The first day of summer

The clocks moved forward  and I was up early and at Cresswell Pond at 5.45 first light. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky but it was a little cold, -3 in fact as I parked the car.  There was no rare birds around but some very nice commoner species.  Notably red breasted mergansers, teal, lapwing, kestrel,golden plover  and snipe , secretive in the reed bed to name a few. All these species have vibrant colours and make great photographs.

These species can be seen at most reserves and are well worth a look.

Red Breasted Merganser
Red Breasted Merganser
Teal
Teal
Common Snipe
Common Snipe
Kestral
Kestral

Saltholm RSPB Reserve

I have been away in Yorkshire Working for a few days. On my way home I called in at the new visitor centre at Saltholm which is just north of Middlesborough. The centre is very good has a nice cafe and shop and very pleasant staff. The reserve is  bit new with bare ground and newly filled pools. I am sure when the reserve starts to mature it will be a special place. Of course there is the original pools with the birds.

It was a very windy day with rain and hailstones to contend with The hailstones came down like bullets and fair rattled my old ears, so I had a coffee and a couple of custard creams and let it pass. I walks around the site the hides are very good big windows and the traditional open hide type windows.

The birds present where the usual tufted, shoveler, mallard, snipe, curlew, redshank, coot, moorhen mute swan, graylag goose, canada goose, blue tit, coal tit, reed bunting, dunock, etc, etc, etc.

The photography was proving difficult out side  because of the wind, it virtually impossible to keep the 500mm lens steady, which limited me to the hides which were full of people, some of them very noisy which pushed the birds further way from the hide.

I was watchng a pair fo eed buntings feeding down a bank, keeping out of the wind and manged to get some reasonable shots. It was getting very sunny at times which caused some exposure problems and compensation of 1.5 stops was required to get the whites right.

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Wild Scotland Winter 2008 Photographic Competition Winner

I got an e-mail from Caroline Warburton at Wild Scotland informing me that I had won their winter photographic competition for 2008. The winning picture is of a waxwing taken in Musselburgh, Lothian, Scotland earlier this year.

I am absolutely delighted with the news and I think it will spur me on to do bigger and better things

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Cresswell Pond NWT Northumberland

I was at Cresswell Pond again today, you’ve probably realised its a favorite site of  mine. The site is 60  miles from home and its at the bottom end of my patch,

The targets today were the barn owl of course, water rail and if there are any, whooper swans. The whoopers are difficult to get good composition in the picture because they usually stick close together, other problems can be right light burning out the white feathers, so exposure id critical.

8:30am  I arrived at Cresswell there is a gap in the reeds near to the road and the first thing I see is whooper swans. So I started from the road side. It was very sunny and the light was brilliant for photography. My set up was the 500mm f4 on the tripod with the 50d camera. I took a few test shots and decided to underexpose  by 1.5 stops to get detail in the white feathers. I moved on to the hide

I don’t normally come here at weekends because its a popular place and the  noise disturbance from people in the hide can high and moves the birds away usually just too far. The hide is a very good design and construction but its made of wood. People come in and generally bang about getting set up and the birds move off. So if you are using a public hide please try and be quiet and gentle with you movements, you will see the birds closer if you do.

It was a quiet morning I was the only person in the hide , the whooper swans came close and the little grebes again were very obliging. On the right of the hide about 10 meters away the water rail was feeding at the edge of the readbed. It was to far away really but I had a go and managed to get some

Whooper Swans
Whooper Swans

Whooper Swans
Whooper Swans

Cresswell Pond NWT Northumberland

I was ot again to day with the new lens, I went t Cresswell Pond NWT reserve. I was hoping to see the eric barn owl, he’s the resident brn owl and is usually quite reliable hunting during he day. But not today. I was on site from around 12.30pm until 6:30pm  when the lite went. I sat in the hide ll afternoon. The light wasn’t the best but every now and again the sun broke through. There was very little close to the hide but a pair of red breasted mergansers came near, feeding on the sticklebacks in the shallow water. A couple of teal cam close also as the sun was shining and got some reasonable pictures of them.

I was experimenting with the Canon 500mm F4 L IS USM lens and ISO speeds. Its taking a little getting use to but I’m sure I will settle into using it. I also have a Canon 300mm F2.8 lens I got just before Christmas, it took a while to get used to  also.

I’ve posted some of the picture, see for yourself and let me know what you think

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Terrorists on the Lammermuir Hills?????????

I got a new toy today, a Canon 500mm f4 L IS USM lens. Its broke the bank but its great piece of kit. I went up onto the Lammermuir Hills in Lothian which is about half an hour from my house. It was late in the afternoon when I finally got to where is was going which is a small quarry hole at the side of the road above Longformacus. I have photographed the grouse here before and there was a pair of grouse and the male was very aggressive.

I use the car as a hide and I wear a camo balaclava mainly because I have hair cut like Eric Morecambe and camo gloves to cover my hands as the flash of the back of the hand can s are the birds away.

I was just getting the camera set up when a police car came along side, he wound his window down and asked me what I was doing, I suppose it must have looked strange.

I said ” do you think I’m a terrorist?”

“nothing would surprise me” he said

I told him I was a wild life photographer and that I was about to take some pictures of the grouse. I don’t think he was over convinced but he went away anyway.

The male grouse was where he usually was with is mate. I played the male call on my i pod and his head came up out of the heather. His eyebrows erect and looking fabulous in the late afternoon sun

Cattle Egret, Strathaven, Clyde

I got news on my pager from Rarebird Alert of a great white egret near to Strathaven in the Clyde region. I don’t  normally go this far for a single bird but the weather forecast was good with sunshine most of the day so I thought I would risk it.

The drive was 3 hours and I got there at 1.30pm. The site is was on is at Gilmourton Pools which is 4 miles south west of Strathaven. I got out of the car just in time to see the rrear end of the bird disappearing down Avon Water.

Marvelous………

So I had a cup of coffee and a custard cream or two and waited… and waited… and waited. To other people turned up and we all
waited… and… waited and after another hour the egret came back and few around over our heads and settled on the wetland giving us good views although a little distant.

Other birds present were teal c70 wigeon c24, mallard, buzzard, redshank, lapwing.

So at the end of the day it was worth going to see the bird and I managed to get some good pictures of it.

Great White Egret
Great White Egret

Welcome to my blog

This blog is an account of my excursions photographing wildlife in my area. Most of my photography is of wild birds.

You will see as  the blog develops that I don’t always get it right. one thing for sure though is that I have a good time while I’m on my travels.

If you want to comment or discuss anything you read or see, please feel free to come on in.

Ron