25 Jun 2009

Birdwatch Magazine

Excellent Issue of Birdwatch Magazine this month. Firstly it has a couple of my photos adorning it's pages. Secondly on the front cover is a free CD "Birding from the Hip" A Sound approach anthology.
It is a foretaste of Anthony McGeehan's new book of the same name that is coming out at the Birdfair in August.it will also have accompanying CD's .It also has some nice illustrations by Killian Mullarney who in my opinion is one of the finest bird illustrators in the world.This particular CD has three stories. The first about the Dupont's Lark, The second about how he identifies a "peep" from a "British Birds" picture Quiz and thirdly a story from the RSPB Belfast Harbour Reserve.

The first is informative and if you don't know much about the Dupont's Lark you will hear how beautifully they sing. The second and third are amusing stories especially the Belfast Harbour story in light of recent events. Oh yes by the way The Public Prosecution Service for Northern Ireland found there was no case to answer in the supposed illegal trapping on the Belfast Harbour Reserve for which he was sacked.. I think the RSPB will have difficulty at an Industrial Tribunal where I hope that intelligence will overcome stupidity.

Go and buy it!!!!!

2 Jun 2009

A Confiding Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Last friday I stopped off on my way home from work at the Castle Island Hide on the Quoile Pondage. There wasn't much activity on the water but in the trees surrounding the hide there was lots of singing from both Blackcap and Willow Warbler. As I do not have any passable images of Blackcap I went home collected my camera and had a go. Five days later I still do not have any passable images of Blackcap. They are very difficult to photograph.These are my very poor efforts.

They can be quite close to you but now the ash trees have lots of foliage they are difficult to see. Even when you do see them they seem to move really quickly from perch to perch.

However there was this Willow Warbler that seemed to follow me around as I was looking for the Blackcap. It was so close that it was within the minimum focusing on my lens and I had to put an extension tube to make up for it. It was calling all the time. On one occasion it flew towards me landed on my shirt sleeve and then flew back to the branch. I am fairly sure it is a male. There is another Willow warbler that doesnt come quite as close and is the one that seems to have a beakful of insects all the time and disappears to its nest which I have not been able to locate. One minute she is there and the next has disappeared.

In the image above when you blow it up to maximum resolution you can see my reflection in its eye.

Well I have taken hundreds of shots over five days and these are the best images.

I showed Anthony McGeehan some of the images and he had this to say about them.

"The Willow Warblers that breed in Ireland are remarkably colourless. If they had about 1% lighter chests there would be no yellow tint at all. Autumn juveniles (technically, first-winters since they have a body moult in late summer) are such a contrast. They have the gorgeous yellow underparts. Adults, according to Neville McKee of the Copeland Bird Observatory, moult too but have only yellow on the chest after the moult - leaving the belly whitish. In spring, the differences between Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff are so subtle. Plumage colour is just about useless. Both are different beasts in autumn. Bird books haven't grasped the seasonal chameleon effect."

UPDATE: I was out again today and got this brief shot of the Blackcap that has been singing. Here it is singing Listen!