Monthly Archives: May 2014

Puffin Island – A trip on the Cerismar II

Having been off work this week and the weather has been less than good, I promised myself a treat today – namely a boat trip around Puffin Island on the Cerismar II. These guys are known for giving nature lovers  great value and today was no exception, for me at least. I’d been watching the weather carefully and true to forecast there was hardly any swell. The boat is very stable with the only real rocking caused by the wake of other boats.

[As always on this blog – click on any photo for a full-size version]

Our first avine encounter was this Guillemot which strangely seems to me to be showing signs of still being in winter plumage.


This was shortly followed by this very grumpy looking Razorbill.IMG_5713

As we got closer to the island we encountered more rafts of Auks.


On the tip of the island a Shag was playing king of the castle.


Fly-by Cormorants were regular


But it’s the island’s namesake Puffins that most people really want to see. We got lucky with a small group of these characters posing for their floating audience.

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The return journey was uneventful. Only an unmistakable Black Guillemot and an escaping Razorbill crossing our path.

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Score for the trip? It’s got to be a 10/10. A great hour and a half well spent! I can see myself going back there soon.


South Stack – Signs of Summer

I managed an hour at South Stack yesterday. All the flying birds frustrated me as the light was very strange but it was fun to watch Mr and Mrs Stonechat frantically trying to keep their brood in line as the little ones scattered in all directions. IMG_4746 IMG_4795-Edit

 It’s great to see the cliff-nesting birds back and in situ. The next few weeks will see the activity really hot up.IMG_4691

Red Alert!

I’ve been very frustrated this week. I’ve had the week off work but for the last few days the weather has been poor. I felt denied. Did I feel recharged and ready to face work again – no way! But, today has helped, a lot.

As always, click on a photo to see a larger version.

Again, the weather was not great but I’d promised to take my mum out so we headed to Anglesey. We did the little old lady stops at Pringles and the Holland Arms Nursery and with the light improving I decided to call at Llyn Parc Mawr, Newborough on the way home. Mum is not a great one for walking far nowadays so to be able to park right by a tree with 5 bird feeders is a great option. We’ve been there a few times before and noticed the squirrel feeders but we’ve never seen a Red Squirrel there – until today. After only a few minutes we saw the first one on a feeder. My mum’s first Red Squirrel in Wales!IMG_4031

It disappeared after a minute or so and I turned my camera onto the Siskins right in front of me.

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Then the Squirrelfest began. Suddenly there was a Squirrel on each feeder and even better, one descending the tree right in front of us.

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This individual was most obliging. Feeding on the ground right in front of us and then posing on every branch of the tree. In all, we saw at least 5 individual Squirrels, possibly more.IMG_4250 IMG_4218

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During all this two birds were driving me potty. I just about managed a shot through the leaves of the ever-present but ever-secretive Greater-Spotted Woodpecker but the ninja Jays evaded the shutter every visit.


Conwy RSPB – Bird photography can be very hard work some days….

It’s a bank holiday and I’m setting an alarm! Madness! Still, it’s all because as they say, the early worm catches the bird….

The sound of the reserve has changed in the last few weeks. There’s no escaping the buzzes,clicks  and whistles of newly returned warblers – everywhere. Despite the noise though, they  are not exactly keen to pose for the camera. Best shots – a Sedge Warbler in a bush, and a Reed Warbler which showed in the open for a couple of seconds whilst I got lucky with the shutter.

Reed Warbler Sedge Warbler

It was a bonus to see a Greenshank around and a surprise to see it with a Redshank.


Action shots were courtesy of a bathing Common Sandpiper….

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Distant Wheatears were the commonest birds on the estuary path….

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and the biggest surprise was an equally distant  Whinchat…

IMG_3764but all the estuary path birds disappeared when this Sparrowhawk arrived, skimming the rocks like a stealth fighter….



Hare today….

.. but gone tomorrow – if we’re not careful.

A bit of an unusual sighting today. A Hare. A lovely creature but under threat from people with guns who think that a few Hares might make them a few quid with local restaurants. That’s exactly why I’m not going to say where I saw it. So sad, innit?


Back on the Dipper river

I had an hour down on the river at Llandulas this morning. I’ve visited there many times in search of a Dipper. Occasionally I’ve had a fleeting glimpse as one flew past with wings whirring. Today was better. One bird was feeding constantly, visiting the stretch I was on and then flying off upstream with a beak full of food for its young. The only problem was that every time it appeared it settled in a different spot. I walked miles up and down trying to get a decent view. I did manage a few half-decent photos in the end. Notable other birds included Grey Wagtail (always to be seen at Llandulas) and a Common Sandpiper which took me by surprise as it flickered upstream at one point, sadly not to return while I was there.

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These shots took ten years in the making….

Catch-up from 8th March.

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, I took a photo of the sunset over Snowdonia from the B5113 above Betws-y-Coed with a 1.3 megapixel Olympus 920 – my first digital camera. For years now I have wanted to repeat the shot with a better camera.
All this winter I have been waiting for a sunset without the mountains being capped with cloud. Tonight it was a case of right place and right time!

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A black cat in a coal cellar would have been easier!

Another catch-up post. This time from 1st March.

A friend of mine operates a disco. Using the word “disco” is like describing an Aston Martin as just “a car”. He calls it “The Kev Day Rodashow” and one of his catchlines is “anything else is just a disco”. So true.

He asked me if I could take a few promotional shots for him. Now it turns out that taking photos IN a disco is one thing, taking photos OF  a disco is a much bigger challenge! Getting the exposure right when shooting through smoke and lasers is tricky, but I just about pulled it off, after a fair bit of trial and error.

“Anything else is just a disco!”



One off the Bucket List – The Aurora Borealis – Feb 2014

Another catch-up post. Most people would name seeing the Northern Lights as one thing they would like to do before they die. Me included, not that means that I’m ready to die just yet!
On the evening of Feb 27th I was aimlessly browsing Facebook when I noticed that an FB “Friend” had posted that he had just seen the Aurora, FROM NORTH WALES! 5 mins later I was in the car heading for the nearest place with a clear view to the North, with no light pollution, the Great Orme, Llandudno. On arrival I was dissappointed. There was a faint glow, low on the northern horizon, “surely that can’t be IT”. After 5 minutes we gave up. BUT, as we drove off I cast one last glance to the North. WOW! A beam of red light was striking up into the sky. I screeched the car to a halt. Camera out, 8 second exposures, and a very, very happy Adrian!