16 May 2009

American Wigeon (Lifer) and some Black Guillemots and a small RSPB update.

Earlier in the week I decided that as the American Wigeon that had been found at the Ballycarry Bridge near Larne about a week earlier was still around I should go and see it. I finished work and headed to the bridge. When I got there the tide was right out and I scanned both sides but to no avail. Lots of Shelduck,a few Curlew and when I looked over the side of the causeway I flushed four Whimbrel and annoyingly my camera was in the car so didn't get any shots. I was feeling slightly miffed that I hadnt seen the bird I was looking for so decided on one last scan when I noticed a Mallard asleep fairly close to the road and just beyond it almost completely hidden was the American Wigeon. No 437 to the life list. I use the Facebook Birdwatching app to create my Lifelist.

On Thursday I went along to Bangor Marina to see if I could get some shots of Black Guillemot. When I arrived I walked along the pier and noticed these Gull footprints in the concrete.

There was one Black Guillemot on the pier and about 20 in the water.
They are both easy and difficult to photograph. Easy in that they are not shy birds but difficult because of exposure. They have a very bright white patch on their wings and are extremely dark on the rest of the bird. An exposure nightmare.

They were mostly in pairs and displaying to each other. I watched one dive and it seemed to spend ages under water before reappearing. I decided to time their trips underwater and they ranged from 45 secs to 85secs and on one occasion this bird popped up with a very small Plaice.

This bird was calling to another that had just gone into the water.

I moved away from the main harbour down Ballyholme Road and saw this Rock Pipit collecting food for its young.

As I particularly like to photograph Birds in Flight I wasted many shots attempting to get a decent one. This is my best effort and I have cloned out a ring on his leg. These birds have been monitored and ringed for years by Julian Greenwood , who is on the main RSPB Council.

Talking of the RSPB I was very happy to hear that Anthony Mcgeehan's brother Gerard had received a letter from them saying that they were happy for him to work for the contractors on the Belfast Harbour Reserve after all. Also that Anthony's wife had been to a meeting with them and is going to continue to do the books for Reserve. Not what they were expecting I suspect. All power to her.

Last night I went to a party that the Belfast Harbour Reserve Volunteers had organised for Anthony and Mairead. There were twenty of us and it was a great night if tinged by a little sadness. There used to be a real sort of family atmosphere at the Hide amongst the volunteers and Anthony. David Lindsay gave a nice speech, he had known Anthony for nearly 40 years. Anthony responded and told everybody what he was upto. He was doing a Dawn Chorus for WWT at castle Espie today. Next week he is doing a Birdwatching Course on Inishbofin. Co Galway There are a few places available and you can book on the Dolphin Hotel website HERE and he is in the process of getting ready for the launch of his new book that is being published by the "Sound Approach" in a few months time. Hopefully he will let me review it here. I will be biased of course!!!


Alan Tilmouth said...

Just about to 'invest' in some upgraded camera kit. What set up are you using Craig?

Peregrine's Bird Blog said...

I use on the most part a Canon 1d2n Body and either a sigma 500 or Canon ef 400 f5.6 lens.

I tend to use the 400 lens for birds in flight as it is pretty light and the combo of body and this lens is recognised as one of the best for birds in flight.

I also have a 40D which I really use as a backup body or when I am able to take both out with me at the same time.

Alan Tilmouth said...

The 40d is where I think my cash will go, can't afford a prime lens so I'm thinking 100-400 IS zoom instead, any opinion?

Neil said...

Fantastic photos!