Friday, 31 December 2010

A New Year

Wherever your path leads you may it bring you peace and happiness.   

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Merry Christmas

                       My best wishes for a very merry Christmas to everyone.

Monday, 20 December 2010

My Friendly Robin - not! (Part 2)

"is that him over there?.....where?"
"best wait till it`s dark!"
"com`on, i`m ready"
So when you receive a card this Christmas with a cute little Robin on the front, remember, things are not always as they appear to be !!


My Friendly Robin - not! (Part 1)

Over the last few cold and snowy days I have spent a couple of hours just watching the goings on around my bird feeders and table in the garden, and I`ve noticed one individual who seems to think that he owns the garden and everything in it! Yes it`s the friendly garden Robin, you know, the one that has its picture on countless greetings cards at this time of year, accompanied by such phrases as Seasons Greetings, Peace and Good Will, Merry Christmas, Best Wishes etc. etc. Well ‘my’ Robin certainly doesn’t live up to these sorts of greetings, oh no!!
I`ve got an evergreen bush in the garden (I`m not up on garden plant names so I can`t tell you what it`s called) that the House Sparrows love to sit in with just their heads poking out just before visiting the feeders, a lowly Dunnock was employing this same tactic when suddenly a brown streak shot across the garden and hit the bush in an explosion of snow right next to where it was sitting. Then on the bird table happily feeding away was, what I thought was ‘my’ Robin when, BANG it was knocked off the table by the same brown streak. So far I`ve seen my seasonal bringer of goodwill messages attack House Sparrows, a Dunnock, Blue tits, Great tits, Goldfinches, a Blackbird and Starlings in the same way. The only things that seem to be too big for him to attack in this manner are the Wood Pigeons and the Collared Doves although he does treat them to a lot of scalding and wing flicking to which they seem suitably unimpressed.

"Now, let`s see who`s next"

"I want my mum"
"Is that him over there?"
"Oooo help"
"I`m scared"
"I`m not, bring it on pal!"

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Wow! Wow! Waxwings in Woburn

Well today it finally happened, I managed to get my first ever photos of Waxwings. It was cold and sunny when I arrived in Woburn (Bedfordshire) at about 9:30a.m. On scanning the trees I spotted about ten Waxwings feeding on White Sorbus berries, they were rather skittish, as the trees are situated beside one of the busy roads leading into Woburn, and every time a big truck went by they flew away. After about an hour the flock steadily increased to about a hundred birds.
And Wow what a stunning bird they are, I was just knocked out by their beauty, especially when illuminated in the bright sunlight. I`m afraid I got rather carried away and spent the next three hours snapping away like my life depended on it, finally stopping when the light started to go. But I`ll definitely be back, for another fix, in the next couple of days.


Saturday, 4 December 2010

Freezing Cold Friday

Yesterday dawned  frosty, overcast and grey. I set out from home at about 9:30 a.m. and drove to Woburn in Bedfordshire with the intention of trying to spot the flock of Waxwings that had been reported feeding there over the last few days, but alas the only birds I found feeding at the reported site were a flock of about 30 Starlings. With no joy in Woburn I decided to drive a couple of miles down the road to Stockgrove Country Park. This park covers about 80 acres and straddles the borders of Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire and is managed by the Greensand Trust, it consists of a variety of wildlife habitats including ancient oak woodland, conifer woodland, meadows, marshes and a lake and has been in use since medieval times.
When I pulled into the car park the temperature gauge in the car read -4* Celsius. Loaded up with camera gear and a big bag of bird food I walked the short distance to the lake where I knew there should be some birds to photograph (many people feed the birds in this area). The lake was completely frozen over apart from a small  section by the footbridge about 10ft x 3ft. which was occupied by 12 Mallard.

Stockgrove lake with the remains of the boathouse which burnt down in 1963. Incredibly (stupidly) there were human footprints in the snow covered ice going across the whole width of the lake !! 
The birds must have been finding the icy conditions very difficult, as they started to gather before I had begun to put any food out.

Blue tit

Great tit
Coal tit
Willow tit (note the crossed beak)
 This Robin has a large lump of ice on it`s right leg, It looks like the ice has formed over the ring that was put on when the bird was young, the good thing is it didn`t seem at all troubled by it.

Blackbird (young female ?)
Carrion Crow
This character was feeding on the seeds that had fallen out of the bird feeders by the visitor centre and was being very vocal about it, but seemed very happy to pose for a photograph after I had put some food down for him!

After about three hours my hands were so cold I could no longer feel the camera and with the light fading fast I decided to call it a day and head on home.
All in all, after the disappointment of not finding the Waxwings, I had a most enjoyable few hours.

Photography notes :-  75-300mm lens, ISO 800/1000, f 7.1 to f10, RAW.

And finally.....

.......a grumpy Robin.

Sightings List
Wood Pigeon
Carrion Crow
Great Spotted Woodpecker
Blue tit
Great tit
Coal tit
Willow tit


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Birdwatch through the window

I`m afraid I`ve been rather wimpish these last couple of days,with most of the country gripped in an icy blastI`ve stayed indoors in the warm catching up with paperwork and sorting photographs on the computer (that`s the excuse anyway!). however, I did manage to take a few pictures of the birds that came to visit the feeders in the garden.

Collared Dove
Wood Pigeon
House Sparrow
Blue Tit
 All these photographs were taken through a double glazed window so are not as sharp as they could be. The snow, however, acts as a large reflector bouncing the light upwards to great effect.