29 Sep 2008

My Local Patch Killard. A Close encounter with a Peregrine and one of my Best ever finds out at Killard.

For those that are new to the world of blogging if you click on a photo it will open in another window.

A few days ago I got home from work and as it was a beautiful September day I grabbed the camera and then the dog and headed out to Killard. I stopped off on the way at a little bay between Strangford and Killard which can be really good for waders. There were Golden Plover, Greenshank, Dunlin,

Bar Tailed Godwit,
Ringed Plover,
and Curlew
all feeding as the tide went out.

There feeding was soon to be stopped as a Peregrine came in low from behind me over my head with a great whoosh of air as it passed overhead and tried to catch a Redshank to no avail. It then climbed high into the sky before diving back into the mass of waders flying in total panic in every direction. Yet again it failed to connect with a bird and then headed out into the Strangford Narrows.

My first frustration of the day was that I had my 1.4 extender on my 400mm lens which is not as quick to autofocus as the lens on its own so even though I photographed alot of the action only one image was sharp.

With most of the waders moving off I headed on over to Killard. I first of all took Pickle along the shoreline and let her have a swim.

We then headed up onto the small plateau above Killard. There were Goldfinches everywhere and with one flock probably in excess of two hundred birds.

There were also large numbers of linnets. On the plateau there are a large number of gorse bushes and I thought I would try my luck at photographing Wrens, of which I have very few images. They respond fairly well to spishing. The light was perfect but did any show close up to me. In a word NO. One appeared about twenty yards away before diving back into the bushes and then another for a brief moment directly in line with the sun. So I gave up and decided to photograph the spiders that have large spider webs amongst the gorse. However with my 400 f5.6 lens the minimum focus distance is quite far so I had to use some extension tubes to make the lens focus closer. The only problem with this is that it means that focusing on something further away is not possible.

Pickle was searching away in the gorse and suddenly she flushed a bird I have not seen since my childhood in Donegal, a Corncrake. It flew over the other side of the gorse and dropped down. Sod's law that I had my extension tubes on and couldn't focus on it. I then removed the tubes and walked around to the other side of the gorse and was just phoning a friend to tell them about the Corncrake when Pickle put it up again and this time I had the camera hanging off my shoulder and yet again didn't get a shot. Aaargh!!!!!!!! I looked for it for quite a while but no luck.

I then headed back down to the shore and started to photograph a flock of Turnstones.

All in all a brilliant birding afternoon.

Postscript: I was talking to Brian Black Ulster Television's Environment Correspondent about the Corncrake and he heard it while walking his dog the following day.