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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas Break

Over the Christmas break I managed a few days out.  Firstly I took the family to Donna Nook to see the remaining seals, all in all we had a nice day.

The following day I visited my fav place at the moment to see the SEO's again :) Sorry to bore you with more pics.  The light wasn't great at all but it was great to see them again and this was the first time I have managed to get a photo of a owl with a vole.
 A quick few hours to the local chase where the norm birds where showing but I had to get a nice Robin as it is that time of year.

Monday, 19 December 2011

A mixed few weekends.

Two weekends ago I took another trip to see the SEO's as the weather forecast was good.  On arrival the weather was good and there were perhaps already around 10 people there.  A quick scan around and we noticed some familiar faces whom we hadn't seen for a while so it was nice to catch up with them. 

By approx 2pm more and more people turned up to the point when there was approx 20 + people present.  This didn't stop the owls showing but they didn't seem to come as close as the previous weeks.  This was not surprising due to the number of people and the noise also. 

The light did make up for this and this time I managed to get some shots at ISO 400 rather than the typical ISO 800 I had been shooting the weeks before.

 More pics of the owls can be seen on my flickr site. 

This weekend the weather forecast was also good but we opted to visit my local ground Cannock Chase in the hope to get a few Redpolls and Siskin.   I got up there early morning and the sun was out but we could see some  bad weather coming in.  In wasn't long before it started snowing heavy :(
By the time Ken arrived the weather had changed again and it looked like we were in for some better.  The next few hours were spent in sun, rain and hail :( along with our friends John and Trev :)

Although we didn't see any Redpolls or Siskins and the light conditions being hard most of the time I was happy with the outcome.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Woody and Short Eared Owls again

After last weekends disaster we decided to visit the short eared owls again :)
As we had a few hours to kill we opted to call into Whitacre heath to see if anything was around.  On arrival there didn't seem much but a Great spotted Woodpecker was returning on a regular basis so we managed a few shots. 
Around noon we headed off to hopefully see the SEO's although the wind was quite strong.  On arrival we met with good friends Ian and Joe :)

The sun was out but so was the wind.  we waited with only a quick viewing of one before it settled back down.  As Joe said the minute the wind died down the owls came out to play :)

This was prob the closest we had seen then and for the last 45 mins of light we were treated to some great views.

A few of my favs from the day.  I just can't get enough of them :)

Friday, 2 December 2011

Catch up time (but not alot)

I haven't really had alot of time to post due to work commitments etc so here is a catch up from the last few weeks. 

Following the Short Eared Owl visit I was lucky enough to visit again a few times and the light was
better whilst the owls also came a little closer.
The following weekend Ken and myself headed to Knypersley to hopefully get a few shots of the Bramblings.  Upon arrival with met with Steve S and he gave us directions to where they were along with a few tips.  We opted for the car park area and it wasn't long before we got to see the Bramblings through the bins.  Trying to get good pics of them was another things though.  This was the best I managed but hopefully more to follow soon.
On Sunday we decided to head to Conwy to photograph the snow buntings.  This was a good idea as the sun was out but what we hadn't looked at was the 40+mph winds :(
Ken took a walk to locate the snow buntings but came back "sand blasted".  It was so bad he couldn't even keep his eyes open. 
A wait in the car and then a breakfast didn't help as the wind was still to strong and there was no chance of talking any pics. 

We decided to leave even though we hadn't even got the camera's out.  A quick call into Knypersley again on the way home but yet again the wind was too strong and all the birds had taken cover.  Oh well there is always another day I kept telling myself. 

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Short Eared Owls

Last year I was lucky enough to visit Warbley Carrs to get a few images of these great birds but its a long drive.  When I received info from some good friends that there were a number of owls showing more locally I just couldn't resist. 

I had not been to this site before and it was a few years ago since Ken also visited so we opted to park where Ken knew.  On arrival we found ourselves standing at the opposite side of the field to our friends.  Was this to be a good move??

Whilst scanning the area with the bins I spotted a Barn owl inn the distance but it seemed very happy just sitting in the hedge.  The sun was out and it wasn't long before Ken shouted Owl, I was so happy that they at least showed.  More and more owls started to appear but they were still distant and favouring the other side of the field.  We stood around hoping we would be lucky and one would fly our way.  As the afternoon went on we noticed that some of the owls had moved to the next field and this was closer for us.  I managed a few shots but they were still large crops.  The good news was that there were plenty of owl and it was just amazing to see them hunting. 

During the week I managed to take a few hours off work and treat the wife to see the owl :)
The weather was not as good as the weekend but I was hoping it would be quiet.  This time I opted for the other side of the field and found the track to get there.  We had only been there for approx 30 mins when the wife said "Owl".  Great they were out again.  They came alot closer this time and I managed some better shots.  Again I could stand there for hours just watching them, what a great bird. 

As i write this I am getting ready to visit again this afternoon, lets just hope for good weather and a close view of them. 

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Catch up

I haven't had much time to keep post on the blog due to work commitments so I thought I best catch up.

I have been looking at buying a new camera body now for some time and when the opportunity came up on a 50D I couldn't resist.  So the 30D has been put away now in the cupboard and I have a nice shiny 50D to play with. 

After seeing the pics of the Squacco Heron at Atttenborough we decided to head to Nottingham and try a few shots.  The weather was not the greatest at all but hey a opportunity like this can't be turned down.  On arrival the Squacco was very distance and not really moving around.  Ken arrived approx. one hour later and he must of brought some good luck as the Squacco started to move around.  Alot of my shots were binned but I managed a few. 

A few members from a forum I am a member of had arranged to meet at Cannock Chase so I decided to leave Nottingham and make my way back to the Chase.  Here I met up with them and had a good laugh whilst also trying out the new 50D at high ISO.  The nuthatch was shot at ISO 3200 and I am pleased with the results.
The following day i decided to try for the Great grey shrike again as it was still showing well.  On arrival we saw a few peeps we knew and the Shrike had not been seen as of yet.  It was approx 1 hour before the Shrike was spotted but it didn't seem to be perching in the same stop as the week before.  Another 30 mins passed watching the Shrike at a distance and I decided it would be best to have a walk and try a new spot further down the valley.   After leaving the others it didn't take long to notice it perching on a ideal perch every so often, this would be a waiting game.  I set up with the perch in view along with Paul and we just hoped it would land there again.  It wasn't long before the Shrike did exactly that whilst also coughing up a pellet. 

The new 50D seems to be performing well so all in all a good week. 

Monday, 31 October 2011

Great Grey Shrike at Cannock Chase

After not getting any shots of this gem last year I was determined to get some this year.  Seeing all the reports on the web I thought it was about time I took a look.  I had visited the area earlier in the week but had no success in seeing the shrike.  Saturday morning I decided to visit again and this time I was not disappointed.  After approx 1 hour with others I finally spotted the Shrike but it was distant, by the time we had walked around we were joined by approx 8 others all trying to get good views.  At this point I decided that it would be best to split up from the group and take my chance by myself, am I glad I did?? YES.
As the others moved closer the Shrike left his fav. perch and landed straight in the tree I had pre-focused on :)

I was so happy I finally got a half descent shot.  After this I spent the next few hours watching the Shrike to learn about his flying patterns and fav. perches.

The plan for Sunday was to visit Bradgate but on Saturday night looking at the weather it was decided to try and get pictures of the Shrike with Ken. 

A quick early walk to the location resulted in no sighting of the Shrike but this was expected as the sun hadn't come up yet. 

A little later Ken turned up and we set ourselves up in what I thought was a prime location.  It wasn't long before we were joined by Steve Seal and Dave Hutton.  It wasn't long before Steve spotted the Shrike in a tree top.  Just as predicted it came straight to the tree we had set up for. 

The Shrike continued to show very well and continued to show in its fav. holly tree.  As time went on we were able to get closer to the Shrike resulting in some great photo's.

After several calls for directions our good friend Pete turned up to also get a few shots.

All in all a great day with good company and a good looking bird. 

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Norfolk Trip

I had been looking forward to this for some time now and my expectations were high.  A early morning start to pick up Ken and we headed east to the coast.  We arrived at Horsley around 8.30 hoping to see the Shrike but as usual it was not present when we arrived.  Now it was time to decide what to do?
1) Do we wait as it had been showing very well every other day
2) Leave and head north as we only have two days to visit everywhere we wanted

We both agreed it was best to leave and head north to the next stop as we were already short on time.  As we know now this was prob a big mistake :(

Our next two stops didn't produce any snow bunting which was the main objective.
The next stop was good old Salthouse and we were both sure we would see something.  Indeed we did but it there was only Turnstones around but we manged a few pics.  I opted for a different surrounding to the usual water shots.
Next stop was Titchwell even though we had no luck there the last time we visited earlier in the year.  Upon arrival we were told a Jack Snipe had been showing.  We opted to stop on the main beach trial to see if any bearded tits were around, lucky for me I set the camera up and had it ready + 2/3rds just incase something flew by.  Within a few mins. a bittern came out of the reeds and took flight.  A quick dash to the camera and took it off the tripod with Kens help I manged a few in flight shots.  I was very happy as these were actually the first shots of a bittern I have ever managed.

 We decided to head off towards the crowd where the Jack snipe had been showing.  It didn't take long before Ken spotted something but it was a common snipe but we managed a few pics at least.  I eventually spotted the Jack snipe but it was well covered and lying down and no shots were taken. 

After a few hours we headed towards the beach and got a few black tailed godwits on the way.
Upon arrival at the beach we could already see a few Sanderlings and Turnstones so we headed further down to the incoming tide.  The after sun was just perfect which allowed us to get a few nice shots.
 Once the sun went down we watched the Marsh Harriers coming in to roost which was nice but too dark to take any pics.  I will keep the next 24 hours brief :(

Arrived at the B&B and it was great

Had good food with a pint
Watched a live band set up and decided we should at least hear them so had a few more beers
Listened to the band with a few more beers
Went to sleep
Woke up to rain :(
Had a nice full breakfast
Still raining :(
Took a few shots of bucks at the deer park
Still raining :(
Made the long 4 1/2 hr drive home

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Getting ready for Norfolk

With a few days off work I am getting myself ready for a two day trip to Norfolk.  Lets just hope the weather is good and the birds show?  Will be posting on my return and wish me luck. 

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Small Birds at Cannock Chase

I have to say I am very happy that the small birds are showing again at Cannock Chase.  There seems a assive influx of fieldfare at the momemt and with it being clear and decided to grab myself a few shots.  Sunday was spent with Ken and we spent a few hours again shooting the mixed bag which was present.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Mixed Bag

Spent Saturday at my local Cannock Chase with Ken and it as great to see some birds coming to feed again.  During the 4 hours we got to see and photograph Nuthatch, Siskin, Redpoll, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Willow tit, Bullfinch and lots of the regulars like robins, blue tits, great tits etc. 

Below are a few of my favs. 

Thursday, 13 October 2011


Manged to spend a quick 45 mins at Bradgate this week to see what was around.  I managed to see a few red stags but they were all very distant.  Lots of bucks around though and at times they were just too close.  Hopefully will return early one morning when the weather gets a bit cooler. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Cannock Chase Stags

I haven't posted for a while as there really hasn't been much happening.  I am glad to see rutting season start early this year as I have already had some great sighting, the problem is getting a good picture. 
I am working on a few area's of the chase at the moment and trying to explore new area's when i get chance.  Here are a few but more will hopefully be posted as time goes on. 

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Website updated

As the weather was not so great I decided to spend some time on my website.  Please feel to visit and let me know what you think.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Norfolk Trip

As there is not a lot happening around the Midlands it was decided to head to trusty Norfolk.  Early start as usual to pick up Ken so we could make the most of the day.

When we arrived the sun was out for a change.  First stop was Salthouse where there were lots of Linnets, a few Wheatears and the odd wader on the pools. 

After a short stay to strecth the legs we headed off to Wells next to the sea.  This was the first time I had been down to the beach area.  Looks nice for sunbathing but not really alot around apart from a few little grebes on the lake next to the car park. 

From here we headed to Titchwell even though we had been warned it may be busy as a Little Bittern had been seen.  Upon arrival the car park was full and a bus load of people had just arrived.  We found a space in the car park and headed to the beach were we were hoping to see some waders.  It wasn't long when we came across a group of approx 30 people all looking into the reeds.  After speaking to the one guy he said he had been there for the last 2 1/2 hrs and all they saw was movement within the reeds.  That was enough for me and Ken so we continued up to the beach.  A few waders where on the pools but everything was 200 plus meters away :(  When we arrived at the beach the wind was so strong it was blowing sand all over us, neither of us dared to get the camera gear out in these conditions.  A small break whilst sitting behind the rocks gave us some shelter before heading back to the car.  On the way back the crowd of people had got a lot larger and there must have been 100 plus people blocking the path and bankment trying to get a look at the bittern.  One kind twicher let me see through his scope, the Bittern was approx. 1 foot within the reeds and you could only just make out what it was.  We soon continued one and had to push our way through the crowd of people. 

From here we decided to head back to Cley where hopefully it would be quieter.  In the middle hide we got some great views of a Little Egret which came out on a regular basis to feed, this was the highlight of the day and some great pics were captured.  Whilst in the hide we also saw 3 Marsh Harriers and had a great view of 5 spoonbills flying past us before returning back to the island. 

We are now starting to get to know the area better so hopefully the next trip at the end of Oct will result in some good pics.  Can't wait. 

Little Egret in flight

 Having a feed
 Enjoying the sun
 Back on dry ground
 Spoonbills in flight