Songbirds like Nightingales, Blackcaps and Song Thrushes get a lot of compliments, this species is not far off holding a position in the '' top ten '' of  chart toppers when it comes to vocals.

Friday, 15 May 2015

What the ....

.......... I had to rub my eyes this morning.

Two Common Crane were circling high over the reserve at 10.30 departing in the direction of Thorpe Waterville, they returned at 11.10 and gained a lot of height soaring on thermals before again heading off over Thorpe Waterville.

Now this was a very unexpected surprise for TLNR, I got the following record shots below just to prove I was not hallucinating. 

I don't know how many birds represent the UK population, over the last five years approximately one hundred have been re-introduced in and around the Somerset levels as part of the '' Great Crane project ''.

On closer inspection one of the birds was ringed with a combination of white, red and blue ring colours on its leg.

Subsequent enquiries with the Great Crane Project identified the bird as '' Beatrice '',  a captive-bred bird who was hatched on 28th April 2011 and released into the wild on 22nd August 2011.

Having overflown Titchmarsh LNR on the Friday she and her un-ringed companion were sighted on the Ouse washes the following Monday.

                                                              Heavy Crop

                                                                Heavy Crop 

a glint in the eye ......

Common Terns are back in force with their squabbling keee-yaah call as they fly around the reserve.

I always find them easier to photograph over the River Nene as they tend to fly within the confines of the river banks whereas they can be very unpredictable and distant over the gravel pits.

A very welcome addition to our summer species.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Reed beds are quivering ........

...... with Reed Warblers from the South Hide.

I made an early start with a view to connecting with the Hobbys, clearly no one had told them I was coming as they didn't really put in an appearance.

These fellas however made up for it and put on a great show for me.

The best laid plans of mice and men !

Looking better than they sound .......

I have a love / hate relationship with Greylag Geese, in good light however you have to admit that they have quite a physical and visual presence.

One activity makes me scratch my head.

Why do they take off ?, do a circuit and return to where they started from with no apparent reason or threat.

Very odd ......  I can assure you however that I have no plans to get into the heads of these birds and become a '' Goose whisperer ''.     

Monday, 11 May 2015

A Swift image ...... and a word of warning ...... always check your camera settings !

......  last weekend I went out with the objective of getting a few Hobby images and I couldn't understand why the auto focus was playing up.

Surely not another expensive return to the Nikon service centre !

Logic prevailed, brain was engaged and sure enough the problem was traced to an elementary error, somehow I had knocked the metering switch to spot rather than centre weighted which is my preferred setting for in flight shooting.

I then targeted some Swifts, the images are o.k., but again I need to hone my technique to improve images of these fast flying charmers as they scream through the sky, it was nice to get some eye contact.

You live and learn.

Best in flight of the day ....... an '' X-ray '' image of the birds wing structure.

I went down to the reserve today with the sole intention of capturing some Hobby images, sadly they were very high up chasing their food sources so no joy there then.

Birding is however always a question of making the most of what presents themselves for an image.

And this Little Egret didn't disappoint.

Love it, great light, tip to tail focus .... the only thing missing was a background to give perspective to the shot.

What a great finish to the day.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Not much improvement on the earlier one ..... very testing !.

Good news, foliage free ....... bad news, still very distant for my lens.

They are however cracking birds to be blessed with on the reserve and in greater numbers than last year.

We certainly have one female and at least three males on site.

What is their relationship ..... any pair bonding ?....they  don't build nests and don't feed their chicks, absent parents.  

As is my wont I now digress .......  the word  '' cuckold '' historically, from as early as 1250, referred to  a husband with an adulterous wife and is still often used with this meaning. In evolutionary biology, the term cuckold is also applied to males who are unwittingly investing parental effort in offspring that are not genetically their own.

However you look at it,  Cuckoos are intriguing birds !.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Distant record shot of ......

..... a Cuckoo from the south hide at the reserve.

A bit distant for my 420mm lens combination and therefore a bit '' soft ''. At one point both male and female were '' in frame '' fluttering about but, as is so often the case with these birds, obscured by foliage.

( It strikes me that bird photography is a bit like cookery ..... if a vegetable is '' in season '' you make the most of it  preparing dishes that feature its availability  ..... if a particular seasonal bird species is present in numbers we make the most of it and post images of them with great frequency ...... ). 

My current favourite seasonal species are Hobby Hawks, Cuckoo ..... and all Warblers.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Hobby Hawks galore at Titchmarsh LNR ........

What a sight, seven Hobby’s in the air at the same time from the perimeter footpath at the south hide, gliding, diving, changing direction on a sixpence, what majestic flyer's these raptors are as they chase their prey of Swallows and Dragonflies.

I suspect that the actual number in the area is quite a lot more.

The location of the south hide is roughly equidistant between the reserve and Town Lake Thrapston so it is possibly a bit of a hot spot.

The light quality was excellent catching the under wings very nicely with good eye contact.

The buff underparts and absence of '' red trousers '' suggest that this is a first summer bird ( I could be wrong ).

Thursday, 7 May 2015

First images of the year ........

I think that the sheep grazing the reed bed margin grass in front of the Peter Scott hide at the reserve must have attracted this female Yellow Wagtail.

Mayflies are on the reserve in big numbers this year to the point that they are almost an irritant when walking around, but good for parents feeding their broods, this year could be a bumper year for breeding birds.

I don't know if it is the lighting but it seems  to have a more pronounced eye stripe than I recall seeing on Yellow Wagtails in the past.

                                     And who do you think you're looking at ! 

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Bank holiday reed bed bird ......

The reedbeds at TLNR are alive with Reed Warblers at the moment.

And where there are Reed Warblers, Cuckoos will not be far away.

A male Cuckoo was very vocal and flitting about in the trees at the back of the reed beds at the South hide, frustratingly the bird always seemed to  manage to perch distantly and with foliage partly obscuring it.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

From the reed beds yesterday ......

This Reed Warbler was being very coy, generally speaking they never really get more '' showy '' on a regular basis until the pressure is on and they are feeding young in the nest.

I love the colour and texture of reed beds, this rather frayed around the edges, Peacock Butterfly just looked good on a Phragmite today. What a contrast, the deep rich colours of the Butterfly and the somewhat neutral colours of the reeds.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Another Chiffchaff ........

Normally I try to avoid reeds and vegetation in front of birds as they generally detract from the subject. 

However in this case I think the colour and angle of the reeds compliment the image and contribute to the feel of the overall setting and background habitat  of the photograph.

Overall focus of the bird is consistent from its beak to the tip of its tail and the black legs in the fore are also very well defined.

For me, a very pleasing result, I don't get it right very often.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

The fly is a bonus .......

A classic woodpecker pose with its claws just gripping the top of this fence post and beak upturned..

What an inquisitive look this Green Woodpecker has deciding what to do next ...... he stuck around for quite a long time and then did a bunk.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Anonymous ?

Some say this bird is featureless - I like them very much precisely because they are unassuming, have an enchanting song and are difficult to connect with.

The Garden Warbler is not rare, it is however very reclusive so to get one out in the open singing strongly is a treat, lovely !.   

I wish I could take a leaf out of this particular book, or should I say image.

There are plenty of Sedge Warblers at Titchmarsh LNR and in general I think we are doing very well at the reserve this year for summer migrants in so far as Nightingales, Warblers, Cuckoos and Hobby Hawks are concerned.

Getting a clear shot at warblers is however always a challenge in view of their preferred habitat, they just seem to have an innate capacity to perch with foliage in the frame that not only impacts the quality of the image but confuses the auto-focus particularly in windy conditions.

Its always a challenge and a joy to try and get it right.