Monthly Archives: October 2013

Dyserth Dippers

One of my favourite birds is the Dipper. I have never had much luck with them with the camera though. They live on streams which are often overshadowed by trees or hills.

Purely by chance today I happened to be driving around with my mum and having visited the usual haunts I decided to explore a bit, taking in Dyserth – a place I’d driven through but never set foot in.

One of the “star” attractions there is the waterfall and we pulled up to have a look. The moment I saw the stream I thought “Dippers” and about 3 seconds after that one flew past us.

Camera duly grabbed, a couple of minutes and I had spotted two Dippers, together. As always, there was a bit of a photographic challenge but managed a couple of half-decent pics.

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The quest for even better Dipper photos continues…….

 

Conwy RSPB – Back on the Rails

After spending over an hour on my knees in wet sand yesterday I needed something more sedate today. A hour or two sat on my bum in Conwy RSPB’s Benarth hide would fit the bill nicely.

With the tide in I was expecting to see lots of waders on the reserve but apart from a few Lapwings I saw none. A bit of a mystery there. What there was plenty of was ducks. Teal were everywhere but also there were Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveller, Wigeon and Pintail. I never get bored with looking at the colours on a male Teal.IMG_7358

With no waders around I set my hopes on seeing a Water Rail in the reed-edged inlet next to the hide. After a hour and a half, as I was just about to call it a day, I heard a scuffling noise just below the hide window. I peered out just in time to see the flash of the white backside of a Rail just disappearing into the reeds right by me. The bird must have been within 6 feet of me and I didn’t know! Luckily, a minute later it emerged from the reeds in the perfect spot for me to rattle off a few shots before it disappeared again.
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After that I felt that my mission was accomplished and lunch time loomed anyway. Off home a happy man, again….

As always, click on a pic to see the full-sized image.

(Some other shots from the morning)
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Little Grey Jobs

This morning started early, very early. The cat woke me, asking to go outside at 5.30am. I never went back to sleep after that. The sky was clear and the old waning moon was rising over the hill at the back of the house. The constellations of Orion and Leo were dominant in the heavens. Shall I get the camera out? Na – I’ll go birding instead….

My first call was at Gronant where a Grey Phalarope has been present for a few days now. I’d seen some super pics of the bird on the web but today was not to be my day. I could see the bird, frantically spinning around, as they do, but it was at the most inaccessible point on the pool. Grey bird number one – seen but no photo.

On my way home I decided to see if there were many Sanderlings on the beach at Kinmel Bay (grey bird species number two). The shoreline looked promising. A decent flock of Sanderlings was roosting right on the water’s edge. Camera out, what could be simpler?

Experience told me that many things could be simpler than photographing waders on a beach. At the first disturbance they would be off, possibly half a mile along away. Not my idea of a fun game of chase. Stealth! That’s the answer. So I set off, approaching the birds in a straight line, a few yards closer at a time,  until I was what I regard as a comfortable distance away – that means that I can get a decent photo and, more importantly, the birds were not showing any sign of distress at my presence. If I ever do spook a bird when I’m taking pics I give myself a mental slapping. I hate it. I’d rather get a more distant photo.

Anyway, as usual, whilst I had taken every effort not to disturb the birds, a local family with 3 little kids did not follow the rules and walked right past me and spooked the flock. For once, however, my luck was in. The flock re-settled closer to me than before – cool! A repeat of this with a dog-walker had exactly the same effect. As long as I knelt motionless on the wet sand the birds were not bothered by me. So far so good.

With the disturbances over I set about taking a few snaps. 1,151 snaps to be precise! I was there on my knees for over an hour, mainly watching sleeping birds and looking for the odd one here and there with it’s head up or the one which dared to wander off on its own for a few seconds and have a shrimpy snack.

And in case you haven’t guessed – yes, Sanderlings are one of my favourite birds!

Enough blather – here’s a few carefully selected photos. Click on any pic to enlarge it.

“Sleeping beauties (with an odd Dunlin)” IMG_6748

“Dunlins away”IMG_6709

“Incoming Sandlerlings”IMG_6664IMG_6649IMG_7204IMG_7147IMG_7034

and just to show that I’m not totally obsessed – an obliging Redshank..IMG_7094

It’ll be a while before my knees recover though!

 

Time to build an Ark

With the weathermen saying that we’re about to face the worst storm for years the wife and I took a drive up the Conwy Valley, partly to walk the dogs and partly to seek out a bit of Autumn Colour.

The closer we got to the hills the darker the sky became. The weather was alternating between torrential downpours and the very occasional flash of sunlight. All the rivers were already full to bursting with tiny streams flowing everywhere. It there’s going to be loads more rain, as they are forecasting, there are going to be some serious flood around the area.

As always, click on a photo to see it full-size.

Afon Lledr

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Cobdens Bridge

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View from the Bridge

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“Come on you reds!”

There could only be one choice of title for this post, I’m afraid – and it has nothing whatsoever to do with football!

Today a friend, Grahame Morgan, invited me to accompany him to a private site where he has set up a hide to watch the local Red Squirrel population. I jumped at the chance. There was no way that I was going to miss this!

Our native Red Squirrels are currently fighting back. Almost wiped out by habitat loss and Squirrel Pox which is carried by the non-native Grey Squirrel, their numbers are now increasing in some parts of the country. In Wales,  Anglesey in particular has provided a stronghold for them and their range is now expanding onto the mainland.

You somehow know that the day is going to turn out well when it starts like this….

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In a nutshell (pun intended) the squirrels performed perfectly. The light could have been better for photos and I’m still learning about my Canon 5D Mkii but the trip was a definite success.IMG_6445 IMG_6526 IMG_6540 IMG_6558  IMG_6365IMG_6373IMG_6426

Moonmadness (& Sanity Restored)

 Moonmadness is actually one of my favourite albums, released by a prog-rock group called Camel back in the 70’s I think. I have the CD somewhere. Tonight moonmadness took on a whole new meaning.

I’d not managed to get out today so I thought I’d have a go at the moon which was peeping over the horizon at the back of the house.  Certainly it sounded better than watching the X-factor on the telly.

I got the camera set up (500mm+2X on the 7D) and it immediately hazed over and actually started to drizzle slightly. I swore at the sky! Why me? What have I done wrong?

Anyway, I managed to de-haze this pic. I’m just looking forward to a night when the sky really is clear! It’s time to go and listen to some old albums now…..

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Sanity restored?

I just looked out again before putting my gear away and the sky was much clearer – the haze had gone. A couple more pics and this much improved shot. Adrian’s a happy bunny again. (Click on the pic for the full sized version)

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Another hour in Benarth hide

People who know me will have heard me say before “an hour in Benarth seldom disappoints”. Today was no exception.

As I walked towards the hide at Conwy RSPB today a Magpie flew over. “I haven’t really taken a decent photo of a Magpie” I thought. So the bird came back half-an-hour later and posed in front of the hide for me.IMG_5911

Apart from that, the action was distant. A Water Rail appeared briefly on the other side of the pool…..
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…. and a Kingfisher flashed past shortly after. Little Egrets are always so argumentative, for no apparent reason but it makes for good photos.
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Apart from those shots bird photo opportunities were non-existent so it gave me a chance to try out my new 5D2/28-135 combo.
The castle always makes a good target.
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and who can resist an Autumn Berry shot?
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Penrhos after the gloom

After the gloomiest day ever yesterday (weatherwise) I was itching to get out and about at the first sign that the light might improve today. The weather looked a little brighter over Anglesey so we set off. Anglesey is a great place when the weather is dodgy. The trick is to get as far as the bridge, look for the brightest corner, and head that way. Today it was straight on so we ended up at Penrhos Park at Holyhead. It’s a superb natural habitat and unusual for Anglesey. A battle still rages over an application to destroy it and build a holiday park – round one has gone against the developers but they don’t give up that easily.
The woodland is larger than it looks and is capable of swallowing loads of people so despite the car park being almost full we felt we had the place to ourselves.

I was still desperate to take some photos so nothing was going to be safe from the lens today.

Tesni and Hannah
“One’s a gorgeous, cuddly, lovable bundle of fun, the other’s a Shih Tzu!”
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My mum pinching someone’s seat!
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and my first ever photo of a Bar-Tailed Godwit
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Conwy RSPB – Autumn Birds

I had a relaxing hour at Conwy this morning in fantastic autumn light. As usual, the place looks quiet, bird-wise, until you stay still for a while.

I counted 28 Snipe around, all busy probing the mud as they do.IMG_5508

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Gadwall are such pretty ducks. A group of 5 birds were aimlessly patrolling the pool.IMG_5728

Bright sunlight + Lapwings = gorgeous colours!IMG_5581

The Little Egrets were having their disputes, as they do, bickering over something that matters to them but is invisible to us humans.IMG_5627IMG_5607A lone Greenshank and the long-staying Little Stint were also around but too far away for photography.

 

Oh deer, oh deer, oh deer! – Tatton Park today

I’ve satisfied an urge today. I’ve been wanting to go to Tatton Park to photograph the deer for ages. Today it gave me the opportunity to test out my most recent camera gear acquisitions – my Canon 5D2 and my Sigma 120-300.
The photos looked good on the back of the camera but I whooped with joy when I saw them on the big screen. It looks like I have a great combo on my hands.
Now the confession: I thought that photographing the deer would be difficult. I was so wrong! By the time the park had been open for an hour it was full of people cycling, walking dogs, jogging – you get the picture. The deer are so used to people that you can walk up to within 30 feet of them – no problem. They are easier to approach than our local cows!
Still, they make a great subject for the camera. Thankfully the rutting season has not quite started yet. If it had, and they we a bit more frisky, perhaps 30 feet would be a bit too brave!
Have a close look at the pics – they look great when viewed as large as possible.

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