No trip to the moon I’m afraid but I was taken out by The Biggest Twitch team to the ends of the Earth.
One of the birds I’ve always wanted to photograph well has been Black Grouse and, a short while ago, I had a message from the Biggest Twitch team about trips to see this bird lekking. I’ve seen lekking birds before but they’ve always been miles away or I had no camera. A drive to Llandudno after work on Tuesday night and I’d be ready for an early start after my chosen prey. The weather on Tuesday had been stunning and I was hoping that the predicted mist and rain would arrive later in the day. Well the rain held off but the mist didn’t.
We had driven up to our spot in the pitch dark and passed a cyclist on the Moors before 06.00… where was he going and did he make it? We certainly passed no accident sites so I suppose he did. He must be mad… the again so must we!
As we pulled up the birds were already down to business. It’s strange and beautiful listening to the bubbling and hissing calls in the pitch dark. As the dawn broke we kept getting breaks in the mist but once I used the telephoto lens it just emphasized how misty it was.
I was shooting at 1600ISO to try and get anything and while the photos are pretty rubbish the morning certainly wasn’t. I probably spent more time actually watching the lek (and listening). Never a bad thing.
By 07.00 the show was over as the birds whizzed off over the moors to do their thing. We had a brew and started to drop down off the tops. A cracking Dipper was singing from a ford in the road and we managed a few half-decent shots. The light was still low and 1600ISO was still the name of the game.
After a stop in Llangollen, more Dipper and a small group of Goosander we headed west for a cooked breakfast. No17 came highly recommended and was soon demolished.
On to our next stop, a Hawfinch site. After a good hour and an a half we were rewarded with some excellent views but distant, digiscoped photos of these stunning finches.
At the same site we witnessed behaviour I don’t think any of us had expected… a Buzzard coming to bread. We expect it of duck but a raptor? Here is proof that Buzzard really are omnivorous.
Our final stop didn’t yield a Firecrest but no matter. I’d had an excellent day.
My thanks go to Alan and Ruth at The Biggest Twitch for organizing my day out. If you want a cracking day’s birding in North Wales or further afield contact Alan and Ruth via their website The Biggest Twitch or click on any of the underlined links on this post.
Posted in Bird Watching, Birding, British Birds, Canon 40D, Digiscoping, Kowa 883, Nikon P310, Photography, Photoshop
Tagged Black Grouse, Buzzard, Dipper, Goosander, The Biggest Twitch
After being pissed about mostly by other drivers skidding around on the Snow yesterday, I decided to use up some annual leave and take a ‘snow day.’ Once the madness had died down I decided to take a look at Watermead Country Park to see if there were any Woodcock showing. There were none from Kingfisher Hide, the usual spot so I decided to go and have a wander round and get some patch ticks for the year.
As is usual in snow and hard weather – otherwise shy birds start to ignore us and concentrate on food. The thrushes were fond of the Rosehips along the main approach road. One of these images was digiscoped if you can tell?
There were 20 Goosander on John Merrick’s lake including this 1W male.
So, nothing too special but after neglecting my Foot It due to idleness it was nice to do a bit of birding.
Posted in Bird Recording, Bird Watching, Birding, Canon 40D, Digiscoping, Kowa 883, Photography, Photoshop, Soar Valley, Watermead Country Park
Tagged Blackbird, Fieldfare, Goosander, Snow
After last night’s Drunkbirder’s curry it was time to get out and do my WeBS count this morning. I met up with Dave for a bit of breakfast and headed out to Birstall Meadows. Probably 90% of the water was frozen so another quick counting day. Best bird was a City tick in the shape of a fly-over Egyptian Goose that was picked up by Dave as I counted Gulls.
Dave and I then moved on to Watermead North and Birstall to do his Duck count… thankfully over 60% of Dave’s section was iced over too. On the free areas 29 Goosander were the pick of the bunch but the Shoveler always entertain.
Over on Wanlip Meadows it looks like the scrape is starting to fill… and ice over. A flock of 65 Linnet was pretty impressive though.
A few Goosander had joined the birds and this male was having a good wash and preen. Stunning birds!
The second phone call this morning was from Ken Goodrich telling me the Black Redstart was showing well on the new Hallam Fields estate. After a few minutes the bird came in a showed well. The locals seem pretty interested too so I took the chance to plug birds, birding and LROS.
A phone call from Mick Braker this morning had me heading to Key Lakes for the redhead Smew he’d found. I had passed on the news to Dave Gray and Pete Jessop. Dave was coming back as I arrived, happy to pull a bird back.
The Smew kept it’s distance but did have a little fly around allowing a few ‘closer’ record shots.