My Rare Bird Alert pager went off ant noon, it told me of a pair of garganey at Druridge Pools in North Northumberland. I had fisnished whar I had to do so I went down to see them and hopefully photograph them.
It took an hour to drive down and I arked up got the gear ready and went to the nearest hide. It was gettng quite windy I scanned the first pool and there they where, a little distant but a magnificent pair of garganey. I watched them for a while and took some pictures of these lovely ducks.
The little egret was still present again a little distant but showing well.
Other species present were teal, shelduck, heron, snipe, redshank single black-tailed godwit sheltered behid a tussock from the wind. A pair of magpies were feeding around the hide and a small flockof goldfinch ere feeding in the field. There has been a latg influx of meadow pipits recentey and there was good numbers around the pools.
The site is manged by the Northumberland Wildlife Trust and they keep it very well.
I went down to Druridge Pools which is a nature reserve at Druridge Bay. It was incredibly windy and more than a little cold. I had heard rare bird alert pager that there was a little egret on the pools along with two garganey. I parked up and went to the nearest his which was open sided and not nice to be in because of the wind. I scanned the pools nearest to the hide, there was a lot of teal and redshank, with an odd shelduck and gadwall. But no sign of the garganey. The egret was on the back pool and quickly flew off to the pool on the far left of the reserve. I walked round to the far hide and opeed a window to see the egret just in front of the hide. I got a few shots at close range but he egret flew off to the left hand side of the hide. It stayed a few more minutes then few off to where it started from when I first arrived.
I was up very early this morning, 4:00am. I wanted to get some pictures of hares boxing. I had been watching a area for some time and new it held a large head of hares. I got on site at 5.15am in the dark got myself set up and waited for the hares to turn up. It was a nice morning the sunset was beautiful. hares came and went, just singles and that was the norm all morning. I got some shots but none of them boxing.
Whilst I was waiting for the hares to appear, yellowhammer came along with grey partridge again. I havnt seen greys for years then I see two in consecutive days. I managed to get some good shots at close quarters after crawling around in the hedgerows.
At 11.30am i gave up on the hares and went up to the Lammermuir Hills at a place called Horseupcleugh to hopefully get some flight shots of red grouse. I have posted the results of the day below.
What a good day a flask of coffee and a bag of custard creams and all this.
I took a little walk down the lane with the 300mm f2.8 lens just to se what I could find. I was hoping for a hare of two, preferably boxing….well you can live in hope. I saw this pheasant in the bottom field strutting about and crowing towards the ladies. I was quite impressed with his colours and his crowing.
I was in Selkirk today and passed an area which was holding grey hares, so I stopped for a while and got some pictures. I was hoping to get them boxing but it didnt happen. Alao on site was yellowhammer, reed bunting, and in the next field, grey partridge which are quite rare these days. On the way back home I came accross a couple of roe deer, one of which was a nice little stag.
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.
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.
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
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
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