28 Nov 2008

My Local Patch Killard Nature reserve again!!! and a photogenic Greenshank

I came home from work at about midday and it was absolutely beautiful so grabbed the camera and dog and headed out to Killard. The tide was high which meant that any waders should have been pushed upto the shoreline. I generally do a loop of about two and a half miles which takes me out to Ben Derg Beach and then I follow the coast back to the car. As there were cows in a field I cross I decided to stick to the shoreline and I put up a snipe.I rapidly fired off a few shots at it but this was the only one in focus. They move pretty fast. it always surprises me in open ground how one rarely sees the bird before it gets up. They are well camouflaged.

The wind was pretty strong and it was about 5ºC so pretty chilly similar to a couple of days earlier that I had been out when I thought I saw an otter in the sea. I moved round to where I had seen it and then I saw it on a little island that appears at low tide. I moved to within about 30 yards and and it promptly curled up and went to sleep on top of some seaweed.

Well I waited for nearly an hour for it to wake up and hopefully get some shots of it. At about an hour my hands were so cold that I gave up.
I had brought gloves with me this time. There were alot of Common Gulls flying into the wind and some were feeding on the shoreline.

The Redshanks were also flying off in alarm as I approached. Their call seems to be far too noisy for the threat that they are under.

I found an area to lie down on the seaweed and start photographing the Purple Sandpipers and Turnstones. You can get remarkably close to both of these birds if you creep forward and lie still for any amount of time. I have in the past have had them as close as four feet and this was with my dog in the background.

As I was lying there I heard the alarm call of a Greenshank some way away and was delighted that it landed about twenty yards further down the shoreline from me and then made its way towards me walking in and out of the surf and feeding. Now a Greenshank is a bird that on the whole is pretty shy and not easy to get close to. So I was pretty pleased with the following shots.

Now Pickle had been very patient waiting behind me for over an hour and her patience ran out and she decided to go into the water and all the birds flew off.

I headed home stopping off at a little bay which can be brilliant for waders and I wasn't disappointed. There were Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Greenshank, Redshank, Curlew, Turnstones and Brent Geese. So I went out into the bay as the tide was falling fast and got some shots of Dunlin and Golden Plover.

If you click on any photos they come up in a seperate screen.

The other Bird News I have is that i was sent a copy of Birdguides British Birds Video Guide - 270 species edition

For this new British Birds guide on DVD Birdguides have started from the ground up, selecting the very best footage from hundreds of hours in their film library, much of it recently captured on HD cameras. It is their flagship edition running over 16 hours and covering 270 species on 4 DVDs. With all-new commentaries by Dave Gosney, revised maps, songs, calls and the use of freeze frames and split screen to help explain identification points.

I was sent it because they used my photos of Sooty Shearwater and Great Shearwater in the DVD. So pretty pleased with that!!

6 Nov 2008

A Very Bizarre Experience with a Wren.

I got up at 7.ooam on Sunday as the sun was coming into my room and I thought I would head out to Killard with my dog "Pickle" and my camera. It was a fantastic autumn morning with strong sunlight and clear blue sky. When I got there everything was singing. There seemed to be large numbers of Skylarks which have recently arrived and there were Linnets everywhere as well as Goldfinches and Meadow Pipits.

I initially just walked as there was no bird coming close enough to photograph until I came across some Wrens singing.I have to say I love the Wren. It is one of our most common birds and one of the smallest. (Not quite as small as the Goldcrest but close) I think it is reckoned there are around 8.5 million breeding pairs. Also for a bird of its size it has a remarkably loud song. I find Wrens one of the hardest birds to photograph and until this day have only one not very good image of a wren sitting on a barbed wire fence. The moment you focus on them they seem to move and one can rarely get one with a clean background.Today I was lucky I had the really bright sun behind me so I was even getting a catchlight in the eye. The catchlight is very important in bird photography in my opinion and can often make or break a photograph.

Well I took loads of photos of it before continuing on my circuit around Killard. I saw for about the third day running a Merlin,which I cannot get close enough to photograph as well as the solitary Grey Plover which has spent the last four winters here. I then headed home.

Now for the Bizarre bit!!!!Forward to yesterday: After I returned from work I was having a look at the photos on my computer of the Wren and going delete delete delete as one after the other was either out of focus or had a stick in front of it or it didn't have a catchlight or the head angle was wrong. As I was processing the three reasonable images on Adobe Lightroom I heard a Wren singing right next to me. My first thought was that my bird recordings on my itunes had suddenly switched on, then the song sounded again slightly to my left and I wondered whether birding had gone to my head and I was going mad. Then I looked down on the floor and blow me there was a wren sitting and singing on the floor right beside me. As I moved it flew back out into the kitchen and out through the open dogflap!!!!!!